A nurse is not what you do. It is what you are…I am a nurse. It’s not what I do, it’s what I am”-  Unknown

I have been a nurse for over forty years, and I love it! It is who I am even though I have many other titles, Mom, Wife, Mama, Professor, Friend, etc. No matter what the role, “nurse” is still who I am.

I began my career as an LPN at the ripe age of eighteen. This was an opportunity that was offered by my high school. When I think back now to the responsibilities I had as an eighteen-year-old, it scares me. I started working at a hospital in Orthopedics and loved caring for patients, especially the elderly. I loved hearing their stories and getting to know their families. I admired the RNs and wished I could do all the nursing tasks they did. I was encouraged by many of them to pursue my RN. I went to an ADN program and after two years, I received my RN and was asked to care for post-op orthopedic patients in their homes. I loved getting to know the patients and their families in the home care setting.

My Own Aha Moment

I did a lot of education in the homes as well as educating the nurses. I fell in love with teaching and had the opportunity of working in Human Resources, where I interviewed nurses and worked with student nurses arranging their clinical. I worked very closely with the schools of nursing and decided to obtain my BSN and MSN so I could teach in a nursing program. I took a teaching position at the University of Missouri- St. Louis in 2003.

 I love watching students learn and witnessing those “aha” moments. I’ve focused a lot of my teaching on Community/ Public Health. I have met a lot of community members and learned a lot about all the resources that are available for the public, especially the elderly. My students had the opportunity to work with VOYCE for the past 3 semesters. The students learned so much about all the services this agency offers to advocate for and protect the elderly, especially those in nursing homes. I love their mission, “To educate and empower individuals and their families for quality living across the continuum of long-term care.” The students will be able to take everything they learned about advocating for the elderly and use this knowledge in their careers. It warms my heart to know that future nurses will be advocates for their patients, especially the elderly, who may not be able to speak for themselves. Making a difference is why I love teaching! 

By Beth Dudley, MSN, RN – Assistant Teaching Professor at University of Missouri- St. Louis

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