It’s important now more than ever to raise the visibility of the critical work nurses do, and that includes our Nursing students, who continue to demonstrate that they are heroes, innovators and leaders. Raising visibility of the critical work nurses and our Nursing students do fosters a greater understanding of the diversity of the nursing profession, and honors the exemplary individuals and exposes them to our community. Below, Assistant Professor, Breana Sutfin BSN, MSN, CNE, addresses how recognition is incorporated into our classrooms.

Breana Sutfin

What are some ways you celebrate student successes?

Student success is celebrated in many different ways at Marian, where we get to know students and subsequently celebrate with them and be there for them. During clinical we share in the excitement of their first successful medication pass or their first successful IV by explaining how they did a good job and encouraging tips for improving next time if there is a need for improvement. During class we are able to encourage them to come up with the correct answers to a scenario and tell them nice job or yes you are on the right track. During simulation we are able to debrief with the students sharing things they learned and what went well during the simulation. In the hallway we are able to celebrate success of having interviews, getting hired, and even personal success such as getting married. The Marian University Student Nurses Association is able to celebrate within the University by applying for awards for projects they have completed. The Student Nurse Association is also able to be honored by participating in the Wisconsin Student Nurses Association and the National Student Nurses Association conventions. One of my favorite parts of student success is the pinning ceremony where I get to see the students receive their pin and wear it with honor. I also enjoy the awards that are given to students for going above and beyond during their time at Marian. Here at Marian we celebrate, support, and encourage our students throughout their journey to becoming a nurse – an angel with a stethoscope.

Why is it important for nursing students to be celebrated by others?

The road to becoming a nurse requires dedication, hard work, loyalty, passion, and a drive to dedicate your life to assisting others. Truly every step along the way and after becoming a nurse should be celebrated. Some people say being a nurse is a thankless job, but it depends on the situation. A dying person cannot come back and say thank you for making it peaceful. A first time parent of a newborn cannot say thank you for helping my baby take his or her first breath because chances are the parent does not see that this is happening. A patient who is badly injured in a car accident cannot say thank you for properly placing a cervical collar to avoid having a spinal cord injury as they may not understand the importance of this device. A patient who is so ill they cannot walk will not say thank you for turning them every two hours so they don’t get a big sore. It is our friends, family, and peers who see us every day that can say thank you for what you do because you change lives. You may think that this only happen once you are a nurse, but that’s simply not true. From the very beginning of nursing school students are learning how to do these things. The problem is that students may not have a moment to stop to think about all the wondrous things they are doing because they are focusing on their next exam learning more about how to change a life. These students need their friends, family, and peers to help them celebrate and be their cheerleader in the journey of coming a nurse. This journey has many steps along the way from simply studying, starting an IV, critically thinking through a scenario, to passing the dreaded NCLEX. Every day of the life of a nurse is an accomplishment and once you are a nurse you are always a nurse because you cannot turn your mind off of trying to help people.

What recognition can nursing students expect once in the field?

I truly believe the greatest recognition in nursing is not the awards you receive, the letters behind your name, the certifications you receive, working for a Magnet hospital or any other actual award. The greatest recognition is seeing the ease on your client’s face when they see you enter the room because they know you are there to help, watching as the anxiety leaves a parents eyes as you explain the plan for their child for the day, the twinkle of light when you ask your patient “What would you be doing today if you weren’t here with me?”, the sense of humanity they feel when you shed tears with them over the loss of a loved one, the sense of peace in their voice as they tell you their final message for their loved ones, the sense of fear leave them as you share the results of their results, and the sense of unity they feel when you the nurse includes them with the team of doctors, pharmacists, social work, etc. to plan their road to their future. As a pediatric nurse I have many memories that are awards on the wall in my heart. For example, seeing the smile on the face of my patient, who likely was not going to be leaving the hospital and their sibling as we created a beach in the room and pretended we were on the ocean was all the recognition that I need. Being the primary nurse for a patient who is fighting for his life after a silly accident that should have never occurred, supporting his family as they watched and waited. Then seeing this patient recover when the parents were told it was not looking so good. Nursing is not about awards or recognition, it is truly about being there, giving it your all, and caring every moment you work because it is our patients who are our awards at the end of the day.

Who positively influenced you on your journey to become a nurse?

The person who inspired me the most to become a nurse is my mom. The draw to nursing started when I was growing up and living on a huge horse farm. I can remember as a child watching her work as she healed many horses. I remember the butterflies in my stomach anytime I heard of a horse needing medical help and I would follow along wondering what it would be like to make things better. My mom also worked in healthcare and always tried to help others out. I’ll never forget when my tennis team was going to a match and we stopped because of an accident. My mom was in the car behind us and immediately went to the scene to try to help. Seeing her trying to save a life had more of an impact than I realized, I knew from watching her that I wanted to do something to help make a difference. I told my mom I wanted to be a nurse and she said I needed to start as a Certified Nursing Assistant to see if I liked it. It was not until after I was a nurse that she said she didn’t know if I would like it but she knew I had to try. When she saw that I liked the field she knew it was time to choose a college. I was down to two choices and she helped guide me to Marian, where I received a great education that prepared me to become not just a nurse, but a great nurse. It felt like I was part of a family, and little did I know I’d stay a part of it as a faculty member, which is one of best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s an honor to work alongside those who I used to call professors. It’s because of their encouragement that I’m a nursing educator. In my journey to become a nurse, my mom has always believed in me and supported every step along the way. I would not be the nurse/faculty that I am today without her encouragement and support. She always said if you want to do something all you have to do is “BELIEVE” so I pass on to you if you want to do it the first step is believing you can. I hope to see you sitting in my class because you believe you can be a nurse.