Carolinas HealthCare System
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What Inspired You to Become a Nurse?

Have a story you’d like to share?

Contact us via email or visit us on our Facebook page to share your story.

For national nurses week, we asked our nurses to share their stories about what inspired them to become a nurse. Below are some of the responses we received.

Wilena Blackwell, RN, MSN, CCTN

“I can remember being a little girl, about 7 or 8 years old. I was raised by my grandmother who was in her late 60s. As her health started to decline with diabetes and other problems, she had a home health nurse who came out and taught her how to administer insulin. I remember at the age of 8, I learned how to administer insulin, give pills and instill eye drops in my grandmother’s eyes. I was my grandmother’s caretaker.

The home health nurse was a true inspiration to me. She always encouraged me to do my best in school and I, too, could become a nurse. I enjoyed the idea of helping and healing others. To this very day, I will never forget that nurse. She was caring and compassionate, and she played a big role in my decision to become a nurse and a mentor to other young girls – today, I tell them that they can become whatever they want if they put their minds to it.”

Shawn M. Smith, RN, MSN

"That’s an easy question for me. As far back as I remember, it’s what I always wanted to be. I just knew at an early age, maybe 10, that I was going to be a nurse even though I was the first in my family to enter healthcare. I have been in healthcare for over 20 years now and received my nursing degree at the same time I graduated high school.

During my junior year of high school, I was able to attend regular high school for half a day and a vocational school half a day. During my senior year, I attended the vocational school all day and was able to graduate both high school and nursing school at the same time. Shortly after my 18th birthday, I sat for my nursing boards and became an LPN.

I have had an extremely rewarding career in nursing and, even with all the changes in healthcare, would hope to inspire others to join this wonderful profession.”

Juanita Kay Mims, RN

"When I graduated high school in 1969, my mother came to me and said the following, ‘You will be starting nursing school in August.’ She provided information to me about how I was to get to and from school, since it was about 45 minutes from my home.

In high school, I never planned or prepared much for ‘life beyond high school.’ But thank God for a Mother who was willing to sacrifice and to give of her small earnings to put her only child through nursing school. She was a visionary and saw to it that I was provided with a college education and a degree that would be with me forever. We speak of this on occasion, and it was only recently that mom told me, ‘I knew you were supposed to be a nurse.’

After 43 years in the nursing profession, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t trade anything for the phenomenal experience and the life lessons I’ve learned, especially those from a humble, textile-working mom who gave all she had to make sure her daughter would be prepared for the future. She is truly my hero.”

Susan H. Postell, RN, BSN, CBCN

“I was inspired to become a nurse by my mother, who was a nurse for over 50 years. I watched her take care of people and be a resource to people for many years. I also watched how hard she worked and decided early on that I did not want any part of being a nurse. I had decided to be a teacher, but God had other plans.

One Sunday night, my mom and I were on our way home from church and a tiny MG sports car swerved out of control, hitting the truck in front of us and barely missed hitting us head on. My mom pulled off to the side of the road and, although she was shaken, she immediately assessed the situation and helped all the injured drivers. The driver was a young woman who was 8.5 months pregnant and was unconscious. I stood on the sidelines and watched as my mom cared for those people in a professional, compassionate and authoritative way, and I knew at that moment that I was destined to be a nurse.

I don’t know that I have ever been more proud of anyone in my life. I have been an oncology nurse now for 36 years and am forever grateful for my mom who inspired me to be a nurse. She always told me that being a nurse is not a job, it is a calling. A calling I am proud to share with my now 82-year-old mom.”

Taryn Moore, RN

“My daughter was diagnosed at birth (nine years ago) with Sickle Cell Disease, and I was devastated. I remember being at her first doctor’s visit at the Charlotte Children’s Specialty Clinic and hearing the nurses and doctors explain to me all the problems that she could have. I was scared, and I just didn’t know where to turn.

What puzzled me most was that I couldn’t understand most of the things they were telling me could happen – I didn’t know how much or how little to worry. I remember on her first hospital visit, when she was approximately nine months old, she was not feeling well, and all these nurses were doing all these procedures to her and I kept asking, ‘What’s going on?’ They were saying it was routine and my daughter would be OK.

I was so afraid, I couldn’t even go to the bed and comfort her, I just sat in the corner in a chair and cried. The next day I talked to a CNA who was working with my daughter on the floor, and she told me how she was in nursing school and really enjoyed what she did. I do love helping people, so I said to myself then that I could make a difference and better help my daughter by becoming a nurse. I felt that if I had extra knowledge and understanding, I could help her so much and help others, too!”

Pam Payne, RN

"My inspiration to become a nurse was watching my grandmothers and my mother take care of the elderly in their homes. The compassion they showed to their patients was so special, as they took care of them as if they were family. I used to stay with my one of my grandmothers during the summers and on weekends and help in any way that I could with their care.

I used to sit and read to them, and I held their hands as they would tell me their life stories, and I found this to be so interesting. Those were such special times. The patients were so appreciative of the time I spent with them and how I listened to them. I have always had a love for talking to people and caring for them. I have held many position in my career as a nursing assistant such as Home Care, Hospice Care, both for which I was the first Home Care aide in our community. Fast forward to 1979 – I met my husband, and his mother was a nurse. It was then I knew I was destined to be a nurse. She proceeded in helping me obtain a job as a nursing assistant. I managed to do that for 10 years before I went back to school and graduated in 1991 as a registered nurse (RN).

After I became an RN I was a floor nurse taking care of patients which I truly loved doing. It was challenging at times but very rewarding. I have also done Hospice Nursing and Family Practice Nursing, both of which are passions of mine. I love to help patients and their families, which is why I became a nurse. I love to teach patients about their illness and give them the guidance that they need.”

Hannah Readling, Spring 2014 nursing graduate from Carolinas College of Health Sciences

January 2006 determined my fate to join the healthcare team and become a nurse. My life changed in the blink of an eye at this time – 15 years old and unconscious in a helicopter being air lifted to Carolinas Medical Center. On January 16, 2006 my sister and I were hit by a tractor-trailer on the driver’s side going 55 miles per hour.

My sister died instantly, and I was in such a severe condition they did not think I was going to survive. The nurses (and doctors) changed this inevitable ending for me. While my ending was being turned around I received so much love and genuine care by these complete strangers, nurses (and doctors), that I started questioning how much better the world would be if all people were like this.

All of these things gave me inspiration and the motivation to pay it forward and five years after my hospitalization and years of recovery I started my adventure on the road to become part of the healthcare and nursing team."