How I became a Nurse

Posted by: Dora E. Camacho of Laredo, Texas

Since I can remember I always wanted to be a nurse and would always play with my brother that we were in the hospital and I was taking care of him.I was 4 yrs old at that time. We grew up in a very low income environment but very happy because I had my mother and siblings. My dad if we were lucky he would remember about us and would send us some money. My mom had to work so we could survive. At this time we lived in Nuevo Laredo, in Mexico. When I was 5 my dad decided to take us to live with him to San Antonio Texas because he had a lot of work, he worked in construction and I remember he had gotten hired to help build the famous hemisphere. Sad but excited to go live in a better place we went to San Antonio Texas, we lived in 1 room all 5 of us, it was sad , we didn’t know anybody , I was scared, , we didn’t know how to speak english, I was placed in kinder , my brother in pre kinder , and my sister in 4th grade. I was really scared , talk about culture shock. I would cry everyday because I wanted to go back to Mexico. I guess that I really liked school and had real good teachers because the following year I was in 1st grade and the principal went to the room and in front of my peers he gave me a book of rhymes dedicated to me for having accomplished reading english in such little time and without knowing a single word in that language.I started realizing that I loved to read and learn , my mom was so proud of me I would get excellent grades, but all of us wanted to go back to Mexico, we missed my moms family.I finished 2nd grade and finally my dad told us we were going back to Mexico. I was so happy, I got registered in school and every year I got excellent grades and I would always say to myself “one day I will become a nurse to help my mom and buy her a home”. I got out of middle school, I was 15 yrs old and in Mexico you can go to nursing school after middle school which I did.I was so excited and so was my mom. I attended 1 semester which is fundamentals of nursing, my mom was so proud of me, she would get this huge smile when she would see me with my white uniform, but I saw that my mom was struggling to give me money for tuition and books , uniforms etc, in Mexico there is no financial aid or grants, loans, its all cash. I decided to get out of nursing school and started working . At 16 yrs old I was working at a grocery store, all my dreams were put to rest for a while, my family needed more help, my school could wait. I worked at that store for 9 years, I met my husband and marry him in 1985, I was 25 yrs at that time I was already living in Laredo, Texas and my sister had bought a home where my mother was living with her. Me and my husband were both working at the same store when the company decided to close that chain of stores, we were both unemployed, and to top if of I was pregnant.During my pregnancy I decided I was going to take advantage of being home so I started taking english classes to get my GED equivalent to high school diploma. In 1987 I got my GED diploma and I delivered a beautiful baby girl. After 1 month of having my baby, I decided to look for a job, I was very fortunate and landed at a great job at a pharmacy where I learned all types of medications, side effects,etc. and it brought back my wanting to go back into the health field “nursing”, I told my husband I was going back to college, by this time I applied for financial aid and was accepted , I started taking all my basics and I really struggled with my english , I had to take it 3 times in order to get a C. Finally I passed and I applied into the Nursing program, there was a waiting list of 500 aplicants, maybe my letters of recomendation , my grades, and my letter of why I wanted to become a Nurse helped me because I got admitted right away. I forgot to mentioned that my mother had recently passed away in october of 1992. I got so depressed that literally, one of my teachers from the college together with some of my peers had to go to my house to encourage me to apply to the nursing program because after my mom passed away I didn’t want to become a Nurse anymore. I remember thinking that if I couldn’t help my mother why even go to nursing school if I wasn’t able to help people. Finally, after getting accepted into the nursing program I did have to quit my job at the pharmacy. I had been there for 5 years already. By now I had another child who was born in 1991.It was hard to go to school and with my daughter who was 6 and my son 4 at that time it was even harder to study. My husband would help me taking care of them, feeding them, taking them to school and on weekends taking them to the park and play while I stayed home studying. I remember my husband bought me a thesaurus, because this huge anatomy books had some words I couldnt understand, my english was not that good. Finally after 2 intense years of clinicals and school I graduated and proudly want to say that I received an award that is given to the most compassionate nurse . Its called the Mary Alice Lopez award. I couldnt believe I recieved it. I graduated in 1995 I was already 35 yrs old . I started working at a nursing home as a GN, that same year I took my boards and passed.After a year I became DON of the nursing home , now I am a school nurse, and work part time homehealth, I have worked in the hospital psychiatric unit. I love my job. In 2009 my brother was dx with terminal lung cancer, I was there by his side remembering how we used to play that I was a nurse and that I was going to take care of him. Well it came true I took care of him until he passed away after 8 months of battling with cancer. I have seen many patients, family members ,passed away. it is very sad and I do know that it makes us nurses stronger. I have learned with time that to in order to be a nurse you have to have it, you just dont say from one day to the other that you would like to study to be a nurse, you have it in you, the compassion, the wanting to help and always give . I know I had it since I can remember. I don’t think I could have made a better choice of career. I am blessed with my job, my family, and coworkers. I am 51 and just registered in a university to get my BSN. This is just a humble story that I wanted to share to let people know that “cuando se quiere se puede” meaning “when there’s a will there’s a way.”

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