Penn Nursing Associate Professor Christopher Lance Coleman, PhD, MPH, RN, was a nursing student at the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, when treatments were nearly nonexistent and funeral homes refused to pick up those who died from the disease.
He revisits the experience with “Don’t Ever Forget Me” in the new book I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse. A collection of essays by nurses at different stages of their careers, the book is edited by Lee Gutkind and published by InFACT Books.
Joining Dr. Coleman in the pages of “True Stories of Becoming a Nurse” is Penn Nursing junior Nora Casper, who will join the ranks of 2.7 million nurses in the U.S.
In her essay “Nurse Nora at Nineteen,” Ms. Casper shares the mental image of the capable nurse she hopes to become – “a skilled clinician who demonstrates knowledge as well as empathy.” But her expectations are challenged by her initial clinical experiences in a nursing home.
“There is no way to memorize how to take care of someone,” she writes. “What once seemed instinctual to most of us becomes overwhelmed by technicalities and anxiety. . . . the possibility of taking a real pulse, pricking a finger, or giving a bed bath was as daunting as it was exciting.”
From trying on the first set of scrubs to guiding a patient toward a good death, Ms. Casper and Dr. Coleman share quintessential moments in nursing – true stories that have been largely untold.