BSN class of 2013 compiles "Chicken Soup" book of essays

BSN 2013 This Journal

(11-9-12) What's it like to tend to your first terminally ill patient? To care for children living with incurable disease? How do you manage the euphoria and tension of helping a woman give birth?  And when someone dies, how do you grieve?

Ask a nursing student.

As with previous classes, the BSN class of 2013 has compiled a book of essays, poems and journal entries, with the assistance of a UVa University Award for Projects in the Arts grant, to offer up some of their experiences during their four years as student nurses. BSN 4th year student Monika Criman served as editor of the book (available for $10 by contacting Criman herself) and with illustrations by Aldxa Vasiliadis, more than 35 fellow students from her class contributed.

"Every nurse remembers their first patient," writes Dean Dorrie Fontaine in the book's foreword. "Every nurse remembers their first patient who dies or the one we managed to save in a dramatic way. And in so many ways, we become the nurses we are because we’re shaped by those we care for."

From childbirth to aging, cancer to chemo, nursing students see a little bit of everything. And like the health care professionals who care for patients at every stage of life and death, they are forever changed by those they meet, those they care for, those who get better -- and those who do not.

Nurses' stories are peppered with grief and triumph, compassion and empathy. Fonatine urges students to know how to care for themselves -- and how to remain resiliant -- so they may care well for others, too.

"In an airplane, those seated next to children must put on their own oxygen masks before assisting kids," she writes in the book's foreword. "If there is one thing you remember from this book beyond the stories of hilarity and pain, heavy hearts and transcendence, it’s this: care best for others by remaining resilient yourself."