The moment I knew I wanted to be a nurse

May 08, 2017 | by Mary Lou Mastro

When I was a freshman (physical therapy major) at DePauw University, I had to have emergency abdominal surgery.

I was only 18, I was away from home and I felt pretty scared. I stayed in the hospital for a week.

But it was then, after I experienced the amazing care of the doctors and nurses at that hospital, that I knew I wanted to be a nurse.

I started my nursing classes and promptly fell in love. I still have the book from my first class on intro to patient care! I always felt like it was such a privilege to be able to be there for people when they were at their most vulnerable. Knowing that what I said or did could make a difficult situation easier or something complicated simpler to understand – it was so incredibly rewarding.


That’s not to say nursing is easy. It can be extremely difficult -- physically, emotionally and mentally. You’re on your feet most of the day, lifting, pulling. You’re constantly multitasking because there’s so much you need to get done.

Nurses, remember this: If you want to do a good job, you must take care of yourself.

Your job is very stressful. Your work-life balance is critically important. Do whatever you need to do to maintain that and keep yourself physically and mentally healthy.

For me, running was a way to recharge. I also like to meditate. I pray. These are the things that always help me feel better. If I go home after work and go for a run or go to the gym, it makes a HUGE difference in my mental state.

There isn’t a nurse who isn’t emotionally impacted by what they see in their work. And it’s so easy to take it home with you. But to be able to care for others, you’ve got to take care of yourself. That’s where we nurses can help each other.

Say to your co-workers, “Come on, let’s go out.” I played a lot of tennis, whacked a lot of balls. That helped.

For all its difficulties, nursing is the best job in the world. My days just flew by. I loved being a nurse, and I’m so proud of all our nurses at Edward-Elmhurst Health. You are doing a FABULOUS job, taking care of our patients and taking care of each other.

Learn more about the Magnet-recognized nursing program at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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