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Phoenix Forward

What motivates you as a nurse? Tales from the front line

What motivates you as a nurse? Tales from the front line

Many nurses come to the profession to help others, but for some, this career path is much more personal. Here, two nurses from the University of Phoenix community share poignant stories from their years in the profession and explain how those experiences have transformed their personal and professional lives.

"I think I was attracted to nursing after watching my mom's deteriorating health and knowing I was helpless to do anything," says Glenda Tali, a nurse who teaches nursing degree courses at the University of Phoenix Hawaii Campus. Tali had worked in health care for many years prior to her mother's death — as a candy striper, a hospital admitting clerk and a paramedic. But, she says, "after my mother died, it was time to step it up."

Tali's personal history with infertility and miscarriage inspired her to begin a career in labor and delivery. "I couldn't have babies, so I fulfilled that need by helping other women have babies," she says. Her experience with pregnancy loss attracted her to perinatal bereavement, a nursing specialty that supports parents who experience pregnancy loss, newborn death or stillbirth.

We say, 'I am a nurse.' It's not what you do — it's who you are.

One moment from many years ago still resonates with Tali to this day. "A young woman in her early 20s was admitted to labor and delivery for induction after it was discovered there was no fetal heartbeat," she says. "The stillborn baby delivered unexpectedly when the doctor was not present — it was just my patient and myself."

Tali supported the bereaved mother in the hours following the stillbirth and even helped her plan a memorial service. "I still get a card from that patient almost every Christmas, signed with both the mother's and the baby's names," she says. "It's the kind of memory I will never forget." Inspired by this work, Tali helped found Resolve Through Sharing, a nonprofit organization that supports families dealing with the loss of a pregnancy or an infant.

And it's not only patients that provide inspiration. Margi Schultz finds encouragement in her nursing students, who help her become a better nurse, she believes. "I first started working with nursing students on clinical rotations when I was still a hospital nurse," says Schultz, who obtained her BSN and MSN degrees from University of Phoenix. "I loved teaching these new nurses so much, it inspired me to get my BSN, my MSN and my PhD so I could teach full time. Training the next generation of nurses is so rewarding. You make a much bigger impact that way."

Schultz believes that the energy and creativity nursing students bring to the classroom make her a more effective nurse. "I always have to work very hard to stay one step ahead of my students," she says. "In the profession, we don't tell people we just have a job. We say, 'I am a nurse.' It's not what you do — it's who you are."