When Melanie Turnbough decided to be a nurse, she told her mother the bad news first.
Her mom, a labor and delivery RN for 25 years, was confused.
"'Why's it bad?'" Turnbough recalled her mother saying. "And I told her, 'Because I can't be like you.'
"My mom is a super woman. Raising kids, working night shift, doing everything and still smiling and making cookies. I told her 'I don't know how you do that' and she actually sat me down and told me, 'Nursing is one of the most diverse things you could ever get into. There is no cookie-cutter personality for it. You become, you mold it as you grow and it will mold to you. You kind of create this perfect mold for your personality, your way and you find your niche.'"
So that's what Turnbough did.
Since graduating from West Coast University-Orange County with a bachelor of science in nursing, she has been working in the intensive care unit at Promise Hospital in Paramount, California.
"It's a really interesting facet of medicine and I highly recommend it for any students that are interested in critical care or ER or even OR to kind of get some experience," she said. "I take care of our patients that are too critical to be on the regular med-surg floor, on that borderline between life and death, but we're trying to see how can we get them from that back to stable enough to continue their care and to go back home."
Turnbough said it's not for everyone, but critical care is very rewarding.
"You do experience a lot of patients expiring and death, but there is a bright side where your work does pay off," she said. "You bring them back and say, 'We got them better and they're going to live and they're going to go home.'"
Turnbough said her WCU instructors and clinical experiences helped prepare her for dealing with the highs and lows of critical care. She said she tries to stay even-keeled during her shift, and recommends nursing students do the same while in school.
"There's always the possibility of bad, there's always the possibility of good don't ride on either or. Stay in the middle and keep yourself consistent which is how you survive in nursing school actually," she said.
The other piece of advice she has for students, is to learn about themselves in school. Turnbough took her mother's advice to mold nursing to her personality but still didn't know where that would lead her. A lot of her classmates were drawn to pediatrics, but Turnbough didn't feel like her gifts led her down the same path as her friends — something she's totally at ease with.
"I don't want to do critical care for the rest of my life but one thing I will tell you is where I am right now is definitely planting good seeds for where I will be in 15 years," she said. "Whether it's one field or another, I'm currently already planted in the right direction."