Lindsay Levine believes there are three things nursing students need to be successful: time, support and — most of all — passion.
As a nursing instructor at West Coast University-Dallas, Levine strives to instill those traits into each and every one of her students.
“Students constantly are coming to me saying ‘I don't know if nursing is for me.’ I have to remind them if nursing was easy everyone would do it. If every single time it got tough it meant you gave up, there wouldn't be any nurses, so we have those hard conversations,” Levine said. “I tell them, ‘You have to persevere and if this is your dream and this is your passion, we can get through this together.’”
Levine frequently tells her students that if they show her they have the will and the drive to learn, she will give them all the tools necessary to succeed.
“I always tell the students ‘I'm not going to run out of time if you don't run out of effort’ and that really seems to motivate them, knowing that there's someone here, even if they just need to send me an email in the middle of the day saying I'm really struggling you know is there anything I can do,” she said. “Sometimes they just need that person to say ‘We've all been there. Persevere — it's almost over.”
Why did you go into nursing?
My mom is a nurse, so that’s why I became a nurse but I stayed because when I got in there I really liked the idea that you're not just there to hold hands. There is a medical field, there is science behind it, you do have to critically think. I tell my students all the time you can't be a robot. There's no robot answer. You have to take what you have, critically analyze it and come up with a solution that could save your patient’s life.
Do you have any advice for people considering nursing?
Don't give up. Don't listen to what everyone says either. I hear all these horror stories about my students before they even get to nursing and it's not true. It's not going to be easy, but it's not going to be impossible and it can actually even be fun!
Can anyone be a nurse?
Is it easy? No. Can anyone do it? Sure. There's no one that I would look at and say you don't have what it takes. If it's your passion and it's in your heart then you can absolutely do it. You have to have a reason to say why do I love this again? It has to be something from the heart.
Do you have a favorite moment with a student?
I had a student who I just saw so much potential in. She came to me halfway through the term and she said ‘Miss Levine, I really want to do this but I’m struggling.’ I told her I'm not running out of time if you don’t run out of effort and she took me up on that. This student went from barely passing my class to an A, on that final she made a 97 and I actually cried. I think you know you have the passion when those students are taking the test and I'm as equally nervous as them because I just want them to be so proud of themselves and I know that they can do.
Do you have a favorite memory of a patient?
I work at a county hospital and I had a pregnant 14-year-old come in once, completely by herself and she didn't speak any English. You could see in her eyes that there was just sheer terror and I walked in there with an interpreter trying to do whatever I could to let her know I was there for her. She told me via the interpreter that her family basically disowned her but she was the strongest person in the room during that entire delivery. I think it really humbled me. Here was this 14-year-old and she's all by herself, accepting responsibility and she still showed up. I knew that she needed not only a nurse but she needed a friend and a rock right then. Any other nurse could have said ‘It's not my job to be your friend right now’ or ‘Hold my hand, it's my job to get this baby out safely,’ but I knew that with her there was something special. She came back about two years later with her 2-year-old, happily married and living out in the city. We remember those patients but you don't know if they remember you and she even told me, ‘You were a great nurse. You took care of me and my baby very well but it was you standing there and saying ‘I'm not going to leave you’ that really made the difference.’
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