The Pulse Committee presents “Why I Went Into Nursing,” an installment of interviews with faculty within Excelsior’s School of Nursing. The purpose of these interviews is to provide students with a more unique, personal view of “who’s who” in the School.
Why I Went Into Nursing: Mary Lee Pollard, PhD, RN, CNE
- Share with us why you became a nurse.
I worked in a nursing home in high school because it was close to my house and other friends of mine worked there. I enjoyed the work. I entered College as an engineering major and fast realized I didn’t care much for what I thought would be my day-to-day work. I was still a freshman and decided to transfer to the nursing major. I was interested in finding a career with flexibility: the ability to move about and change my work environment.
- Was there something specific that brought you to nursing?
My experience as a nurse’s aid in a nursing home was very satisfying—making a difference in people’s lives. I also worked with people who were in nursing school and their studies sounded very interesting. I also had some wonderful RN role models at that early time in my life when I was making the decision to become a nurse.
- What has made you stay?
There really hasn’t been a single day when I have gone to work regretting my pursuit of nursing as a career or the position where I was working at the time. There are days when I anticipate challenges that I know will be difficult, but I would never say that I wished I worked somewhere else. I enjoy the gratification of making a difference in an individual patient’s, a family’s, or a student’s life or situation.
- When did you decide to continue with your education?
I was encouraged to continue with my education when I was in my senior year of my undergraduate program. My professor for professional socialization was the president of ANA and she, along with my faculty advisor, made it clear that I was expected to continue my education. In fact, I took a graduate level stats class as a logic requirement in my senior year. I was also inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International and our induction speaker encouraged us to continue.
- Was there a reason you decided to continue your degree?
I was working 3-11 and found I was sleeping late every day, going to work, going out after work…I decided to take advantage of the tuition assistance benefits offered by my employer and slowly earned my MS. I was working as a staff nurse and then took a position at the hospital based SON to cover for someone on sabbatical to finish their masters. I was offered a position and stayed with the school when my temporary role was completed. Later I took advantage of the tuition assistance program again and started my doctorate.
- What advice would you give to a nurse newer to the profession?
Don’t limit yourself. If you aren’t happy in the clinical area or institution where you are working, explore other possibilities. Find a mentor or someone whose practice and professionalism you emulate. Don’t cut corners or develop bad habits.
- What has surprised you most about working in nursing/ nursing education?
When I left a single purpose institution for a college environment, I was surprised by how much more advanced nursing as a discipline was in establishing learning outcomes and in evaluating student learning.
- What do you find most challenging about nursing/ nursing education?
The ever-evolving science of nursing. It is difficult to keep up with the innovations in clinical practice. I volunteered for 15 years in a free clinic that closed with the passage of the affordable care act. I am far removed from patient care at this point in time. I also recognize a need to rectify the situation.
- What might someone be surprised to know about you?
One thing that is interesting to note: there are no nurses in my family. I played the clarinet from fourth grade to my sophomore year in college, including in my high school competition marching band and in the Syracuse University Marching Band.