Finding Your Why/Home in Healthcare - On Board Virginia

Finding Your Why/Home in Healthcare

Posted on Dec 12, 2022

Eleanor Wafawanaka

I am a 24-year-old recent graduate of VCU School of Nursing. I live in Richmond, Virginia, and work as a pediatric nurse at VCU Health. My journey began when I was young. I’ve always known I wanted to work in the healthcare field and help others. I attended nursing explorer camps and was involved in many volunteer opportunities which helped spark my interest.

I absolutely loved VCU’s large urban campus, wide range of clinical hours, holistic learning style and reputation for providing quality patient care, thus allowing me to give back to my community. A few years before nursing school, I earned my CNA license and began working as a Care Partner. I worked with adults for a few years but knew pediatrics was my passion. So, a year before graduation, I transferred to the Acute Care Pediatrics unit at VCU Health which solidified my decision to start my career there as a nurse. I chose pediatrics because kids are so resilient. A large part of my “why” is that I have always wanted to create a safe space for others, do something larger than myself, and be an inspiration for people, especially children.

Throughout my program, I served as Class Co-Director of my cohort, a Senator of The Student Government Association, a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the National Student Nurses’ Association. In May 2022, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and was awarded the Future Nurse Leader Award through Virginia Nurses Association. I currently serve on their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.

Nursing is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, stamina, and compassion. Being a new nurse brings even more meaning to that phrase. We have the unique ability to support and form meaningful relationships with patients and their families. We’re able be a patient advocate, provide education, and improve the health of others. Nursing can be overwhelming at times; there’s so much to learn and juggle. We need support, healthy work environments, and positive mentorships from experienced nurses. It’s so important to ask for help when needed and practice self-care by doing things that bring you joy and help you replenish your energy to avoid burnout.

Finding and holding onto what’s important to you and why you chose your career path will help you stay the course when things get difficult. For me, I am always reminded of my “why” and feel grateful to make such a meaningful impact. The feeling of doing something I genuinely love and knowing it’s meant for me is amazing. Also, being a positive representation for people who look like me makes this profession even more rewarding. I know that I am walking in the path God planned for me and I’m eager to educate and inspire others along the way and help them on their journey.