New Semester and Purposeful Insights

The last Traditional BSN class of JHU SON has officially entered into our second semester by completing the first week. How’s it feel? Firstly, let me start by relaying the gratitude and appreciation I feel for all the wonderful alumni I met over my winter break. There are the two that I wrote about previously (“ground meat” nurse and pediatrics NP), and there are others whom I met and just chatted with–all such helpful and friendly people. It instills in me the strong desire and conviction to help other Hopkins grads after me, to pass on the kindness shown to me (shout out here to my alumni mentor, you know who you are!)

Secondly, I got two wonderful leads on summer internships … in Northern California, believe it or not! Nothing 100% solidified but really strong possibilities (let’s keep the fire stoked) and I still have a lot of work to do until summer (right around the corner), but praying to Universe/Creator that things pan out, but also understanding that everything happens for our higher good.

Okay, back to the present: The classes I’m taking this semester: Psychiatric Nursing, Older Adults, Pharmacology, and Research Process. Since I’ve only really had one week of classes, it’s difficult to ascertain how exciting any of them will be (Pharm will be a toughie though, that’s sure enough!), but there is one class that has already struck a chord in me: Older Adults.

I volunteered in hospice in San Francisco for almost a year–and let me tell you: it was difficult. Not because all of my hospice assignments were dying within two or three weeks or injuring themselves all the time. I really feel strong conviction that people should live personally satisfying and relatively healthy, pain-free end-of-life years (as much as possible) and have the right to leave this life with dignity and a sense of spiritual purpose (most definitely). Taking 20 different medications and being hooked up to a life support machine to live a life of stupor and drool is not dignifying to me.

Something about hospice care really speaks to me, something about helping people prepare their last years in a purposeful, spiritual way. From 19 to 21 years old I lived in a Hindu monastery. I remember several people came there to die and pass onto the next life. One of the monastics had been a nurse previously, so she helped comfort and take care of these people who came to provide their souls an avenue to leave their bodies and journey onto the next life in a conscientious way. I am very attracted to this.

I know that hospice is not just for old people–there are young people there too. But I am thinking mostly of the older adults, those who have weathered the various 20th century wars, seen the world transform itself in monumentous proportions, amassed so much wisdom. One day my parents will join those forces. One day I will join those forces as well.

A friend of mine in San Francisco is a volunteer at a Buddhist hospice, the Zen Hospice Project. Does Baltimore have something like this, I wonder. If anyone has any idea, please let me know!

Personal take-home message: Care for everyone, young and old. Play with the young, talk with the old, hug and love them all. Honor the spirit in each and every one of us–we’re all traversing this journey together.

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