Nars Jenna: First Day

Nars Jenna: First Day

By: Jenna Oien

Today I toured the hospital where I will be working for the next nine weeks and it was a humbling experience.

I’ll start by saying that I have immense respect for all nurses because of the amount of knowledge we are expected to have, the challenges we face on a daily basis, and that we—as a profession—face those challenges with poise and grace.

But today I learned that the average nurse to patient ratio at my hospital is 1:15-20. The most patients I’ve cared for at once is four. One nurse! Fifteen to 20 patients with unique histories, needs, expectations, challenges, and sometimes infections that nurses can catch (and even transmit to other patients).

But this is true for many facilities in the world. When I lived in Tanzania there was only one nurse and one clinical officer for my ward of over 10,000. It’s just really hard to wrap my mind around what that means in practice—all the supplies, time, knowledge, and energy that goes into caring for all those people. It gets me kind of emotional.

And yet, the nurses on the units were all smiles and so happy to meet me. The Deputy Director of Nursing’s briefing on the activities the hospital is pursuing left my head spinning because their plans were so thoughtful and intentional. In so much of what felt like chaos, their focus is laser-like and driven by facility needs rather than the bottom line.

The faculty and staff at the school of nursing were also incredible. They could talk shop and showed that they care for one another.

Sitting at the reception following the Oath-Taking Ceremony for the last batch of nursing students that passed their boards,

I watched and admired as these very knowledgeable, powerful women joked with each other at the reception after the Oath Taking Ceremony for nursing students who passed their boards. They brought me right along with them wherever they went, both in conversation and in presence.

I am so grateful that this is where I will begin my nursing career. I am terrified, don’t get me wrong, but I am also terribly excited for what this experience is going to bring and who I will become at the end of it.

Ang pangalan ako ay Jenna, isa akong nars—My name is Jenna, I am a nurse.


Jenna Oien is an MSN (Entry Into Nursing) student graduating in 2018. She previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania and is currently completing her synthesis practicum in Manila, Philippines. You can read her blog here 

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