The Nursing Assistant
Meet Nancy Park – biologist by day, horror movie fan by night and a lover of all things pink – always. After spending the first eight years of her life in the concrete jungles of New York City, she moved to suburbia in Augusta, Georgia. Now, she’s traded her love for getting lost in the Big Apple with exploring Atlanta – the city that she currently calls home.
Till quite recently Nancy and I were not friends, acquaintances or even in the limbo in between. We were simply social media connections. Our relationship consisted of double tapping each other’s images every once in a while on the photo-sharing platform Instagram. However a few short months ago, I was extremely intrigued by her latest update on Facebook. She had gleefully shared the news of an award she’d received, one that is awarded by the College of Sciences to a junior intending on pursuing medicine. I distinctly recall the wave of emotions that had flooded over me – astonishment, admiration, and awe.
What was so striking was how candidly she declared how she had only tasted success after five grueling semesters, filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. She was relatable and genuine and her vulnerability raked up countless comments of encouragement and likes. This was particularly relevant as while the average scroller on Facebook would shrug off how another millennial was ‘killing the game’, Nancy highlighted how unglamorous it truly was. It didn’t look like pristine tests with an A gleaming from the top right hand corner. It looked like countless hours struggling to understand Organic Chemistry and fumbling through research.
However her success was no surprise given that the self-dubbed nerd had developed an early passion for the biological sciences by devouring books from the local public library. Every two weeks, she would fill up her mother’s backpack with the maximum number of books allowed to be checked out at a time. These were usually scientific titles ranging from Event Horizons to All About Africa’s Savannas. Even now, on rare occasions when she is free of obligations you can catch her staring intently at a dog-eared novel, sipping on her second latte.
Now rewinding slightly, Nancy ambitiously certified as a nursing assistant in high school. This exposed her to various medical environments and it was here that she discovered her passion for medicine. From her experiences in Grady’s Burn Unit and her time shadowing orthopedic surgeons, it dawned on her that she wanted to pursue reconstructive surgery and help ameliorate the suffering that many patients experience while accelerating the recovery process. There’s an abundance of marvelous innovation happening in the field of regenerative medicine, she says and she’d love to aid that progress in any way that she can.
One thing that she’s noticed however is that while most of the patients are polite, some have less than savory ways of expressing their gratitude.
“I’ve received a lot more comments about my appearance than about my performance, and I know a lot of the nurses I work with face the same treatment. While I know most of these people mean well, I think it reinforces the idea that a woman’s most valuable asset is her appearance and not her intelligence, work ethic, or ingenuity. Personally, I think I’m also guilty of not giving more creative and meaningful compliments, so I think that acknowledging the full range of talents that many of these women have would definitely help mitigate this issue.”
Besides being a certified nurse, Nancy is your average twenty-year old. She cheekily admits that her go-to playlist mostly consists of music that suggests that she hasn’t quite left her middle-school phase in the past.
“In the song Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy, Patrick Stump sings “You are what you love, not who loves you.” Fall Out Boy is my favorite musical due to their lyrical artistry, and this line definitely doesn’t disappoint. It’s a reminder that the approval of others does not make or break you- Instead, you are a reflection of the people, symbols, and values that you hold dear.”