1. Humphrey, Carolyn J. MS, RN, FAAN

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N urses: Many Roles, One Profession is the theme for National Nurses Week this month. Nurses have many roles; caring for patients and for each other is an important one. I want to share how one nurse, Angela Clark, chose an additional role that resulted in my becoming a nurse.


I received my basic nurse "training" from a hospital school of nursing. Just out of high school, I committed to 3 years of classes and rooming in the dorm, working every day in the hospital, and having little time off. The program was rough, but I knew I could get through.


Then I had an automobile accident. Plowing into two cars and rear-ended by another in the pouring rain, I hit the windshield, fractured my wrist, and cracked my ribs, ending up in the hospital. When discharged, I called school to plan my return. "Carolyn, you've missed a week of classes; we feel you should drop out and return next year " the director said. Because I had an arm cast, I couldn't be fully supervised in pediatrics since there was one clinical instructor.


I didn't expect this. I thought I would hear, "We're glad you weren't killed." But instead, they wanted me to drop out!! How could my friends graduate without me? Maybe this was an omen. I considered dropping out of nursing.

FIGURE. Angela P. Cl... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE. Angela P. Clark, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin.

When I arrived at school for my things I learned that the pediatric theory instructor, who didn't attend clinical, agreed to supervise me in the clinical area. Only because she volunteered could I stay in the program. For the next 8 weeks, Angela Clark supported me personally and professionally to ensure my experiences were positive. Although she had other things to do, she chose to help me become a nurse.


I've often thought of how she took that extra step and wanted to thank her for taking on the role of mentor, teacher, and colleague, but I couldn't locate her. In 2000, I was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing at a formal banquet attended by hundreds. As I walked down the hall, I saw a familiar face, stopped, and said, "Are you Angela Clark?" She looked at me and said, "Are you Carolyn Humphrey?"


After 30 years I finally was able to thank her personally and now share her story with you. I've remembered her kindness as I work with students and colleagues. During this month and through the year, I hope you find a way to thank nurses who have helped you in the past and continue to help you be a better person and professional. And, that you assume the role of mentor to someone who wants to join this one profession with many roles.