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Editor's Note: This moving letter was sent to Colleen Shaddox and Dr. Paula Milone-Nuzzo, who wrote about a recognition program in the February 2005 article, "A Highly Public Tribute Aims to Elevate Nursing." I find it an excellent example of how communicating with your colleagues through a professional journal can benefit others and yourself. Ms. Ribbons found inspiration to move forward in her education, Dr. Milone-Nuzzo inspired a new student, and Ms. Shaddox clearly described how other agencies in the country could replicate the program.


My name is Joan Ribbons. I am an RN, one of the nurses in the 2001 American Nurses Association staffing survey statistics who did not recommend nursing as a career. That is, until recently. When I read the February 2005 issue of Home Healthcare Nurse (pp 79-81), I found that I no longer am one of nursing's sad statistics. Why? Because I have a new job (in home care) and I love it!! That's what I've been telling my family and friends since I changed jobs. I want to thank both of you for bringing this to my attention through your comments in this article.


I have been an RN since 1976. I went to a hospital diploma program in Michigan because my parents told me to. I did not know what I wanted to do, but was sure I didn't want to be a nurse. My father told me to "Do what you can do now, and do what you want to do later." He knew that as a nurse, I would always have a job.


Dad was right; I've always had a job. I've raised four children, mostly as a single mom. My eldest daughter graduated from college 2 years ago, and my second is at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and graduated in May. Two more graduated high school in June, one going to PSU and the other to Wellesley. Through my child-raising years, I worked part-time and always looked at my nursing job as fun, even putting smiling faces on the days I was scheduled to work!! I usually was the only one with the attitude of work being fun. Eventually I became "burned out" working in obstetrics, so I "retired" and worked in a nursing home.


When I decided to make a full-time career change this year, I discovered home health nursing [horizontal ellipsis]by accident. An advertisement in the newspaper read, "New position for an RN full time." I sent my resume, not knowing a company name or what the job was about. When I was called by the manager of the home health agency, I was surprised. Within 2 weeks of orientation, I knew I had found my niche. I was challenged and excited and working with professionals with healthy attitudes. I started working the afternoon shift and knew I'd learn a lot.


I have also realized that I am a teacher. In the past, I recall my co-workers and clients frequently commenting on my teaching skills. My newest employer told me that I was given outstanding recommendations for my current position and that's why she offered me the job. When I read the journal article on the Nightingale Awards and learned of your commitment to nursing and your affiliation with PSU, I realized that I wanted to continue my goal of completing my BSN and working toward teaching at a university nursing program in home care nursing.


I have applied to PSU in the past but financially and emotionally could not find a way to start the program. I am now motivated to try harder, and who knows, maybe I'll be graduating along with my children!! Thank you for helping me put everything in perspective and realize the goals I have, and to work on attaining them.