(Re)discovering my love for nursing at NYU Langone

Sienna Chen, NUR ’25, Los Angeles, CA

“Is nursing for me?” This is the question I asked myself again and again as I neared the end of my second year in nursing school. Unable to answer it, I carried the same question into my summer at NYU Langone Health, where I had the opportunity to work on a Med-Surg unit as a Student Nurse Extern. After immersing myself in the role and learning from the most passionate group of nurses I know, I rediscovered, or perhaps truly discovered for the first time, my passion for nursing.

As a nurse extern, I was paired with a nurse every shift and worked to assist them with their patients of the day while learning the technical and interpersonal skills needed to be a successful nurse. In the beginning, I found myself fumbling to even introduce myself to patients. The rapport between the nurses and their patients and care that came so naturally seemed very foreign and hard to achieve; not to mention the countless awkward encounters as I clumsily took vital signs or performed finger sticks.

As I mimicked the nurses and patient care technicians (PCTs) around me and learned under their guidance, the speed at which I worked increased, and interactions with patients grew more natural. The nurses also entrusted me with more responsibilities, from participating in rounds to administering medication to drawing blood. 

As much as this experience has sharpened my skills and boosted my confidence, it has also been incredibly humbling. There’s no glorifying it; a big part of the job is cleaning patients to ensure that they’re as comfortable as they can be. Wiping a 90-year-old’s bottom at 8 am is not how I’d imagined I would start my morning, but that’s the unique aspect of this job that I learned to embrace and take pride in. In my application to Penn, I wrote that I wanted to “bring comfort to those at their most vulnerable,” unsure what that would look like. For the first time since I wrote down those words, I understood their true meaning and found what I was looking for as a clueless highschooler.

After the past two months and countless lifelong lessons, I feel prepared for the next two years at Penn. More importantly, I feel more certain than ever that nursing is the right path for me. My heart longs for the day I get my license so that I can continue bringing care to those who need it most. This summer has given me more than I could have ever asked for, and none of it would’ve been possible without the support from Career Services and the nurses on Tisch 16 West.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here

By Career Services
Career Services