Columbia University - CRNA Class of 2018
The Importance of Community Within Nursing
My name is Timothy Shi, and I’m starting my second year and final year of CRNA School at Columbia University. I came into nursing in a very interesting way – the idea to become a nurse actually came from my six hours behind the wheel driving instructor in college, who was also a male nurse and taught how to drive as a side job. During those 6 hours that I was with him, he kept telling me how great it was to be a nurse - to be able to interact with people on a daily basis, as well as the ability to increase your scope of practice by becoming an advanced practice nurse. I was sold; however, when it came down to deciding which school I wanted to go into, I was torn between biomedical engineering and nursing – and although my parents rooted for me to go into biomedical engineering, like any other Asian boy. No matter how hard my parents tried to push me to become an engineering, I just couldn’t see myself enjoying that job, and choose to become a nurse. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it since, and have not looked back on my decision.
I received my RN license in July of 2012, and have specialized in oncology ever since. I started off my nursing career on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer center and later transitioned into the ICU before starting at Columbia in the summer of 2016. Throughout my nursing career, I always found it important to stay active within the nursing community, to elevate the profession in any way possible.
When I was completed my BSN at NYU College of Nursing, I discovered how great it was to have a strong sense of community amongst my peers where everyone supported one another. However, when I started working as a nurse, I found that my own community of nurses was limited to the unit that I worked on. Don’t get me wrong – I loved working with my fellow co-workers, but I thought that with such a large workforce in NYC, there would have been a greater sense of community than I had felt while in school. When my friend John Campbell approached a group of us, who went to NYU College of Nursing, with this idea to start a men in nursing chapter for the New York City area, I was very intrigued. A few months later, he founded the NYC men in nursing Chapter. Unfortunately, John had to step down a few months into founding the chapter, and I took over the role of President. During my two year term, the e-board and I helped grow the chapter to have over 200 members, and stand as one of the largest chapters in the nation. What drove me to help grow this chapter was knowing that I could help create a space where male nurses could come together and share experiences with one another, as well as help mentor future generations of male nurses. It has given me great joy to see how far the chapter has come since its inception and continues to grow. In my rotations for CRNA School I’ve met many male nurses, and whenever I find out that they are a member of this chapter, I always find it a very humbling experience to know that they have found a community where they can feel supported.
In addition to working with the NYC Men in Nursing Chapter, I became involved with Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honors Society after graduation, and was appointed to the position of United Nations youth Representative for STTi. Through this role, I have been able to speak both national and internationally at multiple nursing conferences – teaching nurses about what is happening at the UN, and how they can get involved within their own communities. As nurses, we are well positioned to make a positive impact on the world by helping to achieve these sustainable developmental goals set forth by the UN, because we are always in direct contact with patients. It doesn’t matter if you’re a nurse in the United States, or a nurse in China – we all have similar roles within the healthcare team, and more importantly similar roles within the community.
When I finish CRNA School, I want to continue with my work internationally through mission trips in countries where healthcare is readily inaccessible. However, I think that it is very important to help create more sustainable efforts that involve the local communities in these countries – and educating the nurses with a basic understand of anesthesia would help their communities out I the long run. I hope that one day I can help create these kinds of educational programs so that nurses can provide some sort of anesthetic care and pain relief to patients. Until then, I hope to obtain a PhD in nursing once I start working, so that I can produce research that will help further elevate the field of CRNAs in the United States, and to hopefully introduce the role in other countries.