One of the things I enjoy the most about our Women of Strength blog is learning about the hard work of these remarkable ladies. Meet Katie Newton. Katie has a powerful story of hard work, sacrifice, intelligence and one God giving gift of making things work. Katie is a registered nurse in Dallas, seriously who doesn't love a pediatric nurse? :) Enjoy her story, and if she inspires you which I know she will, I invite you to share our blog or leave her a comment!
Tell us about you, where are you from, what you do, etc.
I am currently a registered nurse in Dallas, Texas at Children's Medical Center. I have been a RN for over six years and have worked that entire time in pediatric hematology and oncology. It's certainly a challenging field but I wouldn't trade it for the world! I hear a lot from people who say they could never do this job, but honestly, there are more good days than bad and this journey has been such a gift. There's something so unique about meeting families at the most vulnerable time of their lives and being able to give a little bit of yourself to them day in and day out. And truth be told, I get way more out of it than I put in. The stories of resilience and love that I've witnessed have humbled me in unimaginable ways.
I am also currently a graduate student through Arizona State University. I am getting my Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) in pediatric primary care. Ultimately I would like to work in palliative care. Pediatric palliative care is really going through a bit of a revolution in this country right now and we're finding better ways to invest in the quality of life aspect for children with life-limiting illnesses each and every day. I have witnessed palliative care done correctly and I have witnessed it done incorrectly and so I feel I truly know the value that it can bring when we serve these kids to the best of our ability. There is a lot of room for growth and opportunity and a lot of things that they currently do in Europe that we haven't seen here in the United States yet, I really would like to be a part of that transformation over the next 30+ years or so of my career.
- Taking into consideration the nature of your job, how do you remain strong for those families you interact with? As you said, you meet them in very very vulnerable times.
So I will say this, and I tell this to new nurses often who are stuggling with the magnitude of this profession, there are more good days than bad days and that makes it all worth it. Yes, there are absolutely patients who have hit me pretty hard and witnessing the trials of kids having to cope with something so much bigger than them, it can be taxing. I remember the first time I had a young patient pass away that I was particularly fond of. She was only two years old, she loved to play nurse and be a "helper" for whatever I was doing, and when I would clean things on her lines with alcohol, she would do the same thing to her dolls and say, "clean, clean, clean!" I was a relatively new nurse when she passed and I almost walked away from the profession entirely. However, all you have to do is come back the next day. It sounds so cliche, but that's really what it has come down to for me. Because how lucky am I that when I come back that next day I'm the reason a kid smiles, or I'm the person who knows the answer to a question that's been burning at a mother all day, or a former patient who's no longer in treatment walks through the door just to say hello, or even if I'm the one who gets to stay up through the night with a teenager who thinks that she just can't do it anymore and remind her that she's beautiful and strong and can get through anything? How do I remain strong? I'm not the one who does, I'm the one priveleged enough to watch an immeasurable amount of strength surround me every day and then feed off of it. It almost borders on selfish to be honest. I will also say that the men and women who go into pediatric oncology nursing are some of the most magnificient people you'll ever meet in your life. I mean, these are the people who signed up to take care of kids with cancer. They are brilliant, and hilarious, and the most kind and gentle souls you'll ever meet. I draw a lot of my strength from the people that I work with, because the patients are all of ours, we know them all, and we are all on the same team. It makes coming back day after day easy when you know that regardless of what you'll be facing, you have that incredible community of support.
- How do you balance your job with life at home, and especially being a military spouse?
Honestly, finding a balance between this military spouse life, work, and school, has been more challenging that I imagined. I'm lucky to have an incredibly supportive husband who is more than happy to hold me when I'm stressed and need to cry but then he makes sure I get back up and make my goals happen. That has been huge for me. I'm very passionate about what I do and what I want to do in the future, but we're currently at a base that's 2+ hours away from the nearest children's hospital, so that means I commute. I wasn't willing to sacrifice my goals because we were moving somewhere more remote with fewer opportunities, and quite frankly, I'm just lucky to be married to someone who understands that and we can make this military life work for us together. I think the mutual respect that we both have for each other's professions has really been key. I mean, he is an EOD tech and I know I could never sign up for a job like that! But then he'll tell you that he could never sign up for a job like mine! We both just want to make our impact on some tiny little corner of the world so we make sacrifices where needed and just continue to support each other so that it becomes feasible. After that it's just little things. For example, he's an excellent cook and we have a house rule that there's no TV or cell phones at the dinner table, so when we do get a little time together, we are really able to treasure it!
- What would you tell young spouses with hopes and aspirations of pursuing their education while being a military spouse?
So the best advice I ever got came from my mother. She always told me growing up, and still tells me, "Decide what your goal is. Then every decision you make after that, make it based off of that goal. If it helps you get closer to what you are trying to achieve, do it. If not, it's not for you." I live by this. I think that military spouses are put in a lot of adverse situations and there's a lot asked of us on a regular basis. However, the spouses that I've gotten to know are also the most resilient people I've ever met. Yes it's hard, yes it's challenging, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. For me right now, my goal is to finish school. So when things come up...does this job help me get there? does this opportunity help me get there? does this plan help me achieve something?...the questions are easy to answer with a focus in mind. I also think that education is a great equalizer and I love to hear stories of spouses advancing themselves academically so that they are equipped with knowledge that helps them bring change to our communities. Like I said, military spouses are a determined and resilient group of people, and while pursing education is challenging when you are moving frequently and often single-handedly supporting your household, it's not impossible.
Incredibly inspiring isn't it? Thank you Katie for sharing your story with the Kallie & Co. community!
Do you know a Woman of Strength? Send us her story at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to feature her. It can BE YOU!!!