Sharon M. Melincavage, D.Ed., R.N., ANP-BC, CNE
The Cedar Crest College Board of Trustees promoted Sharon Melincavage to associate professor of nursing with tenure. She was honored with other faculty members in a ceremony on April 18, 2013.
Lessons Along the Way
First, I want to say that it is an honor to share this day with my fellow colleagues here on the stage. Congratulations to you!
Next, I would like to thank President Ambar, Provost Meade, members of the Board of Trustees of Cedar Crest College, fellow colleagues, and family and friends for participating in this special ceremony. Thank you.
I want to start by acknowledging what a privilege it is for me to teach and earn tenure at Cedar Crest College. Writing this talk for this ceremony has turned out to be a wonderful gift to me as I realized I had an opportunity to pause and spiral back to my chosen profession of nursing—to reflect on what nursing means to me and what has transpired since I chose the profession—both personally and professionally.
As a little girl, around the age of 4 or 5, I remember seeing Nurse Jesse Brewer on the television show General Hospital--and this was in the era of black and white television--now I'm giving away my age! Jesse proudly wore her nurse's cap with the stripe on it, her crisp white uniform, her nurse's pin from the school she graduated, and her dark colored sweater. Now Jesse, I thought had it made, she would answer the phone "Seventh floor, nurse's station," she would leave the nursing unit on a whim to go the cafeteria on a coffee break with some friends, fellow nurses, or even a handsome doctor! I thought I could do that!
So, fast forward with me to about fifteen years later, when the reality of becoming a nurse came to fruition. I attended and graduated from The Reading Hospital School of Nursing. The lesson learned during my nursing education was that a nurse is much more than what I remembered Jesse Brewer portraying on a soap opera. I learned that nurses have the compassion and desire to help others; to ease pain and suffering; and to contribute to a better way of life for all. I learned that nurses are given opportunities to learn that most others in society are denied or are shielded from; we can learn from holding the hand of someone while he or she makes a transition beyond the physical plane; we can learn from the look of fear in a small child’s eyes when he or she is facing a needle for the first time; we can learn from the thank you of a homeless person who is brought to the ER suffering from frostbite during a winter storm. It is these experiences from which I have learned the most, but there are others.
While I was a nursing student at The Reading Hospital School of Nursing I learned from the fine nursing instructors who taught me that an avenue in the profession of nursing was that of teaching. I was so inspired by those fine women who taught me nursing that I told myself, "one day I want to come back here to teach." And 21 years later I had the opportunity to do that. When I reflect back on my own nursing education I have learned that I am here today, teaching nursing, because I stood on the shoulders of giants—those giants being my nursing instructors. And, I must tell you that their shoulders are very broad. My nursing instructors taught me factual knowledge, but more importantly they taught me the qualities of being a compassionate and competent nurse. When I returned to my alma mater to teach, some of my nursing instructors who taught me were still there—and guess what—I was still learning from them! Lessons along the way!
So far I have spoken of several women who have influenced me in the profession of nursing; however, I need to tell you about a woman who in my mind was the greatest nurse of all—my mom—who has passed. While she did not attend nursing school nor was ever a licensed nurse it is from her that I learned the most. I learned from her the virtue of hard work and to pursue my goals. She showed compassion on a daily basis to my father and her children, which includes me and my two brothers, and in-laws too. She was always there in our time of need. Also, she always had a warm meal on the stove—if anyone was ever hungry, they knew where to go.
So, while seemingly I stand here as one person speaking to you, I am really an aggregate of the many people who have touched my life. As a nurse educator, I have learned the lesson that by teaching students I am in reality touching the lives of countless numbers of patients. I have been given the opportunity to pass onto others the lessons I learned along the way.
But the exciting news—and this is another lesson gained from my mother—is that the learning continues—and I expect it to. I'll continue to learn as I continue to teach. I'll learn new things about the practice of nursing as our field keeps up with technological and other types of innovation. I'll learn from an increasingly diverse population of students representing various cultures, backgrounds, and other social dimensions. And to be sure, I'll learn from interacting with my professional colleagues and friends, many of whom I am lucky enough to share a Cedar Crest College connection. Thanks again to each of you. I couldn't be more proud of our institution and the tremendous work that is accomplished in our program than I am today.
But wait, there's more...