Lila de Tantillo

September 2013
Class of 2013


I believe this about nursing... "You can make a difference one patient at a time."

I entered the profession after spending more than a decade as a journalist. While I very much enjoyed my first career as a newspaper reporter, I had become frustrated by the limitations imposed by the constraints of the media world. While you could write a story to raise awareness about an issue, you were otherwise unable to intervene to help someone in need. I felt like an outsider looking in.

As I redirected my career into one as an online journalist in order to raise my children, I also helped to take care of my grandmother, who spent the last seven years of her life in a nursing home. There I began to observe the many similarities between nursing and what brought me to journalism: the emphasis on communication, the meticulous attention to detail, and the need to move quickly in a time of crisis.

At my grandmother’s bedside I witnessed how each person who entered her room to provide care had an impact. Some came to examine her and administer medications. Others offered hygiene and comfort.

Sometimes, a nurse who was not even assigned to her room would stop in to give my grandmother a hug.

Over time I learned that nursing is a multifaceted responsibility as well as a calling. While a nurse must be prepared to adequately apply lab values and medical calculations as needed, it just as important is to care for the patient with tenderness and compassion, even during the most difficult times.

For me, patient-centered care is at the core of why I chose nursing as my new career. In journalism, impartiality is the highest virtue; but in nursing, you are there to be a strong advocate for your patient. Journalists simply report the facts as they are; nurses strive to enhance the quality of life of their patients each day.

I know there is no way that I can ever find and thank every one of the nurses who helped make my grandmother’s life better during her final years. But I can honor each one by emulating the best of nursing’s core values in my own career. In nursing school clinicals, I see a little bit of my grandmother in all of my patients, and I give them care knowing that someone loves them each as I did my grandmother.

Because of the financial support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, I have been able to focus on my academics and progress smoothly to my final semester of nursing school. As I approach graduation, I am especially grateful to have had the opportunity to have received the guidance and mentorship provided by the New Careers in Nursing program. I earnestly look forward to the day that I will be caring for patients in a professional setting, and I hope to show them the devotion to the nursing that I witnessed from the nurses that have come before.