Lorne Edward Harris

July 2013
Class of 2015


I believe this about nursing..."It is meaningful work."

In his world renowned book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor and psychotherapist, viewed life not so much as a quest for pleasure or power, but as a quest for meaning. Basic to his understanding of the human psyche is that one can find meaning in life by doing something that you find personally significant.

For most of my career, I have worked in the financial services industry. I have dual MBA degrees in marketing from Arizona State University and the Thunderbird School of International Management. Before I entered Yale School of Nursing, I was a vice president at large bank involved in developing marketing campaigns. I had a secure corporate job, good benefits, and
was successful in my career. So, why would I want to become a nurse?

Luckily, I had the opportunity to take a year off and do something that I always wanted. I became a massage therapist and, suddenly I was working with people’s bodies. While attending to the physical needs my clients, something inside of me changed. I learned that for me, really meaningful work meant helping people.

Later, my volunteer experience in the Emergency Department of my local hospital confirmed for me that nursing was the career I wanted to pursue. After taking my prerequisites in Anatomy and Physiology, I found it fascinating to witness (and often lend a hand in) many procedures. I helped an oral surgeon wire a broken jaw, saw quite a few lumbar punctures, observed the insertion of many Foley and NG tubes, and even assisted a surgeon while he put in a chest tube. But more than anything, I remember that it was the small things I did as a volunteer that really seemed to matter to the patients. It felt right to bring someone a blanket from the warmer when they were cold. It felt right to be the translator for a Latino patient who didn’t speak English. It felt right
just to talk to patients when they were alone and needed someone to listen.

Hospitals for so many people are frightening places, and the older you become the more time you spend in them. In the eighties, I visited friends in AIDS wards and later watched my mother as she struggled with ovarian cancer. For them, the hospital was truly a terrifying place—I want to be a nurse so that I can try to make it a little less so.

As Viktor Frankl pointed out so well in his book, one should seize the opportunity to do something that is meaningful. I want to be able to look back on my life and say that it had meaning — and that I tried hard to fulfill it by pursuing a career in nursing. I am grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for all their support during my first year. Through the mentoring encouragement and financial assistance I received, I have made it through this crucial year and look forward to continuing on in nursing.