William Clark

March 2010
Class of 2010


I believe this about nursing … “Nursing is a caring and compassionate profession that also requires competence and leadership.”

Care and compassion, competence and leadership; at times these terms can appear as oxymorons! I believe, however, that these terms are congruent and the fusion of these terms is one of the basic tenets of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In 1943, Antoine de Saint Exupery wrote and illustrated a book entitled The Little Prince.   In this book, he addressed matters of consequence. Exupery wrote that, “In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence. I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I   have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them.”

I too have lived a great deal among grown-ups and I have also had many encounters with them regarding matters of consequence. However, in opposition to the opinion held by The Little Prince, my opinion of many of them is most positive. For example, even though I can’t document that adults made the decision to assist students at the University of Rochester School of Nursing with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholarship funds, I can certainly assume a cadre of adults did indeed make this decision. As a result of this decision, I (along with a multitude of my colleagues) have been able to pursue a dream of nursing. For me, this professional preparation is a second career. My first career of 36 years was public education with 28 years in a leadership position. My dream is to take my leadership skills and intertwine them with a competence in nursing and then use these combined skills to provide care to my community and leadership within the healthcare setting.

Although I have only been preparing for my new career for a short eight months, I have had the opportunity to learn about the other side of health care. What I have seen is a plethora of caring and extremely competent professionals who bring an incredible talent and dedication to the healthcare setting in general, and to nursing in particular. I have found nurses who bring skill and talent to the sick of our community but who also continue to learn from that same community every day. I see a sharing of knowledge and a willingness to allow patients to be an integral part of their own care. Once again, I must disagree with The Little Prince when Exupery says, “Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” 

What I have seen and experienced during these past eight months has encouraged me even more to become a caring, compassionate and competent leader in the field of nursing. I have learned that as important as classroom learning and clinical practice can be, listening to patients and then blending their needs together with the book learning is the path to success in health care. 

I thank the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for being a part of making my dream come true as I prepare to move forward as a nurse and as a leader. Our country is embarking on a voyage of an ever changing health care system, “concerned with matters of consequence”.