September 26, 2005
After years of moving back and forth between her home country of Sierra Leone in West Africa and London, Sonia Hariri and her family immigrated to Washington State when civil war ripped through Sierra Leone in 1997.
As a child, Sonia loved "playing nurse" and emulating her aunt, who worked at a United Nations relief clinic. Her aunt isn't the only one in the family with a healthcare background: Two of her brothers likewise completed the LWTC nursing program and work in the field, her father and several other siblings are doctors, and three of her aunts are midwife/nurses. "I do have family members who want nothing to do with the medical field, but I was always drawn to it," Sonia says.
These days, Sonia is finishing up her fourth and final quarter in the Lake Washington Technical College Licensed Practical Nursing Program. She plans to continue on to earn a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing and eventually, a master's degree in the field to become a nurse practitioner. She already holds a community college associate's degree in arts and sciences. "I would love to go into maternity nursing, labor and delivery, mother and baby, neonatal unit. It's life," she tells NursingSchools.com.
A member of LWTC's Licensed Practical Nursing Club, she served as secretary. As a student at Shoreline Community College (also in Washington State), Sonia served as vice president of the Pan-African Student Association. She also took an active role in the school's Muslim Association, serving as secretary and as the leader of the group's publicity committee, which embarked on outreach to students and the community to break down stereotypes about Muslims.
How did you decide to study nursing?
I grew up wanting to be a nurse; I didn't know anything else that I wanted to do. It's because of my nature; I'm very people-centered. I was also informed about healthcare, with so many family members in the field. I grew up around clinics, on "take your child to school day", I was always in the clinic.
I was always seeing people taking care of people, as well as in my big family. As the oldest daughter, I sort of took a more nurturing role, taking care of the younger siblings, and more responsibilities as I matured.
Growing up with wars, there were so many traumatic events around us, and the medical guilds were so needed. My family is half Lebanese, half Sierra Leonean, and we are Muslim…we were refugees.
What do you like and dislike about your nursing education so far?
I like my instructors, they are very progressive, with solid backgrounds and experience in the field. My clinical experiences were also very good. I find daily challenges in the field of nursing. There's so much to learn. The intervention I make to save a life or maintain a patient's well being, can feel overwhelming at times. Fortunately, my LWTC lecture and clinical instructors work hard to make my learning come easier and lessen my fears.
What I hate so far is there are a lot of qualified nursing school participants, but there are not enough schools for them. It's so hard to get in to nursing school, because there are not enough nursing programs running.
Describe the ‘hands-on' phases of your nursing education.
My clinical experiences were very good. The thing I loved most about it was it was quick thinking; you go to clinical every day, and you have to be at the top of your game every day. I was in a situation where 98% of my patients were males, and I'm not used to dealing with that, but I overcame.
How can prospective nursing students assess their skill and aptitude?
I do have family members who want nothing to do with the medical field, but I was always drawn to it. If you look at caring for people as something that you are good at, and you don't see yourself doing anything else but that, then you have the aptitude.
What factors should prospective students consider when choosing a school?
You have to see what area in nursing you want to be in, and the schools in your region. I thought about school reputation, and I made sure to ask about clinical rotations and the instructor mix.
What can students applying to nursing programs do to increase their chances of being accepted?
It's so hard to get into any program, period, because of the competition. It's crazy. Nursing school is filled with students with competitive grades, competitive people. You have a class of high achievers. Make sure you get the best grades possible, and try to get some experience in the field, because having a little bit of healthcare background could make the difference in getting accepted.
What advice can you give to prospective nursing students?
It's a field where you have to love it to go into it. You see all of these patients and you have so much stress, so you had better love it. People drop off of the program because it's not what they expected. .
In retrospect, what do you know now, that you wish you knew before you began to pursue your nursing education?
There are so many routes to go into nursing. The pre-requisites are different for every school; keep a wide variety of options for yourself and make sure you are a well-rounded student.
Tell us about your nursing career choice. What area of nursing do you plan to go into?
I would love to go into maternity nursing, labor and delivery, mother and baby, neonatal unit. It's life. I intend to further my education further. Perhaps go to school to become a certified midwife. After I graduate with LPN, I'll have one more year for registered nurse schooling.
What steps are you taking as a student to launch your nursing career?
I'm fixing my resume now, I network. I went to a mother & baby clinical, and I would love to work in medical surgical floor for the experiences.
Describe your dream job.
My dream job would be two of them. First I would love to work as a practitioner assessing newborns, work with pediatrics; or I would love to be a midwife, to find a way to deliver babies in a clinical setting, working with practitioners or doctors, co-own my own practice.
Do you feel that is important for someone to be passionate about nursing in order to be successful?
If you are passionate, even when things get tough, it drives you on.
What are the hottest nursing specialties expected to be through 2010?
Anesthesiology, IV nurse, wound care nurse and other specialized nursing areas.
What are some nursing or healthcare trends which could help potential nursing students plan for the future?
Because of my interest in working in the maternity unit, I've found it's really hard to get into that field because many women want to work in maternity/neonatal – there's a higher demand for those jobs… I think it's the joy of the baby.