Skip McDonald, BSN, RN, ThB, serves with NCF in the Southeast as a resource specialist focusing on mental health, spiritual formation and Bible study. She’s has been a nurse for nearly 45 years. Her personal and professional journey has been memorable and in some areas, noteworthy. In this two-part interview, Skip describes how she chose nursing and weathered personal challenges.
Q. What drew you to nursing?
A. I played nurse as a little girl, but didn’t decide to pursue nursing right away after high school. I started out in one direction, and before I knew it, I was heading towards nursing. I struggled terribly in chemistry and wondered if I would make it. Mom and I spoke with my chemistry instructor who told her that he’d heard I could sing, and that maybe I should sing and not be a nurse. My mother replied, “She will be a nurse!” You’d had to have known my mother!
Q. What challenges have you faced in your practice?
A. The challenges didn’t start in my practice; they started as a student. I was in college during the early 1970s. It still was not popular for black folk to make something of themselves. I was poorly treated by one professor in particular. I must say, though, that my two favorite profs taught community health and mental health. They were lifesavers. So, throughout the struggle, I made it. At graduation, my mother said, “Baby, you almost wore my knees out!”
As a new nurse, I faced more poor treatment. I didn’t know what to do with all of that; I pushed my way through, baffled with the treatment. I’m not sure I knew to call some of it racism at the time, but looking back, I would say yes, it was!
Throughout those early days as a new nurse, other nurses were impatient and I often felt on my own. However, there was always “a ram in the bush.” My Heavenly Father would allow me to work with someone who was kind. That helped me to keep the faith in nursing. Interestingly enough and to my surprise, most doctors respected me. I didn’t get some of the bad treatment other nurses received. I guess the Father knew that I was dealing with enough.
I fought and pushed my way through nursing as I grew older and stronger as a person and a nurse. My first article for JCN was “Moving Beyond Burnout.” Unfortunately, I burned out after only two years of nursing. When my mother read the article, she exclaimed, “I didn’t know that you went through all of that.” I grew stronger and stronger until I could become an advocate for students and young nurses. Praise God!
Read the rest of Skip’s story next week. You can also “meet” her on the NCF staff webpage.