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Undergraduate Nursing Student Profile: Melanie Yang

Melanie YangIn an industry that thrives on hard work and compassionate care, Melanie Yang found her passion in operating room nursing. Here, the Student Nurses’ Association (SNA) president for the Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing (NAWSON) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) reflects on her journey.

Q: Tell me about your journey to NAWSON.

A. In high school, I switched from wanting to pursue medicine to nursing. We had a guest speaker come in and I found that nursing fit me better than becoming a doctor. I was always indecisive, so I loved the idea of not being trapped in a specialty. It happened to be great timing, because shortly after, applications for the High School Direct Entry into Nursing opened up.

After getting into the program, I focused on doing my best in everything that I do. I was fortunate to realize my goals early on; which was pursuing OR (operating room) nursing and becoming more involved. As I put my efforts towards those two goals, everything else started to fall into place. I became a part of the Student Nurses’ Association executive board on campus, I was fortunate to have my efforts acknowledged, and I was able to obtain a job at The Queen’s Medical Center as a unit secretary.

Q: What have you most enjoyed during your time here?

A. I am most grateful for meeting some of the most hardworking, caring people here in NAWSON, both faculty and students. I most enjoy the time spent with them, whether it be in the classroom, at clinical or outside of school.

Q: How has your experience influenced your career pursuits?

A. In my freshman year, I was open to pursuing any field of nursing. As I went through clinicals and started working at The Queen’s Medical Center as a unit secretary for the main operating room, I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in intra-operative nursing. While working on the unit, it solidified my interests, and I found myself fitting in with the unit better than I had with any other unit. I thoroughly enjoyed doing my clinicals with the Labor & Delivery (L&D) unit at Queen’s and the PACU unit at Kaiser. However, I most enjoy working with the people in my unit. Another thing that influences my pursuits is that I am fascinated by some of the procedures that we are able to do at a level 1 trauma center and that I am not limited in the patient population that I get to work with. Both at Kaiser and Queen’s, a variety of surgeries are performed on both adults and children.

Q: How did you feel about your journey in nursing when you first began? How do you feel now?

A. In the beginning, I was unsure if nursing was my path. As I went through the program and began working, I became reassured.

I have grown to admire the interprofessional team dynamic in health care. I enjoy interacting with patients and their care team, and I have come to find a passion in learning about the various disease processes, treatments and comfort measures that we can provide to patients.

Q: What do you feel are some of your major accomplishments? How did you achieve them?

A: One of my biggest accomplishments has been having my hard work being recognized by others. I became involved with the SNA because I wished to become more involved and wanted to meet new people. I planned and hosted socials for SNA with the goal of the attendees having fun during their stressful semesters. During that time period, I became more involved than I ever thought I would, offering a lending hand wherever I could and not limiting myself to focusing on socials. As a result, fellow SNA executive board members and Kumu Ui (Assistant Professor K. Uilani Chow-Rule) voiced their appreciation and observation of my hard work… It is very heartwarming to know that someone acknowledges my efforts.

Q: Tell us about your life outside of NAWSON.

A: Outside of school, I try to catch up with friends whenever I can. I love food and love to explore what the island has to offer with my friends and family. Recently, I have gotten into the game Pikmin. It is a cute game that uses your daily step count to grow plant characters.

Melanie Yang with her favorite foodQ: What are your favorite local restaurants?

A: Here is a list:

  • Breakfast/Brunch: Moena Cafe
  • Dim Sum: Fook Lam
  • Italian Food: Arancino di Mare
  • Japanese Food: Fujiyama Texas Hawaii Kushi-Katsu Izakaya
  • Korean Food: Jagalchi

Q: Any advice for other students who want to achieve a work-life balance?

A: To achieve work-life balance, it is important to know what is due, when it is due, to prioritize, and to ask for help when you need it.

Q: How does your life outside of nursing contribute to your motivation in your profession?

A: Family is important to me. However, many of my family members are getting old. Whenever I see them struggle with health issues, it motivates me to become a more compassionate, safe health care provider and to encourage others to do the same.

Q: What can you tell me about your experience that you think would be valuable for prospective students to know?

A: Just as nurses should be an advocate for their patients, nurses should be an advocate for themselves. As a nurse, you will be advocating for your patients’ safety and well-being. Never be afraid to speak up about concerning work conditions and your needs, as these things will affect the aforementioned.

Advocating for yourself also means having the courage to seize opportunities. If there is something that you want to pursue, ask around and put yourself out there. If you are good at what you do, work hard, and/or show passion for your pursuits, someone will take notice.

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