I always wanted to pursue a career in medicine. My mother was a nurse, so at age 19 I decided to give nursing a try. Nursing school was a totally new experience for me. At Penn State I was in a class of 80 students and there were only 4 males. I was also in a fraternity on campus, so my home life was with all guys and my school life was almost exclusively with all girls. The unusual ratio made for an interesting and dynamic experience, but I learned a lot and I love being a nurse. I chose to specialize in the cardiac unit because my grandfather was a cardiologist. The excitement and intensity is what drew me to the surgical intensive care unit. I work with the most critical patients who come to my unit straight from surgery. I must be prepared to handle medical, surgical and mechanical problems. Medical issues related to their illness, surgical issues coming out of their operation, and mechanical issues with all the machines and monitors the patient is hooked up to. Working in the intensive care unit, I am dealing with life and death situations on a daily basis. I act as a liaison between the medical team, the patient and the patient's family. While the doctor comes out of surgery to brief the family on the patient's status, it is my job to go over what they've said after the initial shock of the message has worn off. I talk with the family about what happened during the surgery and then I explain what all the machines and monitors are doing. It is often a shock for family members to see a relative in the intensive care unit, so I do everything in my power to lessen the intimidation of the intensive care unit. I want family members to know that they are an important part of helping their family member get better. As a nurse, I am an integral part of family communication. Nursing is still a female-dominated profession but in order to change that we need to break through the old stereotypes. Nurses are critical decision makers, they are not just there to hold a patient's hand, and while that is an important part of nursing it is not all there is to nursing. Nurses command a great deal of respect, and what we do affects people's lives in a significant way.