‘Nurstory Film Festival’ sheds light on the experiences of nurses – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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Several nurses presented digital stories

By Aysia Reed, Collegian Correspondent

In the Great Hall of the University of Massachusetts Old Chapel, the “Nurstory Film Festival” was held this past Thursday where nurses and UMass alumni told several digital stories about their personal experiences within the nursing field.

The festival was created by UMass alumni Sue Hagedorn with the idea of celebrating nurses and showing appreciation for their dedication and hard work. Each nurse that wanted to share their story was welcome to at the event. The nurses created a short personal video to elaborate on their own story.

One nurse, Ellen Smithline, elaborated on her experience as a nurse and how that embodies her as a person and mother. Her short film video was centered around her medical bag and its importance.

Smithline is currently a nurse but is also working to earn her doctorate in nursing at UMass. She knew that she could not balance being a mother, Ph.D. student and nurse, so she decided that she was going to put her nursing job second for the first time in her career.

“My identity has always been a nurse and a mother and so it was a real shock when a position that I loved being in was no longer available. But I knew I had a [spot] in the Ph.D. program,” Smithline said. “I realized I went in the spot in the Ph.D. program because I was no longer getting the answers I needed in the emergency department.”

Although she made this decision, this did not stop her from bringing her medical bag with her everywhere just in case of an emergency. Smithline recalled a time where she was off duty, but happened to be onsite of a car accident. An off-duty doctor also happened to be at the site. When the police showed up, they overruled her input because she was a nurse and not a doctor.

“The policeman said he trumps you because he is a doctor. So I was unable to intervene for a very long time, and it was the most powerless position I have ever been in,” Smithline said.

Chunfang Chen, another nurse who presented, shared her story about her early childhood in China, where her mother was the first and only nurse in a rural area in the country.

“She was the only person taking care of almost 200 people in the village where we lived. She had no office, no medication cabinet,” Chen said.

Her mother’s hard work and dedication inspired Chen to want to help people as well. After getting her degree in nursing, she moved to the U.S. with her mother.

“The first day I walked into the hospital for the clinic, I felt those smells and images of my mother standing beside her patients,” said Chen.

According to Chen, this was an emotional moment for her and in that moment, she realized that she made the right decision to be a nurse.

Olga Ehrlich, another nurse who presented, touched base on advanced care planning in the U.S. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, advanced care planning is the process patients setting up healthcare plans to prepare in the instance the patient becomes unable to speak for themselves. Ehrlich felt the country is not where it needs to be, but nurses are trying their best with helping families who need this type of care.

“Advanced care planning is moving at a snail’s pace,” Ehrlich said. “I don’t know about your personal experiences with filling out a [Massachusetts Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment] form or even being able to bring up the five wishes with your family members but it is really really hard.”

“And our healthcare system, we are not where we need to be,” she added.

Aysia Reed can be reached at [email protected]


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