One moment can change the course of your life. As a nurse, you will have countless moments where what you do can impact the lives of others. Your actions could even put others on a path to follow in your footsteps.
Michelle Snyder was going to be a police officer. She wanted to help people and she imagined doing it through a career in law enforcement, but then she got sick and ended up in the emergency room. That was when one interaction with a nurse pointed her toward a new career path.
“I was sick and dehydrated. It was to the point where nobody on staff could get an IV in me,” Snyder recalled. “That’s when they went and got this one nurse. She was the type of nurse who could get an IV started in anyone. Not only did she get the IV in me on the first go but it was the way she did it that stayed with me. She was caring, kind and didn’t treat me like just a patient.”
That moment changed Michelle’s life. She wanted to be for others what that nurse had been for her — a caring face in a moment of crisis.
She would spend nearly the next two decades working her way through an impressive nursing career and in the ER herself; first as a charge nurse, then as a flight nurse, and then being promoted to a supervising flight nurse. It was a career she loved and she wasn’t looking to change it up. However, life intervened and, again, one interaction put her on a new path.
“An ER doctor approached me. He was someone I’d always worked well with and he asked ‘have you ever thought about continuing your education? I think you could be an excellent nurse practitioner.’ Of course, I laughed it off, but his words stuck with me.” Snyder said, “He believed I could do more before I ever thought I could.’”
Again, it took time before Michelle enrolled at Herzing University to complete her Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP) degree. By then, she was fully invested in pursuing that career but was also juggling other responsibilities. She was a wife, mother of three, an ER nurse, and she helped run a family cattle ranch in Pennsylvania.
“It was a lot,” Snyder said. “There were a lot of tough days. But what I had to tell myself, and what I tell others who are going through what I did, is that the tough times don’t last. If it’s what you want if it’s something you know you can do, then fight through the tough days and usually, everything will work out.”
Michelle graduated in 2021 and has benefitted from a strong support system and a life spent developing the time management, organizational and leadership skills that a person needs to have when they juggle family, work and school. She enjoys all the variety that her new career brings — and it’s a good thing too! The COVID-19 pandemic added a lot of changes to the nursing and healthcare industries.
“If you want to be a nurse practitioner, or have any nursing specialty in mind, you are going to be challenged. There are going to be struggles but you can do it,” Snyder has said. “You need a base understanding of what ‘normal’ is before you can understand ‘abnormal’. You need to keep your eyes focused on your goals, and you need to bring compassion to the job each day. That’s not just for you, but because I can promise you that any patient you see might look at you and say, ‘I want that to be me someday.’”