Sarah's Psych Nursing Story

Sarah KatulaThis month Sarah Katula, APN, PhD shares a moment of important connection she experienced while a nursing student:

When I was in nursing school (many years ago), there was a student at the college who demonstrated odd behaviors in different classes we shared together. For the sake of the story let me call her Maria. As a freshman, Maria was in my religious studies class and would often blurt out comments that were often inconsequential to the content and at other times argumentative. The other students would roll their eyes and ignore did the professor.

In my sophomore year, Maria was in a lecture series that I was also taking. During one of the lectures, she got up from her chair and in front of 200 students disrupted the speaker by picking up chalk and writing on the board. She was escorted from the lecture hall. In my junior year, I had heard a rumor that Maria was going around the campus saying that she was Jesus Christ and would be able to save the world. I didn't hear anything more about her after that, but didn't see her again on campus or in class.

"I was struck with the unfairness of the situation, her sadness of what was lost to her and my own rush of empathy."

When it came to the summer before my senior year, I took an extra credit psych course where nursing students interested in behavioral health were able to work with mentally ill patients in a day program. When I walked into the center on my first day, I saw Maria. She was sitting alone at a table and when I walked in with other students she immediately looked at my school name tag and with great sadness said: "I used to go to that school".

I was struck with the unfairness of the situation, her sadness of what was lost to her and my own rush of empathy. For me, that was a moment of important connection: connection to the patient's feelings, connection to mental illness and quality of life and a connection to my passion and interest in caring for this population.

AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC NURSES ASSOCIATION and APNA-Logoare registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as trademarks of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.
The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited with distinction as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.