University student wants to focus on caring side of the healing process

May 13, 2002

AUSTIN, Texas—Nurses have the privilege of being able to spend more time with their patients than doctors do — that's why pre-med student Nathan Jones decided to switch his major.

Nathan Jones
Photo by Marsha Miller

Nathan Jones

The University of Texas at Austin senior will graduate May 18 with a bachelor of science in nursing degree and plans to work in pediatrics in New York City. He is the co-recipient, with Noelle Hairston, of the Outstanding Graduating Bachelor of Science in Nursing Student Award.

"I started my freshman year at the university as a biology/pre-med major, but I came to realize that what I wanted to get out of health care was embodied in nursing rather than medicine," Jones said.

Although Jones said he has great respect for physicians and the work that they do, "their busy schedules don't allow them much time to spend with their patients at the bedside.

"I wanted to be able to spend time with patients and their families," said Jones, who has spent 120 hours in the last three weeks working with Carolyn Shirley, a charge nurse at Hospice Austin's Christopher House.

"There's a lot of truth to the phrase — 'physicians focus on the cure and nurses focus on the care.' Or better put — nurses focus on the caring side of the healing process.

"It's important to remember that we need both."

Nursing, said Jones, always has been important to medicine. "However, the two fields are very different.
"Nursing doesn't just support medicine, it is a discipline of its own."

Despite the rigors of studying nursing, Jones found time to play the trombone in the Longhorn Band, becoming a section leader this past year.

"I learned right away that getting involved is so important on a campus as large as the university," he said. "Getting involved is the quickest and easiest way to meet people. It really reduces the campus in terms of size.

"Plus, the gift of music keeps a constant song in my head and a bounce in my step."

Dr. Glenda Joiner-Rogers, assistant professor of clinical nursing, said Jones is one of the most caring and competent students she has had the opportunity to teach.

"His skills were exemplary even in the beginning semester of nursing school," she said. "Nathan sincerely conveys his caring in his verbal and non-verbal communications. He also is a very confident nursing student (soon to be nurse) and all-around person.

Joiner-Rogers remembers an occasion when Jones was a beginning nursing student on a nursing home rotation.

"As the residents were sitting around in the dining room waiting for lunch to be served, Nathan all of a sudden walked over and began playing the piano," Joiner-Rogers said. "The expressions on the residents' faces changed from one of boredom to one of reminiscence and pleasure as he played numerous pieces of music. The residents sang and clapped their hands to the music, and his music undoubtedly made their day one filled with joy and happiness!

"I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to be one of his teachers and can only hope that one day, if I am in a healthcare facility and need nursing care, that I will be able to look up and see his smiling face. I know I'll be in the best of hands with his nursing care."

For further information contact: Nancy Neff, Office of Public Affairs (512) 471-6504.