ISU alumna shares ‘journey’ through nursing career
Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 02:04
One can learn how to best serve those in need by traveling beyond the parameters of one’s backyard, said Indiana State University alumna and former surgical nurse, Pam Blesch Tuesday evening.
Her presentation “Serving Through Giving: A Lifetime of Servant Leadership” detailed Blesch’s 40-year ‘journey’ across the medical field and the globe.
Blesch had originally planned to attend nursing school in Ohio, but changed her mind after visiting Indiana State her senior year of high school.
“I could not believe my ears,” she said. “We had a four-year nursing program right here in Terre Haute. I had lived here my whole life and didn’t even know it.”
As she embarked on her time at the university, Blesch was thrust into hands-on training her second day in the operating room at Union Hospital. A surgeon demanded Blesh “scrub in” during a hysterectomy and she jumped at the chance. The experience, she said, was both intimidating and exhilarating.
“I’m standing there, looking across the room at the doctor, and I have no clue what I’m doing,” she said. “And [the surgeon] said, ‘just follow my lead’.”
Since Blesch graduated from Indiana State in 1976, she served as a surgical nurse at Union Hospital for 10 years and then moved on to the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, where she’s an assistant professor of nursing.
She has taken her education and passion for nursing to Africa, Central American and Eastern Europe, often bringing students and faculty along.
“I’m here for a purpose—to teach, but I also need to share what’s in my heart,” Blesch said.
Blesch said the trips have also opened her eyes to stark differences in culture and healthcare. On a trip to Africa, Blesch encountered a 15-year-old boy wearing a windbreaker in 100-degree weather. Unbeknownst to her, the patient was concealing a large parasite that had taken over his body.
Once she had discovered the parasite, she felt compelled to act, but doctors said there was nothing they could do. The case was something Blesch said she had yet to witness in the United States.
“I felt like I had failed him,” she said. “You never see anything like that here. It really affected me.”
Blesch’s efforts have been featured in the book “Giving through Teaching: How Nurse Educators are Changing the World,” which tells the stories of 70 nursing educators. She is working toward a Ph.D. at Cappella University and doesn’t know where her adventures will take her next.
“From that first visit to ISU to this evening on the ISU campus as a participant in the University Speaker series all desires in my heart have been satisfied,” Blesch said. “I’m open to whatever God has for me.”