Sumi Kim

What influenced your decision to go into nursing?

The biggest influence that guided me into the career of nursing was my mother. Although she was not a professionally trained nurse, she demonstrated all the characteristics of a caring nurse as she took care of my ill father 18 years ago—both in the hospital and at home. She was altruistic, compassionate and sensitive to his needs. I was too young to witness this myself however, I was inspired through stories of how my mother cared for him until his last day. Out of all the medical professions out there, I chose nursing because this profession allows me to care for an individual in their most vulnerable state and to gain trust and rapport over time. Nursing isn’t easy, but at the end of the day, I know I’ve made the right choice in getting my degree in this field. I am thrilled to get out into the clinical setting and learn the vast possibilities in such dynamic career! 

What kind of healthcare experience did you have prior to entering the program?  How did this experience help prepare you for nursing school?

Before entering the program, I worked as a Hospital Assistant for about 9 months at UW Medical Center in an intensive care unit. Due to the high acuity, it didn’t allow many hands on patient care, but what this unit and staff helped me develop is learning to work as a team and to prioritize my tasks in such high-intensity, fast-paced unit. I began to learn how to communicate professionally with the nursing staff, and being part of the camaraderie meant a lot in confirming my decision to pursue this degree. Just being present in this environment prepared me well for nursing school as I learned the flow and routines of daily hustle and bustle on a well-functioning unit.

On a practical level, I learned to care for critically ill patients. The fear of handling a fragile patient as we repositioned or bathed them was something I confronted before starting this program. Overall, being exposed to the daily routine of a nurse cleared many misconceptions of what this profession is about. I felt more confident and ready to gain all that the program had to offer.

What excites you most about your program?

More than anything, I was excited to just simply learn: to soak in everything from theory classes to learning skills to the clinical experience. When I think back, one of the biggest frustration as I worked in the ICU was that I wished I knew and understood what was going on with the patients. I was interested in learning these big acronyms, and diagnosis and how it  influences nursing care. Sitting in a 3 hour lecture full of dense pathophysiology and nursing interventions is overwhelming, but ultimately empowering!

Describe your most memorable experience from clinicals.

The most memorable experience that I’ve encountered during my clinicals is during the quarter I spent at Children’s Hospital on the SCCA Hematology/Oncology Unit. On the first day, I was paired with a staff nurse to take care of a teenage boy with Sickle Cell Anemia(SCA). This was my first time ever encountering someone with SCA , and I came into this experience anxious. Due to the pain, he was withdrawn and quiet. After two quarters of med/surg rotations where I was constantly on the go and performing my “nurse duties,” I felt completely out of place that I could not do much to help relieve his pain beyond his scheduled dose of narcotics. The simplest lesson I learned from this rotation was that no matter the diagnosis, kids will always be kids. That day, we played FIFA Soccer 12 on the Xbox for 3 hours and his spirit was uplifted. Play is a form of therapy in pediatrics and I saw it in action that day.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?

The most important thing that I’ve learned about myself is that the support and love of my family and friends are vital in helping me achieve my goals. Nursing school presented itself with numerous obstacles and triumphs, and without my family’s constant support, I would not be where I am today. The friendship I’ve found in the program kept me sane through the ups and downs, and kept me grounded as we all worked our hardest through this program. I know that these friendships will last even beyond the two years of my BSN education as we all start an exciting journey into nursing!

What kind of involvement do you have within the nursing community and outside the nursing community?

Within the nursing community, I was involved in the PONS mentorship program where I mentored a first year BSN student for a quarter. It was rewarding to share some tips and advice to ease the anxiety as my mentee entered the program. I am also actively involved in the School of Nursing Diversity Awareness Group (SON DAwG) in hosting our annual summer Nurse Camp for local high school students. Lastly, I mentor pre-nursing students as they plan and complete their pre-requisite courses to enter into the BSN program. During the winter when applications are due, I help them with their personal statements and resumes.

Outside of the nursing community, I am involved as a leader for the Asian American Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in mentoring and leading undergraduate students find a Christian community on campus. I’ve lived in the dorms all four years of my undergraduate career to help provide this community for the incoming freshmen. It’s been fun and rewarding! In addition, I am involved with Global Brigades, a non-profit organization, to plant our first UW chapter in starting an Environmental Brigade in Panama.

How is your UW education preparing to meet your professional goals?

The rigor in UW’s education has prepared me well to meet my professional goals. It has pushed and challenged me to go beyond what is required and I feel confident that what I have gained in this program will be a strong foundation that I will build upon as I continue my career in nursing. 

What are your plans for the future?  Do you plan to attend graduate school?

My immediate plan after graduation is to work and gain experience in critical care nursing. For most of my time in nursing school, I was torn between adult critical care nursing and pediatric critical care nursing. After much thought and processing, I have decided to begin as a new grad in adult practice. I have plans to go back to school for the UW doctorate programs but unsure which track I would choose. I am also very interested in public health. After few years of experience, I hope to spend some time abroad in rural communities.