Third Time’s the Charm
Back in 1984, Amy Haimowitz ’03 was a proud member of the first class of the University-based School of Nursing. So why did it take her almost 20 years to graduate? That’s not exactly an easy question to answer.
Haimowitz was attracted to the profession of nursing because she enjoyed taking care of people, and she had a passion for learning. She had married before starting school at Hopkins and then became pregnant during her first semester.
“When I got pregnant, I realized that I really wanted to stay home and raise my child,” Haimowitz explains. “I left Hopkins and nursing took a back seat in my life.”
Over the next few years Haimowitz had three children, but the joy of raising her young ones was overshadowed by the fact that her marriage was falling apart. Her husband left the marriage when Haimowitz was pregnant with her fourth child. Without a job and without her husband’s income, Haimowitz quickly began to flounder.
“It was awful,” she recalls. “I had to go on welfare and join the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) food program. One day Shirley Van Zandt, a faculty member at Hopkins School of Nursing, came to my house with a nursing student to help me enroll in WIC. When they left, I began to cry because I suddenly realized what I had given up by not completing my nursing degree. I had gone from being a Hopkins student to a welfare mother. This was not where my life was supposed to be.”
In 1995 Haimowitz applied to return to nursing school at Hopkins. She was accepted again, and was all set to start classes the following year. Shortly before her classes were to begin, Haimowitz’s son was hospitalized with an illness. With little outside support, Haimowitz knew she needed to be with her son and, once again, nursing school had to wait. Due to more illness and a family crisis, it wasn’t until 2001 that Haimowitz thought she would try one more time to follow her dream of completing nursing school. This time it worked, and in May of this year, Haimowitz walked across the stage to get her nursing diploma.
“It felt so surreal to me to walk across the stage and finally get my diploma,” she says. “Hopkins was really the first place I felt such a complete sense of belonging and respect. They believed in me and that motivated me to be self-sufficient.”
Haimowitz’s four children, Erica, Derek, Aaron, and Dana, attended their mother’s graduation from nursing school. In fact, her oldest daughter graduated from high school the same month.
“We are starting a new life now,” says Haimowitz. “My children and I have had some rough times, but I accepted a job on the pediatric psychiatric unit of St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center in Arizona, and we will be moving soon. I couldn’t have done it without Hopkins. Now we are looking forward to experiencing some joy in life.”
Haimowitz passed the NCLEX licensing exam in August and moved to Arizona in September.
Jacqueline D’Amico Good ’93
Ten years ago, I was asked if I had “looked at nursing lately” as a career option. At the time I did not want to be a nurse, but I did take another look. Now, I look back on that decision and am so grateful that I followed this path. In the past 10 years, I have found nursing to be one of the most diverse and challenging careers around.
I started my career as a Senior COSTEP (Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program), through a scholarship from the Indian Health Service that I received my second year at Hopkins. Though I have worked in the private sector on and off, always I have returned to the Native American population. It is a population with which I feel comfortable. Currently, I am a public health nurse with the Pueblo of San Felipe in New Mexico.
My main focus is the Head Start and elementary school population. Shifting resources around, we have been able to set up a “mini” clinic at the school. Screening and triaging children, dealing with trauma, and being the health advocate for each child takes up most of my days. We see health conditions such as diabetes, pertussis, and numerous communicable diseases like flu, tuberculosis and gastro-intestinal viruses — even West Nile virus.
Remaining hours are spent trying to tackle the endless job of diabetes prevention and health promotion among adults and children. With a national grant, our attack on diabetes begins and ends with prevention. Hitting hard at the schools and in the community with nutrition/diabetes education and physical fitness programs, we have instituted the SPARK (Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids) physical education program in the schools; are working toward incorporating nutrition and diabetes education in each classroom each year; and we have built, staffed, and maintained a community fitness center right on the Pueblo.
My work is challenging but rewarding. As a nurse, I have to confront many psychosocial issues such as whether or not a family has running water or electricity, or how many families might be residing in one household. Each family and individual is in a different situation, and I need to consider that as I make treatment recommendations.
One of my goals is to one day set up a program between the Pueblo of San Felipe and Johns Hopkins School of Nursing to provide students the opportunity of working with the Native American population during the course of their studies.
So 10 years ago, I questioned my career choice. Today, I cannot imagine being or doing anything else. I am a nurse by choice, not by default!