“You were meant to be here.”
We all hope to hear these words spoken about ourselves—that we’ve somehow ended up in the place where we truly belong, where we fulfill the calling on our lives. For many, the journey to finding our “meant to be” place is long, winding, and full of failure and uncertainty.
The story of Shearwater Nurse Kristina Pasaporte is no exception.
Kristina grew up in Iloilo City, Philippines. Her heart for nursing began with an inspiration from her aunt who built a nursing career in the United States. “My aunt was a pediatric nurse, and she used to always tell me stories about how things work [in the U.S.], and about her experiences taking care of kids. Listening to her talk about how she cares for other people inspired me and moved me. I knew I wanted to experience that too. I wanted to be able to give something for others too.”
Kristina decided to pursue a career as a Registered Nurse. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from West Visayas State University in 2005, but like so many young adults fresh out of University, Kristina didn’t know what she wanted to do. She started her career at Iloilo Mission Hospital, but she felt the call to explore. “I was thinking, ‘Maybe I should try working abroad.’”
Kristina took a nursing job in Singapore—a four-hour flight due west of the Philippines. She knew it would be different, but perhaps not a drastic change. It turned out that adjusting to a new hospital in a new country was challenging. Kristina had to adapt to new policies and cope with the emotions that come with being away from family for the first time. But adapt she did, and she worked there for seven years.
After settling into her nursing career in Singapore, Kristina was attracted to a bolder challenge. She decided to pursue a job in the United States. She said, “I found myself thinking, ‘What’s life like in the U.S.?’ I was excited, but at the same time anxious about the changes that were going to happen and the transition.” Kristina, an introvert by nature, worried about how her personality would affect her ability to adjust to life in the U.S. “I don’t like to talk a lot. I think that was one of the things that I was afraid of—how to communicate with other people. I don’t struggle with the English language, but I know that people consider me to be fairly quiet.”
Kristina arrived in the U.S. in early 2018. “During those first few days, I realized that I was in a very different culture and a new way of working.” She began to question her decision to push herself beyond her comfort zone. Did she make the right choice? Was it worth the time and effort she had put towards preparing for this opportunity? She found herself asking herself, “Am I good enough to be a nurse here?”
She wasn’t sure the answer was “yes.”
Her confidence was low. But the hospital wanted her there. Needed her, even. The shortage of available nursing staff in the United States means hospitals like Kristina’s rely on the immigration of international nurses to the U.S. to fill their many vacant RN positions. Without nurses like Kristina, these hospitals would be unable to provide the care their communities desperately need.
The hospital staff was eager to integrate her into her unit, and their hospitality gave her courage. “The people there were just so welcoming,” she said. “The unit manager was welcoming. She gave me a preceptor, who was just encouraging.”
Kristina had a fresh start, and she was about to learn why her path led her to this unit.
One evening, Kristina was assigned a new patient. Lucy*, a 22-year-old patient in her 4th month of pregnancy, was admitted for a minor surgery. Nothing was particularly serious about her condition, and she required less monitoring than other patients assigned to Kristina that evening. Lucy requested to stay overnight to make sure everything was okay, even though based on normal protocol she could have easily elected to go home. Kristina arrived to work that evening and began making her rounds. “I decided to assess her last and take care of more serious cases first,” she says.
When Kristina arrived to assess Lucy, the two of them chatted amicably while Kristina sprinkled in medical questions related to her condition. Suddenly, Lucy stopped talking. Her face contoured to a blank, serious look and her body began faint erratic movements. Kristina’s observation skills and experience told her something was wrong. Kristina called to Lucy again to respond, but within seconds Lucy stopped breathing and was turning blue due to lack of oxygen. Kristina knew this was an emergency that couldn’t wait.
Immediately, without thinking twice, Kristina went into action. She called her colleagues for help and started CPR. Kristina’s 10 years of experience helped her keep calm and focus on her task at hand: chest compressions, rescue breaths, and not being overwhelmed with the fact that the fate of two lives—that of Lucy and her baby—rested in her compressing hands.
Kristina remembers the adrenaline and the sudden fear for Lucy, but something felt different from previous medical emergencies. “God put me in that situation at the right time and at the right moment. If I had gone in there earlier, I wouldn’t have been there when the seizure struck.”
Kristina’s actions resulted in two lives being saved that day. A few days later, the patient was discharged.
Kristina’s nurse educator was amazed. “Let me tell you: she was meant to be on that unit.”
In the midst of challenges, it is easy to lose sight of the goal. For Kristina, she always knew she wanted to serve and care for others, but she never would have guessed where this desire would lead her. She could have lost hope when the move to the U.S. felt overwhelming. She could have let her fears get the best of her. But all these factors brought Kristina to the moment where she was needed most—to her “meant to be.” “It felt great to know that after so much struggle and doubt, I was still there.”
Today, Kristina continues to thrive on her unit, and her confidence has soared. “I still have a lot of things to learn, but I’m enjoying my work here. That’s the important part right now—just to enjoy my work so that I won’t feel pressure. I won’t feel bothered by all those struggles that happened before.”
What would Kristina say to another nurse struggling along the path to find her “meant to be?”
“Just try and do your best. And don’t lose hope!”
*Not patient’s real name due to privacy restrictions.