Srinya Sukrachan is an RN with a bachelor’s in science in nursing and medical anthropology and global health from the University of Washington. After graduating with her BSN in 2018, Srinya started work at Swedish First Hill in the antepartum unit, a unit dedicated to high-risk OB (or pregnancies).
WCN: How did you come to choose nursing as your career path?
Srinya Sukrachan: I think I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field. When I was young, my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. Then, when I was around eight years old, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. We were both in hospitals at different times in our lives, and hospitals were part of my life for a long time. Because we were there so much, seeing nurses and doctors and being in that setting was comfortable for me; seeing different kinds of patient care, seeing my parents being educated by nurses about the medications I had to take, all that was powerful. I felt like I wanted to do that, too. And it helped that I had the empathy of being a patient and a family member of the patient.
My dad passed away from cancer in 2001 at Swedish First Hill. And to have that loop come full circle has also been amazing.
WCN: You participated in the first UW Nurse Camp before later attending the UW BSN program. How did you hear about Nurse Camp? And how did the program support your goal of becoming a nurse?
Srinya Sukrachan: I was a junior at Roosevelt High School, and it was really off a whim when my friend (who is also a nurse now) found the program through our Career Center. It was the week applications were due, but I was like, I’m going try. I got the recommendations I needed from my teachers, and I told them the story about my dad and myself, and I got in. That was in 2010.
It was a pretty big jump getting from there to nursing school in 2016. I think a lot of it had to do with grief. After my dad passed away, I was trying to busy myself with schoolwork and getting into college. Once that transition to college happened, it was a time in my life where I could start feeling the grief I had been pushing away. I think that was a burden–in a sense–about getting into nursing school because I had to learn more about myself and who I really want it to be.
I felt grateful that even though I had attended the UW Nurses Camp in 2010, I was still able to reach out to contacts I had made during Camp, like Adrian Acosta and Carolyn Chow. They were so eager to help mentor me and to provide resources. I don’t feel like I would have been able to get through nursing school or get to that path without their guidance.
While in the UW nursing program, I supported behind the scenes at the Camp, as a volunteer coordinator. It was great to be on the other side and see all the meticulous work that goes into it.
That also goes into why I love teaching so much. I think the Camp, in general, has ingrained in me the importance of mentoring.
WCN: Yes, support systems are very important in nursing school. It is so rigorous.
I think a lot of that has to do with not having enough educators and not having enough spots for nursing students. And this propels me, too, because I feel like my end goal is to become a nurse educator and help fill that gap.
WCN: What are some of the challenges you have overcome to become a nurse? And how did overcome them?
Srinya Sukrachan: Again, I think a lot of my struggles have had to do with grief. Trying to figure out who I am and who I am without my dad.
I also think being a child of immigrants has its challenges because I did not have the resources of a mom who speaks fluent English, who could be that network for me in that sense, no blame to her at all. I know people who have access to more resources, and when you know more people, your chances of being a nurse might be easier. But I think that also gives me character. I am the nurse that I am today because of my mom. I think a lot of it has to do with needing to be independent, trying to figure out the path more by myself without as much help. I feel like that is why the UW Nurse Camp was such a driving force for me because it made it that much easier to get through all those barriers.
WCN: So far in your career, what do you enjoy most about being a nurse?
Srinya Sukrachan: I love my patients! I’ve developed so many friendships with my patients because I see them from the beginning when it’s this horrible and scary unknown future. And then seeing them get bigger, like literally in their tummies, and hearing their baby’s heartbeat every single day, and seeing the progression, emotionally and physically, is amazing. And when that day finally comes, when, some of them, not all of them, but some of them miraculously meet their due date, seeing their faces like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is the day, it’s finally here! And seeing patients in postpartum and finally seeing their babies after I’ve been listening to the heartbeat for like 10-weeks—is so gratifying.
WCN: Why do you think diversity and representation are important in the nursing workforce.
Srinya Sukrachan: In Seattle, we have a diverse population, so if you are patient and diverse, it’s nice to have someone take care of you who can relate to you. Whether through food, culture, language, different personalities, or whatever, it makes your care just that much better. It makes things feel more comfortable, especially if someone must stay for months at a time.
It is important to have diverse nurses, doctors, and medical staff in general because it helps with communication and breaking down barriers. Because that one thing that a patient may hold back, for whatever reason, can change their plan of care completely.
WCN: What has your professional experience been working through the pandemic?
Srinya Sukrachan: At work, we started getting a higher volume of OB COVID-positive patients. We even had a dedicated COVID OB unit. I had to wear the big PAPR hood and everything in the beginning. It was a different world. Luckily now I’m able to wear a properly fitted N95.
I think it has been incredible seeing the resilience of the nurses and my teammates. We went through so many policy and visitor changes, making it hard to keep up with at times. But we kept it together, keeping as many people as safe as possible. Most patients understood not being able to see their loved ones regularly, but when you are in the hospital for weeks, it can be emotionally challenging.
WCN: And your personal experience?
Srinya Sukrachan: 2020 just started off crazy. In Oct of 2019, I had gotten engaged. We started planning in January 2020, and then we started to hear more about COVID and stuff happening in different parts of the world. At the end of January, my fiancé’s dad had a heart attack. His father, who is Jamaican, and his mom, who is Filipino, were in the Philippines for vacation when it happened. My fiancé and I had to fly to the Philippines and make sure they were okay. And that was how 2020 started for us. Seeing that kind of care in a different country was amazing. It was also eye-opening, because of how different it was from here, different standards of care for sure, but, luckily, he is alive.
Then, in February, my aunt passed away from cervical cancer, and then my uncle passed away from lung cancer. And all this happened in a two-month span. It was a crazy amount of emotional turmoil.
WCN: What have you learned from this past year?
Srinya Sukrachan: I feel I experienced what it really means to perform self-care. I knew that to be the nurse I wanted to be I had to take care of myself first. Meaning, I needed to sleep and eat better and get regular exercise which was hard for anyone during the pandemic. But I had to put myself first to be available to work and work well during the pandemic. And even though I knew my role was important, nothing is as important as yourself.
WCN: What are your future career goals in nursing?
Srinya Sukrachan: I want to be an educator of some sort. I feel like maybe getting my master’s is probably the best goal for me right now, perhaps a DNP or Ph.D., though I’m mentally not quite there yet, I know that I love providing education, whether for patients, nursing students, or other staff nurses. I love seeing that light turn on in someone’s brain when they get it. It is empowering. So, I want to be an educator.
WCN: Given your experiences so far in nursing, what advice do you have for those considering a career in nursing?
Srinya Sukrachan: Never stop trying. Apply to as many schools as possible. Also, to network. Don’t be afraid to reach out. When I was in high school and college, I felt like at first, reaching out to people was a burden to them. But, if you don’t try, you’ll never know what they have to say. It just takes one person to give you either a network connection, or an answer, or some encouragement or motivation to get you to the next step. I know that is easier said than done, especially when you’re in high school and lack the experience to be confident, but I think just trying not to be afraid is my advice.