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For the love of kids

Nursing student drawn to infants, kids, families

By Debby Wadsworth, Freelance Writer

Cindy Szeto

If you walk into a hospital cafeteria during the typical hours for nurses’ breaks, it’s pretty easy to pick out which ones are in pediatrics. You might see a Sesame Street character like Elmo, Big Bird, or Cookie Monster on their stethoscope. Or maybe SpongeBob in their pocket. No matter what character it is, they all have one thing in common. A passion for kids and caring for them, regardless.

Not everyone has a gift for working with kids. I know because I spent a school year working with kids as a substitute teacher in elementary. It definitely was not my calling. But for someone like Cindy Szeto, “Working with kids and families has always been a passion,” she said. A passion Szeto is pursuing today as a nursing student at Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

Immigrant parents instilled helping people

Szeto’s interest in helping others came from seeds planted by her parents when she was young and growing up in Phoenix. “My parents have always encouraged me to help people and consider health,” according to Szeto. In her family, helping people has always been a way of life, from generation to generation. Her parents, who immigrated from China, were also encouraged to help others when growing up.

For Szeto, how she would help others as a career developed in high school. She found herself interest in nursing because of several factors. One was making a difference. “I want to make a difference, and health care is the way to do that,” Szeto said.

Another factor was her family’s health. “My dad used to be a heavy smoker. I realized how health care workers helped him quit smoking and kept him alive,” according to Szeto. “No one could have made him aware of the choices like health care workers.”

Yet another reason was because of so many options. “Health care has a variety of fields to go into,” Szeto said. “I want to be an advocate for kids and their families.” Caring for infants and children, which falls under the medical specialty of Pediatrics, has many specialties. Nurses can become:

  • Labor and Delivery Nurse – work with women during the delivery process.
  • Pediatric Nurse – provide care for children.
  • Neonatal/NICU Nurse – take care of newly and prematurely born infants in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
  • Developmental Disability Nurse – deliver specialized care for children with mental and developmental disabilities.
  • Pediatric/PICU Nurse – provide care for babies, children, teens, with serious medical conditions in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).
  • Palliative Pediatric Nurse – deliver care and support for terminally-ill children.
  • Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse – help children with a variety of endocrine disorders, including diabetes and thyroid disorders.
  • For her, labor & delivery is the most appealing one. “I hope to one day be a labor and delivery nurse,” according to Szeto. “I want to be an advocate for mothers and their children, especially for minority women that statically experience health disparities.”

    Pandemic affected her mindset and daily routine

    Why does Szeto love kids so much? She says it is because “I am similar to a kid, and they are fun to interact with.” Her journey to do just that has been hampered by Covid-19, but not stopped. For starters, “I like good routines, and following a schedule,” according to Szeto. “I was a bit shaken, going to online nursing without a routine.” But with a little time, she created a new routine and overcame it.

    The pandemic has also affected her mindset, being an Asian American. “It has affected my mindset, with the attacks against Asian Americans,” Szeto said, “I feel safer when I am at home.” She copes by going places where there are no people when out for a run. Although she is proud to be Chinese, Szeto also disguises her appearance with sunglasses, a mask, and a hat when she goes to stores to maintain her safety.

    Another Covid-19 disappointment was the cancellation of clinicals. They were something she was really looking forward to doing. Despite everything, she maintains her course and passion for becoming a Registered Nurse and helping people. Szeto is confident she will graduate in 2022 with her Associate Degree Nursing (AND) and Bachelor of Science, Nursing. Followed by, “Exploring the world and myself through travel nursing and start my adult life,” Szeto said. “I am excited for it.”

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