Petition for Better Health

Petition for Better Health

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Jessica Vertentes started this petition to National League of Nursing Education



I got kicked out of nursing school with a 90 average because I wouldn’t take off my religious necklace and cover my tattoos when I’m dyslexic and have my left and right with the anatomical view tattooed on me. I have made a petition that affects you and everyone you know and love. Nurses are your number one advocate for your health. This petition is long and if you are like me and don’t like to read, I have numbered the paragraphs so you can find the information that you feel like reading. If you have time to read it all please do, as this is a discussion, we should all be having. 

Parts of the petition and their paragraph numbers: 

* Vertentes Family- #3 

* Affects you- # 13

* Covid story- # 8 

* Why I got kicked out of nursing school- #’s 9-11 

 * The main goal from the petition and who can fix it- #12 

 * About myself and why I did what I did - #’s 1-6 

* CNA appreciation- #7

1. My name is Jessica Vertentes from Fall River, MA. If I had to describe myself in a few words I would say I’m a work in progress. At a young age, I was fortunate enough to know what profession I wanted to pursue, the life I wanted to live and who I aspired to become. Growing up grants you the opportunity to make your way in the world. Life doesn’t always come easy, and some may struggle more than others. I believe the struggles a person experiences throughout their lives have an impact on who they become. These struggles form you in many different ways that may not always be acknowledged, even though it can affect someone’s everyday life. Through experience, I’ve learned that a struggle can be a negative or positive thing- depending on how it is perceived. How a person identifies the struggle, will determine how it affects their life and what outcomes may unfold in the process. This was probably the hardest lesson I’ve learned throughout life thus far.


2.          There is an old proverb that says, “you cannot pick the family you are born into, but you can choose some along the way.” I have two sisters, Melanie and Samantha. Since we were little, we have shared a common goal- to create a life better for ourselves. A goal that is more frequent than one would think. We are all hard workers and have used our struggles as fuel to become better people in life. My sisters have been role models for me my whole life. Sam has taught me how to improve my credit and showed me no matter where you work, if you work hard enough, you'll move up. She also taught me that your hard work shows and will eventually pay off. My sister Melanie is about to graduate with her masters and become an Occupational Therapist. I am extremely proud of her and aspire to have her drive for school. She has taught me to work hard for your dreams because the only person who will make your dreams a future is you and only you. 

3.          My Vertentes family is one of a kind. They are the type of family to lend a hand when needed. We all have this one quality that makes us the same. Our family always sticks up for what we believe in no matter the circumstances or the consequences. It is a blessing and a curse because it always gets you into something. If it weren’t for my parents, I wouldn’t be the person I am. My parents, especially my mom, have taught me that life isn’t always easy, and you have to deal with the cards that you have been dealt. Thank you, mom, for always believing I’d be a nurse.


4.          My Memere and Memere Flower have taught me so much about life, and for that I am so appreciative. Little things like gardening, sewing, cleaning, and painting, have shaped me to who I am and have helped me to be an independent woman. One person who I am grateful for is my cousin Shawn, who is more like a brother than a cousin, for showing me God. I never really believed in God but started too not too long ago. I think the meaning of God has become misinterpreted. I believe that there is a higher power that wants you to be good in life, make a difference in the world, and try to do no harm. No matter where you come from or who you are, mistakes are going to happen, but it is how you choose to deal with them and how you overcome them that really matters in the end. Regardless of religion there is always a higher power.


5.          Aside from the family you're born into, life gives you the chance to create your own family. When I was approaching 18, I was in and out of the doctors pretty frequently because of my Asthma. My doctor had now become a familiar face and someone I could confide in, rather than just your typical in-and-out doctor’s appointments. “Jess, go out and live your life” is one of the many things she has said to me that has stuck with me to this day. I took my doctor's words and ran with them. A couple of months after I turned 18, I moved out and into an apartment with my two best friends, Alexis and Bianca- the chosen sisters. They have helped me overcome so many countless obstacles I have faced over the years of knowing them. What one lacks the other picks up for and I don’t know what I would do without them. Their families are my family and I’m so grateful for every single one of them. As life goes on and people grow, Bianca had met someone and got engaged, so we all decided to move back home. I couldn’t be happier for her and honored to get the privilege of officiating her wedding. Moving back home, I knew that I had two options- to either work 60-80 hours a week for the rest of my life or go back to school and try to get an education. 


6.          My friend Julie, who I’ve known since elementary school, has always pushed me to pursue my dream of being a nurse since I started school to become an LPN the first time around. Julie has helped me in so many ways that I will forever be grateful for. I believe that she is destined for greatness, and I can’t wait for her to show the world what she has to offer. Also, my nighttime supervisor, Tammi, has motivated me to become a nurse. For years, Tammi has been telling me to apply and my response would jokingly always be the same thing- “I’m dumb, but not dumb” Therefore, when I got accepted to the program, I was shocked. When starting the program, I told myself one thing- I would not cheat. I made it a rule because I understand that when becoming a nurse, I will be responsible for many people, which I cannot do correctly if I cheat my way through. Which I always did in the past.  


7.          When I applied to nursing school, I never really knew why I wanted to be a nurse. What I did know is that I have the passion for caring for others and was a dedicated CNA. In the book Fundamentals of Nursing by Burton, Smith, and Ludwig (2019)  states “Practical nurses were essentially home health nurses. The training program was 3 months long and focused on homemaking skills and caring for the sick.” Which means the first ever nurse was a Certified Nursing Assistant, so put respect on their names. I had some motivation along the way to go to nursing school with my co-workers and my residents constantly telling me I would make a great nurse one day. It helped me realize I do want to become a nurse, to be able to provide more care for others beyond what a CNA can provide.  


8.          What made me really know why I wanted to be a nurse was when I was working on the Covid floor. I would walk around to see who was there so I could make my assignments. I would also pop in to visit the residents. One day, I walked in and there was a resident I have known for a couple years. She liked me alot and I liked her and her family as well. I walked in and she did not look at herself. There was a rapid response nurse working the floor. The resident was really hot and had a fever, when I communicated the resident's symptoms to the nurse she simply said, “well she does have corona.” I went back and put cold face clothes on her to try to keep her cool. I talked to her but she wasn't able to say much, and I knew she was religious so I asked if she wanted rosary beads which she shook her head yes. I brought them and then went back to the nurse who said she would go check on her. After that I went around checking on everyone else because I had to go make the assignment for everyone. I looped back around and overheard the two nurses talking about her lungs. They kept going back and forth talking about what they were hearing. I asked to listen to her lungs, but I didn't know what I was hearing, however, the noise was beautifully sad. It was beautiful because the sound in itself gave me motivation. It was sad though because hearing it I knew that the resident was in pain and suffering, even though I did not know exactly what I was hearing at the time. They decided on calling 911 and I waited until the ambulance arrived. Ever since then it has become clearer to me that I wanted to be a nurse, and this is my passion. Covid got so bad because patients and residents got abandoned by the people, they needed the most. Patients and residents were scared with unfamiliar faces taking care of them. Unfamiliar faces were a good amount of them only doing it for the money. Cookie a rapid response CNA thank you for taking care of my residents when I couldn’t. Covid numbers would not have gotten so high if there were more people actually willing to go help fight the disease. I thank every single person who had the courage and decided to go and help fight for something that was bigger than themselves. No one talks about what actually happened on the covid units but if you worked on them, you know you will carry that with you for the rest of your life and the one thing that didn’t hold you back was fear. As the great Florence Nightingale once said, “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear”. 


9.          This was my second attempt to become an LPN, I failed the first time by 0.4. I lost sight of why I wanted to be a nurse and remembered why too late. I lost sight because I wanted to know what I heard that day and when I asked my instructors, they never answered my question, due to how nursing school is structured. I lost my drive. When I finally got my question answered, I found my drive again, but it was too late.  I struggle with dyslexia and try every day to become the nurse I know I can be. With having dyslexia, I decided to get my left and right tattooed with the anatomical way as well, thanks to @sancheezus for when I’m working as a nurse to help me differentiate. I also have a necklace that is religious and gives me hope and helps me through the struggles in life. We had a clinical practice dress day and they told me I had to cover my tattoos and take off my necklace. Even when I had a long sleeve shirt covering most of my necklace and my tattoos would only be seen if I lifted my sleeves. When you actually go out and work in the field, they do not make you do this. So, I decided to start a petition to change their dress code. 


10.       At first, I was going to start the petition for certain dress codes to be reviewed but as I read through them, I learned that there were many specific things that affect how we look in general and restrict the way one expresses themselves. People determine how to present themselves in many different ways. For example, how a person may decide to get eyelash extensions, how they decide to wear their hair, the type of jewelry they wear and the tattoos they have on their body. While reading the dress code, I had a recollection of when an instructor said “You look good, you feel good” during class. If we are not allowed to dress the way we want, we become limited to being able to express our true selves and perform at our highest ability.  In an article 7 Ways your clothes can change the way you think, “Science says that the clothes we wear affect our behavior, attitudes, personality, mood, confidence, and even the way we interact with others” (Mann & Sarda-Joshi, 2016). People express themselves through the way they decide to dress and what they put on their bodies. They have certain reasons as to why they decide to express themselves in that manner. At times the way you express yourself can affect those you are caring for. For example, it can help our residents or patients to feel comfortable with us. I have encountered many people where our first conversation began by discussing tattoos. The tattoos on my body have been the icebreaker to many conversations and occasionally make them more comfortable because some of the residents I’ve met have felt as though we are equal by the presents of my tattoos. If you want someone to trust you, you need them to feel as though you are an equal and expressing your true self. We cannot give our highest level of care to someone if we are forced to hide who we are. Name tags are worn to tell them who we are which is acceptable but, everything else should be our choice. Advice is encouraged but not mandatory. 


11.       I sent this petition in at my school and was told I would have to wait until November 15 for my answer if their policies would change. Still forcing me to cover my tattoos and taking off my necklace. Even with me having a tattoo as a resource and having a necklace that represents my religion. Making me cover up something that I use to help with my dyslexia and repressing my first Amendment right, freedom of religion.  I told them I would not take off my necklace and they said if I do not take it off and put it in my bra or pocket I would get sent out of clinical and dismissed from the program. So in true fashion, I decided that if you are going to kick me out over my necklace I will go in as if I was going to work as a nurse which broke every rule in the dress code. I dressed in all blacks scrubs just in case it was my funeral to every being able to follow my passion of being a nurse. I got sent out of clinical and sent back to school where they dismissed me from the program even with having a 90 average as I was just sticking up for something that I believe in. My necklace does not leave my neck, if it was a Hijab or Burka, they would not force someone to take it off. They wouldn't make them take it off because that is their first amendment right for them to express their religion as it is mine. To everyone that says that my necklace is a safety hazard because someone can grab it if they are reaching out toward me. The safety hazard isn’t the necklace, it's the resident or patient trying to grab me.


12.       I am now starting a petition for the National League of Nursing Education to change their rules and standards as they are outdated. This happens in every nursing program. People are stripped of everything they are and are forced to try to learn while being forced to hide who they are. Nursing School should be a collaboration. In a document by McGraw (2000) it states, “Learning the value of teamwork and becoming an effective member of a team is an important first step to developing leadership skills”.  No matter if you are an instructor or a student, we should be treated equally. Instructors or professors should be willing to share their knowledge and want their students to go further than they could. That is how medicine is supposed to advance. Using your knowledge from others and building on it. There's a saying in nursing school that nurses swallow their young. Meaning that when you graduate and become a new nurse it's hard to find someone willing to mentor you. That is because of how nursing school is being taught. Nursing and healthcare in general is about collaboration and a team effort. Which it should be taught in that manner. It’s what you do with your knowledge that makes you smart. Nursing school should be thought of as training. Training you for what you are going to experience when you are out there all alone. People should be shown what nurses are expected to perform and give examples of different life scenarios to help guide future nurses; show them what to do, how to do it and the thought process as to why they do it. Working together with the students would make so many extraordinary nurses.


13.       This affects everyone in America as nurses are your number one advocate for your health.  Our healthcare system is broken, and everyone knows it. If you want it to change, you need to change where people are learning their information. Nursing school is taught wrong. They preach the nursing process but do not show it and that affects you and everyone you know, as that is our foundation to the profession. If your foundation isn’t strong then your system is weak. I am passionate about being a nurse and wanting everyone to get the best care they can.  I have been trying to change things for a while, but I cannot do it alone as it is a nationwide issue. That can be solved if everyone works as a team to better their health



Ps: This is a personal message for the National League of Nursing Education, all my references are valid. I took the liberty of not telling where I found my quotes in the texts. As I am treating you the same way you treat your students. Look for it yourself. 



Gauri Sarda-Joshi is a professional writer, Mann, J., & Sarda-Joshi, G. (2016, June 17). 7 ways your clothes change the way you think. Brain Fodder. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from 

            Burton, M., Smith, D. W., & May, L. L. J. (2019). Fundamentals of Nursing Care:    Concepts, Connections & Skills. F.A. Davis Company.   

 McGraw, G. (n.d.). Teamwork - dol. Teamwork. Retrieved October 18, 2021, from 

 Florence Nightingale 


Julie Thim 

Melanie Vertentes 

Chelsea Costa 

Michael Pelletier

Christine Hankins

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