University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing
For Leigh Goldstein, the journey to becoming a nurse began many years before nursing school. Leigh’s story begins in Chinle, Arizona, where she grew up on an Indian Reservation. Specifically, it was a simple act of kindness while Leigh was very ill that put the entire story into motion.
“When I was a little girl growing up on the Indian Reservation, I contracted a really severe form of salmonella,” said Leigh. “I was very, very ill and had to be hospitalized.”
Leigh was taken to a mission hospital in Arizona where she spent several weeks fighting severe symptoms. She was 7 years old.
“I was throwing up, I was messing up my bed, and I couldn’t help it,” said Leigh.
It was during this time that Leigh met someone who would impact not only her stay at the hospital, but her life and career.
“Every evening, this nurse would come in,” said Leigh. “Wearing the old-timey white uniform, the starched white cap with the stripe in it.”
Since both of Leigh’s parents worked, she was alone at the hospital alone most of the time, and it was this oneon-one time with her nurse that made the difference.
“She’d come in and play tictac-toe with me,” said Leigh. “It really was almost angelic. I don’t remember her face or anything, but I remember the white uniform walking toward me to play our evening tictac-toe game. It made me feel so much better.”
Leigh said this interaction kept her connected with the world during her recovery, and even after she left the hospital, her admiration for nurses continued to grow.
“Later on, as I grew older, I always admired nurses,” said Leigh. “I’d see nurses on TV, and I had the chance to take care of my grandmother after she had surgery my freshman year in high school.”
Leigh said it was this experience with her grandmother that really cemented her desire to go to nursing school. But the road through nursing school wouldn’t be easy. It was a hard and often lonely journey; one of the most difficult Leigh would ever face. When Leigh began nursing school, she was a single mom with a 7-month-old, she had no child support, and was living on public assistance. Fortunately, Leigh would get by with her perseverance and a little help.
“It was one of the hardest times of my life,” said Leigh. “The only reason I really made it through nursing school was because of the professors I had. They understood me, and they supported me.”
Leigh said that in addition to teaching, her professors always lent her a helping hand, keeping her schedule and coursework in mind.
“If I needed an extra day on something, or if I needed extra help on something, they were there,” said Leigh. “They really wanted to produce a great nurse, but they understood about my life outside of nursing school.” Now, as an Assistant Professor in Clinical Nursing and the Director of Learning Enhancement and Academic Progress Center (LEAP) at The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, Leigh implements the same understanding, kindness and support with her own students today. “Every student comes with
something,” said Leigh. “They come with baggage. And if we aren’t willing to take part of that student’s experience and make it work for them, so they can become that great nurse, then we’re really shortchanging our country.” As for being nominated for Recognizing Nurses, Leigh said she’s honored.
“I’m immensely flattered,” said Leigh. “It’s a very humbling experience, and it really helps cement the fact that I’m doing what I’m meant to do.”
Name: Leigh Goldstein Hometown: Chinle, AZ Favorite color scrubs: Navy Blue Breakfast tacos or
barbecue: Breakfast tacos Coffee or tea: Tea AM or PM shifts: AM Pico, queso or guacamole: Queso Barton Springs or Lake Travis: Barton Springs Favorite medical drama: Call The Midwife