CLS Program News

Working as a Nurse: A CLS Alumni Profile

Audrey Ferguson (Dhaka, Bangladesh ’11 and ’12) is a staff nurse on the Intermediate Care Unit at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia. She studied nursing and global affairs at George Mason University prior to obtaining this position.

What did you learn about nursing while you were on the CLS Program?

One of my favorite experiences in Bangladesh occurred when I went with another student and one of my instructors to visit a nursing college in Rajshahi. There I had the chance to talk with two of the nursing students about their studies, their clinical rotations in the hospital, and their career goals.

Not only was I surprised at my ability to share this conversation in Bangla, but I realized that we were in the same position in our schooling and had many of the same hopes and fears. We all worried about our ability to provide the best patient care and felt like we would face enormous challenges as we started out on our own in a hospital. We all shared a passion for public health and the ways that good public health can impact an entire population. I really hope that both of the students I met have been able to make a positive impact on their communities.

Did your CLS experience play a role in helping you obtain this position?

Yes, my experience in Bangladesh and use of Bangla gave me an edge over other candidates because it was an example of my ability to adapt to a new environment. It also showed that I have the flexibility and cultural competence to serve a culturally diverse patient population.

Do you use your Bangla language skills in your job?

Yes, I have had the opportunity to be the primary nurse for two patients who were primarily Bangla speaking.

What is “typical” day in your position like?

A “day in the life” of a staff nurse in my unit usually involves providing total care for three patients. This means that after I arrive at work, I discuss the status of each patient with the day-shift nurse to learn more about the patients I will be working with. Then I do assessments on each person. What I do next varies depending on each individual’s health issues and concerns. My work focuses on diverse topics ranging from pain management to wound care or procedure monitoring.

What tips have you learned that may help other CLS alumni who are interested in working in the medical field?

In nursing it can be easy to allow yourself to become task-oriented, but it’s important to always remember that you are helping people, not completing a task list. I’ve learned that in order to be a great nurse, you have to take good care of yourself so that you can take good care of your patients.

What is your favorite word or saying in Bangla?

সুন্দর থাকবেন

shundor thakben

This means literally, “stay beautiful,” but it is generally used to mean “take care” or “be well,” as a farewell at the end of a note or conversation.

What are your future plans?

I’ve decided to travel this summer and will teach nursing in Bangladesh with an organization called the Bangladesh Health Project. I’ll be there from June to August teaching classroom and hospital rotations for nursing students at a school called IUBAT. In the future, I would like to obtain a certification as a progressive care nurse and focus more on teaching.

Can you share a bit about your personal background and interests?

I grew up in a small town called Marietta, located on the Ohio and West Virginia border. The population is about 15,000 people. I have an older brother and younger sister, both of whom have traveled abroad.

My mom was Marietta’s “Woman of the Year” in 2013 for her outstanding volunteer work with the Marietta City School District, and my dad owns his own small business called Classic Matboard. They have encouraged me to pursue my passions and have supported me in my diverse pursuits, from marathon running to international travel.