Maybe it’s nature. No doubt it’s nurture.
Nursing is a family affair for College of Nursing Dean Victoria Niederhauser and her daughter, Emily, a neonatal nurse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“From the time I can remember, I wanted to be a nurse,” Victoria Niederhauser said. The family influence was there: Her grandfather was a surgeon, her mom was a physical therapist, and her aunt was a pediatric nurse.
“In the 1950s my aunt left Babies Hospital in New York City to become a nurse in Alaska. She traveled throughout the state, lived in rural villages, and started her own business to help people do a better job of parenting children,” Niederhauser said. “She lived a life of personal and professional adventure; her stories and experiences inspired me to want that kind of career and life for myself.”
Early in her career, Niederhauser decided she loved caring for children and families.
She completed her master’s degree and pediatric nurse practitioner program and then took some time to travel. She ended up in Hawaii. Unable to immediately find a nurse practitioner job, she began teaching at the University of Hawaii. She fell in love with teaching and has continued to both teach and practice throughout her career.
“Nursing has never been a job for me; it’s been my life’s work for the past thirty-six years. I found the same adventuresome career … as my Aunt Carol did sixty years ago.”
Emily Niederhauser earned her nursing degree from Villanova University in 2014 and went to work as a registered nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“I was definitely influenced by my mom to be a nurse,” she said. Like her mom, Emily also knew early on that she wanted to care for children.
“Infants fascinate me, and the resilience of babies and families is incredible,” she said. And, just like her mom, Emily has found she loves teaching.
“I do a lot of parent and family education on breastfeeding, well baby care, and how to take part in the care of a sick infant,” she said.
Emily is working on her master’s degree through Duke University’s online neonatal nurse practitioner program. She wants to continue working in a NICU and also do follow-up care with premature infants as they become toddlers. She also may pursue her doctorate.
Seeing her daughter mature into a successful nurse and a happy person is like getting a Mother’s Day gift every day, Niederhauser said.
“My hopes and dreams for my children are that they grow up to be happy and productive citizens,” she said. “I see the joy that Emily has in her daily work with vulnerable infants and their families and I know that she is making a difference in those who are fortunate to have her as their nurse.”
Emily credits her mom for helping her get to where she is today: “You are not only my mom but also my best friend, my biggest fan, and my mentor. Because of you I learned how to be a compassionate, caring, and supportive nurse.”