Memories in Focus: stories about why we are how we are

More stories from Faith Hultman


Photo by Faith Hultman

Rachel Chatwick is excited for her future as a nurse.

Rachel Chatwin knew she wanted to make ‘helping people’ her career when she helped her mother in an emergency situation.

Chatwin, a first year nursing student and athlete on the swim team, said she realized she wanted to pursue nursing when she had to take her mother to the emergency room while suffering from a partially collapsed lung.

Chatwin returned home from a normal day at school in Forest Lake, Minn. when her mother began to complain about having chest pain.

“We waited for an hour or so,” Chatwin said. “I’m a lifeguard, so I was thinking of solutions.”

Chatwin said she thought her mom might have been having a heart attack, so she gave her two baby aspirins.

After a couple hours Chatwin said she decided it was time to drive her to the ER.

At the ER, Chatwin was told that her mother had a partially collapsed lung. The news was terrifying, but when the doctor heard about how she had given her mom aspirins, he praised her and said the medicine had helped significantly, Chatwin said.

“They said it was a smart idea,” Chatwin said. “It actually helped her pain and caused it so her lung wouldn’t deflate anymore. That to me validated that I can help people, make decisions under pressure and be there to reassure patients.”

Chatwin had been considering a career in nursing beforehand; her dad is an ER doctor and she had always admired the nurses he worked with, she said.

“I met some of the nurses and they’re all amazing,” Chatwin said. “But I knew I wanted to be a nurse when I realized I had truly helped my mom.”

Chatwin picked Eau Claire because she knew the nursing program was rigorous and selective. Before attending, she felt the students were more focused on academics than other schools she toured, she said.

She feels even better about her decision to become a nurse after enjoying her classes during her first semester at Eau Claire, Chatwin said.