Jocelyn Sese’s ‘Nursing Vignettes’: Chronicles of a Compassionate Profession

In her book Nursing Vignettes, Jocelyn C. Sese, MS, RN, CEN, talks about the heart and emotion that she deals with on a daily basis. At core of the intense experience of being a health care professional is a very relatable story of care, compassion, and a genuine concern for her patients.

A dream realized

Nursing Vignettes is a collection of the fascinating vignettes or snapshots of Jocelyn’s life as a nurse of 22 years in New York. It is a coming-of-age book that chronicles Jocelyn’s journey as a Filipino nurse in America.

She confessed that it is also the realization of her childhood dream to be published as an author. She was able to utilize her experience to drive home the point that nurses do make a difference in their patients’ lives.

“These short vignettes celebrate the tremendous impact of nurses on the patients they take care of,” she explains.

“Having been an educator for a long time, I wanted to change the perception of the general public about nurses – that we are not mere handmaidens to the physicians, and that we are autonomous and able to use critical thinking and skills to save patients’ lives.”

Nursing Vignettes was independently published by Tatay Jobo Elizes, a retired architect presently residing in Brooklyn. Astounded with Jocelyn’s previous works on her blogs, Tatay Jobo offered to publish Jo’s first book.

According to Jocelyn, Tatay Jobo has already self-published a number of books, including anthologies and solo-authored books by aspiring writers. Jocelyn explains that Tatay Jobo’s share of the sales goe to his charity, Pigs Unlimited.

Released in August 2012, Nursing Vignettes has already sold 350 copies, based on a partial sales report dated October 5. Jo has been going to book-signing events in recent weeks, where she also distributes signed copies of her novel. She is currently in correspondence with the Philippine Nurses Association, seeking for an endorsement of the book from the said organization.

Nursing Vignettes is on sale at for only $7.

“My book is a mix of the funny, sad, joyful, and heartwarming aspects of the nursing profession,” Jocelyn says.

She tells us that anyone can certainly relate to the stories of adventure and discovery she presented in her book. From compassion, to understanding, to the loss of a loved one, to the miracle of a saved life, her book is filled with memories that Jo wanted to share to her readers.

“There’s a story about a dog in the ER, a boy who was hit by a baseball on the chest, and a ‘happy’ drunk singing with an Alzheimer’s patient,” Jo enumerates.

Extensively experienced

Writing a nonfiction novel takes a whole deal of experience and an astounding perspective on life, especially if you plan to write about your personal exploits. Of these two characteristics, Jocelyn has both in equal measure.

Jocelyn came to New York in 1983 as part of a wave of recruits of Filipino nurses. She first worked as a nurse at Coler Memorial Hospital in Roosevelt Island. She was a staff nurse there. From then on, she worked for about two years as an Intensive Care Unit nurse and as an agency nurse, before she started working as an Emergency nurse in the Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York.

“I rose through the ranks from a staff nurse, nurse coordinator, and became Assistant Director of Nursing (Education),” Jocelyn narrates.

“After 21 years at Elmhurst, I shifted gear and transferred to Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn as the ED Clinical Nurse Specialist in June 2011. I published my first book Nursing Vignettes in August 2012.”

Though this may be Jo’s first time to be published as a book author, she has already earned her chops in writing. Under her maiden name Jo Cerrudo, she wrote for two of her web logs – commonly referred to as “blogs” – entitled ED Vignettes ( and Jo’s Curnocopia (

Jo has already contributed some of her works to two prominent Filipino blogs, The Filipino Nurses blog and its parent blog – Definitely Filipino.

As an educator and a practitioner, it is Jocelyn’s hope that nursing students will be able to learn from the clinical snapshots that she highlighted in the book.

The three memories

As a veteran of the profession, Jocelyn has had more than her fair share of run-ins and remarkable moments in her career. Among the vignettes (a short descriptive literary sketch, or a brief incident) that Jocelyn wrote in Nursing Vignettes, she is particularly fond of three specific sections: My Firsts … as a Nurse in America, If Tomorrow Never Comes, and the three-part series, The Soldier and The Nurse.

In My Firsts…, Jocelyn takes a nostalgic return to her past – a time when everything was new and every little thing was an adventure on its own.

“It was an exciting journey for a young 23 year-old nurse,” Jocelyn reveals in an email interview with Asian Journal.

“I talked about my first hospital, my first patient and patient death, my first snow and first snow angel, my first tram ride, and (my) struggle with the accent,” she says about this particular chapter.

Talking about the chapter, If Tomorrow Never Comes, Jocelyn says that her experience as an adjunct clinical instructor for a local nursing school was the focal point of the story.

She related how in the hospice unit, one of her students was assigned to take care of a dying woman. The husband, who was with the woman at the time, needed someone to sing to to them their favorite song. Somehow, Jocelyn ended up singing that “heart-breaking song to the couple as they waited for the inevitable.”

“I hope this book serves as an inspiration to all, Filipinos or not, nurses or not,” Jo explains. “With hard work and determination, they can also realize their dreams here in distant lands. My mother’s dreams for me as a nurse in America have become my dreams as well.”

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