Four years ago I left teaching with very mixed feelings. In many ways I loved my job, and in every way, I loved my students, but I had gone into teaching simply by chance. It was a degree I could earn while working full-time at a dental office. It was funny, because I always thought teaching wasn't my passion, and that someday I would go into healthcare. As a teen I dreamed of life as a doctor. I didn't plan to have children, but I wanted this amazing career in medicine. I wanted to make a difference.
Life is funny, and this journey back to college (yeah, yeah I am a professional student) has done much more than teach me how to be a nurse. It was a journey that I needed to teach myself (especially after a few very shaky personal years) how to be me. Nursing school is difficult. It is not so much the content, but the sheer amount of it, not so much the skills, but the need for accuracy and safety. It is not how to have a great day in patient care, but how you hold up when everything goes wrong. Nursing school scared me to death at times. I am more of a book learner, and would literally shake every time I had to perform a skill. I worried that I would fail out due to the "hands-on" nature of things, so I would practice over and over at home-injecting oranges, hanging IVs, mixing vials of (fake) insulin, having my boys be pretend patients. I have never in my life been so challenged, never been so alive. I am amazed at all I have learned, though there will always be more, but mostly I am amazed at the other things I have taken away. In nursing school I found ME.
Nursing school has fulfilled me. It has given me confidence. While I am by no means an expert, I could save a life if called upon, counsel a patient, console a family, know which medications interact, probably even diagnose a few things. Take away thoughts from the past few years:
- It took being beyond busy to learn how to slow down and appreciate life.
- I am stronger than I ever thought possible.
- Making a difference is not about what job title I have, but about how I live my life. I have already made a difference to all the teens and young adults who still keep in touch with me, who I used to teach. Seeing their successes and hearing their stories, means maybe I helped in some way.
- I didn't think teaching was my passion, but it turns out it is. Nursing is full of patient teaching, and guess which part of nursing is my absolute favorite part? Guess which part I excel in?
- Nursing has actually calmed me down. It is hard to take some problems seriously when you have seen the suffering of others. Talk about perspective.
Where do I go from here? Well, I officially graduate in a week, and am the closing speaker at the ceremony, and then hope to take my boards to become licensed in July, and to begin my new career in August. I am not sure where yet. I have had many interviews, and a handful of callbacks. Right now there are four openings I would seriously consider, and my life could go in any of these directions. I think I will get more than one offer, and then I will need to decide. Each job has pros and cons and implications for my future (and whether I go on for more schooling at some point as well).
In the end, they are all great paths to take, and mine will be carefully and prayerfully selected. The possibilities are varied. Perhaps I will be a labor & delivery nurse and help bring lives into the world, or an urgent care nurse calming patients in the hustle and bustle and worry, a nurse at a cardiology clinic assisting patient's with state-of-the-art devices to keep their hearts pumping, or a nurse at an eating disorder facility counseling young women as they fight internal battles...or maybe none of these and something else entirely. Maybe one day I will be a nurse educator, training baby nurses, or a nurse practitioner, seeing my own patients, or assisting on medical missions. Maybe I will work part-time as an RN, and substitute teach part-time (yes, I have actually considered this...). Maybe I will go straight to graduate school as I work, or maybe I will set it aside and stop and enjoy life, knowing that saying no doesn't mean never, it just means not right now. I am trying to not rule anything out, because God's plan is always much bigger than my own. Wherever I go, it will be somewhere I feel I can excel, somewhere full of patient education, with a good amount of time for my family, and enough time off for me to keep seeing the world.
This is not really an ending, but a beginning. Beginnings are exciting. It is the feeling of a beautiful journal full of blank pages to fill, and I am excited and blessed to be handed the pen to start filling them.
My thoughts go with all of you. THANK YOU for reading my journey. Thank you for your support. I hope you will follow me again when I start anew. For now, that's a wrap!