Nursing School Correlation to Mountain Climbing

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    Summiting a 14,000 ft mountain peak is very difficult and few achieve it but those that do know the beauty and joy felt at the summit; nursing school is in direct correlation in that few are willing to even attempt the process but those that do and succeed know the end result was worth the struggles, and are ready for the next trail head.

    Nursing School Correlation to Mountain Climbing

    I don't know that everyone likes mountain climbing/hiking or has had the blessing to experience climbing to the summit of a 14,000 ft peak (a 14er), but my wife and I very much enjoy summiting 14ers, and were able to summit 4 on our honeymoon a couple years ago, we long to go back and be able to do that more often but unfortunately do not have the means to do so lately....someday. Anyway enough with that tangent, I'll get to the point. The point is the analogy comparing your pursuits in nursing school to that of summitting a 14er.

    Entering nursing school there is a feeling of excitement and anticipation of the great things to come, this in my vision is much like to the drive to a trail head leading to the summit. At most trail heads you can see far off in the distance the beautiful peak of the mountain you are about to set off to summit. You are eager to get there and your eyes are fixed for that moment on the peak and the finish line and you feel excitement! This can even continue through the beginning of your hike or journey in nursing school as you have not yet been challenged on the trail and can still see the peak.

    However, on every trail we have hiked this beautiful beginning is quickly transitioned into the real hike! (Especially if you are hiking up Long's Peak in Colorado!) On Long's path you enter into dense vegetation and are slowed to a painful crawl down the path, the canopy blocks your view of the finish line and you quickly become consumed by the difficulty of the task and lose site of the prize and lose the excitement. Have to say that's where I have been throughout this week. Still moving forward down the path but not able to take joy in glimpsing the beautiful landscape or the summit being so clouded by the negative and struggles.

    Later down the path you reach the base of the mountain and once again you can glimpse the summit but at this point instead of seeing the potential for the beauty at the top you become overwhelmed by how high the summit truly is and how much work it is going to require to get there. You may even wish there was a ski lift or something that would just take you to the top so you could avoid the work but enjoy the finish line. Again much like nursing school in that you can see the finish and what licensure would mean to you, but instead of seeing the finish you see the obstacles and the difficulty of the path.

    At this moment in the path, having come through the valley and now standing at the base of the mountain seeing the climb you can either turn back or push on. You've already come through the valley so you might as well push on and get to the climbing.

    As you begin climbing you pass areas that are fairly easy and some that seem insurmountable; some steep grades with large boulders, and some paths worn through the rock where footing is sure and easy. You try to make up time and excel through the easy paths often failing to enjoy the easy sections and observe the beauty around the mountain when you are safe on the path and instead rush into the next hard section where struggle begins. In this stage in nursing school it is imperative to soak in the "easier" phases and enjoy everything around you as much as possible to restore your resolve to make the next arduous climb that inevitably lies ahead.

    When you are climbing the tough passes it is life saving and encouraging to be climbing with another. Obviously in nursing school you are going to benefit so much from relying on others and being there for others in these hard parts of the path. You may make the pass on your own, but trust me there is much more joy in celebrating accomplishing a challenging climb along with a partner.

    All throughout the climb you have the chance to attempt to glimpse the summit. Simply standing still, taking your eyes off the path/task ahead, and looking up at the summit can provide inspiration and drive. Much the same in school, take some time every once in a while to take your mind off the tasks that lie ahead and dream of the finish line and what it's going to be like and mean to you. Although you may want to stand there and glimpse the summit for a while you realize you'll never reach it f you don't get back to trekking on the path, so take the inspiration, lock back in, and get climbing.

    At other times you may be so overwhelmed all you want to do is feel that feeling of glimpsing the summit and you look up to realize there is so much overhang and the path is so difficult you can't even see the summit at this point. So you hike on until you get to where you can see it once again! There were times this week where the finish line was far from vision and the path was so covered in muck it was in question whether the summit was even there anymore. At these moments all you can do is move forward and get back into the vision of the summit.

    Finally, after overcoming all the moments of disbelief and climbing over all the obstacles you get to where the summit is just steps away (often the most difficult steps) but you so overcome with joy and pride that you take leaps and bounds over those difficult final steps and before you know it you are at the summit. You look back at where you were before down at the trail head and are dismayed by the accomplishment. By allowing yourself to remain so focused and motivated along each step of the way you forget how far you are progressing until the finish. The correlation to nursing school is obvious here.

    My suggestion would be to reflect on your progress along the way take time to see how far you have come from the trail head and what you have already overcome, being fully conscious of your progress along the way, and when you reach the summit soak it in because you earned the summit of that 14er! Be thankful there was not a ski lift to take you to the top as it would have little to no meaning to you to look at the lift you road to the top compared to looking down on the work you accomplished!

    Realize you can't remain on that summit forever, if you look at each task as a summit in itself then you realize you must descend in order to reach the trail head of your next summit. Or if you look at each step in nursing education (advancing degrees) as a separate summit then you will also be descending and heading to the next trail head. Either way you don't leave that summit behind it stays with you forever and boost your confidence as you approach the next trail head on your path.

    When you're on the mountain you rarely see many other climbers, because mountain climbing is hard and few can endure it; so it is true also with nursing school! Few can understand the beauty of the mountain top because few are willing to climb.

    Keep climbing!
    Last edit by Joe V on Sep 24, '12
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  3. by   SummitRN

    I'm more cynical, so I view it more like climbing in bad weather. The weather was clear on the approach and you saw the summit, but the trail crew didn't cut out the deadfall so you have to bushwhack off-trail and cross some rivers with really bad mosquitoes. While bushwhacking, clouds moved in and you kept going. Then you climb into the cloud and can't see more than 100ft in front of you. You know the summit is there and keep going following the trail. Then it starts to snow. Now the trail is gone and you are groping around following the cairns (trail markers). The terrain becomes class 3 and you know that is only one way up that isn't that hard (everything else is 5.11 trad and you have no rope). The route finding is hard. The snow gets deeper and the cairns are gone. With no trail or markers, now you have to scout your route and take some wrong turns. Even while retracing steps, you know the summit is there though. Your toes are cold. Eventually you gain the ridge and scurry up the knife edge. No part is that hard or conceptually challenging, but care is needed because the route is exposed and dedication is needed not to turn back.

    At the summit you realize you have to descend, the most dangerous part... shoulda brought the skis! You also know you must find another mountain to climb ASAP, Mount Get-A-Job, on which most of the routes don't go... and the visibility is even worse!

    But the summit is still there...
  4. by   anavelez23
    Thank you for your article, yes it feels so far that! My problem is that I jumped in with other classes with my Clinicals..Second Semester will get tougher so I will take a leave of absence to finish those 2 classes left I have so I can resume with my Clinicals only!!.. 3 Panic Attacks is bad so far and I have 2 months to go LOL... so in your analogy " I over packed for my mountain climbing and I barely gripping on, so Im freaking out and want to be safe!"....