Remembering Like It Was Yesterday
From the moment you are accepted, nursing school is one wild ride. There are more things to learn, obstacles to overcome, and new skills to practice than you can even wrap your head around. It's easy to lose yourself to burnout and maybe even feeling like you'll never "get it". But somewhere in the midst of it all, if you pay close attention, you can catch a glimpse of how far you've come and a reminder of why you started down this path in the first place.
I have about 8 months of nursing school left. I've barely even begun to panic about the NCLEX yet. I haven't had the opportunity to respond to a code. We're not allowed to start IV's in our program. I don't know how or where I'm going to find my first job, or worry about if my preceptor will be of the "eat their young" variety when I get there. Once I do land that first job, I can't even imagine the amount of things I'll get confused about, questions I'll be asked, mistakes I'll make, and the overwhelming feeling of, "am I ever going to get this right?" that often comes with the first year of a nursing career.
From the big picture of this journey, it would be easy to focus solely on how much left I have to learn, to do, to overcome. But for once in my life, at age 28, after a complete 180 turn from my former degree in broadcast journalism, that's not how I'm viewing things.
It really began to sink in during clinical the other day, while hanging several IV meds with primary and secondary lines, trouble-shooting a malfunctioning heart monitor, and answering questions about a prophylactic medication my patient was beginning. In the midst of these tasks, I couldn't help but feel a boost of confidence, a golden moment, in thinking to myself, "I'm starting to get it."
Now, many a seasoned nurse would probably say I'm still a rookie, a novice, that I barely understand the tip of the iceberg with this profession. And to that thought, I would whole heartedly agree. However, I know more than I did last week, last semester, and definitely more than I did last year. To me, I find this to be the beauty of nursing school.
When you learn so much, in such a relatively short period of time, it's easier to actually focus on how far you've come, instead of how far you have to go. It's easy to look at 2 years ago when I walked in the door for orientation, with nothing but a background in journalism, and a few months working in a pediatric office. The reality of what it was like to know nothing is still very fresh in my mind, and I use it as a gift of encouragement to realize how much I've learned, seen, and experienced since then.
I can vividly picture the day I took my entrance exams, and the agonizing wait to hear if I was accepted. I can remember what it was like to be taking the entry-level courses, and feeling a sense of envy and excitement seeing more advanced students dressed in their white uniforms after a long day of clinical in the hospital. I remember beaming with pride when it came time to get fitted for my uniform (and even texting pictures from the dressing room to friends and family!) I can remember how nervous and awkward I felt the first time I walked into a patient's room to fumble through taking vitals, and praying they wouldn't ask me anything, feeling I had no skills or knowledge to offer! I can remember all of these things like they were just yesterday, because they honestly weren't that much longer ago than that.
I reflect on these things when school is tough, the days are long, and the course work intense. Which at this point in the program, is most days.
I can think of the girl who was equally excited and terrified to begin this journey. I can think of each class she passed, the first physical assessment she completed, the first medications she administered, the first IV bag she hung, the first family she comforted, and a thousand other brand new things she had the opportunity to tackle. I can think of all the clinical skills, surgical procedures, medications, lab results, and diseases processes she'd been able to learn about. And it leaves me hungry for more. It leaves me so hopeful for the future. It's given me peace about whatever challenges the end of school and the beginning of my career may hold. The ambition and excitement I had when I signed up to take the nursing school entrance exam will not soon be forgotten for me, and I can only hope as life goes on that it will always feel like it was just yesterday.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 9, '15
My name is Maggie. I've lived in Pittsburgh all of my life. I have my Bachelor's in journalism, and I still enjoy writing. However, through a series of various life events, I realized in my mid-twenties that nursing was the career for me. I am on track to graduate in the Spring of 2015, and hope to pursue a career in pediatrics.
From 'Pittsburgh, PA, US'; Joined Jul '12; Posts: 9; Likes: 73.Sep 12, '13You have the heart of a nurse, and thank you for the encouraging words. As I'm studying to my TEAS test tonight I needed some inspiration to keep going !Sep 12, '13Wow, pre-nursing student here, well written article! I can't wait to experience some of these things too. All the best with the rest of your nursing journeySep 13, '13Great, encouraging words - love the positiveness and good luck on your continued journey in life!Sep 13, '13I loved this! I found myself smiling & remembering the uniform moment and the brilliant "I'm starting to get this!!!"
Good luck to youSep 13, '13Hey MaggieMae,
What a great post! I also felt like that so many times while in nursing school. I graduated in October 2012 and now work on a Tele/Cardiac floor. I can assure you that those feelings don't change as you go along
Good luck, finish your program, and pass the NCLEX!
DaveSep 13, '13Maggie,
I too am from Pittsburgh, and I am a pediatric nurse and assistant professor at a local university. Good luck on the beginning of your career! You have chosen a wonderful career and recognizing the fact that nursing means life long learning! I wish you luck in completing school, passing NCLEX, and finding a job. Never forget this journey, and remember there's something new to learn each and everyday! I am still learning new things everyday!Sep 13, '13Very nice post! I graduated from nursing school 3 weeks ago and am waiting to take the nclex!
It's amazing how sometime somewhere when we don't realize it,
It just clicks!
Good Luck to you! You got this!Sep 14, '13Great reflection! Thank you for sharing and good luck to you in all your nursing endeavours!Sep 14, '13Fabulous article, @MaggieMae412 what a unique perspective you have coming from journalism, and an excellent prose as well. Your feelings are shared!Sep 15, '13Very inspiring and true. I am in my 4th week of nursing school and am already amazed at how much I've learned and how my thinking process has slightly changed. I look forward to the future and being able to look back on these moments. Kudos to you and good luck on your NCLEX and in your career!
Must Read Topics