Go to Nursing School? NEVER!! Ch 1

Updated | Published
by Julie Reyes Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

Specializes in pediatrics, occupational health. Has 6 years experience.

Nursing was not always an obvious choice for me. In fact, I NEVER wanted to be a nurse. My journey to becoming one has been a long and sometimes weary road. I have had ups and downs, victory and defeat. This is how my journey begins.

What can I expect from nursing school?

Go to Nursing School?  NEVER!!  Ch 1

I slam the alarm off in a fury, covering my face with my blanket. I just can't do this job anymore. My run as a paramedic in rural county America for the past lifetime has taken its toll, but this past year I have earned my name as the "Trauma Chick" and "Chyna" - the female wrestler.

Working as a paramedic has just been awful lately, for me anyway. Some of the horrible things I have done and seen in the past few years include:

  • Assuming scene commander role of mass casualty incidents, (including a horrible 2 car - 8 unrestrained passenger head on collision. A baby's head was caught in a vise between a truck door and fender of the truck. The baby was hanging in midair like a horror movie pinata);
  • Coding a 2 month old seizure baby who "fell off a couch"...it will never cease to amaze me how many babies roll off of beds or couches...;
  • Scraping three teenagers off the highway in a single car versus tree massacre;
  • A call for a male with a broken leg that turned out to be a man lying on his back with a slit throat and every bone in the body broken and sticking out at odd angles (he was catapulted from 100 feet while changing lights at a stadium. He hit the headache rack of the work truck and bounced to the chain link fence throat first, and finally stopped on a concrete sidewalk).
  • Rescuing a 300+ pound female patient who was stabbed by her husbands family members during a family BBQ. She accused her husband of cheating, and with everyone drinking and what-not, a brawl happened. When we arrived, deputies had her surrounded protecting her from being killed by angry family - she still had a knife in her chest. We had to treat her in a bedroom and escape through a bedroom window. Of course, the house was a mobile home up on stilts. We had to balance her on a backboard and pray that no one would kill us in the process.
  • One of my coworkers - a good friend of mine - was killed by trying to stop a fight. He was run over by a car and the wheels crushed his head. I didn't have that call, but I cleaned up the back of the unit after it was over - wiping blood off the walls and floor.

I braved roaches and angry / territorial pit bulls; I directed young volunteer firefighters who created havoc and chaos instead of helping because they knew the dead and dying teenagers in the rollover accident; I fought countless obstacles that stood between me and my patient and threatened poor outcomes. I had drunk/overdosed/angry patients; I was beat up by a huge mammoth for blowing his high by pushing narcan (lesson learned!); I have cared for beaten wives and stabbed husbands; I relied on deputies to hold back angry relatives in family brawls. I have searched fields in the dark for any possible survivors after car collisions. I have been to houses that seemed like they should be in movies like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Houses in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere - I had to pick up patients who had stroked out - or worse - all the time wondering who is staring at me from the behind the creaking hallway door that opens and closes slightly and leads to a pitch black room. I have slipped in brains and blood that had flooded the floor of the ambulance, and I have done chest compression on an infant with a crushed skull only to have blood come out of his ears with each compression.

Faces haunt me at night - the teenagers that I couldn't save but fought with all my might as my partner and I battled The Reaper. The babies I could not get stabilized in the long trips to the nearest ED. My life as a paramedic is one long, unending nightmare.

My alarm jars me - waking me from my nightmares to go to work. As I cover my face with my blanket, I decide I won't do it anymore. I just can't. I pick up my phone, call my boss, and I quit - just like that. I will never work as a paramedic again.

Here I am, floundering through my days - picking up odd jobs that include housekeeping and babysitting and I feel like a failure because I don't know what to do with my life. I know I don't want to be a paramedic any longer, and I don't want to be a nurse - taking orders from a doctor or wiping butts and emptying bedpans (in my limited experience, this is all I thought nurses did). I REFUSE TO GO TO NURSING SCHOOL!! I trudge day in and day out for months on end, moping about like a lost failure. Months turn into years. I have no clue what to do.

Finally, my husband has enough of my dreary misery. "You need to do something with your life," he says. "You are more than a house cleaner and babysitter." He encourages me to look at nursing again, because he thinks I would be good at it. I decide to call my sister-in-law who is a nurse, and talk to her about her likes and dislikes of her career. She sounds so happy and encourages me to go into nursing. I am worried, but maybe I can do it...as long as I never have to work with kids. I think I would probably be happy working in the ED at the trauma hospital. They don't take kids there - only adults, and I know trauma WELL. The idea starts to sound nice. Me - a nurse. I think I like that idea.

I decide to take my chances and apply at the local junior college to knock out the basic classes. I am determined to give it all I have, and I actually am really excited about the future now. I have a purpose! I go to my advisor to discuss the steps of getting into nursing school. There are two in the city about an hour away from where I live, and I apply for the one that will give me a BSN. My advisor tells me I should make a Plan B and apply at both schools in case I am not accepted into my first choice, but I opt against it since I have a 4.0. I don't think nursing school will be much harder than my basics - how hard is it to change sheets and give shots? Plus, I don't like "Plan B's"! I just have to make this work out, I cannot fail my "mission".

It is time consuming, but I jump through all the hoops it takes to get into another school and meet all the nursing school requirements. I applied, and I wait. You know THE WAIT - the horrible, gut wrenching feeling of dread and expectance, dread and desire, hope and fear all rolled into one massive burning fireball in the pit of your stomach. I am so frustrated of driving 30 miles to a post office to check the mail and find out THE LETTER has not arrived. Day in and day out I waited. I make the post office trip every other day for ....ever, it seems. What takes people so darn long to shove a piece of paper in an envelope and slap a stamp on it?! My attitude became snippy; my usually happy demeanor became partly cloudy with a chance of crazy.

Now, here I am in the kitchen scrubbing down the cabinets (nervous energy). The door opens and in walks my husband carrying a fistful of mail. I freeze as he hands me an envelope that has the university logo in the return address spot. My hands shake as I take the letter from his hand. I look at him - this envelope holds EVERYTHING. My entire future is inside. I tear it open and stare at the paper. This wonderful, marvelous, beautiful piece of paper! I look up at him, and nearly collapse in his arms - I got in!

My journey begins!

For the rest if the story, see

Go to Nursing School? NEVER!! Ch 1

Culture Shock & Big Girl Panties - Ch 2

Pretzels, Puppies, and Physical Assessment Ch 3

Tales from the Crypt....uh.... I mean Clinicals. Ch 4

Give me a BREAK!!!! Ch 5

RN: Judge and Jury Ch 6

Virtual Reality Ch 7

Avoid Kids at ALL Costs! Ch 8

The End of the Tunnel...Holy Cow - is that LIGHT?! Ch 9

Julie Reyes

Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

44 Articles   260 Posts

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20 Comment(s)

brown eyed girl

brown eyed girl

Specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab. 407 Posts

You certainly have my attention! I can wait to read the next chapter! It's crazy that someone's real life experience becomes a good read! Thank you! Thank you for giving me something to read other than an OB book and endless NCLEX questions for my upcoming specialty!



368 Posts

I second that emotion. You got my attention. Waiting on Chapter 2 this time with popcorn and some Coca Cola. :wideyed:



23 Posts

I loved this post! Your going to make an amazing nurse. I can tell by your writing you have such a heart for people. Because of your experience, you will be able to help in ways others RN's can't.

I too will be following your journey.

For some reason this post also helped me in my season that I am in right now.

I just stepped down out of a school i fought so hard to get into. To say I was shocked and disappointed at how that program was ran is an understatement!! The abbusive treatment by some of these professors was horrific. The anxiety that so many students had was uncalled for. I am not talking about the normal anxiety we have with nursing school. What I saw I didn't think was allowed. The Dean was of no help and backed those professors. So sad!

Fearless Leader! I loved your post "Dear Nursing Instructor" took the words right out of my mouth! Then of course the "weeding out the weak"

Replies come. Drives me nuts! We know the difference between growing a student and pushing them and abuse, Unprofessionalism, and power trips. The Professors behaviors I have seen reminded me of my mental health rotation I had last semester. Totally serious! So to have anyone justify this behavior from anyone is rediculas.

I will be following both of your journeys! We will get there! I am also a female in my 40's, married for 21

Years and have 2 boys! I also share a huge heart for the suffering!! It is my calling. ;



41 Posts

Loved this! Keep writing please :) I was in the same boat in EMT class.. never wanted to do nursing but my mom who was a former nurse convinced me otherwise and volunteering at a hospital made me respect nurses a lot!



118 Posts

This is a good story. Perhaps write a book?

Julie Reyes

Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

Specializes in pediatrics, occupational health. Has 6 years experience. 44 Articles; 260 Posts

ready2baRN said:
This is a good story. Perhaps write a book?

This is a series of chapters (or articles) that I am writing for AN. Next week - Chapter 2!



26 Posts

Very nice! Can't wait to read the next.


This is a good story. Perhaps write a book?

I know you have a lot of stories in between lines. A book is a wonderful idea.

Julie, you are very inspiring. Thank you!

sissiesmama, ASN, RN

Specializes in ER, TRAUMA, MED-SURG. Has 22 years experience. 1,897 Posts

ready2baRN said:
This is a good story. Perhaps write a book?

No doubt! I know I'd buy it!

OP - I can't wait to follow u on your journey!

Anne, RNC



46 Posts

Congrats! Good story. Look forward to next chapter.


Has 25 years experience. 12,646 Posts

I didn't want to be a nurse either. Jokes on all of us, huh?



Specializes in OR. 91 Posts

I don't think there's enough chicken soup in this world that I could shove at you...or enough blankets to wrap you in, but it's my knee-jerk reaction to do so. I wish you the best and I hope you will keep posting.

...I just realized you're well past starting and well beyond my own list of alphabetical jumbles post-name -- I'm glad you got through it!

Many hugs...