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My Journey to RN

Testimonials   (104 Views 1 Comments)
by MMikels MMikels (New) New Nurse

MMikels specializes in OR.

19 Profile Views; 1 Post

I would like to share my journey to becoming a nurse, in the hopes it may show others that becoming a nurse can be an achievable goal regardless of what one's life is like.  I returned to school in the spring semester of 2015, at 29 years old, with the hopes of going to nursing school.  At the time, I had gotten divorced just over a year earlier, and was raising my then 7 year old without any assistance from her father.   I worked as a salaried manager at McDonald's, meaning I worked a minimum of 46 scheduled hours a week, but was expected to stay late whenever needed and take calls when at home, so was working closer to 55 hours a week. I also had an 18 year old step-daughter who remained my child even after the divorce, who lived with her boyfriend, but visited home regularly.  I did not believe that I would have much success going back to school, but a close friend had just gone back the year before, and convinced me that it was something that I could do too.  As most of the prereqs were available as online classes through the community college, I decided to give it a go.

As I completed my prereqs, I became more confident about my ability to balance family, work, and school life.  It made for many very busy days, but I knew my goal was worth it, and I reminded myself that I was doing this to give my daughter a better life, and show her what can be achieved with hard work.  My friend that pushed me to go back to school was accepting into the nursing program in the fall of 2016, and I made a goal to complete my prereqs in time to apply for the fall of 2017.  We also became closer than friends at that time, and although we each had very little outside support systems, we supported each other towards our goals.  In the spring of 2017 I was accepted into the nursing program, in the summer of 2017 I got engaged to my best friend, in august of 2017 I officially started nursing school, and in October 2017 I found out that I was pregnant.  It was quite a whirlwind of life changes.  

While in nursing school I continued to work full time, as did my fiancee.  Our program required one 8 hour classroom day and one 10 hour clinical day.  Originally I went to class on Tuesday, clinical on Wednesday, and then work 9 hours on Wednesday; however, the 19 hour shift became very difficult to do while pregnant, and generally I would not get home until 2am on Thursday, have Thursday off, and work at 4am on Friday.  In my second semester I switched to work after my Tuesday class, have Wednesday off, and go to clinicals on Thursday.  Working after either a class or a clinical day was necessary so that I would have one day off a week to do study and homework.  This was almost always a weekday, so I could do this while my daughter was at school, and be available to spend time with her in the afternoon.  

In May of 2018, my fiancee graduated with his ADN, passed his NCLEX at the end of the month.  The nursing program had a summer semester as well.  I continued to go to class and work full time.  We welcomed our daughter in the beginning of June, and I was at our next scheduled class, 6 days after she was born.  My fiancee and I got married shortly thereafter, and he started a job working in the critical care unit, while still working as a patent classifier, which allowed a mixture of office work and at home work.  That summer, my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which thankfully was treated surgically and has not required radiation or chemotherapy at this point.  Due to long childcare waitlists, I continued into my second year of nursing school as a stay at home mother.  Going into second year, we also had a small group of the students become class officers, and I took up a spot as the class treasurer, and attended most of the student government association bimonthly meetings to represent the nursing student group.  While I was home much more often, I lost my day for homework and study and had to change my study and school work habit to work around the baby's nap schedule.

Through all of this, I graduated with a 4.0 in May of 2019, and in July of 2019 I passed my NCLEX in 75 questions.  I spent those months after graduation working towards completing the entirety of the Kaplan Qbank questions, doing a minimum of 150 questions a day, and a maximum of 300 in a day.  It was important to do questions daily to keep up with my content knowledge as well as to continue to get practice with the critical thinking aspect of the NCLEX questions.  While I tried to do questions mainly when the baby was napping, this wasn't always possible, and sometimes I had to multitask questions with taking care of the family and house.  The Qbank allows the user to do as few as 25 questions at a time, and as many as 75.  Whenever I knew that I would not be able to fully concentrate on the test, I would only select 25 questions so that I would feel less pressure.  When I knew I had time to really sit down and test, I would do as many back to back 75 question tests as possible to practice for the chance of getting 265 questions on the NCLEX.

Currently, I have been working as an operating room nurse for almost 3 months, and am a full time RN-BSN student.  The past four years have been a major rollercoaster of life changes, but I wouldn't change a thing for the world.  My husband became a nurse at 38, and myself at 34.  It is not easy to go back to school as a non-traditional student while working and raising a family, but it is well worth it.

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