Nursing: I Almost Gave Up...Before I Even Started

I used to think I didn’t have what it took to be a nurse. So I didn’t go to school to become one. When it came time to choose a major, I didn’t even consider nursing- not because it didn’t interest me, but because I didn’t think I could get through nursing school. I didn’t think I was good enough, tough enough, or smart enough.

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In 1988, as a teenager in my first year of college, I still suffered from the crippling insecurities of adolescence. Although I always worked hard and made good grades, I sold myself short. Gina, my best friend and college roommate, chose nursing. Her mother was a nurse, so I figured that Gina was a natural fit for the profession. Day by day I observed Gina closely as she came home from school, deeply absorbed in her studies. Every week I looked forward to hearing her animated stories about caring for patients. As a student nurse, Gina was taking on so much responsibility and being challenged in so many ways- intellectually, emotionally, physically.

While I envied her, and a part of me wanted so badly to walk in her shoes, a little voice inside my head insisted I wasn't good enough. That little voice convinced me that there was no way I could give someone a shot...or clean up an incontinent patient, or, worst of all... deal with a patient dying. So, I decided to earn a degree in business administration.

In college I had the opportunity to take a semester off to work full time as an intern at a technology firm, earning college credit plus a generous wage. The work was interesting, the money was good, and the employees I worked with were engaged. However despite the positive environment, during that semester it hit me: if I continued on the current path, I was very likely to have a "desk job" for the rest of my working life. Even if I were to find a career which allowed me to move around a bit, the goal of my work would likely be to make a company more profitable. While this may be exciting and motivating to many, it was depressing to me. I felt doomed, and realized I had to do something quickly to re-route my future. I needed to find a career which allowed me to work to benefit people, not corporations. A career rich with intrinsic rewards which would keep me motivated and interested, and actually wanting to go to work for the next 30 or 40 years.

By the last semester of college, armed with this realization, a little additional life experience and a lot more confidence, I decided that I was going to become a nurse. Nursing was exactly what I wanted to do, but didn't have guts to pursue until I was 21. I graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, moved back to my home town, got a job, then went to a community college for four years, part time, to earn an Associate's Degree in Nursing.

From the minute I began the program, I knew I had made the right decision. For the first time ever, every class fascinated me. The "work" of patient care was more rewarding than any job I had ever had or could imagine having, and I realized that nursing was a dynamic, stimulating career. I couldn't wait to be a "real nurse". The four years of nursing school flew by.

Almost 20 years later, the learning continues and the rewards of the profession are endless. There have been plenty of bumps in the road, but none that have made me even consider taking another path. Instead, nursing has given me the opportunity to walk many different paths at the same time, and see new scenery every day. I have even learned to give shots, clean up poop, and deal with death. In fact, some of the most rewarding moments I've had as a nurse have been in the midst of very challenging or sad situations. Being able to find the rewards in these moments has been the key to my resiliency and is the main "skill" I try to teach my nursing students. I think this "skill" will probably benefit them more as nursing students and later as "real nurses", than any other skill.

Currently I work as a clinical instructor for new nursing students, a staff nurse in a Pediatric ER, and write periodically for Allnurses.com. I'm preparing to return to school to earn a PhD in Nursing. Every day that I go to "work", whether it is as a staff nurse or as an educator, I am humbled by the rewards of the profession I chose. Nursing truly is the greatest career in the world. And now I know that I'm good enough.

I'm a pediatric emergency nurse of 12+ years and a clinical instructor for UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Nursing.

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Purple_roses

1,763 Posts

I loved reading this! I felt like I could have written this myself. I graduated high school wanting to become a nurse, but felt that I too could not handle the academics or pressure. I started studying Commercial Writing, and it was actually in my American Novel class that I realized how frustrated I was. I remember thinking, "I am studying The Old Man and the Sea as if it were a piece of actual history: what if I applied these study skills and all of this time and effort to something that I actually want to do?" I began my my pre reqs at the age of 21 too, and now at 22, I've finally been accepted into an ADN program. Don't let doubt stop you from doing what you really want to do.

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 5 years experience.

Did you write this for me? I started my journey towards nursing school 3 years ago when I first started seriously playing with the idea of it. I kept thinking, "I won't be able to handle it, I'm not smart enough for it, I'm scared of having to lift patients, clean poop, deal with death, etc." But, I knew I couldn't sit at a desk for the rest of my life and I know in my heart that nursing is the profession for me - I love working with people, I'm fascinated with how the body works, I love being intellectually stimulated, I love being a part of a team. 3 years later I have two pre-requisites left to complete and am looking forward to submitting my application to nursing school!

smmesser

1 Post

I had the pleasure of attending nursing school with Elizabeth - we actually had our first clinical together and have worked together at a couple of places. What she writes is truth... She is the epitome of nursing. She has been a mover and a shaker in the nursing field, and her enthusiasm grows with each challenge. Stick with it - even when you think you can't! And keep reading her posts. She'll help you get to your goal!

Pumpkinn

129 Posts

Has 1 years experience.

This made me well up with joy reading this! I feel inspired by your words, because I know how it feels to doubt myself.

Thank you for sharing :)

janevance66

61 Posts

You don't know how much I needed this!!! Thank you so so much for sharing.

ElizabethStoneRN

10 Articles; 41 Posts

Specializes in Pediatric Emergency & Nurse Education.

Thank you everyone for your comments and feedback...I love to hear from readers and am so glad you enjoyed the article.

ElizabethStoneRN

10 Articles; 41 Posts

Specializes in Pediatric Emergency & Nurse Education.
Did you write this for me? I started my journey towards nursing school 3 years ago when I first started seriously playing with the idea of it. I kept thinking, "I won't be able to handle it, I'm not smart enough for it, I'm scared of having to lift patients, clean poop, deal with death, etc."

Congratulations for being accepted into nursing school! You're right- push through any doubt you have and don't let it stop you. Form connections with your peers in nursing school, talk about your doubts, and back up one another. everyone has them. not only will it help you get through nursing school it will be great practice for working as a nurse, as part of a team. Thanks for your feedback!

ElizabethStoneRN

10 Articles; 41 Posts

Specializes in Pediatric Emergency & Nurse Education.
I had the pleasure of attending nursing school with Elizabeth - we actually had our first clinical together and have worked together at a couple of places. ... Stick with it - even when you think you can't! ...

Love you Smmesser! You helped teach me the true meaning of teamwork and backing each other up...from the first clinical experience! Great words of wisdom for nursing students! yes, stick together and stick with it...it's worth it.

Allisonhay17

3 Posts

I, too, always wanted to be a nurse! I remember my mom telling me, "Don't be a nurse, don't be a teacher, go into business". Ms. magazine was in our house, my mom hadn't gone to college, she was divorced and working for very little money. I didnt believe in my ability to succeed in the sciences, so I wound up with a BA in marketing. The epitome of making money for the company! I worked at some cool places, made decent money, but never loved it. When my 2nd child was born, I quit. Stayed home. LOVE my 3 kids, but always wanted to go back to the "structure" of work.

Fast forward, my Dad got cancer, and I was his primary caregiver, and what an honor that was.

Over the last seven years, I did my prerequisites, waited to get into an ADN program, and became a RN in Dec'14. I'm 50. Of course, I haven't been able to get an interview for any acute care positions, but I keep applying.

Great article!

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

155 Articles; 5,918 Posts

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.
I had the pleasure of attending nursing school with Elizabeth - we actually had our first clinical together and have worked together at a couple of places. What she writes is truth... She is the epitome of nursing. She has been a mover and a shaker in the nursing field, and her enthusiasm grows with each challenge. Stick with it - even when you think you can't! And keep reading her posts. She'll help you get to your goal!

What a wonderful testimony!!! Thanks for sharing those sentiments.

Sounds like the nursing profession would've really missed out had you not followed your dream, Elizabeth.

KStudentNurse70

195 Posts

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story! I graduate next year from my adn program and cannot wait to start working and helping others 😊