On the Edge

This is it. This is what I have been waiting and preparing for during the past five years. This is the day I've dreamed of since I was a small child. This is what I know I have been called to do and am finally going to do.


  • Specializes in PACU, presurgical testing. Has 4 years experience.

Today is my first day of nursing school. God willing, 16 months from now I will be an RN, and in two sure-to-be-short-despite-feeling-endless-now years, I will be a clinical nurse leader.

What the heck am I thinking???

I can't do this! I can't! I'm almost forty, for goodness' sake! I have two little kids, a husband, a messy house, and a clingy dog. How am I supposed to pull this off???

OK, OK, calm down. I am not the oldest in my class (though far, far from the youngest). The kids are in school; they already think I lie around doing nothing all day while they're gone, so maybe they won't notice that the house is even messier than usual. My husband is supportive so far, though I'm already getting nervous about the laundry being gray and how we'll ever have five minutes to talk. And the dog... well, the dog is going to have to adjust.

School. Full-time. I love school. I'm good at school; I know I can do the school part. The professors are dynamic, my colleagues are brilliant, interesting people, and the program teaches exactly what I want to learn.

But nursing. Can I do it? Can I walk into a room and stick a needle in someone I've never met? Can I react quickly enough to be of help instead of just being in the way? Can I look someone in the eye and honestly tell him I'm going to be taking care of him? ME?

Sure, lots of people are nurses. Millions, actually. They all survived nursing school and doing the work and sticking needles into strangers. They all had to walk into that room for the first time, look that patient in the eye, and mean it when they said they could help.

But some of them aren't very good! And others are just mediocre, marking time until they can retire or move on to another department. I don't want to be a mediocre nurse. I really don't want to be a lousy nurse. The ones who don't know how to place an IV and don't have the guts to ask for help. The ones who sashay into the room of a woman in hard labor who has been begging for an epidural, and proclaim it "more natural this way". The ones who don't like what they do, who have lost the vision and joy of what they do. The ones that just don't care anymore.

I want to care! I want to be a perfect nurse, and that is impossible. I want to enjoy every minute of it, and that is also impossible. Are my expectations too high? Is that why I'm so terrified?

Or am I just standing on the edge, scared to step off because right now, from where I'm standing, I can't see that it's not an edge but the border of a whole new land?

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mamamerlee, LPN

949 Posts

Specializes in home health, dialysis, others. Has 35 years experience.

Best, Best BEST wishes to you!


6,011 Posts

Specializes in ORTHOPAEDICS-CERTIFIED SINCE 89. Has 30 years experience.

You CAN. Keep thinking of all the people who won't have a great nurse if you don't step off that edge and take that wild ride into the greatest career on earth (and one that on occasion you will hate) but usually love.


24 Posts

I too have felt the overwhelming fear of school. At age 40 I started down the nursing path, completing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist School in Oct 2007. Fear and apprehension is a normal feeling when delving into the unknown. Just stop for a moment and ask yourself why you want to go back to school. I'm guessing that you are probably not happy with your current situation (what ever that may be) and want to make a change for the better. If you don't continue, you will always be asking yourself "What if". It boils down to how bad do you want it? The time it takes to achieve your goals will be a short space in time when you look back. Go for it - with everything you have. It's more than worth it.


35 Posts

Dear Wannabe;

NEVER, EVER, EVER forget all of these wonderful reasons why you want to be a great nurse, and follow through with all of them.

You already have a good start down the path of nursing by recognizing what is important. You are correct: it is a whole new land. A new and exciting land where you can be as skilled and as compassionate as you wish, and where you can make a greater difference in peoples lives, and the lives of their families, than you ever dreamed possible.



96 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Room, Specialty Infusions. Has 40 years experience.

Take deep breaths and remember every journey starts with the first step....one foot in front of the other. You will fall down, relationships will suffer, the house will be messy, macaroni and cheese and hot dogs are a mom's best friend, the dog won't get a bath, etc. You can do it.

Two years ago my very pregnant daughter was kicked out of the house she was living in for the past two years by her boyfriend. Dead of winter, 20 degrees outside, the five year old was allowed to get her coat and their other belongings were thrown out in the yard with them. They waited for two hours before her sister could come get her.

I found this all out at the end of my shift. Drove straight through from Canada to the Southland. Made it four hours before she delivered her little boy the next day.

We all spent the next three days after discharge in Best Western Motel with a newborn baby. During the day we hunted for apartments.

My daughter's GPA was 1.6 at that time. She ignored my warnings and advise over the years that she needed to be self sufficient through education. She endured physicial, financial, and emotional abuse to wind up homeless.

It's been two years now. Her GPA is 3.0 and she got accepted first try in the Nursing Program in January.

One step at a time....


63 Posts

I'm glad to hear you say you want to be a great nurse. I remember what one of my nursing instructors told the class years ago, "You can be any kind of nurse you choose--good or bad." I wouldn't worry about the age factor, 40 is still young and, your children are in school.

I started nursing school at the age of 26 with three children, 7.5 months old, 3, & 6 years old. It was very tough, but I was determnined to get through school and get that RN license. My husband helped me as much as he could. My mother and mother-in-law refused to watch the kids saying, "A woman should stay home with her children." With God's help, I found sitters and completed school.

Looking back over the last 32 yrs+, I'm glad I did it. The instructors try to dissuade you, but that's their way of separating those who shouldn't be in nursing. You will have to do a lot of arguing, mainly with doctors, and put up with a lot of crap, but it is worth it. You are "helping" people. That was the most rewarding part to me.

If you want to be a nurse you will find a way to accomplish it. The most important part is wanting to be a great nurse.

Good luck to you,



21 Posts

Yes you can do it!!! I am a wife and mother of three children ages 3,4, and 6. I will finally graduate in April with my ADN and still plan to complete my BSN too. My husband also goes to school full time. We are poor right now and living on student loans and grants. Your education and degree are so important. Your education is something that can never be taken away. I survived nursing school with a family and I don't regret it one bit. YOU CAN DO IT!!!


861 Posts

Specializes in telemetry, med-surg, home health, psych.

Yes, You Can Do It !!!!!!!!!!!!! I went thru school many years ago (I did this in my thirties) with a young son, dog, horse AND an alcoholic husband !!!!!!!!!!!

There were rough times, no doubt, but I have nothing but great memories of nursing school..........It has given me a great career and I even made a few life long friends............Good Luck.......remember, you are going to be two years older in two years whether you go to school or not.......so go for it.....and have your degree in two years !!


1 Post

You can do it!!! I just did! I am 57 and I just graduated as an RN. I will be taking the Nclex later this month. My children are all grow and we have 10 grandchildren. When I started Nursing School 4 years ago I did not know that a child would become part of our family. My husband and I now have a beautiful 3 year daughter that we adopted at 10 months of age. You just never know what life is going to bring you or bless you with. So just do it, you will not regret it. Good luck to you.


63 Posts

OK, #1 please keep breathing! #2 you are so not the eldest, I'm almost 45 & I graduated with a 'girl' who was getting ready to be a great grandmother at 59! #3 so the house is a mess, is that anything new? its only going to be a problem if you cannot study in a messy house--thats when the family kicks in(I'm still hoping for that to happen!)& you go to the library #4 you are here on all nurses & we are your 'nursing' family this is the place to vent & share as we've all been there in one way or another. Congrats on starting nursing. & no, your expectations are not too high, we should all strive to be the absolute best we can be but some just don't think like that. If you can, try to find some time everyday with your kids, even if its cooking the dinner or sorting laundry or depending on their age, washing their hair in the bath! Go over spelling words to learn in the car, you become really inventive with your time & the time constraints of school & studying. It will help you immensely in time management on the floor. Oh congrats & keep us posted. Best of luck!


251 Posts

Actually I started in the medical field when I was about 20 by chance. I have good days and bad days and try to provide decent patient care to the best of my ability. THere are many things that are often out of my control that effect the care of my patient..co-workers on various levels, administration,etc. You cannot be perfect just do the best you are capable of at any given time. Super nurses are as much a drag as the people you claim are just treading water. Dont try to be one just do your best and learn to work with others to ensure the best quality of care, a team effort is required.