one year ago…
“I made it! I’m halfway to becoming Felicia Harrold RN. Boy, was that crazy! I’ve never faced a more difficult challenge in my life. I’ve never felt so many highs and lows in such a small time frame. It’s crazy the amount you learn in just ONE YEAR. When they tell you nursing school is no joke they mean NO JOKE. It’s time-consuming, it’s difficult information, it’s difficult responsibilities, it’s a lot to get used to. I feel like it was just yesterday I was freaking out about giving another person a bed bath and now it’s no big deal. I remember thinking I was going to fail injections because I just couldn’t imagine myself stabbing another human with a needle and now I can do that with no problem. I still question my ability and I’m always wondering “Can I actually do this?” “Am I capable of becoming a good nurse?” Which is normal. It’s a new journey, it’s normal to feel that way when you are just starting out, that’s why we have instructors to guide us through the process.
I struggled with this latest semester. It was 3 five-week rotations plus a pharmacology class. I found myself struggling to balance the time to study for both classes and to work and to have a social life. I decided to give up the social life and just work and study…because well, that’s just the way it worked best for me. But, at the end of the semester I passed all 3 rotations and my pharmacology class and I’m now considered a 2nd year nursing student! In the Nursing school realm, that’s a pretty big deal. That means you adapted to the nursing student lifestyle and survived the transition. And that’s big. Plus, it means you only have one more year or two semesters (which is actually substantially less than a year)
I can’t wait to graduate! I know, I know, I JUST completed my first year. But I see all the current 2nd years getting ready for graduation and it just makes me so excited! I’ve been told that it’s going to be the fastest 2 years of my life and if my 2nd year goes as fast as this year went, I can believe it!
If anybody reading this is considering nursing school, here is a snippet of advice from this nursing student:
Study. Study. Study.-if you think you don’t have to study you’re wrong and you will learn that very quickly.
Don’t piss off the instructors-they control your grades…self explanatory. But seriously, they are there to help you, but only if you put in the effort…and they don’t take too kindly to those who don’t.
Don’t compare yourself to others-you will find that people on test days will be huddled in the halls asking, “what did you get?” “How did you do?” People will post on Facebook how amazing they did and how good they feel, which is fine. But if you didn’t do as good, don’t beat yourself up. You aren’t going to get an A on everything. You are going to do poorly on some quizzes. You need to reevaluate your studying habits and aim to do better. But don’t ever think you are going to be less of a nurse because someone got an A on their quiz and you got a C. You are going to be fine. You are going to be a great nurse.
Record lectures-so far all of my instructors allow this. You will have to check your technology policies and ask your specific instructors but it helps A LOT! When you have 2 hour lectures, 4 HOUR lectures, you tend to tune out, or the instructor starts talking so fast your handwriting looks like a 4-year-old is taking notes. (✋🏻 guilty) Recording lectures allows you to go back and listen for things you missed. I would listen to them just to hear them again.( I was the crazy one that listened to them 4 times just to pound them into my brain)
Don’t be scared of clinical, clinical is fun-okay, yes some clinical is difficult, but for the most part, clinical is the exciting part of nursing school. It’s time to practice skills, seek help from instructors and other nurses when needed, and 99.9% they will be ready and willing to help you with everything. Patients aren’t going to bite you, most of the time they like to learn things with you. (A lot of my patients found things we were doing interesting.)
My plans for the summer are quite simple: Work. Read. House projects. Get healthy. Vacation. Relax.
Oh, and prep for next semester!”
I wrote everything above (almost) a year ago, I never posted it because I wanted to reflect on it and write something for where I am now…
A year later.
2 weeks away from graduating.
I’m overcome with emotions when reading it, I’m not sure that’s how I planned I’d feel, but it is. A year ago I was looking up at the second year nursing students thinking,
“I can’t wait to be there, graduating.”
Now I’m there. I am that 2nd year nursing student. In 1 week and 6 days I am done. I will graduate from Lake Michigan College with my Associate in Applied Science focus in Nursing and that excited, giddy, cloud 9, “I can’t believe I’m finally here” feeling is everything I thought it would be. I felt like I had learned a lot in that first year, and I did. However, this second year has taught me more about myself. I’ve refined certain skills and I’ve begun some new. I could feel myself transitioning to that “Nursing Role”. I stopped questioning “do you really think you’re going to be a good nurse?” and I worked my ass of to make sure I would be instead. I am able to critically think,
“What is going on with my patient, and what am I going to do about it?”
First year, I’d run some vitals and tell my nurse anything critical to see what she would do. This year, I stopped to think “what would I do with these vitals?” because at the end of all of this I won’t have that nurse to report to and let deal with it. I will BE THE NURSE.
I remember several times throughout this last year where I would make a call and it would be the right one and I would sit back and think “Wow, I might actually be getting the hang of this.” It was such a good feeling to apply what you learn in lecture to clinical and be doing it RIGHT! I don’t even know how to explain it other than, “hard work pays off.” But, dont worry, there is still plenty to learn and plenty to master. Which excites me, I love to learn new things.
I’ve also met some amazing people along the way. We have worked so hard for this and my classmates have been a huge support system since day one. I could not have made it through this without their encouragement. I am excited to see where this journey will take them.
And my instructors, I have been BLESSED with amazing instructors! The knowledge that all of my class instructors to my clinical instructor shared with me will forever be the foundation that I build my career on. They taught me how to be a good nurse by being good nurses themselves.
In the end, nursing is so much more than what I thought it was a year ago. It has changed me. It has humbled me. There are people going through far worse things than me and I get the opportunity to meet and treat these people everyday of my life and for that I will forever be grateful. Nursing is what I am meant to do, it is who I am.