It’s the first day of class, you’ve only brought a notebook in hand and…. Oh wait where is my pen?
Today is the first day of my Pediatric and OB-GYN Rotation, a semester notorious for being the most challenging. As we’re going through course expectations today, I found myself wondering what I’m expecting to gain out of this semester and the rest of the semesters to come. I realize now more than ever I’ve been doing it all wrong! Instead of trying merely to survive, I want to instead, thrive.
I’m at a pivotal point in nursing school…
The halfway point.
Halfway to becoming an RN.
Halfway from being “only a student” to becoming an autonomous nurse
Halfway from being pried away from the comforting hands of a preceptor
Halfway from taking the NCLEX
Halfway from actually ADULTING
There have been many first days since I’ve began the nursing program.
However, today in particular doesn’t feel like each first day that has come and gone. This is my halfway point (Three semesters down, three to go). It’s all becoming very real that not too long from now, my badge will read: Patty, RN instead of Patty, Fresno State Student Nurse.
Initially each “first” was a scary endeavor. Even being tested on proper hand hygiene seemed like an impossible feat. A prevalent theme up until now has been fear. I was scared to do many things when I first started. Nursing is unlike any other subject in that every choice is right, but which is the MOST right? You can study for weeks, but ultimately it is a field meant to test your critical thinking. It goes beyond memorizing, and that’s been the most difficult thing to accept – let alone acclimate to. Sometimes you’ll feel helpless (just know that’s normal). You shouldn’t let that fear debilitate you; learn to take things in stride – to breathe, to evaluate, to execute, and most importantly to overcome.
This semester in particular is special for more reasons than one. While you should always keep an open mind, some students like myself have an affinity towards a particular specialty. Ultimately my heart lies in pediatrics, specifically newborn babies and the reason is quite simple: family.
My sister and our family have called the NICU and the OB-ED our second home two instances in our lives. You see, both my niece and nephew were born pre-mature at 25 weeks and 34 weeks. My niece, now a sassy little kindergartener who says things like, “I’m fabulous” in the most nonchalant way possible used to be a tiny little human weighing only 1 lb. 13 oz. You read that correctly: 1 lb. 13 oz. She quite literally fit in the palm of a hand, but now I can hardly keep up with her as she runs around doing her karate around the house. It was by the nurturing hands of the nurses and doctors at her bedside that has enabled her to live the life she’s led so far. I realize now that Lauren was introduced to our family during what was perhaps the most pivotal moment in my life. At some point I was an 18 year-old drowning in the stress that comes along with having to decide what to do with the rest of my life. Although I always saw myself going to a university, it wasn’t until she was born that I was resolute in which career I’d strive for. I sought to become a physician, but I wanted to take a path which would go beyond the two letters of MD – I wanted to extract the empathetic characteristics of the people who are unwaveringly at their patient’s bedside for hours at a time: the nurses.
And as I’m writing this, I guarantee there have been skeptics: So you’re a nursing student and Pre-med… but why? Popular question indeed! In short, nurses are a culmination of innate kindness and experience. What I hope to gain from this semester and my entire experience goes beyond the books: I want to gain a holistic understanding of what caring for an individual and their families truly entails in the fullest capacity.
In years before this, I’ve eased into the first days of school. I’ve taken assignments with a grain of salt and let things pile up until 11:59. I’ve been timid in clinical, nervous to do something wrong. I’ve blinked and all of a sudden, I’m half way there. Don’t let yourself wonder where that time went.
I have more goals this semester than ever before.
This is what I expect from myself, from you, and something that goes beyond the outlines of a syllabus:
Be unapologetically curious: ask questions even if you’re scared you’ll be wrong.
Actively learn: don’t just take notes for the sake of taking them. Put yourself in those situations “Think like a nurse.”
Don’t be afraid to fail: Nursing students seem to be perfectionists. I thought I had it all together before I started, and then I met my classmates.
You shouldn’t have to do it alone: Seek help. Make friends. You’ll be a nurse some way or another, there are plenty of jobs out there for you. You’ve already made into the program, there’s no point in being competitive. See each other as colleagues as opposed to rivals.