So I realized it would be extremely silly for nurses week to go by without a single post about it on Nurse with a Purse. So here’s how I came to be a nurse, in a nutshell 🙂
For as long as I can remember, high school was a dress rehearsal for medical school. I didn’t know what kind of doctor I wanted to be (though a pediatrician sounded fun), but I knew a doctor was what I wanted to become. There was never a question. However, when junior year rolled around and college tours began, things started to shift. The turning point was during one of my first school visits. While at University of Michigan – Flint (I should stop right there :-P) with my parents and our neighbor, I had the opportunity to sit in on a med professor giving a lecture. To put it lightly, I was terrified. I left that lecture hall with a pit in my stomach. From then on out, I wasn’t sure I had what it took. So I started throwing out other options. At one point, nursing came up. And to say I picked that idea up and ran with it would be an understatement.
I woke up one day and decided I wanted to go to Michigan State University. And so I did. They had a reputable nursing program and I knew I’d be in good shape with an MSU degree. I’ll never forget orientation weekend, walking down the sidewalk with my Dad, and how excited he was for me and my new adventure. Nursing was the profession of never-ending options. The second I got bored with one area, I could move on to the next. What a grand concept for an indecisive girl such as myself! 🙂
I was accepted into nursing school the summer after my first year at State. 1 out of 80 people. I was ecstatic to receive that letter. I definitely didn’t want to rethink my major anymore. This was it. As of fall 2001, nursing was life. I took to my physical assessment books like a champ. I had my first clinical rotation ~ in a green polo shirt and white pants (yeah, you nursing students nowadays have it SO much better – scrubs!? I only wish). My first patient was an 80-something lady with subcutaneous emphysema. It took an army to get me into that room. What do I say? What do I do? What if I don’t do my assessment right? Come to find out, patient care was the least of my worries. When it came to the death of nursing school, it can be summed up in two words: care plans. Hours upon hours upon hours of looking up meds and diagnoses and blah, blabbidy blah stuff. Pure torture. I somehow made it through all the book work, clinicals, and exams, and in May 2004, I walked away with this gem.
My first post-college job was at William Beaumont Hospital on the orthopaedic unit. [Side note: This, my friends, is where I would later meet my orthopaedic intern/ soon to be husband. So very Grey’s Anatomy ;)] I learned so much on 9 North/ 9 South. I was a full time afternoon shifter, 3-1130p. I took care of up to 6 patients per shift, which included doing multiple physical assessments, passing medications, and ambulating postoperative ortho patients. Calling doctors. Dealing with uncontrolled pain. It was a grueling, yet rewarding job. I met so many fabulous people, many of whom I’m still in touch with today.
After less than a year of staff nursing, I put in my application for nurse practitioner school at Oakland University. Once I decided to become a nurse, becoming an NP was the natural trajectory for me. It comes as no surprise that I didn’t want to “wipe ass” for the rest of my life 😉 So no time was wasted on achieving my goal. I started NP school in the fall of 2005. I eventually dropped down to part-time 12-hour days on 9 South in order to get my necessary school work complete, bi-weekly clinical rotations included. NP school was basically a ramped up version of nursing school. And honestly, I found it much easier the second time around. Not to say it was easy whatsoever, just topics that were less “new.” The focus was also different, as being an NP is more of a provider role, as opposed to the supportive role of an RN. I was now in charge of diagnosing and treating, where as an RN I was more or less in charge of following directions. I did rotations in internal medicine, pediatrics, and OB/GYN. 3 years later, with my cap, gown, & golden hood, I received my Master’s degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner.
Since becoming an NP, I’ve dabbled in many different specialties: orthopaedic spines and joints, retail health care (aka “doc-in-a-box”), and my most recent role as a Hospitalist. It’s amazing though. The fear I had on the first day of nursing school has morphed into a completely different monster. Sure I still worry about saying the right things and relaying the right messages to patients and families. But now I am weighed with the responsibility of diagnosing and treating. A much heavier burden. There are extremely high standards in healthcare nowadays, and fortunately/unfortunately those won’t go away. However, with all that responsibility comes satisfaction. I am now responsible for making people well. For keeping them informed. For changing their day. And if bringing out a smile in a terribly sick patient is all I can do, then that’s what I’ll do. But that won’t stop me from trying day after day. I love making a difference.
Every time I’m asked if I’m happy I became an NP, the answer is always a resounding YES. I continue to say that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, even though at the age of 30 you would think I’d have an idea. But that’s the beauty of nursing. The sky is the limit. And for now I’m content. And I couldn’t be happier with the path I have chosen.
So do me a favor and hug a nurse this week. They’re a special breed. And they deserve to be recognized.
And clearly I can’t end this segment without a little humor 😀 Happy Nurses Week!!