How does one get into nursing school? Let me tell you my story. I started out as a programmer. I was exposed to nursing by working for a drug treatment center. This did not make me want to be a nurse. These nurses sat in a booth and handed out methadone all day. Not by bag and not interesting at all. When my cousin announced to the family she was going to nursing school, I can't say I was super supportive, but 'hey' whatever floats your boat.
About 3 years later I was invited to her pinning ceremony. For those of you who have no idea what this is it is like a small very personal graduation where people take their nursing vow, historically get their nursing cap (now replaced by their pin in most cases), and then, in my case, their family is invited to put their pin on them. People can talk about their experiences in nursing, their passion, moments of emotion, and triumphs.
I was close to tears for much of my cousin's ceremony. I have rarely in my life felt such love and passion related to a job before. This was my first pinning ceremony, but it was not my last.
About 3 years later a friend had decided to apply to physicians assistant school and had to wait a year before starting. In order to make the best of the time, she signed up for an emergency medical technician class. I signed up with her because I had the time and it sounded fun. I quickly discovered I REALLY enjoyed learning medical stuff. It made sense to me and it was interesting and engaging. After completing the class I went on to do the test. I rocked the written test, however, I failed the clinical exam. I was a bit crushed. I had never really failed something before, but knowledge and application are two different things.
A few years later, my business was failing and I had to think hard about what I wanted to do. I decided I wanted to go into the medical field. I just wasn't sure what I wanted to do. A friend recommended that I volunteer at a hospital (which looks great on any application). This was an amazing idea. I was exposed to just about every area in the hospital. Neonatal intensive care, cardiac critical care, the ER, post-operative care, etc. I networked and eventually got my first hospital job. I was a transporter getting paid almost nothing, but it gave me a chance to work with patients. I became familiar with the staff, the equipment, and the terminology.
On my time off I retook the EMT course and started working hard on the application of my knowledge. I started role-playing to get over my fear of talking to patients, my job gave me an opportunity to lay hands on patients, and I became much more confidant. I passed my exam with flying colors. My supervisor found out and gave me a raise. However, I was not long for being a transporter.
A PACU nurse who had been amazingly friendly to me over my time as a transporter was always asking me if I had finished my EMT cert yet. I was very happy to tell him the day I did. That day he handed me a phone number to the ER director at another hospital in town. Turns out he worked there part-time as an ER nurse. When I called, it turned out he had given me a glowing recommendation. A month later I was an ER tech.
My new boss made it clear he wanted me to continue going to school and they would work around my schedule. He told me that when I was ready to start school they would pay my school 20,000 dollars if I would come back and work for him for 2 years. I was flabbergasted. I jumped at the chance. I worked every chance I had available, learned everything I could, and it was all with the understanding that I would use this knowledge in nursing school.
The lesson here? Not everyone will follow the same path. Every experience is valuable and will contribute to your path. You will not conquer every challenge, at least not your first try. Don't expect an easy or short path. If you want it, don't give up. Many times, you may not see your value, but if you are working hard, others will see the value in you.