I can vividly remembet the first two semesters of nursing school. I felt I had landed on an unfamiliar planet where the language being used sounded as foreign to me as Russian or any Slavic tongue.
Prior to completing a degree in nursing, I had been a medic in the Air Force for 8 plus years.
During those years, I learned a great deal about nursing and a lot more about nedicine.
As a medic, we learned to diagnose common illnesses, including acute and chronic conditions based on the clinical findings and laboratory and/or x-ray results.
We prescribed treatments, bandaged wounds, stitched lacerations, ran codes, applied and removed casts and a host of other routine tasks usually reserved for an MD or DO or PA in the civilian medical system.
There was typically an MD or a PA from whom we sought guidance as needed once we proved our mettle.
The first ambulance run I took was a ressponse to a motorcycle accident in which the driver was dead. His feet were unnaturally resting by his ears as he lay face down on the driveway, blood flowing the course gravity took it until it congealed into a thick, wad of jelly.
By the time I got to nursing school, I had seen a lot, done a lot and was somewhat hardened to the reality of what it meant to be a medical professional.
As I sat in class after class of what to me, anyway, was a huge waste of time, I grew impatient to learn something new. I had been there, done that.
Because education is a BUSINESS, I was required to sit through and pay for classes which were redundant considering prior education and experience.
There were days that I wanted to quit. There were days I cried from and overwheling frustration the administration could not hear.
I had to fill the squares in order to get degree in order to sit for the boards.
Some of the profs were burned out RN’s who left the clinical environment, for various reasons.
They were teaching the “ideals” of the discipline and frankly, I usually spoke up when I recognized that these ideals would not serve my classmates when they finally arrived in the real world.
As you may well imagine, the input I provided was neither welcome or appreciated and those first 2 semesters were a bitch.
I had a friend who was an RN, a woman I respected as a human being. She gave me a gift for which I am forevet indebted to her.
After listening to my frustration for some time, she said,” Barbara, your only job right now is to get through that nursing program. Everyrhing else that happens there will be a gift or a curse for you. You get to choose.”
Well, that piece of wisdom, when internalized, carried me through to graduation.
I knew what I wanted and I went for it.
After many years in this profession, I feel a profound sense of gratitude for all of the profs who contributed to my education, of every variety.
From some, I learned how to be patient.
From some, I learned how to do paperwork.
From some, I learned to do assessments on new borns.
The list goes on.
In retrospect, the most important lesson I learned was “how NOT to be.”
The greatest examples were embodied in those mean spirited, burned out women who cared nothing of the individual people who participated in the program.
As I look back now, as then, I am so glad these souls are not at the bedside of sick people.
Finally, the women whose demeanors resonated most deeply for me were those few who really cared about human beings.
I knew we were kindred spirits by the tone of their voices, the words they chose to convey an idea and a softness of heart which is critical to healing, for most.
My wish for you is that you recognize people like them. That you emulate them.
My wish is that you dont allow the system to kill your dreams, to destroy your spirit.
I believe in you!