Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's OVER! (long!)

Nursing school has been a long, hard, trying, emotional, and amazing journey.  It is hard to believe that after 2 and 1/2 long years it is all over.  While at the time those 2 and 1/2 years seemed long anyway, when I look back they have flown by.

When I started nursing school, my daughter had just turned a year old.  Now she is almost 3 and 1/2.

I have new friends that I never would've met had I not been in nursing school.  Friends that will always be my friends no matter what, because we went through this all together.  We all took turns falling apart, and holding each other up and we all got through it together.

My way of thinking has changed so much.  I remember starting working as a CNA at that horrible nursing home, thinking I will never be able to do this, maybe I don't want to be a nurse after all if this is what it's going to be like.  I remember my first nursing school melt down in the lab my first semester, thinking all of what I was learning was just like the nursing home and I didn't want to do it.

I remember the year I spent not working, devoting entire "work days" to studying for all my classes and taking pages and pages of notes.  I treated school like a full-time job, since I couldn't find anything else.  As soon as I found a job those 8-hour long study sessions ended quickly, and I switched to working all night and then spending all day in class, often being up for 36 hours or more at a stretch and wondering how I ever made it home awake and alive.

I remember one of my best friends I made in nursing school being pregnant and having her baby at the end of this past summer.  And for all the times I wondered how I managed to do it, I wondered even more how SHE managed to do it and still keep good grades!  She worked full time, where I was part time, and she was having her second baby, as her first is the same age as Arianna.

I remember the family troubles - my sister being sick and spending a spring break helping her around the house when she came home from the hospital, just grateful she had made it through it all alive.

I remember nervous breakdowns over my first care plans, where now I can bang out care plans and care maps in an hour.

I remember stressing over how HARD those first tests were in Intro and Fundamentals.... If we had only known then what classes like Adult 2 would bring us!

I wasn't upset on the last day of classes, I just wanted to get the hell outta there.  I was a little sad on the last day of clinicals, as it was starting to sink in that the end was near.  Now, as I sit here writing the morning after my very last day of preceptorship, I am very sad, and happy and excited all at the same time.

I am Happy and Excited that it is over, and soon I will finally be an RN.  I am sad in a way that it is over, and that while I will always have my friends that I have made, we aren't necessarily going to see each other several times a week anymore.  I am sad because I really enjoyed my preceptorship, the floor I did it on, and the preceptor I had.  I LIKED being there with everyone and looked forward to my shifts working there, even if I was free labor.  I am going to miss all the people on that unit.  I would really love to go to work on that unit.

I am also sad that now I get to go back to work tonight and be "just a tech" again.  Chances are good we will not be able to take the NCLEX until after the first of the year, and who knows how long it will be until I can get into the Internship and start working as an RN.  I don't want to lose any of the skills I have worked hard to gain because I am not using them.

Again, I would like to thank my family, for without them I would not be where I am today.  My mom for inspiring me to be a nurse (she's my Hero).  My dad for helping pay for my education.  My hubby for putting up with my rants, raves, nervous breakdowns, constant studying and worrying over whatever test or project was due next, and taking care of watching our daughter when I couldn't (and my mom for all that too!).  Hubby also for listening to stories about "yucky nurse things" he had no interest in at all, and is easily grossed out by.  My daughter for understanding (somewhat, in her 3-year old way), that mommy had to study, or sleep because she worked all night and was up all day.  Someday I hope I am a role model to her.

I would like to thank my friends that I made in the nursing program, for always being there to support me, be a shoulder to cry on, study with me, commiserate with me, share stories with me, vent with me, and have "fun" times that did not relate to school or work. I have two new best friends that I never would've met had it not been for nursing school!

I need to thank my friends that I had before nursing school, for putting up with the fact that I have basically been MIA for the past 2.5 years.  Sorry that I haven't been around much, and I hope to be able to spend time with you all more soon!

I want to thank the great teachers and clinical instructors I have had throughout the program.  Most of my instructors were great, and I had all wonderful clinical instructors.

I want to thank my preceptor, for getting me through the last 3 weeks.  I had a great time and I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did.  I could not have asked for a better end to my Nursing School Journey. 

I want to thank the nurses on the unit I work on for being there for me, helping me learn new things, supporting me in school emotionally and mentally, and genuinely caring about me.  I have learned so much working with all of you that I never learned in school, and I think it really has/will help me excel.  There is no substitute for real-world experience.

Next week is pinning and graduation.  I will have a degree that I can have a career with, finally.  While I plan to go back to school and work up to a Masters or DNP degree, I don't HAVE to.  If i want to stay an associate degree nurse and work on the floor, I can do that.  While I also have an AA degree, I never felt this huge sense of accomplishment like I do now.  I even managed to complete nursing school with a 4.0 GPA in the nursing program.  That is huge.

Next week at the big graduation party, I am so burning this stay-puffed marshmallow man uniform, as I have been talking about that and looking forward to it for 2.5 years!  WOOHOOO!

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