I can clearly remember the day I decided to go back to college and pursue a career as a Registered Nurse. While I can’t quite remember the exact day (I AM older you know) I remember the thoughts well. I had just returned home after a particularly grueling day at work. I had been working in emergency services as a career for 18 years or so at that point.
I thought, ” I don’t have many more calls like that in me, I just don’t…” I had considered nursing seriously in the early 90’s just out of high school. Back then I wasn’t particularly the best student, not the worst, but certainly not great either. One thing led to another, time went by and I discovered a love of firefighting, EMS and all things emergency services. I decided to take this career path and worked for it until I made a career out of it. I did try a short go of finishing my degree after starting my career, but a major injury stopped that cold. Nine months off of work, two broken vertebrae and one angry call to and advisor who wouldn’t let me withdraw from the classes from a hospital bed and that was over. But that story is for a different day. Truly, Im glad I went this route and wouldn’t change it, but thinking back I know in my heart of hearts, I wasn’t ready for nursing school. I did not have the patience, determination and drive to dedicate to it. Now fast forward 20 years to 2014. That’s when I decided I wanted a change. I still wanted to help people, but in a different way. Maybe a more clinical way if that makes any sense. I thought it was time to move from helping on the street to helping in a hospital where you had a chance to see the fruits of your labors as people hopefully improve. I’m sorry if that’s hard to understand, it is a very hard thought to put into words.
After some investigation I found out that I already had some of the pre-requisites done and would not need to take too many more to get started. My head was floating, “This is GREAT,” I thought. And started making moves to get registered at a local community college and get started, so hopefully when I could retire at 20 years I could go right into nursing. Right then and there everything came to a screeching and abrupt halt. Transferring credits that are 20 years old is not going to happen in this state. To attend this community college, none of the classes I took in the early 90’s would transfer. I needed to take English again, algebra again, psychology, computers, etc. etc. I would lose 6 classes going to this school. Now if there is anything I have learned over the past several decades is that you never quit. Not once, not a little, not ever. If you want something, you bust your ass and you get it done. So I worked and looked at options. From a hospital based RN program, to moving out of state, I measured and researched it all. The simplest option was right in front of me the whole time. Go back to the school I went to in the early 90’s. They had an RN program, so what the heck was I thinking? It’s a bit more of a drive, but definitely worth it over retaking six classes.
I drove to my old school the next day. A fifteen minute conversation revealed that yes, all those old credits were still good. The student advisor there was great to work with. Friendly and helpful, she really seemed to care about my issues and wanted to help me achieve my goal. The plan was simple, take three classes at my closer community college, and transfer them there. After that all I would have to do is register for the RN program and be enrolled or currently taking A&P1 at the time.
Two years later, I’m finished with the three classes. Now Ill expand on this at a later date, but my eyes were opened on the differences in one’s own attitude towards their education at 18 and in their 40’s. Now comes Jan 2016. I am now enrolled in Anatomy and Physiology 1 and my destination school, I just applied for the nursing program and am getting started on this Journey. Right about here is where I considered blogging my journey. Bloggin is a big commitment, but If I waited until I was accepted into a nursing program, I would use it to help organize my thoughts and even relax a bit.
Shortly after class started for the spring semester a letter from the school came telling me I need to take this NLN exam for placement. I studied quite a bit, but my time was focused primarily on A&P and I’m still working 40 plus hours a week. Taking the test I was quite surprised. It felt (unlike high school) that I knew a bunch of this stuff. There were questions on resistors and electronics, got those down. I took my ham radio license many years ago and learned all that fun stuff about Ohms Law and other various electronic tidbits. Right then and there I knew I was ready. It took me over 20 years to get there, but I was ready to do this. I finally put two and two together and realized all the things I learned along the way for my career were paying off. Years of hazardous materials and chemical study, it helped. EMT, Ham Radio, Firefighting, Promotional exams, certification after certification, it’s all helping. New technology is wonderful, as soon as that test ended I got a score in front of my eyes. I got a 145, WOO HOO , This was great!!. Wait just a second, what the hell does 145 even mean? Hell, I had no idea. It took a bit of research to find out it was pretty decent. The NLN scores are a bit difficult to see how their formula works. There are questions that are used as a metric, but the points don’t count etc. It didn’t matter one bit to me though. I read that it is in the 98th percentile, I will WOO HOO that all day long with a champagne finisher. Now I could focus on A&P and work and start looking into selling the house, lots on the plate, lots.
Several extremely nerve wracking weeks go by and the letter comes in the mail from the school. Every thought has gone through my head over the past weeks. Were those really bad grades from when I broke my back going to really hurt me, do they look at just NLN score, how about current grades (am doing really well) Do they see the grades I transferred over, I did great in those also. Do they allow for someone to improve over the years as they age? To be honest, I have no idea what they looked at. My new grades are great, all A’s so far. My old grades that transferred into the program were a 3.0. Not very good, but not horrible either. You can imagine what was going through my head I’m sure. I walked into the house and the letter said I was accepted to the program and even got the campus I chose as a primary choice (there are 3). WAAAAAH FREAKING HOOOOOO!!!!! I did it, I had a lot of help along the way, some really great teachers and a supportive family all helped me do this. Now I am planning a retirement in the next few months, summer classes to lighten the load during the semester and getting ready for a fall start to nursing school.
From this point on, I will try and discuss my classes, what I’ve learned and am learning. Hopefully share a little insight into what goes through the head of an about average guy in his 40’s who decided to upend everything and start over. I may post quizzes I make for myself, anything that works for me I will try and share. Hopefully I am able to put into use all the things learned over many years into practical use in school. And maybe I write something down that helps you or someone else, maybe get a little more confident, maybe get over a fear of trying something new, even when you are an older student. Thanks for reading and I look forward to writing more down soon.