I had no idea what to expect of nursing school. All I had heard was “nursing school is hard”, but I didn’t exactly know what to make of that statement. Many things can be “hard”. In fact, the word “hard” is quite subjective. What may be difficult for one person, can be easy for another. Even though I was yet to hear from anyone the sentiment of nursing school being easy, I believed there was a possibility that for some people, it was. With this reasoning in my mind as well as the hope that I’d be an exception, I began my journey as an Emory nursing student.
The first day of orientation brought me back to reality. Hearing the seniors speak, I quickly understood that regardless of each person’s perception of the degree of difficulty, nursing school would indeed be hard for anyone. I identified my personal challenge as primarily beginning to think like a nurse. Nurses have a lot to think about. In addition to learning techniques and proper ways to perform tasks, nurses must think about how to best treat their patients, how to promote health to various populations, how to communicate effectively with not only the patient, but also fellow nurses and physicians, how to be comforting to their patients, as well as a plethora of other things. What’s more, nurses are not told in which order or how frequently to think about these things. They must figure it out for themselves. We have to master this because a nurse has the ability to seriously injure a patient if he or she does not think as thoroughly as needed for the situation. To prepare us for this type of thinking, we are assigned numerous tasks to complete at a single time. It is our job as nursing students to figure out the most effective way to get these tasks done on time and to the best of our ability. This causes many of us to feel anxious, especially because there is not a whole lot of supervision. However, there is a lot of support.
One of the things that eased my anxiety was how earnest and sincere the faculty was about seeing us all succeed. One thing that stuck with me was hearing the BSN Program Director, William Puentes, say that there is no weeding out process. The aim is that we all become nurses in two years. Next, I realized that the seniors were also just as concerned with the new juniors doing well. Many have taken time out of their schedules just to make sure we were getting acclimated to the program. I know that many juniors, including me, have decided to take advantage of the senior mentoring program. We are assigned to a senior with whom we can meet to talk about our concerns, tests, great study strategies, or questions about our mentor’s experiences last year. My mentor even scheduled a lunch with me, her treat. Lastly, my fellow BSN juniors have already become like family to me. Each person is so kind and willing to share their own experiences to form a bond that will last throughout our time here, and beyond.
It’s only been three weeks and I’ve already learned so much. In lab alone I’ve learned proper ambulation techniques, surgical asepsis, how to take a manual blood pressure, how to insert a Foley catheter, and much more. In class and through readings I have expanded my nursing vocabulary. I can understand much more medical jargon than before. It really makes me feel like a professional. The most important thing I’ve learned, in my opinion, is how to use my time. Because the content is so interesting, I find myself using my “breaks” to discuss with a friend what I’ve learned, or practice finding pulses on anyone who will let me. I still manage to make time for myself, and I have done more readings and activities than I remember doing in undergrad this early in the semester. I feel that as an undergrad student, I was spoon-fed my material. There were tasks to complete, and if I completed them, I passed. There was not a lot that I had to decide on my own. Nursing school, as I’m sure is true of most other professional schooling, gives me a taste of real life and what it will be like when I am a Registered Nurse. So far, I like that taste!
I have taken my first steps in this journey to becoming a nurse. So far it has not been a walk in the park on a bright sunny day…maybe, a walk in the park on a cloudy day! I know the road will get steeper and at times my legs will get tired. But, I have people walking with me to keep me company, I have people walking behind me to hold me up, and I have people walking in front of me to pull me forward. I’m excited for this journey.