Sunday, August 26, 2007

Assess, Plan, Implement and Evaluate

These are basically the steps in the nursing process. Pardon me for being a bit long-winded here, but I need to write this for myself. I had a lot of emotions soaring through my old bones on Friday night and my memior would have been much more powerful if I had written it Friday night, but I didn't. So, I'm shooting from the hip here.

There is a picture of me (and I am on the hunt to find it to prove this point) at about 3 years old wearing a nurse outfit that I had requested from my dad's parents as a Christmas gift, or so I am told. I never really considered being a nurse until college came, and some random tests that we took at Pre-College at OU indicated that I would be good at 3 different things, and one was nursing. So, I was hooked up with a nursing professor who would serve as my academic advisor for Fall 1997. Yes, folks, you read that right. FALL's been THAT long. Anyway, OU didn't have a BSN or even ADN program at the Athens campus, and I was hot-headed thinking I didn't want an Associate degree rather a Bachelor degree. So, I switched about a hundred times and ended up choosing Health Services Administration at the end of my freshman year. I have always felt very at-home in hospitals, and figured that this would be a good thing. And it was.

But I got the nursing itch about Spring 1999 and decided to transfer to Hocking College into their nursing program. I took some electives while on the waiting list and began clinicals January 2000. About 3 weeks into the program, I quit. Essentially, there were 2 reasons: 1) I had met S and wanted to move closer to him and foolishly convinced myself that I could get into another nursing school easily and quickly and that it wouldn't be a problem and 2) I had failed my handwashing check-off and told myself that if I was such a loser that I didn't know how to wash my hands correctly then I had no business being a nurse. Yes, there they are...those are the reasons I quit.

So, I started back at OU that September 2000 in order to finish my BS in Health Services Administration and put myself on the list to start nursing school at OU-Z September 2001.

Fast forward to June 2001 when I graduated from OU with my BS in Health--I was exhausted because this is what I did in 3 quarters:

1) Took 74 credit hours on the quarter system (20 fall, 26 winter and 28 spring)
2) Worked full-time at night as a Patient Care Assistant, worked part-time during the holidays at what-is-now Macy's and worked my part-time student job at OU.
3) Completed a 500 hour internship at Doctors Hospital North.
4) Completed a 1000 hour residency at Doctors Hospital North.
5) Commuted 1.5 hours each way to OU.

There were days that I slept maybe 2 hours, and it really was a miracle that I didn't get injured on the road. So, I just said that I needed some time off from school and withdrew from the program at OU-Z.

I moved to California the summer of 2002, and once again checked out the local nursing program there. But the waiting list was really long and I would have had to take a lot of things over just to get in, so I opted for grad school here instead. I loved it. Grad school was awesome and I loved going to Cal State. It took me a little longer than I had planned, but I finished in March 2006 with my Master of Science in Health Services Administration.

I moved back to Ohio in June 2004 and you guessed it, I looked around at the nursing school options. I'll save you the details, but I applied again at OU-Z and was accepted for Winter 2006. Given everything that had happened in the summer and fall of 2005, I had forgotten about even applying, and when I got my "Congratulations" packet in the mail October 2005, I was shocked. So, I discussed this with my wonderful parents with whom girlfriend and I were living, and they said that they would support us if I went to nursing school. The original plan was for us to only live there 6 months, but since I chose to go to nursing school we would be staying at least 2 more years. So, that was the agreement and off I went.

I remember the FIRST day of nursing school because that morning I remember being dramatic and looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, "Okay, this is IT. Last chance. I want to remember this moment because when I'm done with nursing school, I wonder how different my life will be at that point." Girlfriend was only 2 when I started and I knew that she would be about 4 when I was done; I had thought that I would be remarried (and there's a reason why, but I'm sure you all don't want the details); I was only 2 weeks post-divorce and still reeling from the emotions of that and just how would it feel to be an RN after all that time?

Nursing school, for me, was great. The days that I was getting up at 0330 for clinicals that began at 6 am were horrible. The 1.5 hour commute each way on a windy 2-lane state route was less than desirable. The teaching/learning group projects had me on the edge every quarter. I enjoyed being class president and our Program Director said on Friday night as she was handing me my Leadership award (which I need to find now that I think about it) that, "Elizabeth has displayed strong leadership with this group of students." Mostly because I was able to convince our School Director to allow us to complete our last quarter during this summer instead of taking the summer off and going fall quarter. I just did what needed to be done! :)

I had a lot of emotions Friday night. After I got ready, girlfriend decided that she wanted mom to get her ready so that I could see her. She looked like an angel and I told girlfriend that she looked beautiful. Mom said, "You girls made it." I lost it for a minute after that comment because this had been a lot of work for everyone and girlfriend truly had been a trooper for this time. I went to nursing school because I knew that I could provide an even better life for girlfriend with this degree tacked onto the others and that I would have good job stability as well. Back to the emotions: I had to keep them in check because of the whole speech and everyone was afraid that I would cry. I was determined NOT to cry. So, on my drive out to school I forced myself to listen to music that would "pump" me up.

I was so nervous during my speech that I was sure I blew through it. I was shaking so badly that I didn't put my foot all the way down for fear that my high heel would hit the wood floor and make a lot of noise! Then, I started to tear up when my name was read and Auntie L and girlfriend pinned me. I did cry when girlfriend and I handed mom the symbolic nursing "thank you" rose at the end and mom cried. But, I stopped myself.

It's done. Over. All of that work and time invested is finished. My life is not how I thought it would be at the end of nursing school, but it's great. Girlfriend was a champ and I am so glad that I was able to do this for us. Our life will be great...I just know it.


Kassie said...

YAY FOR ELIZABETH!!! That was awesome, and I'm glad I got to read it!

Cindy said...

I'm so proud of you and what you did! I know the last 2 years had to be tough for you, but ah, you're finished!! What a great accomplishment!! HOORAY!!