Some people use the word "calling" or "passion". Others simply profess "destiny". What is your word or words to describe why you became a nurse? For this article, I thought it would be important not to simply discuss why I went into nursing and how I earned my nursing degree, but to encourage the readers to remember why they became nurses and how difficult the path may have been.
Sometimes in our busy lives, our original goals and aspirations become clouded and we need to be renewed and reminded!
Since I was a kid, I have always been the compassionate one. I was the one always bringing home the stray cats and dogs. If a bird fell out of a tree or a snake seemed out of place, I would bring them home and tend to them – much to my mother's dismay. We won't even bring up the skunk!
I was always the one – and still am – cheering on the underdog. I would help the kid being bullied on the playground, even if it meant I received a black eye. I would be the first one to talk to the new kid or the kid in the cafeteria who was just a little "different". Let someone start crying and I was right there to help (or in hindsight, at least to stick my nose in their business). For as long as I can remember, my dad called me a magnet for people in need. Nursing just seemed like the likely choice for me.
But like many situations in life, the path to a nursing career was not easy. I had no money for college, so I decided to enlist in the Army for the college fund and to get my career started.
I remember, to this day, (and that was about 10,220 days ago) sitting down with the recruiter. My first question, "Do you have anything in nursing?" The response was a resounding "No". Not be deterred, I asked "What do you have in the medical field available?" "Nothing except field medic," he said. Now I consider myself an active person and love the outdoors, but I could not envision myself crawling around on the ground dodging small arms fire, so I asked the obvious question next: "What else you got?" He started rattling off specialties I had never heard of, then he came to Military Police. I figured I could help people there, so I said, "I'll take that". This is where my path to nursing school began.
I never lost sight of becoming a nurse but often lost focus on how I would ever get there, like many of you, I'm sure. I stayed in the military for 3 years, spent my college fund on a new car (I was a kid – give me a break!), got married, and had two children. All through my military time and my years after, I worked full-time and took one college course a semester with the goal of eventually going to nursing school.
When my son was 4 and my daughter a newborn, I started my 2-year nursing program. It was tough, but I'm glad I did it. I never looked back. I took my dreaded NCLEX on a rainy Saturday morning and I remember the computer shutting off at 75 questions. I also recall being so stressed out, that I didn't know if it meant I did really well or that I had failed. I still have the envelope that my first nursing license came in 2 weeks later.
My career has taken me down many paths to include: research nursing, school nursing, pediatric ER nursing, education, and occupational health. I have never forgotten the reason why I am a nurse - I love to help people. What is your reason? Why nursing?
Take a few moments to reflect on why you became a nurse and on the struggles you have endured to get where you are today. And smile. You earned it!