You may or may not know that May 6th to May 12th is Nurses Week! Nurses have shown to be invaluable during this pandemic as they risk their lives to keep everyone else safe. Sending wishes or even lovely gifts to the nurses in your life can help them feel appreciated.
I thought this would be a great time to talk about how I became a nurse. I have been a nurse for about 10 years now (where does the time go?). I remember graduating from high school, knowing I was going to college for something in the medical field, but I honestly did not know what I wanted to study. Since I was young and naïve, my dad encouraged me to become a pharmacist. I obliged and started my pre-pharmacy degree plan.
The first year consisted of basic core classes that all college students take. During my second year, I needed to start preparing for pharmacy school and I “studied” (probably not hard enough) for the PCAT…and I failed it. My parents more or less forced me to take it again and I failed it a second time.
At that point, I had been volunteering in a pharmacy but I was not really interested in anything that was happening there. Here is where things get blurry – I can’t remember if my dad told me to stop wasting time and money and look for a new major, or if I had a conversation with them and told them I didn’t want to study pharmacy. Either way, I had to look for a new major.
If you are African, you know there are only a few degrees your parents will recognize as “acceptable,” which include something in the medical field, engineering or law. Being that my dad is an engineer, you guessed it – he persuaded me to change my major to engineering. Young me said, “Sure!” so I went through the process of changing my major one summer. But right before school started that fall, I told my dad I didn’t think I wanted to do engineering. You can imagine how upset my African father was! There were many questions such as “What are you going to do then?” and “Don’t you know you can’t be in college forever?” And, of course, the “I don’t have money for you to waste!!” Nursing had always been on my mind, but I didn’t know any nurses so I didn’t know the process or anything.
I decided to finish my prerequisites and apply to nursing school. I was accepted, and nursing school took about 2.5 years (5 semesters). Those were some long years, full of hard work, sweat, tears, (lots of tears), laughter and adventure, but I made it. I made some of my closest friends during nursing school because we spent more time together than we spent with our families.
My Nursing Career
I have been an oncology nurse for my ENTIRE career! I never guessed that that’s where I would end up; however, I received an opportunity in oncology during my last year of nursing school and I never left. Please believe I have tried to get out of oncology! But, I have stopped fighting it and realized that God has me here for a reason and I need to give it my all.
After about 2.5 years of being a registered nurse, I went back for my master’s degree and graduated as a nurse practitioner. I have been a nurse practitioner for five years now (again, where does the time go?) at an outpatient oncology clinic.
My journey may seem straightforward and easy, but it wasn’t. There were a lot of tears (have I mentioned I am a crier?) that were shed during the process of changing my major from pre-pharmacy to nursing. Making a career decision at such a young age – I was only 16 – is very hard and scary, but thank God my path was ultimately guided by the Lord.
I had to convince my family that nursing was right for me. I fought hard to be a nurse. I had people advise my parents against me becoming a nurse.
I failed a class in my master’s program by two points and I was devasted. I actually almost gave up, but my parents convinced me not to quit. I had to wait a whole year to retake the course so I didn’t get to graduate with my original class, but I did graduate and NOBODY cares that I had that setback.
All this to say, I have learned that the process may not be pretty, but the outcome is usually BEAUTIFUL!
I enjoy being a nurse practitioner. My favorite thing about being part of the nursing field is the relationships I build with my patients and their families. I gain so much insight from talking with people, especially my elderly patients. I love asking my older married couples the secrets to a successful marriage; I get all kinds of answers, which I cherish dearly.
On the other hand, it is not always easy being a nurse, especially an oncology nurse. We get the brunt of people’s frustration and anger. However, I have learned to recognize that those feelings typically have nothing to do with me. I am meeting my patients during the most difficult and scary times of their lives and some are just learning how to cope with an array of emotions. I’m not making excuses for them, because there are none, but I can say I understand.
I hope you enjoyed my nursing story! Celebrate a nurse this week! They deserve it!
PS: Happy Mother’s Day to all the AMAZING Mothers out there, especially my mother!!!!
Till next time.