I spent some time on an Oncology unit caring for patients and families during the most difficult time of their lives and from time to time providing support, caring, and a shoulder to cry on when the choice to move to hospice was made….or being at the bedside when the fight had finally come to an end. Being an oncology nurse taught me about the true heart of the nurse-patient relationship.
I spent some time as an “agency nurse”, a sort of on-call role for three local hospitals and their medical-surgical units. Being in different environments with different co-workers taught me about flexibility and accountability.
In April of 2012 I had recently told the agency I would need to take a break. My husband had just deployed to Afghanistan. On top of that, we had five kids. One of whom had very, very recently arrived in our family through adoption at 5 ½ from Ukraine. My plate was, as they say, Full.
And then I had one of those Conversations. You know the kind I’m talking about. The kind of Conversation that changes your life.
Just weeks after my husband deployed, my four home grown kiddos in full “This-Deployment-Is-Real-Now-Meltdown-Mode” and my brand new Ukrainian in full blown “I’ve Been Dropped Onto An Alien Planet And I Can’t Communicate So I’ll Find New and Interesting Ways To Demonstrate My Displeasure Daily” Mode…..I had a chance encounter with a Nurse Practitioner.
As I relayed to her all the difficulties I was facing, she began to ask me questions about my life. My Goals. How did I envision my Future. To be honest, I was like “Lady, I can barely envision TOMORROW without wanting to throw up or hide in a corner. For serious. And you want to talk about my 5 year plan?!?!”
I kinda thought she was off her rocker.
You should be in school, she says. You are smart. You are a good nurse. You have so much to offer. Nurse Practitioners are the future of medicine, she says.
There’s no time like the present, she says.
I went home. I mulled it over.
The next day I mostly-jokingly bring it up to my husband. Going back to school had never even crossed my mind before. You won’t believe what this crazy woman suggested I do, I say.
Well. She might be on to something, he says.
The time is going to pass anyways. What did we want? For our lives, for our future?
The fact is, there may never be a “good” time to go back to school. But we took the leap. Because after some thoughtful discussion we decided if not now…when?
I am now 4 semesters in on a 7 semester part-time program to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. Reflecting on my varied work experiences, I realized that taking care of patients and their families while having an ongoing relationship with them as part of their healthcare team was where I really wanted to be.
If you’ve thought about going back to school, or even if you’re like me and have NEVER thought about going back to school, consider your options. There are a lot of great programs and opportunities out there for nurses to advance their careers in many different ways! My school’s Masters in Nursing program is almost entirely online (as many are nowadays, including the ones offered by Kaplan University) which is perfect for military spouses and busy moms! Find the program that meets your needs, and creates your vision for the future.
Because the future will be here before you know it. Might as well get a head start!
There are many ways for nurses to continue their education, this post was my way of sharing my experience with returning to school. I encourage nurses who are considering going back to school to research all their options and make an informed decision! Thank you!
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