The odds had been stacked against me from the start: Having a baby two months after graduating from high school, marrying, having another baby, and divorcing in the short span of 5 years.
Luckily, I still had a scholarship and family support to forge ahead and to start college and earn my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. Still, it was an uphill battle. I think I surprised everyone, including myself, when I turned those odds around and made the future better for myself and my children. I graduated “with distinction” in December of 2006.
The day I grabbed on to that diploma I swore to myself that I would never go through any more formal schooling. I was ready to start my new life with my army man, my career, my two boys, our new baby girl and our first duty station.
Life has taken more interesting twists and turns since then.
Two more kids. Three deployments. Two cross-country moves. I’ve worked in different places as a nurse, but hadn’t yet found my niche. I hadn’t been able to settle on something that felt like it fit all the criteria for why I went in to nursing in the first place. I loved being a nurse, but I was still looking for my place.
And so, through a chance meeting a seed was planted that quickly sprouted in to going back to school! Seven years later and I find myself half way through a graduate level nursing program, well on my way to becoming a family nurse practitioner.
(There’s me, in my lab coat, at my school for a skills check off! Online classes rule. In person check offs are a little nerve-wracking, but the lab coat they gave us at least made us all look professional even when we were really nervous!)
Oddly enough, for the same reasons I went to nursing school the first time: Creating the future I want for my family.
My graduate degree will provide more opportunities to create the future I want. The future I want for myself, and for my children. We’ve got five kids to put through college here, people! While it isn’t just about money, it IS about financial stability and a financial plan.
My degree will also give us the opportunity to make choices about my husband’s future career path. Whether he stays in the army for a full 20 years will now be more about choice and less about necessity, which is pretty exciting!
Besides that, I feel that the degree path I have chosen will bring all the experiences I have had as a nurse together and finally fit into a picture that makes sense. I loved parts of every job I’ve had as a nurse. I loved helping new parents navigate those first few days. I loved getting to really know patients and their families on the oncology unit. I loved helping people return to wellness and wave them out the door when they left the medical/surgical floor after a hospital stay. Becoming a family nurse practitioner will mean helping people achieve their optimal state of health and wellness, watching families grow and supporting them through various stages of life, and really getting to know them individually as I play an important part in their lives as a primary care provider. My new degree will finally mean finding my place in the healthcare world!
There are so many opportunities for nurses to return to school, and online programs make it accessible to many who would not be able to fit commutes to and from class into their already jam-packed lives. If you have ever considered going back to school, explore your options and find the one that is right for you. The future does come one day at a time and you can make your vision of the future in to reality!
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