Nursing school: The smell of old coffee in your car cup holder that has accumulated from early morning studying and clinical days. The flash cards spread out all over the floor. The side passenger seat dedicated to giant books and binders. Highlighted notes galore EVERYWHERE! Ohhhhh me, oh my, how I remember! Nursing school was one of the HARDEST times of my life! Not because of the actual school work, but the giant sacrifice you have to make with your family, friends, and personal life to GET THROUGH! It is so challenging and provokes emotion that you didn’t know you had! I want to share with you guys my journey through school to inspire you, to make you laugh, to make you cry, and to ENCOURAGE you to NEVER GIVE UP!
I grew up in South Florida. I was the youngest of 3 girls. Yep, I’m the baby. I had 2 very loving parents and two sisters who have been nothing but wisdom and tough love in my life. When I was in high school, I took an advanced anatomy class and fell in love with the science. It was that class that helped me decide I wanted to do something with the human body! It was fascinating! There was also a big part of me that wanted to be a high school teacher! I wanted to pour into others the way my sisters poured into me. TEACHING me to be a better person, loving, and making smart decisions. Being a role model essentially. After a lot of thought and deliberation, I came to the conclusion that nursing would be the perfect combination of these two, anatomy and teaching!!
My amazing SISTERS!
I went off to College at 18. I packed my little blue Hyundai and drove myself to Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. Being the youngest of 3 to parents who never went to college, I moved myself on my own! Because I was independent and determined to go the furthest away from home, but still staying in Florida to get my Bright Futures State Scholarship! Yes, I was quite the rebel. My prom date from high school helped me unpack my little car and set up my dorm. I was independent and on my own! I had declared my major “Pre-Nursing” and was accepted into and Nursing Living and Learning community at FSU. This put me in a dorm with all pre-nursing majors. Kind of a cool concept looking back! We were to take our first 2 years of pre-requisites at FSU and then apply in our second year to the program! I was so pumped because I WAS GOING TO BE IN NURSING SCHOOL!
My little Hyundai “Blue”
Fast forward all the way to the day I got my rejection letter. YUP! My REJECTION LETTER from FSU’s College of Nursing. I never thought I would ever have to see that day. How could I be rejected? How was I not good enough? I was beside myself and needed answers. I went and talked to one of the advisors and they kindly explained how competitive the program was. They also explained that yes, my grades were decent, but there average accepted GPA that year was a 3.9!!!! I thought my 3.5 was good! I’ve learned now that a 3.5 is a decent GPA, but as competitive as today’s nursing programs have become, that just wasn’t enough.
A few days later, I met with one of my nursing professors at FSU that taught one of my nursing prerequisite courses. I told her that I did not get into the program and she was shocked herself! After consoling me and talking about alternatives, she finally suggested something that I NEVER thought would ever be an option: a community college ASN nursing program! I shut that door in her face faster than a sales person soliciting insurance! “I am too good for community college” were my thoughts! I was almost offended she even suggested it. After calming me down and explaining what she knew of the school and the program, it slowly but surely became something I would consider. That conversation was the begging of my journey into nursing school. It was humbling and one of the smartest decisions I have ever made for my career and personally! I could have not been any more wrong with my presumptions of community college and ADN programs!
I ended up applying to Tallahassee Community College’s Nursing Program. I was put on the “late list.” A week before the semester was supposed to start, I got a call from the Assistant Dean at TCC. I was actually in FSU’s bookstore buying a book for my newly changed major ( I had to change when I didn’t get into the nursing program). “Hi Kelsey, we had an applicant decline her position to our program and wanted to offer you a position in her place…..” I CRIED AND SCREAMED! I was accepted into nursing school! Little did I know about the journey in front of me.
My journey getting INTO nursing school was rough, and my journey getting OUT of nursing school was even tougher! I have never been tested so much, cried so much, studied so much, worked so hard, and spent so much time in a library in my entire life! I had professors that didn’t believe in their students (including me) and nursing preceptors that ate their young! I felt like I went through the ultimate nursing test! Three years later after being accepted into the program, I graduated nursing school, passed my state boards, and took my first job on an Open Heart unit in Tallahassee, FL! I have never endured a hardship like I did in nursing school. I can confidently stand here to say that as hard as it was, it prepared me in every way possible for the real world of nursing!
My first time shopping for “fun” scrubs and my first job with friends I went to school with!
Nursing school prepares you to TAKE CARE OF PEOPLE’S LIVES! There is no such thing as making a mistake in nursing! There’s no “second chance” when it comes to a life! The sad thing is, we are human and these hospitals and institutions need better ways to deal with “mistake.” But that’s another story. You have to be on your A-Game all of the time and make sure you take care of yourself, so you can take care of others! There is a reason why the process is so hard! Initially, I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have, which is why it took me 3 years to get through a 2 year program! But guess what? I firmly believe everything happens for a reason. I grew up in nursing school. I went from being the student first go around in the back seat, texting on her phone during lecture, to the student who was front row and center, writing down every word the professor said, and spending hours after, reading over material! I become a strong nursing student. And despite my setbacks and failures, I learned from them! I passed my state boards first time around (shout out to The HURST Review!) ! I pushed and persevered until the end. And today, I am a nurse!
I’ve accomplished things in my 3 years of nursing that many don’t accomplish in their entire career! I don’t say that to toot my own horn, I say this to make my point. I was a VERY insecure nursing student. The process ultimately shaped me. I grew to empathize with patients in a way that many couldn’t because of the personal hardships I endured. I had professors who didn’t believe in me, because of my previous failures. I went through a terrible break up, lost my mom’s twins sister, and dealt with anxiety and depression the whole way through. When I say it was the hardest thing in my life that I have ever done, I mean it! I put my mind, body, and soul into becoming the best student and nurse that I could be! Because I worked so hard in becoming a nurse, I was determined to be AN AMAZING one! God had big plans for me! I knew from the very beginning when I entered my program that I was meant to be a nurse! No one can tell you who you are going to be or what you are going to do, except yourself! You are capable of ANYTHING. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior, without your consent.”
It is my personal mission in life to share my story, and empower nursing students all over to be the best student and nurse that they can be! Everyone’s paths are different. We all will eventually make it to the same goal, but we may have to take different routes. It is no indication of how good or bad of a nurse you will be! That is within you! I made it my goal to make a difference in this profession! Love on people like no other, and support my co-workers by carrying a positive attitude, and having their backs no matter what! There is a lot of negativity in this profession. We need to be building up strong, positive, compassionate nurses who will work well with others! THAT is nursing. THAT is team work! And this needs to be yelled from the nursing mountain tops! Nursing school is tough, and so is the field! In my opinion, nursing school is all about survival. It’s the “basic training” for nurses, and it truly feels like that! Keep your head up high! You will make it! Did you hear me? YOU WILL MAKE IT! And you will be AMAZING!!!!
Your Heart Is Mine,