Surviving Nursing School - Amy's perspective

What was your process of getting enrolled in nursing school?

Getting into nursing school was difficult for me; I completed my pre-requisites at San Francisco State with the hope of getting into their nursing program. Things didn't really work out how I planned. I wasn’t accepted at SF State, or the other five Cal State schools I applied to. I moved home, and broadened the search. I was accepted into USF, which was the first private school I applied to. I decided it was worth it to attend a private university in order to get started as soon as possible and USF has a really great program.  

What has been the hardest part of nursing school? 

The first few clinical rotations in the hospital were difficult. I started out really uncomfortable and out of place, not knowing how to interact with patients or the nurses on the floor. I had been really comfortable learning in the classroom, but taking my skills and knowledge to practical use took a little time for me to get used to. Stepping out of that comfort zone is where I found the most growth and progress as a nursing student. 

What were/are you most nervous about? 

Getting a job! I feel that my first job is going to have a huge influence on what kind of nurse I become and its a little daunting applying for and entering the workforce. 

What throws you off balance and how do you know you are out of balance?

I get thrown off balance pretty easily; I'm a new grad! I hate the feeling of being uncertain of myself, of not having all the answers, but that has been and is going to be my experience as a new nurse at least until I get some experience under my belt. 

What brings you back into balance?

Having a wonderful support system, asking for help, and being able to accept that help! One of my favorite things about working my nursing internship on night shift this summer was the comradery you feel with people you work and stay up all night with. Teamwork in nursing is so important to staying balanced. 

 Tell me about your most favorite day at the hospital and why.

My favorite day was my first day on the labor and delivery unit. My mom is actually an L&D nurse. It was just so different than any other clinical rotation I experienced before. I was able to go in the OR for a delivery of baby girl twins. I thought the nurses might just make me stand in the corner to watch, but I got to be more involved than I expected, and being a part of the birth experience was just so absolutely incredible. 

What advice would you give to nursing students starting out?

School is going to be incredibly difficult, but always remember why you started and where your passion for nursing came from. My best advice would be to try out and experience as many different areas as possible, sometimes the specialty you end up loving most is something you'd never expect! And lastly, failing a test or class does NOT mean you are going to be a bad nurse, its going to make you a better nurse because you had to work that much harder. 


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Perspectives on pediatric nursing and potholes... Meet Okeyse

Okeyse has been a nurse for 10 years - initially as a pediatric emergency room nurse, prior to working as a Pediatric neurology NP.  She currently works in a case management position in pediatric cardiology and neurology.

What do you love most about nursing?

My job is dynamic and very fluid. One day I may counsel a mother on her child's seizure medications.  The next, I may work with a school on a specific educational plan for a developmentally delayed child. Every day I get a good dose of humble pie when I talk to my families. I am inspired and truly amazed at the resilience of my patients.



Tell me your biggest pet peeves about nursing.

As nurses, we don't always focus on our own health and well-being. In the ER, I often heard nurses say, "I've only slept for 3 hours!"- Smiling like it is a badge of honor. I too fell into this vicious cycle, dedicating all my energy into caring for others (family, friends, patients), while neglecting my own needs.  After 10 years of ignoring myself, my body said "NO MORE" and I got really sick. I finally woke up. I found that the more compassion I held for myself allowed me to be a better nurse and better person.


What throws you off balance and how do you know you are out of balance?

When life throws me off balance I name these situations “potholes”. Sometimes I can see and feel the imbalance; the potholes may be small enough for me to drive right through them, but sometimes they are massive, pulling me down and I can’t escape. That sinking feeling is when I know I am out of balance.

my friend Jenna, making the best of her "pothole"

my friend Jenna, making the best of her "pothole"

Here is how she navigates her potholes:

Knowing that life is hard- After years of struggling with trying to understand why my life was so difficult, I heard a Buddhist nun give a talk.  She simply stated the fact -“Yes! Life is hard.” Once I learned to accept this, I let go off focusing on the “why” and shifted to how to manage my daily difficulties.  

I tend to want control over every aspect of my life. But I have learned through mindfulness meditation to just let go of wanting things my way and shift to the idea that life is what it is in the present moment.  This letting go, restores my balance.

Funniest Nursing Story

A little boy was brought to the ER with ear pain which started six months prior.  The mom delayed treatment due to her lack of money and health insurance. I did an assessment and asked him if he happened to hide any goodies in his ear. He smiled widely and said “mommy told me the tooth fairy would give me money for my tooth, so I put it in my left ear!” The mom, mortified said “well...he told me a few weeks ago that there was a tooth in his ear, but I didn't believe him. He has such an imagination.”  The ENT (ear, nose and throat) team eventually dislodged the baby tooth from deep within the ear canal and the boy went home with a teddy bear.

photo by wakefielddavid

photo by wakefielddavid

Advice to New Graduates:

Explore opportunities outside of your city or even your state. I came from a small town in Texas. My nursing degree brought the opportunity to explore new cities and cultures as well as new ways of practicing medicine, which contributed to becoming a well-rounded nurse. You never know what doors or opportunities may open up for you if you just take a leap of faith.

If you plan to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner, I would recommend at least a few years as a nurse prior to graduate school. I started after a year as a new nurse and I wish I waited.  I felt like I needed additional nursing training in order to be the best I could be as a Nurse Practitioner.