I did not always want to be a nurse. I do not come from a family of nurses, being a nurse had not been a childhood dream of mine, and I did not have a profoundly impactful experience with a sick family member in the hospital that made me want to go into this profession. So what convinced me to walk down this crazy path?
I am not entirely sure, to be honest. I know that since a certain point in high school, I was interested in the human body. Being a competitive cross country runner in both high school and then later on in college I gained an interest in how things work, why things don’t, and how to keep all systems running correctly. So initially in college I enrolled as a biochemistry major with the vague plan to go to medical school, because that seemed like the thing to do. I was not aware of how many different career options there are in healthcare.
I enjoyed my biochemistry courses but did not enjoy general chemistry lab. The prospect of doing several more labs for my degree that I did not even have to do to go to medical school looked bleak. I also realized that if I decided against being a doctor, I would be left with the option to either go to a different type of graduate school or try and pursue a career with just the biochemistry degree. Working in a lab or doing research never peaked my interest. I wanted a major that would pretty much guarantee a job upon graduation, but that still worked with health. Enter in nursing.
My aunt has been a pediatric nurse for over 25 years now and she will convince anybody and everybody to be a nurse. Job stability, job flexibility, countless different types of nursing in countless different settings, the option to continue on with education either to advance your practice or expand your credentials.she sells it well. Thus, at the end of my sophomore year of college, I applied to the University of Texas School of Nursing.
Quick little blurb here- when I told my athletics advisor I wanted to apply to nursing school, she deeply discouraged me from doing so. Since I “couldn’t do nursing school and athletics” why didn’t I “look at other degrees like nutrition instead?”. The idea that an advisor was trying to prevent me from switching to a degree that provided a stable job right out of college, just for the sake of keeping me on the cross country team, is so dumb. I was not even a key runner, seeing as I was often injured. I loved to run and I loved being on the team, but it was not worth my career and job prospects to continue on. The purpose of college is to give you the skills you need to get a job that will provide for you. Not to have a good time.
Anyways, I got into nursing school and graduated in December of 2018. From there, I moved home to Houston and worked on the surgical-orthopedic unit at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands. Those nine months were HARD and busy. From getting yelled at by surgeons to not being able to eat for 13 hours to dealing with my first drug seeking patients, I learned a lot. I had fantastic coworkers and the hospital was great, but I quickly learned med surg truly is working in the trenches of nursing, and I did not want to do this for long. Thanks to all the long term med-surg nurses out there, I don’t know how you do it.
That brings me to where I am now, working in an ICU in South Texas. To be honest, it’s more like a step down unit with the capability of taking ventilated patients. We get drips, vents, the occasional arterial line, lots of DKA patients. It’s been a great learning experience, taking this new patient population, getting better at speaking Spanish, and learning the pros and cons of working at a very small rural hospital after working at a huge urban one. Now with covid 19 I am working more as a med-surg nurse or an ED nurse, but any experience is good experience.
That is where I am now in my career, about 18 months in. I don’t know whether I’d like to try and get into pediatrics next, or work at a bigger ICU, work in an ED, or in a NICU. Lots of things sound appealing. We’ll see where the future takes me. Hopefully not into more covid.