Hey, Aspiring Nurse
In 2010 I started at the University of Memphis with zero clue as to what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had just made the Pom Squad and joined a sorority and frankly, was content with just that for a couple of years to come. At some point throughout my first two years, I landed on journalism. I was going to be a journalist, a broadcaster to be exact.. in MY perfect world. In 2012 I studied abroad in Florence, Italy where I wrote about food as part of my journalism course. During my studies, I found myself more passionate about the food I was writing about and the effects that it had on our bodies and wellbeing more so than the writing itself. Now back in the states, as a junior, I did a hard halt and turn around and was now pursuing to be a Registered Dietitian. After meeting with my advisor, I was thoroughly made aware of the challenging course work of this major along with being told that graduation would be pushed back an entire year. UGH. Aware of this, I decided to push forward and dedicate the extra year to be an RD.
They weren't joking when they said it was going to be hard. It was SO. HARD. But, before I knew it I was a 5th-year senior, WHEW, and the end was in sight! I started my clinical at the VA, which I absolutely loved. I had amazing preceptors, several that I still enjoy watching the amazing things they are doing to this day. I loved the hospital setting. I don't know why I just did. I will never forget the first time I had to go into a patient's room and help educate them on diabetes and then, and then ... TEACH THEM HOW TO INJECT THEMSELVES WITH INSULIN AND WATCH THEM DO IT. Um, NO! I don't like needles. I was queezy the entire time, but I sucked it up. Then, we visited a post-surgery patient that had a pretty wicked abdominal wound. Good thing there was a wall behind me, because .. YUCK. But, the more I went through those clinicals, including shadowing at St. Jude, the more I became drawn to the nurse and their role in patient care. Natalie, stay on track. You graduate in two months.
Many of you are probably not familiar with the process of becoming a Registered Dietitian, but post-graduation, you are required to obtain and finish a dietetic internship before being able to sit for boards. No problem, right? I have done everything necessary to land a great internship. I have maintained a GPA over a 3.0, I held a position in the Student Dietetic Association, numerous positions in my sorority, I had plenty of volunteer work under my belt, I was student-athlete, and on top of all of this, I had a BOMB application with help from a great friend of mine who had gone through this same process only a couple of years earlier. Honestly, what could possibly stop me?
Match Day, it's here! I was so excited. I had applied to five or so places. Let's see if I can remember them all .. Lipscomb in Nashville, St. Louis University, The University of Las Vegas, annnnd I really can't remember the rest. I really wanted the internship in Nashville, as my boyfriend, who is now my husband, lived there and we had been doing long distance for a year at this point. So, I ranked Lipscomb first. If any of you know the matching process, you know that it has to work out with the rankings, so there is always a chance to fall through the cracks. Well, guess what. I fell through the cracks. With Ford and two of my best girls by my side, I pulled up the website where I read those dreaded words - No match. I was devastated. The next match day wasn't until November, and I couldn't sit for my boards until I obtained that internship, what the heck was I supposed to do?
After I had a week-long pitty party, I decided that I still wanted to move to Nashville, and I would just work on my Masters in Environmental Nutrition to bide some time. Several things throughout this time period made me curious and wonder if nursing could possibly be for me. Again, I told myself to stay on track at obtaining this internship. No more school is what I said. Fast forward, I received an interview at New York-Presbyterian Hospital for their dietetic internship. It went amazing, and yet again, I found myself wondering how could this not work out for me? Match Day was Nov. 1, 2015, and again, no match. Now I have to wait again until April for the next match day. Guess I better get to searching. I met with the program director at Vanderbilt along with many other potential candidates and I will never forget as I was walking out of the meeting, another girls mother just randomly started talking to me about being a nurse and how much she loved the profession. Ok, this is a weird coincidence, as I have been thinking about nursing for a while.
So many thoughts were running through my head over the next couple of months. "I'm 23 about to be 24 at this point, and I should have a full-time job that I'm working, building up my future." "I just got engaged, I just need to settle on something." "If I don't follow becoming a Registered Dietitian through, that means I gave up." What will people think of me going back to school."
That's it, I want to be a nurse. Nursing it is. I applied to Union University in Hendersonville and got accepted several weeks after applying.
I got married in November of 2016 and started nursing school in January 2017. Nursing school is easily one of the hardest, if not THE hardest thing I've ever endured. I chose a 16 month accelerated nursing program designed for those who had previous degrees. If you have been through nursing school or known someone in nursing school, you know that there is really no such thing as "getting by" and at times it felt that your all wasn't good enough. In nursing school, you either pass or you fail. It's pretty cut and dry. It was hard on a new marriage as I never got to see Ford, and even if I wasn't in class I was at home studying and had to say no to more plans that I could say yes to. A lot of my friendships faded apart and many became frustrated with my new life, not understanding the time commitment of nursing school. By the Grace of God, I made it through with the help of my family and friends, amazing teachers, and my classmates. Nursing is one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself.
I believe that everything happens for a reason. This world has a way of making you feel that your life should be on the same timeline as everyone else. It tries to tell you when you should get married, when it's time to have kids, what's a safe profession to pursue, and when you should start "adulting". The truth is, I wasn't one of the many that die-hard knew that I wanted to be a nurse from the beginning. It took many life happenings, failures, and a couple of years to put away my self-doubt before I got to where I was called to be. There was nothing traditional about my path to becoming a nurse, but I truly feel that this is why I have such a love and passion for this profession. I don't want to EVER take for granted something so special to my heart. I tried to stray from what God called me to do several times, and what did He do? He closed those doors for me so that I didn't have the option to walk through them. Thank you, Lord, for every closed door!
Looking back now, if I would have chosen nursing from the beginning I would have missed out on dancing on Memphis POM and the greatest friendships I could ask for, as you can't do a sport while in nursing school. I may have never met Ford, as our paths crossed through POM friends. That would have been a tragedy. And, I most certainly wouldn't be travel nursing, one of our greatest experiences yet.
To the aspiring nurse, don't give up. You can do it. It's all worth it.
Happy Nurses Week,