About Me

undergrad RN
I'm a twenty-something Canadian student. After stumbling through a few years of college, I finally managed to get into the nursing school of my dreams, where I hope to graduate in 2012 with a nursing baccalaureate degree. I want to offer an honest look into how a modern nurse is educated, both good and bad. Eventually I hope to compare my education to my day-to-day career and see how it holds up. Whatever happens, it should be somewhat entertaining. Find me on allnurses.com!
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Sunday, February 3, 2008

How it begins.

Here's my story:

I'm a 23 year-old Canadian student. I graduated high school almost 6 years ago and spent some time traveling the world before committing myself to that epic question: What am I going to do with my life?

Nursing has always been appealing to me. I've always seen medicine as an adventure and am fascinated by human physiology. My aunt was a small town RN for my entire life, and I am looking for a job that I can find anywhere - small towns are where I want to be. I've worked for several years in the rehabilitation field, filling nursing-type roles for people with handicaps (as well as all the other hats that support workers wear, such as counselor, therapist, friend, mother, conscience... you know). Rehab was great, but it wasn't enough. Enough money, for one. I loved the work, but I can't support a family on a maximum wage of $15 an hour. It also wasn't enough education or responsibility - I want to be challenged physically, mentally, and intellectually.

Anyway. As the story goes, I graduated high school and worked for a year in rehabilitation before deciding to move to the big city with my then-boyfriend. At 19, I decided to apply to a nursing college but found that my grades were way below the competitive average. I got my first taste of rejection, and it didn't go down easy.

I didn't take any Chemistry in high school. I actually didn't take much of anything, as I was way more interested in my car, partying, and hanging out with my friends than getting a pesky "education". Being under 21, I was able to upgrade to senior level Chemistry without paying tuition, so I signed on with an adult-learning "fast track" Chem course. Basically, you only need to go 3 times a week for 2 months, write the governmental exam, and you get high school credit for the course. Unfortunately, I hadn't left my half-assed study tactics behind when I signed on. So believe me when I tell you, a big part of success in school is actually showing up and doing your homework! I did neither, and got a dismal 60% on the exam. Shortly thereafter, I gave up on upgrading my marks - never blaming my own lack of contribution to my education, I assumed that The Man was going to keep me down. I just wasn't cut out for higher learning, plain and simple.

Well, after a few months, I got the opportunity of a lifetime to be a professional horse groom for a well-known Canadian showjumper. I worked there for a month when we both realized I wasn't ready for that calibre of competition. Another blessing in disguise, I was then offered a position overseas working at a pony trekking yard. Not many people get to try everything they ever wanted, and I know I'm richer for it.

After my visa expired, I returned to my family and the same rehabilitation job that I left when I was 19. My attitude was way different, though. I was determined to go to college, but changed my aspiration to a Police studies program. I was determined to graduate with a diploma, move to Calgary, and work my way into a K-9 or horse cop position. My dismal high school marks barely met the requirements for the program, and I was accepted.

September 2005, I started my college education. The program was amazing and I loved waking up every day with something to accomplish. I was driven, but I was almost too mature for the program. Most other students were 4-5 years younger than me, months out of high school, with apathetic attitudes to their education (wow, deja vu?). Police studies focused on building teamwork and camaraderie, which I struggled with. I felt too different from the other students.

Midway through the year, I realized my college marks might make the difference, and I decided to apply for nursing again. I finished the year with a 3.46 GPA (out of 4.0), which was just 0.04 away from the competitive average that year. So I was rejected again, and I also knew that the Police studies program wasn't for me. I spontaneously changed programs and went into Design Studies. I spent another (expensive) year plugging away at something that I found interesting, but again, it wasn't for me. The other students were fired up to come to class and tackle design problems, but I found it excruciating most days. The lack of structure was really hard for me, and I finished the first year with a low 2.8 GPA. This, again, ruled out a transfer to the Nursing program.

I was preparing to transfer to a private school and fast track my design education, but my family and boyfriend stepped in (thank God) and told me to do something I would actually love. The only thing I had experience with, and knew I would love, was nursing. But what to do about my grades?

I swore I would never go back, but last September I finally made myself sign up for College Preparation, a fast-track type upgrading program. I was focused and determined - I was NOT going to miss out again. I took a heavy course load (including the dreaded Chemistry) and went to class every-single-day-without-fail. Like I said, turns out the secret to school is to show up and do your work (gasp)! I finished the semester with a 95% average between all my courses.

Last Christmas I eagerly checked my admission status and I was accepted! I was able to skip upgrading the other 30-level courses this semester and instead can focus on making some $$$ before I attend a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program in September 2008.

So, why this blog?

I feel that the resources available to prospective nursing students, particularly from a Canadian perspective, are lacking. Nursing programs almost have an air of aristocracy, given the hype of being uber-marketable and the idea of getting rich beyond your wildest dreams. The competition involved in getting into a nursing school doesn't help. Given my experience in rehabilitation, I consider myself a student with realistic expectations, but I can foresee many of my classmates being there with the unfortunate attitude I referenced above. Nursing needs humility, compassion, and a strong back (!), more than it needs people who covet the material rewards. I hope this blog allows me to give accurate feedback on how I have experienced my education, and helps future nursing students (or alumni) get a feel for how a modern nurse gets educated. I have the benefit of being in only the third intake for this school's nursing degree, and I hope that this freshness is reflected in their program. Either way, I'll let you know.

Happy reading!

-undergrad RN


5 Wester said...

Hi undergrad,

Welcome to the club. Congratulations on being accepted to the nursing program. I hope you find the "healing arts" both fascinating and rewarding. Believe me, school (theory) and the "real world" are two different things. As long as you master the basics, the rest should fall into place.

elle said...

As a 20-something Canadian about to embark on my own nursing school experience, I'm sure happy to have found your blog! :) I look forward to reading!

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