Monday, January 16, 2012

Reflecting on the First Week of Nursing School

It's kind of a weird thing to have a first day of school in an undergraduate program when you're a lot closer to thirty years old than to eighteen.  Fun, but kind of weird.  Thankfully, the program I'm in is one where the majority of students are closer to my age than eighteen.  There are a few who did a year or so of university, and transferred in, the students who are 20-22 years old (and you can tell which ones they are), but most of the students have similar stories to me - we studied something else, worked for a while, and we're entering nursing with a certainty that this is where we're supposed to be.  A certainty that I think can sometimes be hard to have when you're 20.

I had the fun of picking out my first day of school outfit, and the fun of the anticipation of realizing all over again that this dream is finally happening for me.  I went with a pair of jeans, a hoodie, and boots in case you were wondering - deciding that comfort trumped fashion sense for classes that start at 8 am.

And that's another thing.  I have to be at the university campus for 8 am four days a week.  I live at the opposite end of the city from the university, which means I'm back to rolling out of bed at 5:30, and catching the bus at 6:30.  Not the most ideal study schedule for this night owl who truly believes that nothing of consequence should happen before 10:00 am!  (Definitely something I'm going to have to get used to, though, since by 10:00 am, my lectures are two thirds over!)

The expectations were high, and the first day met them.  The morning theory lecturer seemed like she would be a good communicator, and the afternoon, well, the afternoon was pretty cool.  Tuesday afternoons for three hours, we get to learn practical skills.  They're pretty much the only practical skills in the whole semester, so I fully intend to cherish those three hour time blocks.  In the first week, we spent about two-thirds of that block learning about asepsis, and hand-washing.  The last while we learned how to properly remove soiled gloves, and how to assemble a syringe.  We may even get the chance to do some school vaccinations in a few weeks!  (Which, by the way, makes me laugh!  The only human patient I'm liable to see this semester, and my job will be to inflict pain!  Too funny!)

If I'm honest, the first week was confusing.  The material in each of the four classes seems to hopelessly overlap, and the clinical placement for the semester is the least defined of any that we'll encounter over the course of the degree.  I'm taking comfort in the fact that in talking to other students, everyone is confused, and even our clinical instructors are telling us that it's quite normal to be confused at this point, and that it will become clearer as the weeks progress.

My other observation would be that nursing school is apparently going to involve a whole lot of group work, random games, and everyone talking at once.  In my first week I speed dated ten other women, played the part of an affluent politician on a version of Survivor and was promptly voted off the island to meet my death at the hands of a zombie apocalypse, and survived a day with close to six hours of 19 women and one man talking all at once.  It was a little bit nuts, and hard on my introverted, prefers one on one or very small group interaction self.

And then there's this - after the first week, I find myself grappling with my One Word for the year.  My word is "still" - a word that fits my reflective, introverted heart well.  A word that is easy to live when there aren't other demands on my time.  A word that is easy to live when I have hours a day to engage in creativity - to read, to write, to sew, to cook, to knit, and to reflect.  It's not a word that's quite as easy to live when 8 hours a day are spent in the company of others, and at least half of those are spent in the course of constant interaction with others, and largish groups.

After only one week, I am realizing that I will need to prioritize my life.  That there will be times when I will need to say no to meeting with friends I truly love, in favor of valuing my need for rest and stillness. That I will need to create ways to maintain health - to exercise and eat well.  That many things will have to be assessed in terms of whether they will give or drain life and energy.  Thankfully, most of the things that are priorities in my life outside of school have already been assessed in that manner - that's how they have become priorities.  I am realizing, though, that the rigorous school schedule is going to require me to develop discipline in new ways.  To learn to rest more actively - to procrastinate less, and do the things that feed my soul without frittering away an hour online or watching a video first.

I'm cautiously excited.  There are things that scare and frustrate me, and there are things that make my heart sing, and I am learning, even after only one week, to balance them inside me, and grow stronger, heal more deeply, and tell a better story.  I am learning to live all of my One Word's from the last several years in new ways, and that thought causes an involuntary smile to spread across my face.


terri said...

hope the pieces come together for you quickly, and you settle on a schedule that meets all your needs. as a fellow introvert, some of those "games" sounded like hell to me. take care of you.

Lisa said...

Terri - your comment made me laugh out loud. "My version of hell" is the exact phrase I used to describe those games to friends and family members :D

And so yes, I'm quickly working to find a schedule that will balance my needs with the demands of finances and education.

Dana said...

Lisa. . .

I'm totally excited for you, congratulations on your new adventures in nursing!

I just wanted to encourage you and let you know that nursing school is all of those things you mentioned. . .scary, frustrating, silly and exciting. I finished my bachelors in nursing in 2005 and finished most of grad school toward my NP - well thats a whole other story - my one piece of advice is to make a couple of really good friends in your class that you can study with and share anxiety and triumphs with! I wouldn't have made it through my classes without them. It's gonna be stressful but it will be so rewarding. Good luck!!


shallowfrozenwater said...

what i like most about this post is that you seem to come out of your shell a little bit and go pretty deep into some stuff. since i am also an introvert i know just how difficult some of that can be.
i have no doubts that you'll be fine because you've sought this direction out and you're entering places where you can find life for yourself.

Lisa said...

Dana - thanks! And that's great advice! I hear that nursing school in the US is just a bit different - more focused on clinical skills etc., while Canadian nursing school is more focused on the "touchy-feely", but I love the advice. I'm well on my way to making a couple friends in my class, and we'll definitely be spending a lot of time together!

Ian - Thanks! It made me smile to have you comment that I've come out of my shell a little bit in this post. Because of some offline interactions that have been affected by my online life, I'm sometimes hesitant to share as freely here as I once did. That said, I'm really working to get back to that place when I do have something to share, so I'm glad you noticed that :) (And thanks for the encouragement as well!)

christianne said...


As I read this post, I'm so conflicted for you. I know you to be someone who values structure and large swaths of quiet, reflective times rooted in simplicity. I miss that kind of experience for you.

But at the same time (this is the conflicted part), I'm also smiling for you. I see the way God prepared you for these 5:30 wakeup times through the previous job you held, though you didn't know it was preparation. I see the way God gave you a word for the year that is so true for you, and yet you had no idea the ways you would be challenged in this area through this new life.

It makes me smile to see the ways God has been preparing you without your knowledge.

But even still, I miss for you the quiet, introverted, simple way of being that you so much enjoy.


Lisa said...

Christianne - I smiled when I read this! I too see the ways I was prepared for this, and the ways in which the word Jesus gave me for the year are both deeply true, and deeply shaping and challenging.

(and I do miss that quiet, introverted simplicity - especially on the days when the group work seems to drag on and on and on, and it seems I will never be alone in a quiet space again!)

hugs to you!