Monday, March 05, 2012

Revisiting Nursing School (nine weeks in)

If you had asked me the week before reading break how nursing school was going, I'd have told you that while I still didn't love it, I was starting to feel like I was settling into a rhythm with it.  That I wasn't coming home quite as exhausted from the countless hours of group work, and it wasn't taking the whole three day weekend each week to recover enough energy to force myself out of bed on Tuesday mornings and go back to school.

I might have spoken too soon.

This last week, the first week back after reading week, was rough.

It held a midterm, an in class paper, and lots and lots (as always) of group work.

The paper went smoothly.  The midterm not so much.

There is nothing as frustrating to me as an exam that is designed to test if you can think like a professor, rather than if you've actually understood and internalized the material through a process of learning and critical evaluation.  Historically I've been a fan of multiple choice testing.  The principle being that the correct answer is one of the options right in front of you and you have to have prepared enough to narrow down the options and then choose the correct one.  This exam, well, it wasn't like that.  If this exam had been a short-answer test, on many of the questions you could have made a convincing case for three of the four options.  Since it wasn't a short answer question, you had to choose the "best answer."  The problem with that is that you needed to guess which one the professor thought was the right answer.  Other questions were designed to be tricky, with plays on words and needing to be able to pick out things like "malificence" was a wrong answer because to be right it should have said "non-malificence." The correct answer hinged on your ability to pick out the fact that the professor had deliberately left out three letters and a hyphen.

When I'd finished the sixty questions, I sat and commiserated with a couple of friends, and we eventually decided to drown our sorrows in carbohydrates.  We landed ourselves in the campus pub at 11am, talked ourselves out of ordering alcohol and ordered big plates of hamburgers and fries instead.  The carbs served their purpose and temporarily soothed my grouchy soul.

And then there was the group work.  Apparently a week spent away from it, in quiet, tore down any built-up levels of tolerance.  Let me say right up front that I really enjoy the individuals in my group.  I like the mix of personalities most of the time, and I like each of them as individuals.  But this week was exhausting and some of the activities reminded me of the principle that sometimes it is better to internalize honesty, rather than bluntly speaking your mind.  Before reading break, an hour of cleaning on Friday evening was usually enough to allow me to separate myself from the exhaustion of the week and settle into rest.  This last week, that simply didn't happen.  By Sunday afternoon I was still feeling exhausted and drained, dreading the return to this method of study that is the hardest for my introverted, formerly homeschooled, independent learning self.  I am reminding myself of a long conversation I had at the beginning of the semester with a trusted advisor about coping strategies for group work, and promising myself that I will do a better job of incorporating them in the week ahead.  I'm also reminding myself of the need to spend time with people who really understand, and I'm looking forward to a couple of "dates" with good friends in the coming week, including a skype date with my closest friend, who is also doing this "mature" student thing, albeit on the other side of the planet.

I find myself wondering, sometimes, if I polled a group of practicing nurses, how many of them would say that this group work that is so common in nursing education actually prepared them for their jobs.  I know a lot of practicing nurses, and we've had cursory conversations on this topic that would seem to indicate that many of them are as in the dark as I am as to why this was considered the best method of educating us.

And y'all, it didn't help that the focus of this last week was on tolerance.  I'm not sure this is a safe topic to wade into on the wide open field of the internet, but I happen to believe that my love for Jesus means that I need to love people the way he did - unconditionally.  That means that I can disagree with various parts of their lifestyles and still care for them.  I think that that means that as a Christian, I should be the most tolerant and caring person around.  I know that I fail at this sometimes, but it's what I really do aim for.  Why is it that a faith that teaches me to love is one that is stereotyped as uncaring?  I spent the week feeling more and more frustrated with the instruction.  Feeling like I was being told at every turn that it is wrong to have specific beliefs, and most certainly wrong to express them.  Ironically, we spent a good deal of time at house church on Thursday night discussing a topic that was then central to the lecture I attended on Friday morning.  With the way the week had been going, I texted a friend commenting on God's timing that this topic would pop up after the discussion we'd had the night before, and then asked if she would pray, as I was trying hard to absorb the information so that I could critically evaluate it, but was instead finding myself reacting to what felt like a blatant attack on the worldview that has been shaped by my faith.  My friend's response was helpful - she acknowledged that this was a tough spot to find myself in, didn't minimize, and told me that she'd pray that God's spirit would enable me to respond in love.

Her response sits with me even now.  As I look at the week ahead, while still sitting in the midst of the frustrations from the week that just passed, I find myself thinking about the truth that love needs to be my default response.  That all my opinions, all my words, all my actions need to come from that place of love.  That I need to consciously temper my frustrations with love.  That I need to see others with eyes shaped by love.  And that I need God's spirit to enable all of that, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, and week by week.  And so that is my prayer, and my prayer request this week - that I would know God's spirit within me, opening my eyes to love more deeply and to respond only from that place.


terri said...

" is wrong to have specific beliefs, and most certainly wrong to express them."

This is a belief.

Some of the most opinionated and intolerant people I've known in my life have spouted nonsense like this. And I'm not calling it nonsense as a judgment…it just doesn't make any sense.

I hope things sort out for you one way or another very soon. I would rather cover myself in honey and lay on an anthill than do a bunch of inane group work. I feel you there.

Lisa said...

Thanks Terri - glad to know I'm not alone in thinking that some of this doesn't make sense!

Here's hoping things calm down again this week - it looks like there might be one really crazy day at the end of the week again, but other than that I might be in the clear for a little while.