Yves Brown McClain: Literary Fierceness

Posts Tagged ‘nursing’

Testi-Friday: Let’s Get Ready To Rumble

Posted by Dahlia on August 26, 2011

Monday, I went back to school for another year of taking my prerequisites for admission into a nursing program. This semester, I’m taking Anatomy and Physiology. I was admittedly nervous for a few reasons. First, I hadn’t made it through a real science class since 12th grade. 13 years ago. 
Side note: I took a science class during my first round of college, but it was an easy course about rocks and volcanoes (basically, if your major didn’t require you to take biology, A&P, or chemistry, you took this class) so I don’t count that as being hard-core science. 
Secondly, I attempted this course before. Last fall, I was riding high off my cakewalk through Patient Care Tech (basically CNA meets Medical Assistant meets Phlebotomist) training and *foolishly* assumed that I could handle the full-blown A&P course because I had always been a good student. Thing is, I couldn’t make it to class on time because I couldn’t get off work early. A few weeks into the semester, I walk into class and an exam is taking place. I was totally and completely unprepared. I had forgotten about it and I NEVER forget about a test. The next time I went to campus, I stopped by student accounts and dropped the course. I then convinced myself that I didn’t need this career change. Looking back, I punked out because my career path towards nursing got hard. Despite that I performed very well during externship and could really envision myself as both a nurse and a writer. Simply put, I gave up (punked out).

As I continued to reflect, I remembered being in a similar position in high school. Like I said, I was always a good student. However, I was particularly bad-ass in math. I took two math classes in 10th grade just so I could get into AP Calculus in the 12th grade. Turns out Calculus was the real bad-ass, not me. About six rounds (weeks) into the fight (semester), I got knocked out. I couldn’t get the concepts and my grades reflected it. So, I cried, screamed, begged, to get out of the ring (class) because I already had four belts (math classes) already. However, my school wasn’t having it. I had to fight (take math) each year. So, suck it up, take this ice, and get back in there. So, I did. And I survived. It actually got better. A lot better. Unfortunately, I had to repeat calculus in college because I didn’t earn enough AP credit. So, I didn’t win, but we’ll call it a draw.
So, here I am, years later, prepping for another fight (the rematch with A&P) and trying not to flip out and give in to the fear of failure and not being able to handle it. Trying not to let the pressure get me. For nursing programs, passing is NOT good enough. It’s very competitive because they’re limited-access. Applicants have to go in on point, game tight, stuff completely together.
Here’s what I realized with my calculus class. When I repeated it, I was prepared. I knew where I was weak, so I paid extra attention to those areas. And I took my bad-ass math championship belt back. This time shouldn’t be different. I know where I need to focus (the first being take the class on a campus closer to work). I’ve got my supporters. I’ve got faith. I’m ready to work. I’m ready. A&P, you’re going down!
Okay, so you may be wondering what does this have to do with writing or the stories I’m working on? Not much, honestly. It’s a moment of transparency, really. Because I think we’ve all had failures in some, way, shape, or form. This is just a story of how I dealt with one of mine. I hope that it helps someone who may be going through something similar. Failure can make us better, it’s just a matter of what you do with that failure. Do you crawl out of the ring or do you get back up and keep swinging?

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Never Settle

Posted by Dahlia on February 8, 2011

Two years ago this month, I made my re-entry into school. I had gone for a skills test for a job that was in the same office park as the school, which specialized in allied health training. On my way out, I figured I would just stop in and get some information. Two days later, I had enrolled in the evening program for medical assisting. I didn’t see this as being another detour on my writing journey at the time, but as an opportunity to get into a growing and secure field. I had endured a few job losses and felt the need to reinvent myself. I successfully completed the program the following March, on my birthday to be exact. However, since I finished my externship after January graduation, I participated in the summer ceremony in June. By the time I formally “walked”, the school had added an associate’s program. Their associate’s program wasn’t even accredited yet, so that was one turn off. I didn’t want to pursue any degrees where my credits can’t transfer to another college or university. Also, I didn’t think the program they were offering was a good fit for my plans at the time, as I wanted to get into a nursing program. I enrolled in the school I’m attending now because their nursing program is very good. My bachelor’s is in Business, and therefore, I needed a few science courses (I seriously doubted the planetary science course I took sophomore year would count) before I could even apply for the program. It’s also very competitive – there was no skating into their program.

However, my former school’s objective is to sell the school, so I got numerous voicemails from the recruiting area selling me on the associate’s program. I ignored them all. That is, until I got a message from one of the “big dogs” at the school. Thinking this was a meaningful call (maybe they owed me some money?) I called back. Turns out, it was just an elevated sales pitch. They were even waiving tuition for recent graduates. I turned him down and explained that I was getting ready to take my nursing prerequisites. His response?

“You know, there’s no guarantee you’ll get in, right?”

Needless to say, I was more than a little hot. However, I always keep it professional and I let him know I was aware that getting in was not a guarantee but it was what I wanted. He ends the conversation, almost cocky, like he knew I’d be calling back asking to get into their program.

I couldn’t believe he had the audacity to respond to my wanting to go to nursing school in that manner. His attitude was one of “you might as well take this, because the chances of your being a nurse are slim to none.” Let me back up here. The school I went to isn’t exactly known for accepting students based on their potential to do well in the medical field. If you walked in, you got accepted, no application or test necessary. So, needless to say, this school was a revolving door of students who either lacked the focus, drive, aptitude, attitude, support system, or just had too much personal drama going on to make it through a training program.

I wondered just how many students he’d discouraged. Was he so desperate to meet his quota that he would destroy the dreams of people who wanted to be more than what the school trained them in? He clearly hadn’t checked my credentials before talking to me. I already have a degree, I aced every single class at that school, and was afforded a highly coveted externship spot in a hospital’s emergency room, where my other classmates did their entire externship in nursing homes (which I want to add, is not an easy job. I have the utmost respect for CNAs because they do so much work for so little pay. However, the hospital spot allowed one to use more of their training in phlebotomy, EKGs, lab skills, etc.) If anybody had the potential to go and kick major butt in a nursing program, it was me. I didn’t put all that in there to be boastful, but to state that he was wrong to assume that I was the rule. He should’ve addressed me and everyone else he spoke with like we were the exception. That if we really wanted to go on to become nurses, paramedics, physician assistants, or even doctors or dentists, we could do it. “Our school gave you the foundation to build on, so go for it!” should have been his response, not to just “take what you can get and come on back because we’re the only ones that’ll take you.” For that sir, you can kick rocks. With open-toe shoes.

And what does the above story have to do with writing? It boils down to this: Never settle. If writing that novel, memoir, self-help, relationship, business book is what you want to do, do not settle. Don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done. Being an author is something that doesn’t always make sense to others. Often because you’re working on something that doesn’t produce income right away. Some will look at it like it’s just a hobby and not take your craft seriously. Encourage yourself if you have to. Join a writer’s group. Take a creative writing class. In my email signature is a quote from Oprah Winfrey: “Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.” In this writing game and in life, that’s exactly what you’ve got to do. So, I’ll say it again: Never settle.

Am I a medical assistant now? Nope. Am I in the nursing program? Negatory. I soon discovered that my time at the allied health school was a detour, and while I have much respect for nurses, it wasn’t what I desired to do. I didn’t want to get into another program, get a degree in it, and still be unfulfilled. It wasn’t my passion. If I’m going to get a second degree in anything, it’s going to be in something I love. It also prepared me for the grind I’m on now, with balancing a full-time job, family, and getting published. That’s the thing about detours, they take you off course for a while, but you always come back to the road you’re supposed to be on.

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