Sunday, June 9, 2013

The beginning

I start my first job as a registered nurse tomorrow morning.  I passed the nursing "board" exam that I took on Friday and I am now a full-fledged licensed registered nurse.

I thought I would feel different once I was a nurse.  I thought I would feel all knowing/all powerful with regard to medical knowledge.  I don't.  I know that I have a lot to learn, and that this just the beginning.  But, I did it.  I studied and tested and got up way too early in order to participate in clinical rotations.  I stood on concrete floors until my feet screamed for mercy.  I lived apart from my husband during college semesters, took out loans, watched a baby being born, started IV lines, and hung IV medications in order to treat clients.  Then there was that fascinating day working in the emergency department.

All I had to do was do it.  Step by step, exactly what my instructors and advisors told me to do.  It wasn't easy.  It was the most stressful thing I have ever done, but it was what I wanted and I was determined to complete the process no matter how much weight I gained, how badly my feet hurt, and how lonely I was without my husband.

I believe that we are capable of doing whatever it is that we want to do if we have enough determination and are willing to sacrifice to achieve our goals.  I did this crazy thing in my 50s.  I'm 57 and a new nurse.  So what?  I've always wanted to do it, and I did it.  I saw my name posted on the Alaska Board of Nursing website late on Friday, and it had "Licensed Registered Nurse" next to it.  I had just taken the board exam that afternoon and was sure I had failed.  I saw my name and I sobbed out loud - those deep lurching, keening sobs that I wailed when my mother died.  God that felt good.  Oh my God, I did it!

Alyx McNeal, RN

Friday, June 7, 2013

Whose idea was this, anyway?

In two hours, I will be taking the test that will either make me a Registered Nurse, or not.  It is called the NCLEX, and those five letters are the most terrifying that a recent nursing school grad encounter.  Trust me.

I have studied for two solid weeks.  I graduated from nursing school with a GPA of 3.88.  Still, I am worried that I won't pass this exam.  I am the only person I know who is concerned; everyone else is sure that I will pass it.

What is it in me that makes me believe that I'm not good enough?  That in spite of all evidence to the contrary, I won't pass this exam?  I think it's because, on some level, I hear old tapes playing.  I hear the words of my mother - words she didn't mean to use to scar me for life.  I was never told that I wasn't smart enough.  I was told that I was smart enough to do whatever I wanted to do with my life.  I was also told that I wasn't living up to my potential.  In all fairness, I wasn't.  As I have grown, and lived, I have learned that what my mother thought really doesn't matter.  All that matters is what I think, and more importantly, what I do.

Therefore I have studied five NCLEX prep programs, eaten both some complex carbohydrates and some protein, and hydrated myself enough (not too much...I cannot leave the testing area except for scheduled breaks, which are infrequent).  Last night I rode my bike over 10 miles to blow off a little steam.  I got enough sleep.  I am wearing comfortable clothes.  I know how to get to the test site and will allow myself plenty of time.  I've asked my Higher Power to remove my worry.

That's all I can do.