When I was 18 years old I needed a job. Without some type of training there was not a lot out there. My mother offered to help me go to school if I knew what I wanted to do; the search began. I had been married two years by the time I was 18 and was a military wife. I needed a job that would travel and I could find work easily if we stayed with the military.
The local college offered nursing school and I thought that sounded interesting. I did not dream of being a nurse as a child growing up; as a matter of fact I do not remember having a vision of what I someday wanted to be. I amazed myself for applying to college since school and I were never best friends. The words I heard in school were not encouraging towards become a college student.
However, I found out there was an A student inside myself that I had never met. I had found something that my mind wrapped around and embraced the skills of learning. Since I am a person that gets bored with the same daily tasks that repeat themselves over and over again, nursing fit right into my personality. I have never had a day in nursing that has been the same.
When I walked into the school for the first time I had no idea about what I would be doing other than taking care of people. Since the soft tender personality was not breed into my natural being I wondered how this was going to work out.
I met Ms. Tumblin. She was a text book picture of a nurse. She wore the starched white uniform, white pantyhose, polished shoes, the annoying nurse hat with her nurse’s pin proudly in the top right hand corner of her hat. She walked brisk and with a purpose; she was stern and meant business. I was now in the nursing military school, or so I thought it was.
She lined our slouching postures in a straight line in the middle of the class room the first day. All we knew was her name. She walked in front of us and looked each of the 50 students up and down judging their appearance and how it would be changing. We were given the class room dress code: no jeans or tennis shoes. We were then given the clinical dress code. I knew I was in trouble, for I loved my tennis shoes.
We were ordered to have our fingers nails clipped short so that they were not able to be seen when she held our hands facing palm up. Our hair could not touch the collar of our shirts, our shoes had to be polished, clothes ironed, and we had to bathe daily (like I needed someone to tell me to bathe). In my mind I was thinking, Where am I?
Once we received our instructions we sat down for the grueling class room layout that was planned for the first year. There were test marks along the way that would weed students out, and see who would be going on to the next semester. Just because you made it in the class line up did not mean you would finish school. I was nervous, since school had not been my best friend in high school. I was wondering if I would be one of the weeds that got pulled.
We had two tests that we had to make a 100 on. If you did not you left the class that day, nursing school would be over, and you would have to reapply. You had two tries. I passed the first time, praying the whole time I was testing to get the right answers.
At 18 I was pretty intimidated by the whole thing. I was not sure if I could survive this school thing or not.
After passing the first two semesters of school we started the clinical side of a very nice teaching hospital. The lights came on at what a real nurse truly was.
We had to wear the ugliest light blue dress uniforms with white aprons across the front of the dress, white support hose and slip on nurse mates that smelled horrible after a long shift running up and down the halls with support panty hose on. I felt like a flashing sign wearing this outfit. However, once I hit the floor and began meeting my patients the fun began. I always went in and introduced myself and the patients were always so glad to see us coming. When a patient had a student nurse they knew they are going to get pampered and fussed over like they are the only person in the building, and to us they were.
The piles of pages that I had to read and be tested over made my brain feel like it was jello. It gave me the boost of confidence that maybe I could really do this nursing thing, as I felt a very satisfying feeling when I was on the floor and saw what I was learning come out without thinking about it. It became natural for me to be in nursing mode and it made me feel as if I belonged in this position.
The day that I passed that very last test, Ms. Tumblin gave the 23 students left in class her last speech. She had tears in her eyes that told us we had made her proud and she gave us the best wishes of our new future. Everyone hugged her good bye as we filed out the door totally excited school was over and we had one more test, State Boards.
The State Boards Test
In nursing school I quickly realize that I and my fellow students had to work together, and study together to boost each other along. We met in the parking lot and everyone agreed to form one last study group to prepare for our nursing state boards test that would give us the license we had worked so hard to get.
The boards test would be different for all of us but the questions would be similar. I was moving back to Kentucky and would not be taking the Alabama test where I went to school. I had three weeks to study with the group before I moved.
Finally the day arrived and I drove to Louisville, Kentucky with my mother as she offered me support. The test began at 8 AM sharp; if you were late you would not get into the testing room. I was a nervous wreck; I signed in and got my number to the cubicle in which I would be sitting. The room held 500 Kentucky students with monitors walking everywhere watching each move that we made. You could not carry so much as a Kleenex into the room. They had lockers set up in the hall for your belongings to be locked in. If you needed a Kleenex you had to raise your hand and the monitor would bring you a single Kleenex.
The test had 250 questions and that was by far the longest day of my life. My head hurt, my back hurt, and my brain was mush. When I walked out of the room that day after taking a test for over 4 hours I just knew that I had failed. It would be 6-8 extremely long weeks before I would be able to go to the mail box and pull out the letter that had the “Pass” or “Fail” written in the top right hand corner of the page. It told your score in red bold letters.
When those anticipated weeks finally did pass I was ecstatic about my results. The word “PASSED” was all I could see as my knees turned into springs and I jumped and screamed at the mail box on that country road next to my house. I have never been so proud to hold a piece of paper in my hand, that is until the next week when the original nurse’s license arrived in the mail.
I am a nurse.
Angela Brooks has worked in a state-funded psychiatric hospital in Kentucky for 21 years as a nurse, assisting sometimes-dangerous patients who come in shackled and cuffed. At AngelaBrook.com, she offers stories of life on the inside of a psychiatric ward, and the site, as well as her company, offers support for nurses in the mental health field and helps them bring passion into their role at work.
Everyday we share insights, strategies and even some of our biggest secrets to business on our Facebook page! Join the fun and connect with like-minded business owners and Nurses EVERY single day! Click here and "Like" Angela's page NOW!
* Please note: I am not here to CURE, DIAGNOSE, Treat or suggest replacements for what a doctor prescribes – I am sharing my nursing adventures with you.
What Did You Think?
Let us know your thoughts on today's issue.
Post your comments below.