Two years ago, on January 27th, 2018, I took the most nerve-wracking exam of my life, the NCLEX. It was a chilly Saturday afternoon and I was headed to the testing center as nervous as could be, unable to talk to anyone about it because no one knew I was testing that day. I spent almost three hours at the testing center answering question after question until the computer kicked me out of the test. I had reached 75 questions, which is the minimum number of questions, and the algorithm had made a decision, I had either answered the majority wrong and failed, or the complete opposite and I had passed. But there was no way of telling at that moment. I had to wait until Monday morning to find out the results…
… On Monday, January 29th, the results were in. I had passed the NCLEX at first try and with the minimum number of questions required! I don’t think I can describe with words how happy and proud I felt at that moment. I was a Registered Nurse! And to make it even better, I had just accepted a job offer to work at the Emergency Department, my dream job!
It has been two of the most wonderful, rewarding and fulfilling years in the Emergency Department. I have treated everything from a paper cut to broken bones and gunshot wounds, mild abdominal pain to bowel obstructions, AAA ruptures, heart attacks, respiratory distress to full cardiac arrest. I have seen life start and end in the most unexpected ways, and I wouldn’t change it for anything else in the world. Friends and family ask me how I do it and all I can give them as the answer is a big bright smile. There are a lot of heartbreaking moments that make you appreciate life and health much more. Those combined with the adrenaline rush, happy smiles and successful recovery stories of the patients, add to my passion every day.
I wanted to create this post today as a reminder of this milestone and give you a chance to get to know this part of my life. I wrote an essay during nursing school explaining why I went into nursing. Here is a copy of it just in case you were wondering.
It is unbelievable the number of times I have been asked the same question: why a nurse?
Even now that I’m thinking about it, I smile. I mean I don’t blame them. I went from wanting to be a cardiothoracic surgeon to taking architecture courses, this finishing one year of electronic engineering. Not much in common, right? I envy those people who knew what they wanted to do early on in their life. It took me almost 4 years after high school to finally figure out what I want I want my future to look like.
Back to the original question, Why nursing? A lot of my peers answered this question based on their past experiences. Some of them want to be nurses because they were inspired by the ones that took care of them, other want to be nurses because they want to give more than they have received, and the rest want to be nurses because that’s what their family does. Others choose it because it offers you a steady career. I have no past experiences with nurses and no one in my family works in the health care field. So, here is my answer: because health is important to me; because taking care of people and helping them heal, is important to me. I have always been “the one that wanted to help everyone.” I know it sounds silly, but I hated to see my family and friends sick so I’d try my best to make them feel better, even if that meant getting them an Advil or some orange juice. There was something about their smile that made me feel like I had superpowers. I still feel that way when I interact with real patients during my clinicals. I may not be doing “real nursing stuff”, but even getting them an extra pillow, a cup of water or helping them change position, warms my heart and puts a smile on my face. How can you not want to help them?
Let me ask you something else: What good would those medicines do if you didn’t have the nurse to make sure you took them? What good would that surgery do if you didn’t have a nurse to take care of your incision and prevent infection? What good would the doctor’s orders do if you didn’t have a nurse to help explain them and show you how to follow them?
Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way trying to underappreciate doctors or surgeons out there. They are amazing at what they do, but we can all agree that they wouldn’t be able to do their job without the nurses. Nurses are the first and the last person you see when you go to the hospital or the doctor’s office. They are the ones visiting your bedside hourly and making sure all your needs are met. They are the ones you might hate when performing a painful procedure but they are also the ones you thank when you’re healed. They will always put your needs before theirs and will do their best to make you feel your best.
I am so grateful for everything I have learned, all the people I have met and the progress I have made these past two years, and I am excited to see what the future has in store for me.
Thank you for taking the time and reading this.