For 10 years, I was fortunate to be able to stay home with my daughter, Casey. During those 10 years, I learned a lot. Previously, I never wanted to go into a medical profession, but I had to learn things to provide my daughter with the care she needed. I was constantly learning new things to better care for my daughter.
After Casey passed away, I considered going back to my earlier profession in tech, but it just wasn’t a good fit anymore. I wanted to stay connected to the amazing families I met through my daughter and I wanted to somehow find a way to help.
I decided to go back to school to become a nurse. For all the parents reading this that have had this same thought, I want to communicate some of my experiences to help you make a more informed choice.
First, nursing school is no joke! It is hard, competitive and time-consuming. Choose your nursing school wisely. The best schools are also academically challenging and more competitive. I decided to go with the program that was both affordable and ranked the best year after year. Not surprisingly, these two factors made it that much more competitive to be admitted.
The first year back in school was rough. I had not been a student in 20 years. Getting my brain back to the mode of studying, assignment dates and tests took some practice. There are a lot of science prerequisites that must be completed before you can even apply for the nursing program. Due to the challenging nature of the study, many nursing students don’t make it past this first year.
Once you get through the prerequisites, you need to pass another test then apply for the nursing program. When I was accepted to the nursing program, I was so excited to dive into my classes. Each semester is structured to include classwork, lab work and clinicals. You don’t receive your clinical assignments until shortly before the semester begins.
There are a few advantages to being a parent of a child with complex medical needs. We go in knowing a lot more than the average student. This knowledge can also pose a challenge. There are skills that are taught that must be performed in a very specific way. As a parent, we may already know how to do this skill the way it is done in the real world. That doesn’t matter. You must do it the way the instructors teach you.
This part was hard for me early on. I had to learn to separate my past experiences and how the program wanted me to do things. However, I also had some advantages on the clinic side of training. I knew how to talk to patients and their families. I had seen so many good and bad examples of health care as a patient that I was very comfortable interacting with patients. Many of my classmates really struggled with this part.
There were challenges, too. Some patients were going through things that were close to home. I had to learn to keep myself out of it and just be present for the patient.
Having a story and a reason I wanted to be a nurse helped me get scholarships to pay for school. Having real-life experiences, good grades, and knowing many people in the medical field really helped me get the job that I wanted right out of school.
If this is something you are thinking of doing, I think it is one of the best choices I have ever made. Plan to put in the work and know it will not be easy, but if you can be a parent of a child with complex medical needs, you can be an amazing nurse.
Marty has shared many stories of her journey and daughter Casey. You can find them here.
“Being a mom is like jumping out of a plane with a bunch of people who don’t know how to open their own chutes. So you fly around doing it for them. Then you hit the ground. But you don’t die. You get up and you cook dinner.” -Unknown
Categories: Family Support