The Accidental Nurse

There’s a story I always tell on the first day of class – the story of how I came to be a nurse.

I don’t remember ever wanting to be anything else but a doctor, a pediatrician. I had a plan all laid out, B.S. Biology as pre-med, then immediately get into med proper, and then pediatric residency.

While lining up during freshman enrollment, there was a mother and daughter team in front of me. The daughter was concerned of “nursing” reaching the quota number of enrollees before she even got to the front of the line. I tell you, she was really on the verge of a panic attack. She wanted to get into the nursing program so bad. The mother was, of course, sympathetic and reassuring. She said there were “people” they can talk to, to make sure she gets in.

At the time, I’ve never been anywhere near a hospital, I’ve never met a nurse, never heard anyone talk about a nurse or wanting to be a nurse. But the mother and daughter exchange got me curious. What the heck is the deal about nursing? And why would people want to get in so bad, that a quota would be set, and a high High School GPA and NCEE (SAT, as it was during our time) score was necessary to qualify?

As the line moved on, I heard the man in charge ask the enrollees “what course?”. In my mind I was rehearsing the answer – biology, biology, biology. When my turn came, the man asked “what course?”. I answered “Nursing”! And that was it, that’s how I got into nursing. When my Mom asked how that happened, I had no answer. But the most plausible explanation was, I think, I was challenged. I wanted to see if I was up to the high standard.

Reality was, I really had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I didn’t even know how to be a nursing student, that on the first day of RLE (clinical), I came with my hair just pulled up, but not in a bun. I didn’t know that during RLE, my hair was not supposed to be touching the collar of my uniform. Only the first day and I already got a demerit for grooming. And although I tried so hard to get into the groove, I was really just floating through all through college. I never really settled in. But I didn’t want to back out either, so I just went on. Eventually, I graduated, got my license and started working as a staff nurse.

And that’s when I became a real nurse, by mind, and by heart.

17 years later, I think that no one will ever question the kind of nurse that I’ve become. And whenever I tell this story, I am more convinced that it was meant to be, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I often hear concerns about the kind of nurses we are producing nowadays, because most of the time, the reason that they’re there is never because they really wanted to be a nurse. But I’m not losing hope. My story can be theirs too.

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