Four years ago, I was one of hundreds of students who enrolled in college for a course that I believed would provide a better, more secure future for myself as well as my family. Four years ago, if someone asked me if I knew what I was in for, I could’ve easily answered back without any second thoughts, “I want to serve people by caring for them, and I want to provide security for my family.”
In other words, I had absolutely no idea what I was in for, and it was only after I have studied four years of nursing that I gained insight of what I had gotten myself into.
I recall one time I was on duty in a medical ward, I was caring for a patient who had Cardiovascular Accident (CVA) and was paralyzed on one side of the body. She soiled her bed and needed help, and I was the only one in the room to help her. In that simple instance was when the reality hit—no, more like slapped me across the face. “Heck,” I said to myself, “this is what I am going to be doing for the rest of my life!”
If you would ask me what would be the most important thing I have learned after studying four years in college, you won’t hear me talk about any special nursing intervention, extensive surgical procedure, complex pathophysiology, or any complicated medical-surgical subject. Probably the most important thing I have learned from all those years is that, as a health care professional-to-be, you have to have passion for what you are and will be doing. It is never enough to say, “I want to serve people,” and it would be even more unforgivable to claim that the only reason you took up your course is to secure a future for your family. Let me tell you this now: earning money or having a secure future is never a strong enough motivation. Oh yes, it would get you somewhere, but it wouldn’t get you very far.
As an aspiring health care professional, you have to be ready to spend years studying in order to be a professional that would someday help save lives. You have to be willing to work hard to meet impossible deadlines, study long hours and sleep far less than you ever did your whole life (I’m talking about two or three hours a night, sometimes less); you’d have to be ready to respect impossible clinical instructors and professors in order to gain their approval.
You have to be ready to take care of complete strangers maybe even more than you get to take care of your own loved ones. You have to be ready to be as patient as you could ever be for patients who would fail to understand, as well as for co-workers and superiors who could and would belittle you in every way possible. You have to be ready to offer your life for this profession, and accept the reality that this is what you are going to be doing for the rest of your life.
Now, the things you’ve just read can only appear to you as two things: either you know deep within your bones that this is your calling, that you’re made for those kinds of things, and that all you have to say is, “Let’s get it on!” If this would be the case for you, then I have nothing more to say except “Congratulations! You’re on your way there!”
On the other hand, if it all appeared to you as something you couldn’t picture yourself doing, something almost close to a punishment you would never allow for yourself, then, come walk a little bit further with me, please. Let’s talk.
Being able to realize the situation you are in is one thing. What you do after you realize, though, is what’s more important. When that reality slapped me so brutally, it took me a lot of time before I was able to embrace it. Acceptance doesn’t happen in an instant, you know. It’s a process you would have to go through.
You see, before I went to college, I knew too well that the fervor burning inside me was meant for writing. And so when I was made to enroll for a medical profession, I felt as if I was placed inside a small box, deprived of the freedom I knew I was meant for. What was even worse was that I felt as if I couldn’t do anything about it, because if I insisted in having things the way I wanted them, it would only hurt and disappoint my family. So I let them have their way, soothing myself with the thought, “It couldn’t be so bad, now, can it?”
When things began to get more complicated though, and that was during the first few weeks of my second year in college, I felt that coming to class everyday was a waste of time. I felt I was stuck working hard for what I never really liked, and I felt frustrated because I was not doing what I really wanted to do. The feeling sucked the life out of me, and I couldn’t even imagine how I managed to go through everything even though I felt like that for a long time.
However, things changed when I began to go on duty in different hospital settings during my third year. After I’ve met and worked with people in the same profession, and after I’ve handled patients of various sorts and with different needs, I slowly began to really see what I had gotten myself into.
I was finally able to realize that for a long time, I was already inside a box without me being aware of it—a box I’ve put myself into. I confined myself to the belief that I was meant to be a writer because I thought at that time that it was the only thing I was good at, and probably, the same reason, the same excuse, why I was bound to fail nursing.
I realized I was so wrong, because once you developed a strong conviction for something, you can be good at anything. I realized that you don’t have to be doing something you love in order to be successful. God designed us to be constantly growing, constantly changing, multi-tasking individuals, and that is why He gave us the ability to learn—to be able to do anything!
I realized, too (yes, I was able to realize many things), that I wasn’t at all deprived of the chance to do something. In fact, I was given the chance to do more!
I want you, yes you, to realize some things, too. Friend, you are already where you are, and there is definitely a reason why you are there. And unless you try to realize that, you will never begin to do better. The only thing left to do is to make it work, instead of sulking over the fact that “I have no freedom!”, or, “This is all too much!” You are not a kid anymore. You are now a young adult, expected to be able to decide and work hard for himself. This isn’t a playground. You have to work your way through this minefield, and hope you get into your area of profession with all vital parts intact. The earlier you realize this, the more time you have to accept, to grow, and to mature.
Don’t be stuck up. Okay, so you’re in college, and it’s far worse than you imagined. So, get over it! Defy your own limits, and begin to accept the destiny that you, and no one else but you, are making for yourself. Remember this: No one could ever tell you to stop… except yourself.
I didn’t write this article to make anyone feel good about themselves. This piece is not meant to serve as ‘pampalubag-loob’ to anyone who thinks that he isn’t made for this. And besides, there is no such thing as a wrong choice. What’s wrong is when you choose for yourself, and then you won’t stick up for it. That’s just bull.
I wrote this to sum up the things I’ve learned, and, yes, realized, during college. Sometimes, it is only in jotting everything down, and then reading your own words afterwards, that you are able to see and appreciate how much you’ve grown.
Before I left the client’s room, she told me, “’Nak, salamat ha? Alam kong pupuwede ka namang tumawag ng ibang nars sa labas, pero ikaw pa rin ang tumulong sa akin. Salamat, ija. Sana’y huwag kang magbabago kahit maging nars ka na.”
As I closed the door, I felt a feeling that was both strange and lovely at the same time. In just that simple instance, I became part of that person’s life, and the thing is, she was happy that I was there for her. I felt more than thankful that I was left alone in that room, because if I hadn’t, then I wouldn’t have been able to realize. And I wouldn’t have been able to begin to gladly accept that this is what I am going to be doing for the rest of my life.
I studied four excruciatingly hard years of nursing, and still, all I gained is an insight, a mere idea, a sort of “tunnel view”, of what I am going to be doing for the rest of my life. I never said I knew everything I need to know already, even though I’ve already been able to realize a hundred different things a hundred different times. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I know I’m still up for more slaps on the face. Patients wouldn’t always be as grateful as Mrs. “You Made Me Realize” (word for the day), employment rates wouldn’t always be as high, and I’m sure sinister co-workers and brutal superiors are not very far away. But you know what? After four long, fruitful years of building a strong conviction for myself, I could only say, “Let’s get it on!”
Tip: Whenever things would get tough, just close your eyes, bow your head, and whisper silently, “Lord, give me the strength, the courage, and the wisdom I need.” Trust me, it works every time.
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