May 2019- I proudly graduated from Duke University School of Nursing! This was such a joyful & relieving day! To have completed all of the school work and to be on the cusp of your dream career, is such a fantastic spot! 🙂
In my dream world, I would say that my life has gone “according to plan” but that’s impossible to say! especially when I was never really sure of what “my plan” even was?! In a world where everyone else seems so certain, I write this post for those of you out there who are working hard & still figuring it out… you are not alone & as tough as some days may seem, I encourage you to keep the faith & follow your heart!
I can’t even tell you how many times I questioned everything?! How did everyone else know what to do? Why did I have to make things so difficult? How did everyone else get it together so quickly? I just thought you graduated college & immediately moved into your dream house with your new family, what was going on?!
But good things take time… so here is my unconventional time line, since I lived to tell the tale 😉 May you find comfort in the chaos, encouragement or new ideas! You’re never too late to take on a new challenge!
Now here is the story of how I went all the way around my elbow to get to my thumb….
I moved to Boone, NC to attend Appalachian State University! This kid was the most naive, clueless, happy go lucky, stress free idiot I think there ever was! Oh to be 18! At this point I had no clue the magnitude of choosing a major- AKA: your future life or how many big decisions I had to make in such a short period of time.
My Papa Bill died. Losing my grandpa was one of the most painful points of my entire life, all it takes for me to cry on demand is to think of his last few days of life. My grandpa suffered from an extensive cardiac history & healthcare seemed like such a mystery to me… why did he have to go through this?!
Fortunately, by this point I had made some amazing new friends! I found myself surrounded by some of the most well rounded, goal oriented, dedicated & passionate women! Everyone was so inspiring & on a mission! What was I doing?!
I decided healthcare was the path for me, but I wasn’t sure what exactly? I went the pre-PA school route aka- the route with THE MOST prerequisite classes 😉 and next thing I knew I was knee deep in Chemistry, Biology, Health Promotion, Advanced Clinical Exercise Physiology, Biomechanics, Cardiac Rehabilitation, Anatomy… it was not easy. I had to re-wire my brain to figure out how to study, memorize, apply & understand. As painful as it was to learn all of this material, I was fascinated!! It’s amazing how much there is to learn about the human body & science in general.
Once I started getting into the theory of it all, I wondered- can I actually do this? What actual skills do I need & what are real jobs like? So I thought it would be no big deal to dual enroll at Caldwell Community College and complete their Emergency Medical Technician program… yikes! That semester I was enrolled in 22 credit hours and running thin, looking back I would’ve maybe waited to do this as a summer program but I was still able to make it work, I was learning time management skills, as well as plenty of other life skills during this time. Fortunately, I had Dillon to help make me dinner and I found my stride with community service.
The next semester, I really got into academic research! I spent a lot of time at the App State Vascular Biology & Autonomic Studies Lab and found amazing mentors within the program- Dr. Collier & Dr. Mudd. I even was able to get my own Office of Student Research grant & run my own research project!
My passion for healthcare took over and I began to understand the many components of wellness and how/why my grandfather suffered from so many preventable issues… I also began to understand how within reach a career in healthcare was & what a huge amazing opportunity it is to touch others lives & change them for the better!
So I took the show on the road & got involved as much as I could! Maybe just maybe I could spare someone the time it took me to finally understand it all! I coached a Girls on the Run team, which was so fun! These little elementary girls were knocking out 5Ks by the end of the season!
I worked in the Health Professions Office, the Wellness Center, Blowing Rock Elementary, College of Health Sciences, Hardin Park Elementary, Appalachian Regional Heathcare System… & I really enjoyed it!!
I got to see 2 of my very favorite friends I had worked alongside with get accepted to PA School, in fact it was actually Tim who had recommended I work at Fast Med like he had to get even more experience…
It took about half way through college for me to really find my stride and study like I should… after taking Chemistry 101 over 3 times I finally figured out the deal & made it through Organic, Biochem, Micro you name it! & not without the help of my brilliant friends!! I realized I couldn’t avoid long study guides, nights in the library, or lots of reading if I wanted to succeed.
5 action packed years later, I GRADUATED! With all of the extra classes I took, internships, summer school, course drops/retakes, major changes… I’m honestly impressed I got out in 5!? lol I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, minor- Health Promotion & Clinical Exercise Physiology concentration.
Shortly after graduation I attended the Campbell University Health Professions Readiness Program! It was such an honor to be accepted & I enjoyed an all expense paid week long experience with other potential health professionals. We learned so much about our possible future careers, applications, interviews & GRE prep.
I knocked out the GRE that summer & threw tons of cash at plenty of applications… but PRO TIP: unless you have a 4.0 don’t apply at the end of a rolling application cycle… your chances won’t be good… Hence, how I learned about organization & being extra on top of it when it comes to your future 😉
Summer 2014- I moved out of Boone and life as I knew it was over. My friends were no longer close by, the insane calendar filled with all of my fun busyness was clear, I had no money & no school semesters to lead me… No matter how much of a big shot you feel like in college, just know you are only 2 steps away from being a nobody & living with your parents upon graduation. & luckily they took me in!
Enter, my new FastMed life! Luckily I landed a full time job pretty quickly & it was within 20 minutes of home… this was where the real learning began. Up until this point I had lived in a bubble! 😉 I had never been yelled at by a stranger before?! lol Can you imagine!
At FastMed I learned how to work- long hours, policies, corporate life, walk in clinic life, unpredictable patients, late lunches/no lunches, 13 hr + days, insurance policies, deductibles, medication administration, provider relations, scheduling, customer service… I ran the front desk & back office- drug screens, xray imaging, blood draws, IV starts, paper work, triage, shots, physicals, DOT physicals… you just never knew!
I continued to work at FastMed for the next 2 years… I was blessed to have coworkers who lifted me up & supported me while I worked hard to figure it all out… Balancing school work, full time life, a long distance relationship & the pressures of your twenties, it was a lot!
I realized Urgent Care life wasn’t my destiny, but I did know I wanted to continue to pursue healthcare. Remote Area Medical clinics captured my heart & I partnered with this organization to provide health care to those in the rural US with limited access to services. One of the biggest clinics was at Bristol Motor Speedway & it was amazing!
At this point, I started to turn my attention towards nursing… So back to school- I added on some Psychology classes & retook every class I had a B- or lower in, I also re-upped my EMT certification. Every day I wasn’t at work, I was doing class work (Fall 2015-Summer 2016). This was a particularly lonely & very focused year. I was so happy to finish!
That summer I traveled to Tegucigalpa, Honduras with my aunt & her company Surgical Care Affiliates… in collaboration with One World Surgery to run an orthopedic surgery brigade, providing free orthopedic surgeries to eligible candidates! I rotated through PreOp, OR & PostOp areas throughout the week & it was so amazing to see how thankful the patients were!!
My medical Spanish improved throughout my time in Honduras, but not without garnering a few laughs with each conversation. I loved this opportunity to serve others! 10/10 recommend!
Later that year, I transitioned from FastMed to Alliance Medical! Burnout is real & I knew I needed a change. My next stop was a primary care office & cardiology office- offering many patient care testing & services. It was also Mon-Fri and offered a much more stable, positive work environment.
It was nerve wracking to start over completely new- but I learned quickly! I got the chance to do plenty of manual blood pressures, EKGs, prior authorizations, pace maker evals, Holter monitors, medication refills, scheduling, stress tests, POC testing… & it was also really fun to learn and work with regular established patients.
& again, somehow I lucked out with some of the very best coworkers!!
After getting settled at Alliance, I decided to pick up applications again! At this time I realized some nursing schools required a CNA license & some didn’t, but I didn’t want to exclude any option! So back to school I went- this time at Alamance Community College for CNA school, this was every Thursday + Saturday for 6 months & somehow I have so very few photos?! I met my bestie Clarissa at ACC, she & I studied like crazy to memorize those skills! & I would’ve never gotten certified without her! Skills are stressful no matter what!
I worked at Alliance for 1 1/2 years and it was my favorite! I hated to leave, but fortunately I was leaving to attend nursing school!
Application essays & submissions are tedious & daunting. When I heard back from Duke, I was shell shocked?! I had been denied from other programs & had other applications pending, but when I got this YES for their ABSN program, I knew it was the right path for me.
Once, I was accepted it took a lot of work to figure out a plan to actually attend- there were many financial aid meetings, discussions with my family, a proposal! 😉 moving considerations, etc etc before I knew I would actually, really attend! It was truly a dream realized & little did I know, just the beginning!
Just typing this all out makes me tired! But I don’t want to forget all of the unique experiences, wonderful people I met along the way or how much I learned during this time. Extreme periods of growth are challenging but so worthwhile. While sometimes I would get so discouraged that nothing was going right, really all of the pieces were coming together to prepare me for my career as a nurse!
Whatever goal you’re working towards, don’t give up! With some flexibility & focus you can achieve anything you want.