opening my eyes

It has been just over a year since I graduated from UCLA, and it simultaneously feels like this has been one of the longest years ever but also somehow I blinked and it disappeared. Day to day I have worked harder and persevered through more than I had ever expected but on the whole time sure has flown.

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I had no idea what nursing school would bring or the things that I would see along the way. I’m 10 months out of 15 in and have learned so much more than I ever expected.

One of the things nursing school has done for me is that it has opened my eyes to see people of all walks of life. It has brought me into conversations with people that I ordinarily would never connect with. It has taught me that bad things can happen to any of us – whether physically or mentally. It has made me truly see that mental illness does not discriminate. It has opened my ears to listen to each individual person’s perspective – whether I agree with it or not. It has allowed me to realize that we as humans are all so much more similar than we could imagine – that we all have struggled more than we let on; that we are all so much stronger than we realize.

I know this probably all sounds a little cheesy. But every word of it is true. From clinicals at a psychiatric facility, to attending an AA meeting, to helping out at a homeless shelter and playing with kids in daycare, nursing school truly has brought me into so many places and situations and for that I am so grateful.

Nursing school also has helped me to realize that nothing is black and white. There is no perfect solution to treat a disease nor is there a perfect way to care for someone. There is no way to have a perfect healthcare system and there is no way to make everyone like you. This world sure as heck is messy. But getting to walk through the mess with people and connect with them on a deeper level has been one of the greatest gifts that I’ve been given.

I’m so thankful that I found nursing because I don’t think that there is a more perfect career for me. I know that once I’m out there practicing as a nurse it’s probably going to be one of the hardest things that I ever will do. But it’s what God put me on this earth for and that’s pretty cool.

xo

why a second degree?

Back when I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life a year or two ago, I would have absolutely loved to be able to read someone’s blog about their experience going to nursing school. I really didn’t know much about the process of getting a second degree other than that you pretty much needed a BSN to be a nurse. Thankfully my best friend from high school was in nursing school and graduating at the time, so I was able to pick her brain about a lot of nursing school questions (thanks, Nicole! <3) as well as ask a few people I knew who were doing a second degree program about what it was like. I don’t think I would be here today without them!

So, I figured that writing about nursing and nursing school would be a great thing to do while I’m in it (as opposed to looking back) so that anyone who may be interested in nursing school has an honest opinion and another person’s experience to read about. Without further ado, here we go!

Once I figured out that I wanted to go into nursing (which is a story for another day) after volunteering in a few hospitals, I started researching schools that had nursing programs to figure out the process of applying and what I needed to do for applications. I ended up discovering that there are quite a few schools that do accelerated BSN programs for people like me, who would already have a bachelor’s degree by the time nursing school started. There were programs that were just the accelerated BSN but also a lot of programs that combined the BSN + MSN all in one to fast track you to becoming an NP.

To be perfectly honest, the idea of signing myself up for 3 more years of school to become an NP was way too overwhelming for me. I didn’t consider it much because I wanted to make sure that I really did love nursing, and also wanted to get some experience working as a nurse. A lot of the programs have you pick a specialty as well, and since I had no idea what I wanted to do in relation to nursing, I decided against it for the time being. (There are a lot of varying opinions on this as NPs are becoming a more prevalent role in the healthcare field. I had a million people ask me why I wasn’t getting my master’s and a lot of people suggest being an NP. But I decided that it wasn’t right for me right now).

So, I started sorting through programs and looking at what you needed to apply, including prerequisite classes. I started doing this around the end of my junior year at UCLA and over the summer before my senior year. A lot of schools require a few different prerequisites and it was a little frustrating to me to have to sort through them and try to strategically pick where to apply so that I didn’t have to take five jillion classes. I ended up being able to plan a few of my classes in my senior year (like microbiology and microbiology lab) that would apply for my major and also cover prerequisite requirements, which was a huge blessing! I also took night classes on top of my regular courseload during my senior year to get classes done on time. It wasn’t easy but I’m so glad I did it, since I didn’t want to take a bunch of time off between my degrees.

Something to note is most of the schools don’t require you to have your prerequisite classes done before you apply – just before school starts – which gives you a bit of leeway time to get everything done! I ended up taking a class online over spring and into summer to finish things out.

(Fam at my UCLA graduation!)

Another thing that I took into consideration for applying to programs was where I wanted to live. I knew that I wanted to get out of LA, and unfortunately a lot of the second degree programs in California were located in southern California. So I started researching places to live as well as schools so that I would end up somewhere I enjoyed living. I ended up applying to schools in Portland, Nashville, and Atlanta. The second degree programs were also weird in that a bunch of them started at different times, so that’s why I was okay with only applying to three schools. I figured if I didn’t get into any of them, then I could just reapply to different schools for the winter term!

Thankfully, I ended up getting into 2 out of the 3 schools, and between the two that I got into, going to Emory was a no-brainer. The nursing program at Emory is currently ranked #4 in the nation and I fell in love with Atlanta when I came to visit (I remember being so in awe of how GREEN everything was! Haha!). Rank isn’t super important in the grand scheme of things, but going to a school that is well-known in terms of getting a job was relatively important to me since I want to make sure I’m employed after this whole shebang.

So, that’s how I ended up here in Atlanta! I am almost halfway through my 15-month program and it sure is flying by.

If you have any specific questions for me about nursing/nursing school or life in general feel free to shoot me an email or fill out that contact form anytime!

Happy hump day, y’all! Hope your week is treating you well!!

xo