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The Decision to Return to School and Enter an RN to BSN Program, Term Paper Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1378

Term Paper

The decision to return to school and enter an RN to BSN program was not one that I made lightly, nor was it one that has been without complications.  I have been working in the health care field since the age of twenty-one, and I have tried several different health-care related ‘careers’ over the last two decades with varying degrees of success.  The undergraduate course work that I have completed in my journey towards completing my degree has taught me many practical skills that will assist me in becoming a compassionate and highly-competent RN.  However, some of the personal skills that I have developed during my schooling are even more valuable, primarily because they have taught me that I possess patience, resilience, and leadership skills of which I had not previously been aware.

Specifically, I have found that the undergraduate courses have challenged me to step out of my personal comfort zone and become more involved in classroom and group activities.  It surprised me, initially, that I would find myself reluctant to speak up in class, especially when I had done the required readings and knew the correct answer.  In my professional life working in the field of respiratory therapy, I have never had difficulty advocating for myself or my clients.  I have often been able to speak bluntly and with professional candor to those who are hierarchically above me when I know that it is in the best interest of my clients.  How is it that I could speak without fear to busy and often aggressive doctors, but find myself stumbling on my words in front of a classroom full of my peers?  After a great deal of reflection, I have decided that much of this nervousness stems from the differences in age and life experience that exist between some of my classmates and myself.  I am older than some of them, and I have been working professionally for over fifteen years.  One would think that this would give me increased confidence, however, it seems to have worked in the opposite manner.  At the beginning of my courses, I found it difficult to relate to my peers–so many of their interests and concerns seemed so far away from my own.  As I was juggling a job, a husband, and children, they were worried about their social lives and whether they would be able to borrow money from their parents to go on vacation.  This chasm between us made it difficult for me to speak up in class, and I found that my overall learning experience was suffering from my silence.

I realized that I had two choices:  I could continue as I had been, stifling my own voice because of unfounded fears that I might be made uncomfortable in front of these younger students; or, I could accept that my age, experience, and background have made me the person that I am and would continue to contribute, in the future, to my ability to excel as a nurse.  In retrospect, this doesn’t seem like such a difficult choice.  However, the first time that I raised my hand to disagree with a classmate’s statement made me feel as if I was back in elementary school again.  I felt dizzy, sweaty, and utterly unlike myself.  It seemed as if a thousand eyes were staring at me, waiting for me to fail.  But, still, I opened my mouth and spoke my piece and the sky didn’t fall on me nor did the floor open up and swallow me whole.  People nodded in agreement, and the teacher thanked me for my comments.  And that was it.  That was all it took to erase the fears that had been building in me throughout the semester.  After that day, I no longer had a problem speaking in class and even began making personal connections with some of the younger students who had intimidated me so badly up to that point.

These relationships were incredibly instructive because they showed me that, not only had my fears been unfounded, but they were similar to the fears that my younger peers had also been experiencing.  I soon learned that my classmates had been intimidated by me, and were somewhat in awe of the amount of experience that I brought to the classroom and by the way that I carried myself (as one girl told me) as if I knew all the answers.  This taught me a valuable lesson about how the way we perceive events and people can differ hugely from the way things actually are.  This is something that I will be able to apply to my career in nursing , especially when it comes to ‘reading’ the emotions and moods of the people around me.  For example, if it seems as if a co-worker or client is angry or distant, I might have initially thought that they had a problem with me personally and wondered what I’d done to deserve such a reaction.  I now realize that not everything has to be about me; perhaps this hypothetical coworker had a fight with her husband the night before and is still not over the upset; or perhaps this hypothetical client is nervous about the potential outcomes of her illness and is taking those emotions out on those around her, for lack of a better outlet.

It goes without saying that my coursework has been crucial to developing my academic skills and teaching me about areas of nursing that I had not previously given much thought to.  Through taking courses that address issues of leadership and ethics in nursing, I have become a more well-rounded and knowledgeable professional.  These courses have presented many challenges, especially because it has been difficult to learn about multiple body systems (as opposed to just being aware of one system in respiratory therapy).  I have also been challenged on a daily basis to try and maintain a successful work/school/life balance that allows me to meet all of my obligations without burning out completely.  Again, these are lessons that I will be able to incorporate into my professional life after graduation.  Multitasking is a valuable skill in nursing, where one might have to simultaneously care for multiple patients with a variety of different health issues, personalities, and needs.  Thus, I am glad that I’ve learned how to handle many different tasks and requirements at the same time, because I wouldn’t be a very effective nurse if I could only focus on a single element of care (or a person) at one time.

When I returned to school, I was both confident that I knew a great deal and full of trepidation about being able to handle multiple responsibilities.  As I mentioned previously, these fears were magnified exponentially once I was in a classroom setting where I had to interact with people whom I found intimidating.  However, after having confronted these issues, I believe that I will be a stronger and more compassionate nurse.  I have learned so much about not judging people based on surface information, and I know now how important it is to develop active listening skills so that I might hear what my clients and coworkers are telling me on a deeper level.  For example, a client might complain about a headache.  I could dole out medicine and walk away, or I could listen to her talk about the stress in her life and the way her headaches seem to get worse when she’s particularly tired or has had a fight with a family member.  My ability to treat clients is directly tied to my ability to listen to them with interest, empathy, and open-mindedness.  My only regret regarding my undergraduate academic experiences is that it took me so long to speak up in class and deal with the unwarranted issues that I had with my classmates.  I have since found them to be a wonderful group of people who have been eager to help me deal with any personal or classroom challenges.  I know that I will be a much better nurse for having allowed this diverse group of students to connect with me personally, and I intend to take the lessons that I’ve learned both inside and outside the classroom and apply it to my professional life as much as I can.

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