In what seemed like a whirlwind of a couple days, I have both gone and come back from DC. My graduate school program at The George Washington University, while an online program, has a few on campus requirements, including orientation. So on Sunday, I hopped on a bus and headed south for a couple days. Kimmy was gracious enough to let me sleep on her couch, and I felt like a real DCer for a few days as I navigated the Metro and visited the monuments during lunch. (Okay, real DCers probably don’t do that, although runner Josh told me that he did run by Lincoln on a lunch run, so that counts for something.)
Anyway, as I announced a few months ago, I’m attending GW for their online Family Nurse Practitioner program, which I am doing part time while continuing to work at the hospital in NYC. I’ll take two classes per semester, and my clinicals start with health assessment in my fourth semester, then all clinicals in my last year. So right now, a bunch of book work. Orientation was a bunch of, “Hello! Welcome to the university! We’re excited you’re here! It’s going to be hard! No dinner plans until December! Find your clinical sites now! THIS IS GOING TO BE HARD!”
Okay, well, that’s fine. It sounds like when I started my accelerated BSN program at Rush and they basically told us we wouldn’t have a life for all of 2008. While I did study a lot, I also commuted about three hours per day, worked the weekends, saw my friends, and maintained a long distance relationship. (My mom also did my laundry and made me dinner most of the time…perks of living at home.) So needless to say, I’m not all that worried. And now I have something to do with my night shift insomnia, hooray! ha.
Orientation was a lot of talk, but some interesting points were said (none were running related, sorry?), that made me think and want to share. Feel free not to read my babble.
create a “don’t” list
So I admittedly scoffed a bit when they had a wellness coach come talk to us about taking care of ourselves…we’re adult learners and nurses, right? Okay, well, she had a point with this one. We all have “to do” lists and bucket lists, but what about a “don’t” list? Don’t keep saying yes to things you don’t like, don’t keep making plans with that friend who never follows through, don’t go to something just so you can say you did. It’s not productive, it drains on you, and when work/school/real friendships/relationships pile up, get rid of the bad stuff. I like it. (Things that will never be on my “don’t” list: Watching the Bachelor(ette), running.)
no crying on the yacht
This one needed a little bit of explaining…but you know how people complain about situations that they put themselves? “Omg, I’m so busy because I have to run and work and have dinner plans and then happy hour and write my blog.” Well, everything (except work, most likely) is something we choose to do. So I may complain about fitting in a run, and I will certainly complain about school at some point in the next three years, I’ve chosen to put myself in these situations, so no crying about it. (I will complain about night shift, however, you can’t stop me.)
we’re becoming experts in the human reaction to disease
Family nurse practitioners are mainly taught to work in primary care settings, where prevention, education, and caring for all aspects of the individual are part of the experience. You don’t walk into an ER and expect all that, but in an ideal primary care setting, discussions would occur around your high blood pressure and how taking a medication every day affects your life, how you should change your diet/exercise habits, etc. Not that doctors don’t focus on this, but I feel like nursing has a strong relationship with the holistic nature of disease and treatment, and not in an “I’m taking herbs instead of pills” kind of situation. When you’re a patient in the hospital, I know that knowing whether or not you like two pillows instead of one, or if you don’t like to take your morning medications until after breakfast is important to you. Unless you’ve worked with people, you don’t necessarily get that. A diagnosis affects people more than just physiologically, and I look forward to being able to work within all aspects of that.
it’s not about us, it’s about the patients
This phrase was said early on in orientation. While this FNP program is about us advancing our education, getting a masters degree….it’s not really about us. It’s about the patients we’ll treat in the future, and everything we learn now will help us better take care of them in the future. This is definitely important to keep in mind because major changes to our health care system will be taking place in the three years I’m in school. (To make it all about me…that means job opportunities when I graduate!!)
lots of talk about taking care of families/children
The program made many references to students having husbands and families, and how you may need to hire someone to help clean your house, what to do if you need to take time off because a child gets sick, how you need to set aside time where everyone knows you’re going to study. Nursing is extremely female-dominated (in a room of over 100 students, maybe five were male?), and it made me wonder if other programs had discussions like this. And if they don’t…should they? Do MBA programs talk about this? Med school? With all this “lean in” and “can women do it all” talk lately, it just got me thinking. Are we holding ourselves back with talks like this, or being realistic? Also, the only other thing I have to take care of besides myself is Gatsby, and despite being an elephant, he doesn’t eat much or make much of a mess, so I count my blessings there.
hard vs challenging
I strongly dislike when someone stands in front of me and tells me that something is going to be hard. They did it in nursing school…and honestly, nursing school wasn’t all that hard. Other people stood in front of us and told us the program would be challenging. Was nursing school challenging? Yes, I would agree with that. The words have very similar meanings, but different connotations. I don’t expect this program to be hard, but challenging…I’ll give you that.
do you need to be a person with a name people remember?
We had many big name people come talk to us about other people who have names that people remember. They then explained to us that we could be that person one day…that we could sit on a board of executives and make big decisions. But…what if that’s not what you want? Do you need to become a person/position such that people remember your name? On daily basis as a nurse, patients forget my name. It’s written on the white board in their room, but with so many nurses (and much more important things going on in their lives), they don’t remember my name even during my shift. Despite this, they remember actions. They remember how I had them hold a pillow to their stomach to help them stand up after abdominal surgery, or how I found them a charger for their phone before it died. These things are important too, even if they don’t remember my name for it.
and lastly…how would life be different?
They didn’t talk about this during orientation, but as I walked around GW’s campus, I noticed students moving into their dorms. Ten years ago, I moved into my dorm (Denton 8!) at the University of Maryland. Little known fact: my final decision about schools came down to Maryland and GW…I thought I could try to run for GW, or I could have the “big school with sports teams” atmosphere at Maryland. I thought about it a lot, decided I didn’t want running to be my life, wanted a football team, and chose Maryland. Watching students move into their dorms, I wondered what my life would be like now if I had gone to GW instead…where would I be? Would I be a nurse? Would I be in NYC? And to quote my mother, “Where’s all that money they offered you back then??” Ha, wouldn’t that be nice…
So, lots of babble and lots to think about. While I’m not all that excited about taking research classes, I am excited for a couple years from now when I learn about disease processes, ordering tests, diagnosing, and treating. Meggie and I are already discussing our clinic to open in 2020, so please plan your pregnancies for around then.
I did get to see a few while sites I was in DC, as GW is right near the White House and a bunch of monuments. Gatsby and I took a tour, so here’s a photographic reward for reading all my thoughts…
And a visit to my favorite memorial, the World World II Memorial…
I grabbed dinner with a couple college friends (hi Dan and Ben!) before hopping on the train back to NYC. I really should take the train more often, it is a million times better (and more expensive, fail) than the bus. I ordered my books when I got home (Amazon rental with free Amazon prime for students? YES PLEASE.), and now I’m officially in the GW Class of 2016. That sounds really far away…
Now that that was the longest blog post of all time, any reactions? Do people know your name? Do you want them to? What’s on your “don’t” list? Does your job talk about work/life/taking care of your family balance? Do you cry on the yacht? SO MANY QUESTIONS.