I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was very young–probably since I was ten years old. I’ve had other interests along the way, but I always came back to wanting to be a nurse. I love the idea of working with people. I love the idea of making a difficult time in someone’s life a little bit easier. (And I love biographies of medical missionaries like Ida Scudder.)
When I graduated from high school in May of 2013, I knew I wanted to go to nursing school someday, but as a sixteen year old I was simply too young. My family moved to State College in March of 2014, and by the end of the following year I was working in a café that friends from our church opened as an outreach in the charming college town of Penn State University. I loved working at Sowers Harvest Cafe, and for a while I almost forgot about wanting to be a nurse. I loved getting to know our customers, working with an amazing team of coworkers, and being a witness for Jesus. (And, of course, serving good food and coffee.)
I come from a very smart family, where we value education and strive for excellence in all things academic. I don’t see myself as being as smart as my siblings, and it’s probably safe to say that because of that, I’ve always seen myself as less valuable. So I felt that in order to make myself worth something, if I ever went into nursing I’d have to go the whole way. I wanted to be a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree.
While that was an excellent thing to work towards (even though my motive wasn’t right), it was completely impractical. For one, I wasn’t ready to give up my job at the café, and secondly, my family needed me. My brothers were both gone a lot at school, and that left me at home. I realized that if I would go to college, it would have to be part time. Which meant eight years just to get a bachelor’s degree, which in my nineteen year old mind sounded like a very long time.
Suddenly my plan didn’t sound so appealing anymore.
I tried to open my mind to other options. I looked into physical therapy assistant programs, I visited a medical technology school… but something always held me back. Looking back, I think it was God shutting the doors. He knew I wasn’t ready to go to school yet.
When we moved back to Lancaster in 2017, I was really struggling with finding my way through all the pain, the adjustments, and the uncertainties. I wanted a job in food service, because I knew I’d be comfortable in that field. That only lasted for a few months though. I was worn out from my hectic job, and when my sister was hospitalized again in February of 2018, I knew I needed to be more available at home.
I’m so thankful I did quit that job. I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t. A couple months later, with my sister stable, I realized I could think about my future again. I looked into nursing school again, but I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream to be an RN with a bachelor’s, and I wasn’t ready to commit to being in school for several years.
My mom suggested I apply as a secretary or in dining at a nursing home, so I could see if working there as a nurse would be something I’d be interested in someday. I applied for a position in dining, and I’ve been happily working there ever since.
As time went by, I came to realize a couple things. First, education or status doesn’t make me more or less valuable. I can and should be proud of whatever I do, as long as I’m doing it for the right reasons. And secondly, I realized that I really like what the LPNs do at the nursing home where I work.
But, over the summer I had really settled in to my job, and was ready to have a quiet fall working part time, studying Greek, and going to orchestra rehearsals.
Then one afternoon toward the end of August, I started looking at the requirements for LPNs at a local college. A week later I decided just to apply to the school, and see if maybe I could take one class or something. I was accepted (acceptance to the school is automatic), and began brushing up on math for the placement test. Before I knew what was happening, I had taken the placement test and was studying biology for the entrance exam to nursing school!
My school is quite competitive, and my deadline was extremely tight. I didn’t think I would make it. I kept talking over all the possibilities with my family, trying to figure out a better plan. Since I only had two weeks to study for the TEAS, I knew there was a possibility I wouldn’t get a good enough grade to be accepted. In the end, I decided that I would give it my best shot considering my time crunch, and if I didn’t get in, then it wasn’t meant to be.
I did get in.
The whole thing was such a miracle. I had to take the test by September 23rd in order to be sure my results would be in by the 28th, which was the deadline to apply to the clinical portion of the nursing program. All the seats at the Lancaster campus were full, and the only seats available in Harrisburg were for the 25th and 27th. I reserved a seat on the 25th, hoping my results would show up fast enough to apply on the 28th.
I left two hours before my test time, and it should have taken me less than an hour to get to campus. The turnpike going west was closed, however, and me being me, I of course had no idea that was the direction I was going. I was forced to get on going the wrong way and figured I’d get off at the first exit and turn around and hope that my GPS would re-route me. Of course I also didn’t know that meant driving 13 miles one way and back just to get exactly nowhere. (What is a “limited access” highway anyway?) A half hour and a few tears later, I got on a different highway, finally headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, all the traffic that would have been on the turnpike was now on this highway too. Oh and did I mention it was raining? Or maybe I should say, pouring. I texted my family and asked them to pray. By this time, I was crying, and had no idea if I would even make it in time for my test.
I drove in to campus five minutes before test time. Thankfully, there were signs for the testing center, and I found it without a problem. I ran in, signed a paper, sat down at a computer, and barely had time to take a breath before it was time to start. The sweet girl at my table introduced herself and asked me if it was my first or second time taking the test. That really freaked me out. Apparently it’s pretty common for people to re-take the TEAS. I realized then that if God wanted me to make it in to nursing school now, He was going to have to keep up the miracles, because it was so beyond my control.
One month and a ridiculous amount of paperwork later, I was again at one of those places where I really needed a miracle. I got my first flu shot and had a weird reaction to it. I still had to get some other vaccines, and I was scared. The last thing I needed was trouble with a mumps vaccine.
Plus, because of the difficult health situations at home, it looked nearly impossible for nursing school to actually happen. Paul will be away this spring semester, Andrew will be working, and I’ll be in school almost full time.
But like I’ve said before, if God wants me to do this, He’s going to have to make it happen, because it’s completely beyond my control. I’ve done my part, and it’s in His hands. I know it’s safe there.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
In November, I took two CLEP tests for general education credits. My time was very limited, and I wasn’t sure if I would pass either of them, but God did two more miracles, and I am now finished with English composition and psychology. If I had failed the English Comp CLEP test, I might not have been able to handle the increased credit load of this coming semester. If I had failed the Psychology CLEP test, I would have had to have taken psych and sociology during my spring break. (I have the final Greek intensive during my fall break.)
My schedule has been incredibly full, and is not letting up any time soon. I just finished a four week intensive Human Biology class. It’s normally a 15-week class, so condensed into four weeks made it pretty intense! I guess that’s why they call it an intensive… 🙂 Plus working weekends between studying five days a week was stretching! But, it went very well, and I’m glad to have completed one more step in this journey. One really fun thing about the biology class was discovering that so much of the terminology is from Latin and Greek. It’s so amazing to figure out the meanings and origins of words based on their Greek roots!
Today I had my first day of clinical. It was very exciting and a little nerve wracking! I’m so grateful for the incredible support of my family and friends. There are still a few things that have to fall into place within the next few weeks, including some last minute paperwork, but I continue to trust that since God has called me and walked with me this far, He’s not going to let me down now.
I have confidence in what I am doing right now, because I know if God hadn’t helped me, it wouldn’t be happening. I didn’t do this on my own. Yes, I’ve been working very hard and putting everything I have into my studies, but ultimately if it wasn’t for the miracles… I wouldn’t have studies to do right now.
Philippians 1:6 “I am sure of this, that the one who began this good work in you will bring it about until the day of Jesus Christ.” (AT)
One thought on “On Becoming A Nurse Part One”
Wow! That’s amazing! It sounds like you’ve been really hugely busy. And way to go with realizing where your identity comes from, and then stretching yourself to get where you need to be! This was such an encouraging blog post because I struggle with finding my identity in what I do (vs. who I am in God) a lot. Keep up the great work!