As everyone knows, nursing school is hard. For me, it was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
I envy every single one of you who has posted about the strengths and the struggles that you’ve endured throughout the journey to becoming a nurse, as I wanted to quit on multiple occasions.
I’m hoping that someone — even if it’s just one person — will read my story about being accepted into nursing school and will get the push they need to keep going too.
The Long Road to Nursing School
I was an ER tech at a local community hospital when I was first accepted into a nursing school. How exciting! Weeks after starting, the school lost its accreditation. I then decided to find another school that would accept me quickly because I knew I wanted to continue.
Bay State College in Massachusetts was right down the road, so I applied, and to my surprise, I didn’t get in because I didn’t meet the requirements of the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills). This delayed my acceptance to nursing school by a whole year.
I was devastated but knew what I had to do. In the mean time, Bay State accepted me into the health science program in September of 2017, and I began working on prerequisites. I also took the TEAS not once, but twice to ensure I would get accepted.
When I called my parents to tell them I was accepted into Bay State’s rigorous nursing program for the fall 2019 semester, they had bigger news to share with me.
My younger brother, Robert, who was currently going to physical therapy for what we thought was back pain, was diagnosed with a stage 4 Ewing Sarcoma. A tumor the size of a golf ball was wrapped around his spinal cord.
I made the decision to defer my acceptance into the nursing program until the following September. I knew that because I was the only somewhat medical professional in my family, I had to step up and become involved in my brother’s care. I had no idea what to expect, and I was terrified to say the least.
Robert’s cancer was in remission by August of the following year, and I was sure my nursing career would finally begin! I began going to classes on campus and fell in love with the SIM lab.
But weeks after my first semester, we discovered that Robert’s cancer had returned and spread. I chose to continue on with school and perform a balancing act – juggling multiple roles. Between working, going to school, and being my brother’s caretaker, most of my studying was done on public transportation and in the family waiting rooms of Massachusetts General Hospital. Yet, I was somehow, someway, passing all of my classes.
As if Life Weren’t Complicated Enough
Boom. The pandemic hits. I am working on the front line in the ER, my brother is receiving chemotherapy, and I can no longer be with him. My entire life flipped upside down. School went online, clinical was canceled, and I was really depressed. I knew my brother’s condition was worsening, and I couldn’t even be by his side.
Fast forward to November 2020. I’m finishing my fourth semester out of a five-semester program. My brother is still undergoing treatment for his cancer, and then the news hit. Some of the best doctors in the country told us that Robert’s cancer was spreading too fast and there wasn’t much more that could be done.
Just after Christmas, we decided to take Robert home. I took a leave of absence from the ER to be his personal care taker/“nurse,” and he was placed on hospice.
Two days before my senior semester began, my brother passed away peacefully with me by his side. My world stood still, but once again I knew what I had to do. I planned my brother’s wake, funeral, and celebration of life so my parents didn’t have to lift a finger. All I wanted them to do was attend the gatherings that I had planned.
The dean of my nursing program called me to express her condolences and offer me time off. She gave me the option to take the semester to relax, begin again in May, and graduate in August of 2021 instead. I knew my journey of becoming a nurse took longer than others, and I refused to wait and push this back any further. Five days after his services, I was back in class and catching up on missed assignments. I passed this semester with flying colors, knowing all along I had to do it for Robert.
Not only did I pass nursing school, I was granted the Dean’s Award for Perseverance during my pinning ceremony. I didn’t even think I would make it to my pinning ceremony, never mind be the recipient of this award. There were so many days I questioned medicine and my future, and I really wanted to quit.
Moral of the Story
The moral of my story is please don’t give up — ever. If I can do this, so can you. I hit every road block possible, I kept pushing even when I felt like I had no more strength. Being pinned by my best friend was the most amazing feeling. I really hope my story can shine light on someone who needs it. Despite it all, I did it. It wasn’t easy, but boy, was it worth it.
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