The Day I Got Into Nursing School Was the Worst Day of My Life

By | 2023-05-03T15:48:16-04:00 May 26th, 2021|23 Comments

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

Courtney Whyte

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.

Share your nurse stories with us!


About the Author:

Courtney Whyte, ADN
Courtney Whyte, ADN, currently works at Morton Hospital in Taunton, Massachusetts, as an ER tech and is preparing to take the NCLEX.


  1. Avatar
    Dianne May 26, 2021 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    What an Amazing achievement …You are a pillar of strength & resilience! Your patients will be blessed to have you care for them!!

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    Stacy May 26, 2021 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    Amazing story!!! I don’t know you personally but I took the TEAS test last week and was 4 points away from that passing grade to apply for the nursing program. I have been bummed but I am taking it again!!! I absolutely loved your story and you have inspired me to never give up!!! Sorry for the loss of your brother. Congrats you did it!!!!

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    Corinne May 27, 2021 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    You’re an inspiration, Court. I know Robert is looking down and all around you, being so damn proud, of his big sister! You were born for this field. Not many can do it. I wish you all the best.

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      MarybEickenheiser June 19, 2021 at 3:06 pm - Reply

      You have the foundation, grit, and determination to be a nurse who makes a difference. These are the qualities needed to be a great nurse and your life thus far exhibits that clearly to me. Onward ho!

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    Maria Habib May 27, 2021 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Congratulations!!! This is the most inspiring story I have read! I’m on the road towards speech pathology and have two autistic brothers. It’s challenging balancing out all the different responsibilities such as school, work, extracurricular activities, and family. Your story really motivates me to take advantage of all the opportunities and to work hard without giving up regardless of what life hits you during the journey! You are an amazing sister and will be a wonderful nurse! ❤️❤️❤️

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    Tanya May 27, 2021 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    You are amazing! May your brother’s memory always be in your heart! My condolences and congratulations to you! What an ACCOMPLISHMENT with so many obstacles! Blessings to you!

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    Joanna May 27, 2021 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    Kudos to you.
    Yes, nurses need strength as well as caring.

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      Alida Gonzalez June 21, 2021 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      Congratulations. Perseverance always pays off. You will be an amazing nurse because of your experiences and hard work. Good luck and keep on striving forward. You will be surprised as to how many patients’ lives you will touch.Thank you for sharing your story.
      From an experienced RN that knows of struggles and achievements.

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    Kim June 6, 2021 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Your story is such an inspiration. You faced several tough challenges but never gave up. I’m sure your brother and parents are so proud of you. Your story is inspiring to others .Best of luck to you in yiur future endeavors.😊

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    Linda June 7, 2021 at 8:29 am - Reply

    Congratulations! Your family is so blessed to have you as well as all of your future patients!

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      Pat June 20, 2021 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Your story and testimony is an inspiration! You are a blessing to those you have never met, Me. Thank you for sharing your strength and truth. You will continue to SOAR😇

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    Denise Jacob, RN, PhD June 19, 2021 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Courtney, I am so sorry for your loss and so glad that you are willing to share this story and persevere toward your nursing goals. As a fellow RN, I know that all of your experiences with your brother will make you a better nurse which is a legacy to his life.
    I know that you will touch lives in amazing and powerful ways.

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    Gwen June 19, 2021 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    I read your story, and although I’ve been a nurse for many years, I was encouraged by reading it. I have another task that I’d like to accomplish and it involves lots of study and preparation… Certification Exam. My condolences to you and your family. You endured and your perseverance shows your true dedication to taking care of others. This journey fir you us just beginning….it won’t be easy, but it’s very worth it! Best of luck on passing the NCLEX.

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    Briana Lucas June 19, 2021 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    I am SO GLAD that I read this story ❤ this is the push/inspiration I needed to hear as I just lost my father 3 months ago. I took care of him from the time he was diagnosed to the time he took his last breath. I am an LPN, and I have been convincing myself to just settle and stopped taking my prerequisites – I literally gave up. But your story really touched me, I know your parents and late brother are so proud of you 😍

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    Diana Martinez June 20, 2021 at 9:51 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a tale of inspiration, compassion, loss and inner strength.
    Congratulations and best wishes in your future endeavors.

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    Joanne June 20, 2021 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    Congratulations Courtney. Your testimony of all you have gone through in your journey to become a nurse. My heartfelt prayers for your brother-I am so sorry for your loss. As a nurse who has 50 plus years behind her, I can certainly see you were meant to be a nurse. There is something in our hearts that know without a doubt, this is the career choice, and have never thought of any other. Overcoming all you have is amazing, and you will be a blessing to your patients. Lord bless
    You each and every day as you begin your nursing career

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    Margaret Owaka June 20, 2021 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    Congrats. You will make a very good nurse one day.

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    Patsy Little June 21, 2021 at 8:34 am - Reply

    What an incredible story,but you MADE it and you never let your family down and you will make a wonderful nurse.Good LUCK and your in all our of prayers.

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    Dianne Richardson June 30, 2021 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Love your story. As an oncology nurse of over 50 years, we need more nurses like you, You demonstrate compassion and love for your family. Congrats. Now, once you get a few years of med-surg under your belt, go into oncology nursing. So rewarding.

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    Trincy Puthenpurackal June 30, 2021 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Your story is full of love, caring, and compassion. It defines all aspects of a future nurse. You did an excellent job in balancing your personal life, work, and school!!!
    All the wishes for your bright future in nursing.

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    Mary Stuber June 30, 2021 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Good Luck with NCLEX. You have got this!

    You are going to be the best nurse. You have an angel by your side

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    Brenda Brown July 30, 2021 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    You’re the kind of person nursing needs. I applaud your perseverance. In my doctoral program I thought about quitting every single day for the 1st three semesters. I started in August after our home had been hit by a tornado in late April. I was suffering from PTSD and didn’t realize it. I would read the same paragraph over and over and couldn’t retain anything. I was teaching full time and had no support from the college. I finally had to drop out of a class which set me back a year. Then just as I received the 1st draft of my dissertation back from my committee chair I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had planned to finish the program in 2015 but life got in the way. I made it through and graduated with my DNS in May 2018.

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    Miranda August 26, 2021 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    Crying! My story has many similar qualities. 1 down, 3 to go. Proud of you, your brother is smiling down at you (and mine, me). ❤️

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