Five years ago found me on Friday, September 13th, 2001 driving with my mom and dad to Racine, Wisconsin to take a test. Yes - Friday the 13th...
The test was a clinical competency exam so that I would be able to finish up my degree. I had prepared for this, I was freaked out about it and impatient and like always going full steam ahead. That night I took the first test - demonstration of intramuscular and subcutaneous injections as well as IV drip calculations, and sterile dressing changes. My parents came along for the ride.
I spent the night fretting about the next morning with good reason. I bombed both of my patient cases. One was due to a stupid error on my part - and in this clinical exam - there was very little room for error. The second case was due to a blood pressure difference. The nurse examiner had a different number than I did. You only have a small margin of error...
I went back to the hotel - my parents were off visiting my mother's brother. I tried calling an ex-boyfriend and fortunately didn't get him. We had been done for about 3 months and I had been with him for three years. He's currently married to the woman he cheated on me with (his professor). My parents finally came back and asked how the day had gone... I said I bombed. My dad and mom looked me straight in the eye and said "S*****, what's the worst that happens if you do fail?"
I said - I'd have to come up with more money, wait a time period and take the test over again. They both looked at me and said - this test isn't going to say whether you are a good or a bad nurse. It's a test you have to take so that you can be the good nurse that you already are. We went to bed and the next morning I told them to be at the hospital at 11 - in case things went to hell in a handbasket.
The next day - things went smoothly. My first patient was a child and a weird occurence of security gaurds coming and asking if the parents had cause a disturbance down in the cafeteria. My second patient an adult. My third patient a geriatric (he was 90) with atrial fibrillation - that fell asleep while I was listening to his heartbeat and couldn't hear a word that I said. I had to have the preceptor ask him questions because he couldn't hear anything I had to say.
I finished and I passed. The clinical coordinator - a woman that I truly did not like - she was just too touchy feely for me asked "What had changed?" I looked her straight in the eye and said... I have nothing to lose. This test isn't going to make me a better nurse. This test isn't going to provide me with all the answers. This test is just another hoop I have to jump through. She said that she had been worried about me that the first day all the instructors make their guesses as to who will pass/fail. I had been in the pass column. However the second day - it seemed as if my confidence had been shot or something. It hadn't - I just needed to have my back against the wall so to speak to remember what it was I was fighting for.
It was 6:30 pm when I finally finished. My parents were still waiting patiently in the front lobby. I found out on the ride home that my parents had run into the clinical coordinator and she had gushed at them "Ohhhh are you Sam's parents? Did you come to give her moral support" My Mom and Dad have NEVER called me that and never will so my parents response of "No. We're S*****'s parents and we came along for the ride."
It was a good trip with the three of us... my parents did as I asked and came early - however they brought a LOT of things to keep them both occupied while they waited. They waited and waited and when I finished never once said "I told you you'd do fine." They just both jumped for joy and said lets get on the road and find a nice place to celebrate. And we did.
So in closing... I graduated from college in November of 2001. I took my licensing exam on December 13, 2001 and became licensed as a registered nurse on December 17, 2001. Five years... Odd as five years was what it took me to figure out what it was that I wanted to do.
Now a quote to make you think... and keep paddling.
Always behave like a duck — keep calm and unruffled
on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath."
– Jacob Braude