May 9, 2012

Why I Became a Nurse

May 8, 2012

This is a long story. Prepare yourself.

When I was in elementary school, my answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was always "A teacher." I loved kids! And I truly did want to be a teacher. 

Flash forward to junior high and high school. My answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was now "A nurse!". I loved learning about the human body, diseases, and medicine. And I loved taking care of people. And I still loved kids! I started applying to schools with nursing programs that I liked: Winona State University, University of St. Catherine's, Viterbo University, and Luther College. I toured three out of the four and narrowed it down to Viterbo and Luther. And I was basing this on their nursing programs. Come spring, when it was time to choose a school, I started thinking "Maybe I don't want to be a nurse. Maybe I want to be a teacher." I called up my admissions counselors at both Viterbo and Luther to tell them this. Viterbo's answer was basically "Well, you applied as a nursing major so...". Luther actually took the time to call me and said that they would send me information about the education program to continue thinking about it. 

That sealed the deal. Luther it would be. I told them I was going to stick with education and, when I registered for classes, my advisor said I should sign up for Human Anatomy just in case I change my mind sometime in the first year. I said okay and signed up for it. I needed a lab requirement anyway so what's the harm?

I looked up the anatomy class syllabus and found out you have to dissect a CAT?!
No way! I e-mailed my advisor and said I was going to drop the anatomy class and pick up another general education requirement.

During my freshman year, practically everyone on my floor was a nursing major and was always studying like crazy for chemistry and anatomy, afraid they wouldn't make it into the program. I thanked God that I wasn't one of them. Taking those two classes at the same time? Not for me.
I student taught in a 3rd grade classroom that January and loved every minute of it. I loved getting to know the kids and helping them learn. 

Sophomore year, I signed up for the next batch of education classes, but, as I was taking them, I found myself getting bored and not feeling like I was doing anything interesting or worthwhile. I watched my best friend learn about all these cool things in her nursing class and was jealous.
February of my sophomore year, I e-mailed my mom and told her I was seriously thinking about changing my major to nursing and possibly transferring to the community college at home to get my associates degree. We toured the college and I had officially signed up for classes with no intention of going back to Luther.  

Cut to June, when I think about only getting an associate's degree after being at Luther for two years, having to retake classes again because Luther's classes didn't transfer and I realize I am stupid for ever even thinking about leaving my second home at Luther College.

I e-mail the head of the nursing department as well as the Dean's Office and tell them I am coming back as a nursing major. I sign up for my classes I'll need to take, including anatomy, and get assigned a roommate who, like me, is behind in the nursing program. 

Staying at Luther as a nursing major basically put me back to being a "freshman" again. I was technically in my junior year and had finished the number of general education classes I needed to be considered a junior, but I was taking all of the freshman nursing prerequisites. The good thing about staying at Luther though, is they consider seniority, to an extent, when applying to the nursing program. This meant, because I was the oldest student applying, I was basically guaranteed a spot, as long as I didn't get below a C in any of my classes. I still put in all my effort, as I wanted to look good to the nursing department. I ended up getting mostly A's in all my classes. And, yes, I dissected a cat (and it wasn't that bad except for the smell!).

I ended up becoming accepted into the nursing program and am now finishing up my third year of nursing school (which takes place up here in Rochester at the Mayo Clinic) and only have 1 semester left before I receive my BAN (Bachelor of Arts in Nursing, same as a BSN). 

Never have I regretted changing my major. I am so thankful I realized, relatively early, that I did not want to be a teacher. Isn't it a travesty when you graduate college and realize that you don't want to do anything with the degree you received?

I love being able to care for patients at some of their lowest points, as well as caring for their family, who need a lot of support as well. It makes all the struggle worth it when I hear things like "Thank you so much for taking care of me today", "You are going to be a wonderful nurse", "Thanks for keeping me company. You made me less scared during the tests they did today". Or things from my clinical instructors like "I am SO proud of you", "You have grown so much", "I am so glad you decided to become a nurse". 

Or when I hear my patient's family thank me for helping them out and taking the place of the nurse, who they felt extremely uncomfortable with.

And I still get my teacher fix by working at a nursery. Also, we had to do an education/teaching assignment to teach the patient or family about something they need to know. I loved being able to help teach the family about giving their loved one tube feedings after he leaves the hospital. Something that I just learned like 30 minutes before teaching it. 



  1. What a great story! It's amazing how each of us ended up where we are. I'm SO glad you enjoy nursing!! It's not for everyone, but it does feel amazing to help people in such personal ways. Thanks for linking up!

  2. a fellow MN Nurse?! so glad to have found you!