When I first became a CNA, I really hated my job. It was so hard and overwhelming and it really wasn’t what I had imagined.
I found it much more interesting to watch, quiz and learn from the nurse than I did to perform the menial tasks I was assigned.
Looking for something more
I decided to go back to school for nursing, but found that my employer would not support me in my endeavors. I would not be allowed to change my schedule to fit classes in, so I moved to a facility with 12 hour shifts.
Not only was I able to go back to school, but I found that I enjoyed my job and I became very proficient at it having already been able to learn from other nurses.
I spent 5 years at that facility, four of them in full time school for prerequisites. During that time, I finished my AA and AS.
I decided early in my scholastic endeavors to get the best grades that I could. When I found out that most programs were impacted, I decided to only apply for those based on GPA instead of lottery systems. That pared it down to one in my area – California State University at Fresno. I applied at just that one program.
When my supervisors found out, I was chided by them. Some believed that I thought I was better than them. Others thought that I was being lofty and unrealistic. I was told that I wouldn’t make it.
When I received my acceptance letter and showed it to my supervisor, she was surprised. My charge nurse was almost dismayed. She really wanted me to go to her program, which is a community college program. I have nothing against that program, I just felt that it wasn’t fair for me to sit in a lottery and wait my turn behind others with a lower GPA than mine.
I put in my 30 day notice and left my favorite workplace three days before the program started. I was so scared!
At 43, a university student for the first time
There I was at 43 entering a university for the first time – a challenging nursing program at that – and I lost my income, as well. We all know how hard the nursing program is and how hard it is to explain to others.
There were times when I thought I couldn’t make it. There were times I wanted to quit. Out of a class of 63, there were about 10 people over the age of 40. I didn’t fit in. I couldn’t relate to the “kids.”
I struggled with everything in me. I fought tooth and nail to finish the program and finished summa cum laude.
My mother was in the audience to watch the only one of her children to graduate college. My first D.O.N. was there to pin me. My husband and children were there to cheer me on. My professors from my community college were there as well. It was a beautiful day!
Then, reality set in. Two months after graduation, my daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.
The day I was supposed to sit the NCLEX, my daughter was having a biopsy and a bone marrow biopsy, so I had to cancel. I finally took the NCLEX at the end of the next semester and passed – unbelievably! I had not studied. I just decided that I had to take the test no matter what! I was either going to pass it or not. I just couldn’t put it off any longer.
My first “real” nursing job
I spent the next 2 months on a job search.
In December, my daughter was declared in remission and I landed my first real nursing job. I was so excited! Then reality set in again.
Come to find out…being a CNA did not help me much as a nurse. Neither did nursing school. The only thing it helped me with is to find patience and to know that the work will get done even though it seems like it won’t.
Being a nurse, at the beginning, is overwhelming. Again, I felt like giving up. I felt like I would never be a “good nurse.” I felt like I had made a mistake.
Then I remembered something: That is the same way I felt as a beginner CNA. It got better. I got pretty darned good at my job! It is the same way I felt in the nursing program.
It got better.
I got better.
Now, five months later I am finally starting to feel like a real nurse. I am getting the hang of my job and doing very well. I am the only nurse clocking out on time with all of my work done!
Passing it on
Finally, I don’t feel like a CNA, anymore. Not that being a CNA was a bad thing, it’s just that I needed more. I longed for more. I hungered for knowledge and control over patient’s conditions. Now I understand why nurses do what they do and how they do it.
I am grateful for my time as a CNA because it gives me compassion for those that I supervise and it humbles me every day when a patient asks me to do something that is normally a job for a CNA. You know what? I do it, if I can.
I will never look down on my CNAs, because if I do, it means I am looking down on myself.
They have a hard job and they are truly our eyes, ears and hands. I try my very best to ensure they know I understand their job and to encourage them and let them know that I value them, their work and their opinions. This is how it should be.
I know that the few nurses who did that for me were the ones who were my inspiration throughout the last eight years.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen who taught me so well and urged me on and on. I could not have done it without you! It’s been a long, hard road that I have travelled and the journey isn’t over, yet.