Saturday, January 8, 2011

If the pants fit...

OK. So.  It's been a while.  A lot has happened and I know I always say that, but seriously... a lot has happened since the last time I posted.

Since I really do feel like this blog is a very trusted and important friend, I feel so bad that I've been so exhausted the past few weeks that I haven't updated you yet... and especially that some of you who still read are finding out on fb about what's been going on in my life lately... I feel extra bad.  Almost like hearing from the grapevine when I should have told you myself.

I've started a doctoral program.  In nursing.  Yes, I will be a doctor nurse.  No, that doesn't mean that I'm a medical doctor... there are many, many kinds of doctors.  But if I finish this program, I will be a doctor of nursing practice (or a DNP). 

I'm sitting here in a Starbucks with my nursing theory book by Janie B. Butts (teehee) and I probably should be doing some reading or starting on my assignments... but... sometimes... I just need to take care of these little things before I feel free to take care of the big things.  I know it goes against everything you know about prioritizing and all that... but sometimes... if it'll take me a shorter time to get something small done... I'll do that small thing first.  Blogging is one of those "small things" that I just want to get done before I get started on other work.

So... unless you've talked to me in the last few months, you probably wouldn't even know that I was considering going to school again.  And don't feel bad about that.  It was barely an inkling of a thought until a few weeks ago.  Here's the story:

Sometime around November 1st, I had a little time at work (and this was probably the last time I've had any extra time at work... it's been mad crazy since that particular day) and everyone was talking about going back to school.  Some to get a BSN, some to get a masters... well... I already have my BSN and a masters... I figured... IF I were to go back to school, I might as well get a doctorate.

So my friend emailed me this a few days ago and I really did laugh out loud when I read it.

Girl, did you just equate your doctoral program to a pair of jeans?  -C.Wong, MPH

 Yes, I did.  And here's why.  I wasn't even sure I wanted to go when I started orientation.  I wanted to go and see if it "fit" before I committed to buying it.  Some people would decide that they want to buy a pair of jeans before they even try it on... I'm more of the kind of shopper that will try it on even if I'm not even sure I want to buy it... just to see what it looks like.  Some of you who have gone shopping with me... you know this.  Even though something looks weird or possibly crazy on the hanger... I'll still try it on... just in case.  Yes, I'll try on that orange satin one-shouldered ruffly dress... just in case I look awesome in an orange, satin, asymmetrical ruffly dress... and I never would have known that for sure unless I put it on.  I did NOT look awesome in that particular dress, but at least now I know with absolute certainty.

I recently bought a pair of jeggings.  LOL.  I love that word.  I think it's so funny.  Anyway... I thought about it and... I never thought I'd buy a pair of jeggings in my life.  I never thought I'd buy skinny jeans.  I thought back and the reason I bought jeggings was because they're comfy and they fit better than skinny jeans tucked inside knee high boots... and I bought skinny jeans specifically to wear with my knee high boots, and I only bought knee high boots because one of my roommates in college bought them and I tried hers on and I decided they didn't look too bad on me.  But prior to trying on those knee high boots... I never would have thought that I would even own a pair of knee high boots.  And... now I have a lot of boots.  And... a pair of jeggings.  There was a whole progression of purchases that led up to me having the guts to buy a pair of jeggings and... it all started 10 years ago with a dress up day my friends and I decided to have for fun... cuz that's what we used to do in college.  LOL.  Higher education.  Good times.

I don't think I would have been so nonchalant about applying to a doctoral program had I not already obtained so many degrees over the past decade.  Oh.  Here's something else I did recently...

I had to use a drill and a leveler.  I felt quite accomplished.  Not so much about the degrees, but that they're now on the wall.  With the tassels.  Even my "cum laude" medallion's in there.  I don't think it counts if I cum lauded my second bachelor's.

I realized that I've had a graduation every 3-4 years since 2000.  I'm scheduled to have another one in 3 years... right on time.  Must be some kind of pattern.  Hope I'm done after this.  I think I said that 2 degrees ago.

So... yes.  I was looking into BSN to DNP programs... if I want a doctorate, I might as well go straight and get one instead of getting a masters first and THEN a DNP.  There are very few BSN to DNP programs in the US.  Very few in California.  Maybe only 2 in Southern California.  And this particular program was the only one that I didn't have to relocate for. AND it had a program that I was interested in... adult acute care.  Ever since Houston, I thought that I'd wanted to end up in the ICU one day... as a nurse, not as a patient. One of the reasons I was OK with stopping my MSN program and taking a BSN was because I decided that if I wanted to get an MSN, I'd get one in something I really wanted instead of getting one for the heck of it in nursing leadership.  Also... I was tired of school and I just wanted to work and make some money for the first time in 5 years.  Also... I know I want to stay at the bedside.  I don't want to become one of those nurses that doesn't touch patients anymore.  It was really important to me that I still see patients and interact with them.  I didn't want to pursue a PhD for that reason.  I want to practice.  Doctorate of Nursing Practice... in acute care.  How perfect, right? 

I only found out about this program around November 1, 2010... poking around online at work. The priority deadline was November 1; final deadline for applications was December 15, 2010.  All the other programs had deadlines in March for Fall 2011.  I figured... I'll get more information.  If there's still space after I speak to admissions, then maybe I'll apply.  Well I found out a few days later that there was still room and that I should apply.  So I started the process.  Took me a month to get that essay written... it's kind of hard to write an essay about why you want to get a DNP when... you're not really sure you WANT a DNP... but I did it anyway.  Sometimes... I convince myself through my own persuasive writing.  Weirdness.  I actually had to research a little bit and find out what a DNP is... what an acute care nurse practitioner is exactly... so that I could write about why I want to be one.  A little backwards but... sometimes... I'm like that. 

You know what?  I've decided I'm NOT a good writer.  I just have a lot of stories.  I don't know if I tell them particularly well, I just have a lot of stories to tell.  OK back to the story.

So I submitted the essay after Thanksgiving weekend and basically just a waiting game to get my letters of rec submitted.  I always hate bugging people for letters of rec.  Also on such short notice... I asked 2 people who had to write me letters on very short notice last year during my application to Little Company of Mary... and also my work supervisor.  I had my 6-month evaluation a few months ago and I was hoping she could just copy and paste what they wrote about me from there into this letter... or worst case scenario, I'd take my evaluation, type it up and have her sign it and then submit it.  2 days before the program deadline, I only had one recommendation submitted.  I called my enrollment coach and she said that my application wouldn't go to review unless it was complete.  I figured... oh well.  They waived my application fee.  They also waived my GRE since I already had a masters degree.  I wasn't all that invested in it so I didn't lose much.  I'll just defer to another school or wait another year.  No big deal.  But why not just send one last reminder?  Might as well.

So I sent one last reminder email.  And what do you know... the other 2 recommenders submitted the recommendations that very night... a few hours after I sent the reminder... and only ONE day before the final application deadline. 

So my application went to review.  My enrollment coach told me she'd call me in 5 days.  She said they'd know by December 20th.  Quite surprising... but whatever... sure.  So December 20 came and went.  I was working so I didn't even really notice until December 22nd that I never got a call.  December 23rd I called the enrollment coach and her answering machine said that she'd be on winter break from December 23rd until January 3rd.  The program was due to start the first week of January so I figured I didn't get in because that's KIND OF important work to get done before you go on a long break... letting someone know whether or not they got in to a program that starts in a few weeks.

By Thursday, December 23rd, I was feeling pretty peaceful.  I can just enjoy the rest of my year... maybe I'll try to find that clinical instructor that said that their school needed help with clinical instructing... maybe I'll plan a few trips... who knows.  Sky's the limit for 2011.  At least I know they rejected me based on ME and not based on the technicality of an incomplete application.  A completely legitimate rejection.  Not God's timing for me.  I fully accepted that. 

December 24th... my mom wants to go get foot massages.  I turned my phone on silent.  Don't want to disturb a foot massage.  I'm gonna enjoy every last minute of that painful, yet lovely Chinese experience.  After my foot massage, I check my phone and I have a missed call from an Irvine number.  It was my program director calling to congratulate me on my acceptance into the BSN to DNP Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. I was really really happy... for a few hours. 

And then I started to freak out.  I got upset at myself for not even considering whether or not I really wanted to be an NP... wondering if I was smart enough to even BE a good NP... wondering if I was only meant to be a floor nurse.  I'm quite happy doing what I'm doing.  I know I don't want to do it forever, but I've only been a floor nurse for a little under a year and a few more couldn't hurt.  I had so many questions.  What if I'm in a cohort with a bunch of brilliant beyond brilliant nurses... with years and years of ICU experience... and I'm the dimmest light in the bunch.  And it's a doctoral program.  I'm guessing the cohort would be small.  I can't hide.  I can't just slide on by, unnoticed.  Really.  What if I'm not good enough?

I had a few experiences at work where I tried my absolute best and I just wasn't good enough.  I know that those things weren't really my fault but bottom line in those two instances where I got yelled at very not nicely... (1) I didn't get something done or (2) the patient called me a poopy (not the nice way) nurse and that I had an excuse for everything.  Everything ended up working out in those two instances... and I do want to write about them but... not today.  No time.  I had been majorly humbled though at work... that sometimes you try really hard and you do your best and... you're just not good enough... and that's OK.  I know I did the best I could.  No regrets.  I'm not perfect and I can't expect that I will ever be.  It still doesn't make hearing it hurt any less... but it does soften the blow if you do know your own worth.  I can remind myself... that it's not their opinion that matters... it's God's.  But to listen.  Listen to other people... even the worst kind of criticism is something that you can learn a lot from. 

So up until this point... I felt like I had put on the pants... and everyone around me was telling me that the pants look good on me... that they could totally see me in them... that it would be awesome... but I wasn't sure myself.  In the end, it's my pants.  I'm the one that's going to have to wear them... the one who has to buy them.  And seriously... who would tell me that they don't think I'm smart enough?  That might be something that someone keeps to him/herself and then after seeing someone drop out or fail... think to themselves... "oh I knew that would happen."  No one walks up to someone and tells them, "I don't think you're smart enough to pursue that dream of yours" or "that's just not right for you".  Well maybe some people do.  No one's ever told that to me. 

So... I decided that... I'd just go to orientation first.  See if it feels like it fits.  See if my questions and concerns would be addressed.  I hadn't decided whether or not I wanted to go yet.  Maybe kind of like a trial run... wearing the pants with full intent of keeping the receipt and returning it if ANYTHING at all rubbed me the wrong way or was too tight or... whatever. 

After meeting the dean of our program... I automatically liked her.  She's an amazing woman, an amazing nurse with incredible vision and drive.  After meeting my program director, who is also a brilliant and amazing nurse... a lot of my anxiety had dissipated.  My classmates are awesome people.  I love nurses.  I love that our profession is so varied... and also that since some people take a very long road to becoming nurses... they've picked up so much valuable experience along the way... and that we have enough time to have families... to have hobbies and interests... to be really interesting people over our lifetimes.  I cannot tell you enough how glad, thankful, happy I am to be a nurse... that God blew open that pathway and almost pushed me with a very strong wind that direction... and now to blow open this pathway and then blow me this direction again.

My first class is nursing theory and our professor is pretty awesome.  The class is VERY organized... more organized than any brand new program should be... but I'm so very thankful that it is.  I feel like... having gone this long way through my bachelors, through my MPH... through nursing school... has prepared me for this program.  We utilize Blackboard... just like we used at CSUF.  Our email is powered by google.  I've already taken nursing theory... I've already written a thesis... all of these experiences in the past will help me get through this doctorate program and I think that I would have been VERY overwhelmed... even more than I am right now if I hadn't already had those experiences... those stepping stones which have strengthened my legs for this journey.

And just to end this post because I'm already late in meeting up with someone... if I had any question about why I'm in this program... I think that they were answered after today's orientation day.  The dean of our school is heavily involved in international health and volunteering... and since she found out that me and my classmate are interested in doing things internationally... she's really going to try to make an opportunity available for us to go help the medically underserved internationally at some point in our program, possibly next year.  And then in thinking about my capstone project... I had to really think about my practice... my life experiences... and I remembered... my feelings when I came back from Houston... about how passionate I was to do something to improve the care of cancer patients and their caregivers.  I remember writing my concept analysis about it.  And after class, I developed some ideas for my capstone project.  After meeting with my director, I got more encouragement.  And after spending an hour talking with my classmates about Anderson and how the whole thing's affected my nursing practice and my life... I definitely think that... I am exactly where I need to be and everything in my life has prepared me for this moment.  I've had so many of these massive realizations of how God has prepared me for this precise moment in time all throughout my lifetime (well a whole lot in the past two years) and every single time, it's amazing to me how much He's loved me enough to guide me, teach me, and "blow me" in this direction... at the precise pace that I needed to go... no faster, no slower... just at a pace perfectly suited to me.  Isn't that so lovely?

Ok, I'm REALLY late now... but I just wanted to update you all a little bit about what I'm feeling right now... so yeah... nothing huge but... if the pants fit... I guess I'm going to buy them and wear them.  Loud and proud.


(but if I end up quitting and "returning the pants"... I'm fine with that too.  But 2 people have told me that they don't see me quitting... but that they'd fully support me if I did.  But that I must have really "changed" if I would do that.  Hm.  Tiff's not a quitter, huh?  How about... postponing in wisdom?)

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