Sunday, April 10, 2011

Seeking opinions, comments, and/or advice from nurses in any specialty

First, the lead in....

I am having difficulty getting accepted into a nursing program. I have been applying to combined second degree BSN/MSN programs with Family Nurse Practitioner as a chosen specialty and working in Indian Health as an intended career goal. I have a couple more of these programs to apply to since application deadlines are all different. I am now also considering applying to second degree BSN programs with the intention of completing the MSN later. There is a local ADN program and a BSN bridge at the University I just graduated from; however, the ADN program is nearly impossible to get into. I have a friend that applied to the program 4 times (once a year), had a 4.0 and was working as an EMT, was wait-listed each time. She gave up and is now pursuing a different degree. I completed my BA in Sociology with a minor in Biology (human concentration) last December, so traditional BSN programs are not an option at this point. Neither school offers pre-nursing's a situation of take the pre-req's, apply, if you get in then you get advising.

Second, the potential problem...

When I met with my adviser to go over additions to my C.V. and changes in my personal/goals statement for the next round of applications, she had a thought...maybe "my story" is the problem. I spoke with my Aunt who has been a Psych RN for 25 years and she agrees that this very well could be the issue.

I had an extremely difficult childhood. I do not go into details on my apps, and I won't here either, but I will give a little bit of info. At 6 months old I was dropped off for a weekend visit at my great Aunts home, my mother came back 3 1/2 YEARS later with one hour notice to pick me up. So basically, my earliest years were as the baby in a family of 5 children, 3 older brothers and an older sister, then suddenly I was the only child in a very young military family...with parents I didn't even know. I saw the great Aunt two or three times throughout my childhood and early adulthood, I saw the "big sister" once, and never saw the "brothers" again...until the funeral of the great Aunt, when I was 27 years old.

After being taken back by my mother, a little brother arrived, we moved A LOT (military), and I never felt I fit in either where we lived or in my own family. My parents were emotionally and physically abusive...severely. I barely made it through school, and moved out as quickly as possibly after I graduated high school. I made a few attempts at taking classes at the community college, but never succeeded...either dropping with W's or just not bothering to go or drop and getting F's. As my life fell apart, I sought help initially because the Golden Gate bridge was looking like a viable option for a "direction" for my life to take, since it's a local landmark, this was a very real possibility. Fast forward to now...I was diagnosed with a dissociative disorder and severe anxiety. Both of these are now very well controlled, the dissociative disorder may even be "resolved" (as much as is possible). I graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.491, a major GPA of 3.91. I've completed all my nursing pre-req's with a 3.0 and I am repeating one class this summer (anatomy). I was a teaching assistant for physiology 3 times, and for microbiology 2 times. I have my BLS for healthcare, am enrolled in a CNA program for the fall, and am working on all the paperwork to be able to volunteer at the hospital. I am a lifetime member of two honor societies, and was president of the campus chapter of one of them for a year. I was also chosen to sit on the Disability Services for Students advisory committee for a year ( a huge honor, appointed by the University President). All of this is good...right? it true that my past psych issues are what is hurting my chances? My overcoming these challenges is a HUGE part of my life. This also is what explains my lower GPA (compared to other applicants), I will never have a 4.0 because of the earlier attempts at college. I am very frustrated...I really don't have any other "story" to tell. I worked very hard to get in the place of healing that I am at now, and I worked very hard to achieve success in school. I know I will succeed in a program, even an accelerated one. I also know that I will be a damn good nurse. Can anyone offer any suggestions?


AtYourCervix said...

Honestly? I would focus much more on the positive attributes and successes you have achieved, and what you specifically can bring to nursing (compassion, understanding, empathy, etc). Nursing school admission is becoming much more competitive now due to less instructors and more applicants. It's almost like you need to have something to help you "stand out" from the crowd.

Do your best. Hang in there. Get on the stand-by or waiting lists. You never know when someone else is going to drop out before they even begin.

Shauna said...

Okay, I just wrote an excellent comment (If I don't say so myself!), and you know how they can go poof when hitting 'publish your comment' here goes again. (With a backup on Notepad this time!)

You are obviously very well-educated and have overcome some very tough issues in your past. Along with being an excellent writer, you have that special something that is needed to tell a story, and keep readers interest.

Have you considered writing a separate blog- either anonymously, or under your name; that tells the story of your past?

For the past 3 years I have written my blog about my life in chronic pain. The astounding part is how many readers have become of great support to me. I write in pure truths, along with teaching about chronic pain, (I am a nurse), and this writing is not only an awesome way to educate others, but it is a form of therapy at the same time.

You have great stamina in your pursuit of education. I agree that it would be much easier for us all if we could 'just tell them what we are made of'. It has been a rude awakening in these internet times, to know that everything we write may be viewed by potential employers, etc. That knowledge certainly does not keep me from writing about my life, it helps me to realize that somehow, what I have written, can be of great use to others...I think you have a lot to give to those who have endured a tough childhood as you have.

I have taken to road to telling my story openly and honestly. This form of communicating my life, has in turn helped many others to establish open lines of communication of their own, with their loves ones, etc., in regards to issues surrounding the world of chronic pain.

Have you considered writing a separate blog either anonymously, or under your own name, that tells your story? You are the best form of authority on the subject which has left you suffering to this day. You may be astounded at the many readers that have also experienced the same past that you have.

I know this was not full of advice on getting into nursing school--I saw that you are struggling with your past, and once that is dealt with a bit more, maybe you can feel less entangled in that, and move on to whatever profession that you decide on.

For what it's worth, you sound like you would make a fantastic nurse! Maybe you could even specialize in PTSD, or work with kids that have/are dealing with exactly what you did. Amazing how our own life experiences can benefit others, just by letting others know what you have gone through.

"It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it." Lena Horne

Nurse Practitioners Save Lives said...

I don't think that it's important to give every detail of your past in the interview. Dealing with all of your past WILL help you with patients and you can say that without going into "scary" details. Some people just don't understand us out there! I can also relate to others with PTSD and fibromyalgia pain. I don't tell my bosses that I have this experience personally because unless it interferes with my patient care, it's not important that they know. Hope this helps!