Today's my first shift for the nurse extern program. I'm writing this post the night before, contemplating what tomorrow means.
Up until this point, nursing school has seemed like just another thing. I mean, I did four years of an undergrad degree that turned out nothing. In a way, I have the same mindset about nursing school. Yes, I'm studying hard. Yes, it's one of the most difficult things I've done. Yes, it encompasses pretty much every waking moment of my life (and even some sleeping moments).
But it's not felt real. Even when I've gone to clinical, had patients, made care plans and diagnoses, it felt like I was playing pretend. "Ooh, look at my shiny stethoscope toy! Sure, it cost almost a hundred bucks, but it's a toy!"
Sure, I know more about prescription drugs than I ever thought I would. I know about every system in the body, what signs and symptoms might mean, and I'm even starting to get names for the various bacteria that grow in my fridge and bathtub (the red stuff around the faucet? Serratia marcescens. It won't hurt you. But I wouldn't lick it or anything.)
I know all of that, but I still hadn't quite made the connection of "nurse knowledge" with "self."
It's weird, you know? I'd lived my whole life self-identifying as someone who did stuff in the Humanities. Writing, reading, talking about literature, some sprinkling of theatre and music. Yeah, I always liked science. Yeah, I started college thinking I'd major in Biology and become a hotshot primatologist (true story).
But I didn't.
And yet, here I am, eight years later, eight years wiser, back in science. Halfway through my nursing degree. About to start an externship that was extremely competitive--yet I got in. How does that work? Don't these people know I'm just playing? Shouldn't they have given it to someone who really feels like a nurse on the inside? Someone who's wanted to be a nurse their whole life? I'm just playing.
Until I'm not.