Becoming A Nurse - Taking the First Steps
I started thinking about becoming a nurse three years before I did anything about it. It started when there were a series of illnesses in my family. I spent a lot of time in doctor's offices and hospitals, interacting with doctors and nurses. I took care of my father and later my uncle. My dad has recovered from cancer twice. Primary CNS Lymphoma(97) and later prostate cancer (1999). My uncle, on the other hand, ended up dying of his brain tumor in January of 2000. At that time, I had been working in Information Technology for about 15 years, was working for a large bank, and I was already interested in changing careers. I wanted a career where I could make a difference to real people. I had looked into teaching but the more time I spent observing nurses in the hospital and through hospice, the more that looked like exactly what I wanted to do.
When I first started telling people I wanted to become a nurse, the response was almost universally and resoundingly negative. My husband hated the idea. Close friends told me I was crazy. I started researching it anyway. I live in NYC. I already have a BS in Computer Science and an MBA. So for me, I needed a program that would give me credit for some of my existing education. I found two local programs that I found interesting. One was the Entry to Practice (ETP) at Columbia University. If you have the required prerequisites, this program can be completed in a year. The other was the Combined Degree Program (CDP) program at PACE University's Lienhard School of Nursing. This program can be done in one or two years . The program I ended up choosing is the two year option of the CDP at Pace that allows you to take the prerequisites (Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry, and Microbiology for me) as part of the program. There are similar programs available at schools all over the country.
I did not apply right away. The negative feedback I was getting from family and friends caused me to wait about two more years. I kept thinking about it, though. I was working very hard and very stressed out at my big bank IT job. Finally, in late 2003, I decided to complete the application, get my transcripts and a couple of recommendations together and send it in. I figured I just had to know whether I could even get accepted. I could always decide not to go later. I just had to know if it was even a possibility. Many months went by. Around June of 2004, I called home from work and my husband said, "Oh, you got a package from Pace University". Me: "Well OPEN it!" It was my acceptance letter plus a bunch of other material. At that instant I knew for certain I had to go. That September, I went to part time on my job and started attending school. I am now in my third semester and looking forward to starting my clinicals in September and graduating next August. SO far I have never regretted my decision.
Once I actually was accepted into a program and made it clear I was going, most everybody changed their tune. My husband has been very supportive, despite his reservations. People at work have been incredibly supportive. Some people have confessed that they would love to change careers and admire what I am doing.
I guess what I would most like to encourage anyone interested in becoming a nurse to do is to just take that first step. Find some programs in your area. Go to an information session. Talk to some nurses. Send in an application. You can always change your mind. You will never know if you don't try...
Go for it.
Here are some links to help you start:
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society, Schools of Nursing