Saturday, May 1, 2010
How I became a Nurse Practitioner
I'm a late bloomer, a testament to "it can be done". Due to my stubbornness (and divorce at 37), 3 children and no real work experience, a love of science (biology) and undergraduate major in Biology, I became a nurse practitioner at the age of 41. Since I had a college education the judge decided I should find work. I had been a stay at home mom since I married in 1981. I never worked before I was married. Yes, I was somewhat spoiled by my parents (they were divorced). My mother told me as I went away to college, "You go to college to be well rounded in certain subjects and to meet a husband--not have a career. Women are supposed to stay at home, have children and throw memorable dinner parties for their successful husbands, look at Jackie Kennedy!" My mother was always comparing us to the Kennedy's--? I remember my sister fussing about eating at McDonald's and my mother retorted, "If its good enough for the Kennedy's its good enough for us."
Anyhow...I wasn’t encouraged to pursue my dream of becoming a Marine Biologist or maybe even practicing medicine, instead my dreams turned to homemaking and raising 2 daughters and a son. I was married to a successful and very handsome man who gave me a monthly allowance which I used to buy groceries and whatever else I wanted to buy. I never knew how much the household bills were, my husband took care of all that. He even took care of having all his clothes (with the exception of under garments) dry-cleaned. We lived on an estate sized lot with 5 bedrooms, an in-ground swimming pool, a garage full of cars including a new Suburban and a darling little white BMW 325i convertible—both of which were my cars to drive, we had a boat, 2 SeaDoos, not one but two country club memberships. Needless to say, most would think I had it made. Money can buy a lot, but it cannot buy happiness.
Tried to make it work but it wouldn’t. I will spare you the sordid details. Divorce.
As I think I mentioned earlier, I had never had a job. So, I went back to my Alma Mater for career counseling since I had been told that I would need to get a job to help support myself and the children. The psychologist administered different tests that would give me insight into my personality and which careers would be best suited for me. Number one on the list: Administrative law judge. So, off I went to begin training as a paralegal as I didn’t want to start law school right off the bat. There were other options, Physician, University Professor; they were all requiring no less than a doctoral degree. To find a job with my own major required me working on a doctoral degree. I mean, what’s a degree in biology going to get you—not even teaching? Nope. That requires a minor in education—more school. So, I opted for the paralegal program. It was nine months and they offered job placement.
My first job was with the Attorney General’s Office, Criminal Justice Division. I was on “the Death Team”. It was serious work, the “worst of the worst” crime against another human—murder. Pictures. After a while you get used to it, not so shocked by the photographs of the victims. I remember the point where I knew I was hardened. It was a gruesome photograph where I made the comment, “Oh wow, they’ll never get the blood out of that rug, what a shame.” I remember the rug was exceptionally beautiful, it was needlepoint or something and it was totally ruined. I had not even thought about the victim as another human, a daughter, a mother, a wife, a sister. An emotional defense mechanism—block out the victim?
More money lured me away from the AG’s office. I was moving up. Up the hill to a high rise and to the ultimate demise of my law career—boredom. After about a year of working at “the department”, I was totally bored. I had often daydreamed about a career in medicine. I was a biology major after all. Most of my fellow (and I say fellow because they were mostly guys) biology majors were pre-med. It had crossed my mind but that was about it, remembering what my mother told me about girls and careers. Wish I had not lived a good part of my adult life being totally irresponsible and dependent upon a man (my husband). I was determined that I wasn’t going to be a victim of this. I grabbed my gumption and boot straps and got on-line and checked into a program at a local university where I could “bridge” into the nursing program to become a master’s prepared nurse practitioner in just 6 semesters. A friend of mine had mentioned this to me, she was a nurse and thought this would be a good way for me fulfill my dream of practicing medicine and they had a geriatric program which is the specialty that I wanted to go in to. I found out that I was missing some of the prerequisites to be admitted into the program and that I would have to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). I got busy getting into the local state university for the classes I needed, and never thought to take prep courses for the GRE, and signed up to take that also. When I got to the test taking office, so many people were talking about the prep class they took and how hard this was going to be. I said a prayer in my head and thought, if the Lord wants me to do this I will score well enough on the GRE to be accepted into the Bridge Program, if not, He will open a window (if He closes a door, he will open a window).
I graduated the Bridge Program in May of 2002.