Sometimes people ask how old I was when I first wanted to be a nurse. 3? I don’t think I can remember past that. Yes, I have always wanted to be a nurse. There was one time in first grade when my teacher asked us to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, and the girl next to me drew a nurse. I didn’t want my teacher to think I copied her so I drew a policewoman. It was just a fleeting thought, and I really wanted to be a nurse.
Every now and then I would think about being a doctor, but I wasn’t convinced I wanted to go to school forever. Plus a woman at my church who was like my second mom was a nurse, and I thought she was cool. I think sometime in middle school, I heard about nurse practitioners. There. we. go. I pretty much had my life mapped out by age 17 on where I would go to college and then to nursing school (since my college didn’t have a nursing program at the time). Now I see how awesome and rare that “knowing” what to do with your life is.
So I moved away to college and took pre-requisite classes in order to start a bridge program in nursing at Vanderbilt University. A bridge program takes non-nurses who have taken so many college credits and having nursing pre-requisites like microbiology, anatomy and physiology, psychology, and humanities and provides the classes needed to start a career in nursing (RN) in an accelerated form then puts you straight into a master’s program. Nurses (and I guess other people) have many opinions on bridge programs. It worked for me. I knew what I wanted to do, and I was looking for the quickest way to get there. I have always excelled at school, so the pace was challenging but not terrible. When I talk to college students who want to be nurse practitioners, I say you can do it either way: go straight through or get your B.S.N. and work as a nurse for a year or two before going back for your master’s.
Advanced practice nursing is the larger umbrella under which nurse practitioners fall and means a registered nurse with advanced training (usually a master’s or doctorate degree) and can also include nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse midwives. For nurses at the master’s level, you must specialize in an area. I chose family practice though that is one thing that I never would have thought about when I was younger. Family practice certifies you to work with people of all ages (womb to tomb as we like to say) in an outpatient setting (think your typical doctor’s office). And I definitely did not want to do that when I was in high school and college! I thought working in primary care was BORING. No life or death situations, no blood and guts, no crazy hours, no glory. After years of Rescue 911 and surgeries on TV, I wanted to work in trauma for all the above reasons.Then in college as I was applying to nursing school, I thought about it long and hard. I went to the nursing school’s open house and listened to the different specialty programs present on what they would prepare you for. I looked at acute care NP (for trauma), pediatrics, and family NP. I remember not wanting to be limited by age of patients I saw because I had always wanted to do mission work. I also was interested in the relationships of family practice and the prevention that could be done. So I applied to the FNP program and was accepted.
to be continued