Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Upgrading here I come

So, the last time we left off, I was lamenting my lack of success on first try entry to nursing school. My marks were simply not up to snuff. It is interesting because in my pre-health program, after first semester mid-terms, a significant amount of people dropped out. I remember looking around my class and realizing that a good chunk of people were not present. We were told by our professor that about 30% of students, indeed, dropped out after mid-term. We were advised that from here on out, things would get quicker and harder. And, she did not lie.

After a challenging first semester, we began second semester at a full on sprinting pace. We were told that we were the “survivors” as again, a good percentage of my classmates did not make the cut or chose to bow out. I thought semester one was tough, but semester two nearly ended me. At some points, I didn’t think I could do it. It was too much. Assignments due at the same time. Multiple tests, at least two on the same day, per week. Papers. Quizzes. Exams. On top of this, I worked at my both jobs. It was the longest four months of my life.

In May, I was finally released out of that torture after our final exams. At this point, I was physically and mentally exhausted. We were told numerous times that the program is set up to almost break us as the schooling and career of most health care workers is extremely challenging. They were preparing us. Upon getting my final marks, my heart both plummeted and rejoiced. My hard work had paid off but some marks were a bit off. I had applied for nursing schools in February so at this point, applicants had to wait until the summer to hear a yay or nay from admissions offices.

I waited and waited and then the responses started to come in. Although my marks were good enough, they were not enough to eliminate others who had worked harder and achieved A’s instead of B+’s (like myself). Saddened but not defeated, I immediately signed up for a class and started this past September. Unfortunately, this class finished too late and was not able to be accepted in time for January intake. So, here I was. No nursing school and no real full time job.

Fortunately, my work places kept me on and I still juggle them both at this current point. But what about my dream of nursing school? I actually took a few days to be angry about the whole situation. Then I got back on the horse and looked into my options. I could not afford (nor did I have the time) of repeating pre-health again. Another option was a PSW to RPN bridging program at a very good school in Toronto. My issue is that it is in Toronto. Traveling to this school in the dead of winter is not ideal. After flip-flopping and wondering what to do, I registered for adult school to upgrade my marks. I was elated to get into a class but it was not meant to be as the days and hours conflicted with my part time job. At this point, I was desperate and was angry a lot of the time. Nothing was working for me. Then I was advised to try another academic upgrading program. I wasted no time and signed up. In the course of a few hours, I had gone to orientation, completed 4 online and a paper test.

A few days later, I got a call from the school that I was accepted to the program. My weakest link is math and this will take the longest but I will also upgrade chemistry with this program also. My biology mark is amazing but I would like to increase my human anatomy mark. Why not go for all A’s at this point, right? So, here you have it. At this point, I am on the path of upgrading, 2nd time around. Not ideal but nursing school entrance marks are brutally hard to get into. A word of advise. Strive for A’s and nothing else if your goal is nursing.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Intro to my journey...part 2

You see, I knew health care was my calling but I was afraid to listen to what my heart was saying. Nursing. Years ago, while completing my PSW certificate, my teacher pulled me aside and told me that she thinks I should pursue nursing. Flattered and shocked, I ran home and started researching what needed to be done. After looking over the prerequisites and years of work, I quickly dismissed it. But, the idea lingered in my head and heart. After giving my problem over to God, I was told to go the nursing direction. I was waiting for the message but already knew what I had to do. I knew it.

Excited at the prospect of a change, long awaited, I decided to throw caution to the wind and applied for a pre-health one year program. Pre-health is basically a program designed for those needing to upgrade high school marks for health care professions such as biology, chemistry and advanced math courses (I had been out of high school for more than the 7 year cut-off for entrance marks applicable for nursing schools).

I arranged with my full time job to work a part time schedule and held on to my part time PSW job as well. In retrospect, I should never have done that. Although I am not the smartest apple in the bunch, I am also not half bad. But, returning to school after many years of being out and becoming a bonafide student, threw me for a loop. The first month was a mess and I was struggling to get through my days. After seeking and heeding advice from the learning center at my school, I finally found my stride. Working so many hours though put me at a disadvantage. Don’t let the name fool you. Pre-health is not for the faint of heart or non-committed. It was a challenge. I didn’t actually conquer pre-health as I was short a math course. This subject has always been my weakest link and all these years later, it was still the bane of my existence.

Applying to nursing school was a whole other monster on its own. Each school pretty much requires different marks and subjects but overall, I was covered. Now, here is the fly in the ointment and my piece of advice to you. Never go by the minimum grade required. Never. Always stride for way higher. I have to say, I busted my rump during my pre-health days and my marks were good enough until they were not. At the end of the day, I exceeded the minimums many of the schools required but other applicants preformed greater.

 A few days ago, my excited-to-enter-nursing-school bubble burst and I am now almost at square one. Due to the ever increasing yearly admission averages for nursing schools, straight A students who applied, obliterated my mainly B+ marks. After having a few tough days, while this sunk in, I have, with a heavy heart, ingested and accepted what I need to do. No nursing school for me in 2016.  Continue working for me. Maybe this is for the best? I have no idea but now I am on the path for a full time job and starting to upgrade some courses. The advisor of the school I really want to attend advised me to work on only two courses and I should be good for re-entry next year. I am actually going to upgrade three courses for propensity sake. Feeling insecure, I think it is better to up my chances by going in with stellar marks.

Here you have it. Where I will begin. I hope this journey will be a good one here on out. I plan on writing at least once a week but no commitments. I want to look back at this journey in a few years, after I am a nurse, and laugh at my journey. Not be in the same place. I hope you enjoy this path with me. Let’s get on the ride and enjoy the bumps and turns together. Until next time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Intro to my journey....Part 1

Welcome to my little space on the internet. This blog will be about the highs and lows (I hope few) of my entrance into nursing school and beyond.

Let me introduce myself. I am currently (end of 2015) a single, childless woman. I am neither young nor old. I am for sure going through a major career change. My late teens saw me moving away from my hometown in the greater Toronto area to Ottawa for university. I did not particularly enjoy or hate my time away from home. I was glad to be out of the house but university was just something I had to get through. My program was unexciting but let me attain a degree. After my four years, I dutifully found employment at a call center in the same city. Although the job was horrible, I really enjoyed my colleagues. This was my foray into adulthood and it was shocking and inspiring. I shared an apartment with an old roommate from school for a year and then moved on.

After the call center was bought out, I decided to move back home. In a frenzy, I looked for and found a job in an industry that I have been working in since my early 20’s. Over the years I have worked hard and long to climb the elusive corporate ladder. Little did I know that in an industry dominated by European men, someone like me would never get up there. It was not all horrible mind you. I just could not get what I wanted, which was career progression. 

Somewhere along the time from my 20’s to early 30’s, life happened. Family dynamics adjusted and my role at home changed. At this point, I was still living with my parents and was fine with that. Dating was something I never did but wanted. I am introverted and being social, outside of my circle of friends, is very hard for me. Meeting men was just not something I could and can do with ease. So, I spent a lot of time watching my friends marry or date with abandon, from the sidelines. To curb my increasing boredom with the monotony of life, I decided to do something different.

I signed up for a program at the local community college that would take 2 years part time to complete. Knowing I had the time and resources, I poured myself into my classes taking one course per semester. This was a certificate program to become a personal support worker. In my warped mind, I thought I would work part time to save money for trips I wanted to take. You see, I had just taken a trip with a friend to New York and was enthralled. I loved every breathtaking moment of it. I needed more of travel. Once my course was over, through a relative and friend, I was able to secure a part time job within two weeks. Thus, began my years of working for a popular health care agency as a PSW.

If you know or are a PSW, you know this job has a lot of ups and downs. Patients can either make or break your day. Politics can do the same. Unlike a lot of other PSW’s that I have run into, I had the experience of being around office politics for years. I knew how to navigate those landmines like a pro. Unafraid, I waded and wade through the murky waters of ADL a few evenings a week and on weekends. Although exhausting, I enjoy (for the most part) my part time job.

Change came in the form of an ‘Ah ha” moment. While at a retirement home one morning, helping to bring a patient down to the meal room, I was listening to the banter of the other residents and felt warm. I almost started to laugh. It was then and there that I felt right. I was contemplating making a change in my career but didn’t know what to do. I felt stalled and craved more but didn’t know where or how to proceed. It was at that moment, in that elevator, that I knew helping others was something I had to do. That day I took pen to paper and wrote out a list of pros and con’s of leaving my job and pursuing a career in healthcare. I pondered and wrestled in my mind – should I move on and become a full time personal support worker? Although I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. I grow to love my clients very quickly but the pay was also not very good. I wanted more for myself. I knew for a fact that unless I met someone romantically, I would not be able to live comfortably with one job as a PSW. Nothing wrong with that but I also dreaded the long days and nights to make ends meet. As a caveat, I am speaking for myself here and not generalizing. I decided to bring my problem to my creator and ask for guidance.