By Rose Williamson
North Carolina, USA
In 1970, when I went to nursing school, it was like academic boot camp. Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., we were either in class or at the hospital providing patient care. The requirements were strict, the level of performance required was not negotiable, and it was this little country girl’s first time away from home and living in a dorm. I was lonely, overwhelmed, and feeling very much out of my league.
For three months, I struggled with anatomy, pharmacology, chemistry, and clinical practice classes. I had always had a fairly easy time in high school and consequently had never developed very good study habits. Naturally, this was reflected in my test scores.
About three months into my first year, I felt I couldn’t go on with nursing school, but I also felt too ashamed to go home. This was a gut-wrenching decision because my mother had not completed high school, and her dream was for me to have an education.
With a heavy heart, I began reading want ads, thinking that if I could find a job, get an apartment, and have a plan, my mother would be more likely to accept my decision without too much fuss. I made several calls and spoke with folks who were quick to realize that I had very little to offer. I was feeling even worse when I called an employment agency, and a kind female voice began to question me about my situation.
After 10 or 15 minutes, she calmly urged me to stay at school until the end of the first semester. She promised that at the end of the semester, I could call her back and she would help me find a job if I still wanted one. She said everyone has scary times in their life, but that most work out if we let them. She didn’t criticize or make light of my fears. She offered kind words and encouragement and made a bargain with me. I agreed to try.
She was right. Give it some time, do your best, and it will work out. I have been a nurse for 30 years. Often when I sign R.N. after my name, I think of her. She figured out the right things to say at just the right time to a scared child. My mom never knew about this because another “mom” filled in for her at just the right time.