Lesson learned for this week comes from a new nurse we have graduated December 19, 2020, from the Fred W. Eberle Technical Center, serving Barbour, Lewis and Upshur Counties. My duty and pleasure is one serving as a member of the Administrative Council. Thank you, Kayla R. Spruill, for sharing your lesson learned becoming a nurse:
“Wake up before sunrise, throw on the same pair of jeans for the third day in a row, chug coffee, shove all my books and scattered papers into my backpack, fly out the door, hop in the car, and then run back into the house to grab the forgotten face mask. Wash, rinse, repeat over 200 more times. This is just a small glimpse into the usual morning routine of my year in nursing school. Many mornings I would force myself into a mini study session for a test while eating cold takeout pizza from the night before—a meal my two children did not seem to mind having a couple times each week. Sometimes the coffee, cold pizza or drive-thru breakfast and study session would work in my favor, and I would pass my tests that day and things would go great. Other days, it wouldn’t. Those days it felt like I was standing in front of a mountain I should already be halfway to the top and there I was still at the bottom, sunk into the mud with wild animals ripping at me. Yes, it really feels that dramatic after you bomb a test and realize halfway through the day you forgot your kid had a dentist appointment that you will now have to reschedule yet again and there’s no time to study tonight because the electric bill is overdue, and you have to pick up an extra shift at work.
“Now, I know this sounds pretty typical for an adult student; so, let’s up the ante: Covid-19. Everything changed once the gravity of the pandemic set in. Wash your hands, wear a mask everywhere, use hand sanitizer, limit contact with people who don’t live with you and sit six feet apart from the other students in class. Actually, it’s better if you never leave your house, so let’s go virtual for two months of nursing school! Easy enough, right? But it wasn’t. It hasn’t been easy for any of us in our community or across our nation. We have been in a constant heightened sense of safety for ourselves, parents, kids, friends, teachers, and of course, our patients. Since day one, our instructors taught us “safety first,” and little did we know we were going to be tested to practice that in every aspect of our lives this year. Spring break came and went; summer break flew by with no vacations for our families; I had to figure out how to home school a 2nd and 7th grader; and even our Thanksgiving was spent without anyone outside our household. It seemed so unfair not to be with family or give my kids those memories in an intensely stressful and lonely year. But, safety first.
“I learned so much about nursing this year, but some of my best learning experiences came from the other students in class. We learned to be more thoughtful, we learned to comfort each other, we understood that we all come from different backgrounds and beliefs and can still accomplish goals together. We pushed each other, fought, cried, failed, succeeded, cried some more, and depended on each other to make it through the day. We made each other nurses. As tough as this year was, I am honestly grateful that I was pushed to limits I never imagined I could reach. Becoming a nurse during a pandemic made me feel like I am part of the solution—it gave me more purpose and motivation. I am especially grateful to the staff and patients at every clinical site we went to for allowing us to be there and learn from them. During times like we have been through, still being able to have hands-on experience has been so crucial to our learning process and truly invaluable. The opportunities we were given are what will help us succeed, despite a pandemic holding us back from other normalcies in our lives.
“As we finish the last week of nursing school, I can reflect on many things, but above all the lesson I have learned this year is that life is so messy and there’s no instruction manual for every problem; however, if you dig deep enough you can find that person inside you willing to fight tooth and nail, and that person will be a nurse.”