I might say that the seed was planted when I was 13 years old. No, back then I had no desire whatsoever to enter the medical profession. But I had a life-changing experience in which nurses played a major role: back surgery. From the nurse at my first appointment to the ICU nurses who helped me sit up and walk for the first time post-op, they made a positive impression. They were so caring, reassuring, complimentary, and calm. In the 14 years since, I have never forgotten their kindness and the way they helped my surgery experience to not be so scary.
It wasn’t until more than two years after graduation from music conservatory that I legitimately began thinking about a career change into the medical field. I was not attracted to being a doctor, that I knew. But there were so many other possibilities! It began when I took the Citizens Fire Academy in my hometown – and I only entered that class because a new friend in the City Hall 101 class was going to take it and invited me. I ended up LOVING the academy and wished it had lasted longer. My favorite part about it was doing ride-outs with the firefighters. Almost every time, I chose to ride in the ambulance, and that was totally awesome!! What an adrenaline rush! I had the opportunity to ride with two patients whom we brought to the hospital, and it was fascinating to watch the paramedics work. (All my hometown’s firefighters are also trained as paramedics.)
Thus began my thought process of, “I think I want to go back to school.” I began doing research. I jumped between paramedic and nurse. Paramedics got to do cool stuff like trauma care, but nurses got paid more and had more opportunities. I knew I couldn’t go wrong with either choice, but I wanted to be really passionate about whatever I chose.
Three years ago, I took CERT training (Citizens Emergency Response Team) in my hometown, sponsored by the fire department and FEMA. That continued to drive my growing passion for helping others in a medically-leaning way. I looked at nursing and paramedic programs at the community college, but then Mark deployed and I buckled down with working a lot and paying off my student loans. Going back to school just wasn’t feasible at that time.
Another thing that drove my desire to perhaps start a career in the medical field was the fact that I myself have struggled with chronic health issues. I know what it’s like to be a patient, and I also know what it’s like to see the doctor and not get answers….or, to not get the holistic answers I desired. If you’ve been a reader on my blog or personally know me, you know that I have done a lot of digging to figure out what has ailed me – and to figure out how to fix it myself. Earlier this year I began thinking about getting certification in a natural avenue, like Nutritional Therapy or dietetics, focusing on the Paleo lifestyle.
But for some reason I kept coming back to nursing. That desire, while sometimes dormant, has never really left me since I began contemplating it over three years ago. I have had many discussions about the pros and cons with Mark, who has always been supportive of my growing passion.
In August I made the decision to start pursuing a nursing degree, and I couldn’t be more happy that I made that decision! I’m taking pre-requisites right now: biology (since I never took science in my music degree) and pharmacology. Despite my personal unwillingness to take pharmaceuticals if at all possible, I’m really enjoying pharmacology (more than biology). And believe it or not, but my independent studying of essential oils and how the body works in that regard has actually helped me in that class. After we PCS to our next duty station, I will begin classes at a local university to pursue my BSN – Bachelor of Science in Nursing, after which I will take the licensing exam to be a Registered Nurse.
Some people might be scratching their heads at why I’m 1) going back to college for another degree, and 2) why I chose to enter the conventional medical field when I have such a passion for natural, alternative medicine. To answer the first question: I realized that I don’t have a 100% passion for being a professional musician. I enjoy playing for playing’s sake – but I don’t have that desire to make it a career anymore. Some people do, and I applaud that! Those are the people who will truly succeed. Also, as a military wife, being a nurse is very strategic. If a nurse can get into the VA (Veterans’ Affairs) system or the Army Medicine system as a civilian, then she will be able to find a job virtually anywhere. (I already have my eye on an internship with the VA.) To answer the second question: there is this grassroots movement of patients, of which I am a part, who deeply desire that medical professionals make their practices patient-centered instead of doctor and/or drug-centered. They want holistic care. They want to be heard. They want natural alternatives. As a future nurse, I have a deep desire to bridge the gap between conventional Western medicine and alternative, functional medicine. They can and should work synergistically, and I will be part of the solution. I feel empowered that I will be able to do that! I see myself possibly getting my doctorate and becoming a Nurse Practitioner so I could be a PCP (Primary Care Provider) and work with patients in a truly holistic way – prescribing medications if warranted, but trying other avenues of treatment first and simultaneously with drugs.
To the nurses at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital who cared for me in August 2000: THANK YOU. You made more of an impact on me than you realized, and one day I will pay it forward.