Race to the finish…of this semester.

Hi my name is Lauren.  I am a New York state transplant who has been living in the Maryland-DC area for the past 7 years. When asked what the first couple of months of nursing school have been like, the first thing that comes to mind is running a marathon.  It has taken a lot of preparation, training, motivation, and even a little bit of insanity to make it to this point. 

Pre-race jitters  Whether it is your first marathon or you’re a seasoned runner, you need to put in the right amount of preparation and training to be successful.  A few months prior to starting the program, the SON provided all students with some preparatory reading material, a booklist, and the uniform requirements.  Like most students, I ran out and bought every thing on those lists.  So now I at least looked like a nursing student, but you can’t really appreciate or fathom all the nuances of what this experience would be like until you are fully engulfed in the program.

Fellow runners  The good news is that you are in this race with 125+ other students who are likely experiencing similar anxieties and reservations about starting the program.  As you stand at the starting line together, all sorts of emotions are running through your head, Am I ready for this? Should I have trained harder? What if I can’t finish?  There is no turning back now…

The perfect playlist As the gun goes off, you are immediately entrenched in the thick of the program.  There is no period to which you are ‘eased in’; you are given assignments on the very first day.  There are, thankfully, several helpful tools at your disposal to assist in completion of assignments and preparation for exams.  For example, when I’m running, I absolutely need to have music to get me through as I pound the pavement. I would have never guessed coming into nursing school that my iPod would be such a godsend.  Why is that you ask? Well, the podcasts put together by the nursing faculty for patho and health assessment lectures have become the new playlist for pretty much every aspect of my day-to-day life.  It is great to be able to just put in my earbuds at the grocery store, on the JHU shuttle, or even in the car to “study”.

Cheering fans  Just like in any long-distance race, the crowd support along the route can make or break your experience.  As nursing students at JHU, we are so incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by amazing and intelligent faculty and staff.  I was more than pleasantly surprised that the nursing faculty was so helpful and “in your corner” so to speak.  They want nothing more than to help you succeed in your coursework as well as ultimately become amazing nursing professionals.

And of course, I have the support of my loving family and friends. Unfortunately, they are just spectators in this whole process.  Cheering me on from the sidelines as I wiz by, not really fully understanding what I’m going through, but being there nevertheless.

Occasional water stops  In order to finish any race, short or long, it is likely that you will need some short of hydration or nourishment to make it to that finish line.  This is accomplished by taking short, necessary breaks before forging onward.  In nursing school (for at least this first semester), these breaks are few and far between.  They come in the form of enjoying a nice dinner out at a local restaurant or a drink with fellow classmates, taking in a few of the World Cup games at a local bar, getting away for a long weekend over the Fourth, and wandering around Artscape just to name a few.  While these breaks may be short-lived, they are necessary to keep your sanity and finish the race.

Hitting the wall  And then, inevitably, you hit the wall regardless of how prepared or on top of things you may think you are.  In long-distance running, this is the point at which you really don’t think you can go any further, you are tired, your muscles are fatigued and weak, and the thought of taking another step is mind blowing. Week 7 of the accelerated program was definitely that figurative wall for me (and presumably most of my classmates).  Between 4 tests, a quiz, P&A sign-offs, a health assessment write-up, and our first IPOC, we were at our breaking points.  The only thing that we could do is power through it knowing that the end is that much closer. I think we all made it out alive and hopefully not too worse for the wear.

So here we are in Week 8 of our program. Although it has been incredibly challenging, I still know I made the right choice in coming to Hopkins and choosing this program. I am sure the next two weeks will be equally as demanding, but the finish line is in sight!

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