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For those of us in the Traditional BSN program, our six weeks of winter break—whole acres of free time—are coming to a close tomorrow. A rather abrupt one, with Pharmacology at 8 a.m. on Monday morning, but not an entirely unwelcome one. It’s been a fantastic, long break, but the part of me that is looking at how much more school I have left to go before I meet my goal of becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner with a Masters in Public Health is ready to get on with it already.

Some of my classmates found work as CNAs over the winter break. Others traveled. A few went to South America, and one friend went back to the birthing center where she worked before deciding to go to school to become a Midwife herself. I spent my break catching up with my long-distance relationship, visiting my family, reading obsessively, and training for the National Marathon in DC this March. Self-indulgent? Perhaps. Can’t say that I have any regrets, though. It’s easy to get sucked into nursing school, and whenever I surface, it’s important for me to touch base with the other cornerstones of my life. You can’t be good at taking care of people if you forget to be a whole person yourself.

I’ve managed to knock off more than two free-reading books a week over this break, which is two more than I can usually read in a week during the semester. In order to best segue into the whole “nursing school” mindset again, I’ve tried to make the last books health-related. The one I recommend the most is a book by Anne Fadiman called The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. This book should be required reading for anyone who is at all interested in cross-cultural nursing. Or, more realistically, for anyone going into nursing at all.  It’s a non-fiction book exploring the culture clash between a family of Hmong refugees and their epileptic daughter, and a small county hospital in Merced, California. Despite being heavily annotated and cross-listed as “Cultural Studies/Medicine,” it reads like a novel. It’s probably at the library, and you can probably go find a copy today.

I’ve registered myself for more electives this time around—more than I can possibly take, actually, I’m going to have to go down to the registrar’s office at some point next week and drop a few. Still, I’m excited about the new classes and new clinical sites. Excited enough that I’m not going to begrudge how early I’m setting my alarm clock for tomorrow. Not too much.

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