NP anxieties: “Do I have to graduate?”
The road to my NP degree has been one heck of a journey. I have to admit, I can barely remember the start. Sometime in 2008, my wife made the conscious decision to go back to school and get her bachelor’s degree (BSN). Yes, it was my wife who made the first step.
Being my greatest cheerleader (as always), she kept encouraging me to “go back” over the course of that year. I can remember dodging that conversational bullet many times.
Most people don’t know that I started taking classes towards my bachelor’s degree in nursing shortly after I graduated from my RN diploma program. I took an online class six months after graduation. After one class, I decided to shelve my academic pursuits–I just didn’t have it in me at the time.
Fast-forward to 2009. After much convincing from my wife and my local collegiate BSN program director, I enrolled. I would go on to graduate with my bachelor’s degree and immediately enroll in a master’s prepared Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program three months later.
It’s been four-year journey, and I have a confession. During these four years, all I’ve been doing is chattering about the finale. About graduating. About FINALLY being done with school, classes, clinical rotations and exams.
But now the truth comes out. Can I please just stay a student?
Graduating means I actually have to become the provider. I have to find and give the answers, instead of simply asking the questions.
There’s a certain amount of stress that students don’t have to bear–the stress of making mistakes. While making mistakes is, of course, generally bad, there is an expected amount of “oops” moments you should have as a student. It’s all a part of the learning process.
Once I graduate, though, I have to put all my knowledge to the ultimate test. I have to be what I set out to become, an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. I have to bear the burden. Ultimately, some decisions will have to be made, and I’ll be the one to make them.
Typing those words feels heavy enough, let alone practicing what I preach.
Am I actually ready for this?
Sean Dent is a second-degree nurse who has worked in telemetry, orthopedics, surgical services, oncology and at times as a travel nurse. He is a CCRN certified critical care nurse where he's worked in cardiac, surgical as well as trauma intensive care nursing.
After five years practicing as an RN, Sean pursued and attained his Masters of Science in Nursing. Sean currently practices as a Board Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) in a Shock Trauma urban teaching hospital.
He has been in healthcare for almost 20 years. He originally received a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport Science where he worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
By Sean Dent