Are you ready to press the nursing student “pause” button?


Thinkstock | TiSanti

When I was young (clearing my throat…sounding like my parents), we had these ancient relics called “portable cassette tape players.”

They were bulky, heavy and looked prehistoric. They were, well, for
playing cassette tapes.

Yes. Cassette tapes. Those plastic cartridges that encased a magnetic tape to play music and record sound (boy, I feel old). Yes, children of the world, there was life before the CD, DVD and all things digital. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, the portable cassette player/recorder.

It was such a clunky, medieval apparatus. You would depress the tab/switch to elicit an action. You had the good ol’ fashioned “play” button to play cassettes, then the obvious “stop,” “fast-forward” and “rewind” buttons that served their purposes.

The entire point of my story is the dratted “pause” button. Because the cumbersome device was extremely simple with limited technology, it functioned with levers and gears that would snap or unsnap when you pushed on the buttons. So it could only perform one function at a time.

When you were playing a tape and you pushed “pause,” the only way to play the tape again was to push hard on the “play” button. At the time, most of us thought if you pushed “pause” a second time, you would “un-pause” the tape and it would begin playing again. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Once you paused a tape, the only way to play it again was to push the “play” button, which would “un-snap” the “pause” button.

You’re probably wondering, what in the world does this ancient relic of a machine have to do with nursing?

The “pause” button of life.

When you enter nursing school, you are essentially putting your life on hold. You press the “pause” button.

Depending on what type of schooling you enter dictates the length of the pause. For my basic nursing school, it was a total of a three-year pause. Then when I went back for my BSN, another 18-month pause, and finally my MSN was yet another two-and-a-half-year pause.

Come to think of it…that’s a lot of pauses!

Nursing school requires a great deal of effort, time, dedication, work and plain old grit. I’m not saying your life stops, but it sure takes quite the break. You’ll miss many social events, holidays, birthdays, etc. because you have an assignment or project due. If you’re attending classes in the summer, say bye-bye to those days of sunshine. You’re writing papers, doing research, attending class, surviving clinical rotations and doing your best to prepare yourself for those darn NCLEX board exams!

Just like my old-school cassette player/recorder, don’t expect to “un-pause” your life while in nursing school. It’s really not possible. Nursing school is just not a simple formula of attending classes, studying for the exam and moving on. The complex learning didactic just requires so much time and attention that your “life” takes a backseat to the endless amount of work needed.

Once the journey is complete, you’ll need to press play again before you can jar your life out of that pause.

Thankfully, I’m here to tell you: that pause is worth it. If someone asked me if I’d do it all over again, I still would press that “pause” button.

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