1. Juarez, Maureen J.
  2. Friesen, Pamela K.
  3. Missal, Bernita E.
  4. Bethel, Elizabeth Asher

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The Turtle Wins!!

Can you recall a day when you wanted to put your head in your hands, cry, and give up on your nursing program? Does the volume of reading, the number of nursing details, the writing assignments, and challenging clinical experiences add to the stress of your life?

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There is no doubt that nursing education is challenging, at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. When someone who has been watching you progress through your program offers the unexpected gift of encouragement and support, negative feelings can be diminished and a newfound self-confidence can sprout. Reading and writing assignments seem more manageable, nursing details become clearer, and clinical experiences are less overwhelming. Whatever your challenges, encouragement can result in a new attitude of perseverance.


A friend gave me a tangible object that has become my symbol of perseverance. I had a huge project to complete, and my friend knew I needed extra encouragement. She brought me a gift-a small, wooden turtle, complete with a colorful shell and a bobble head. My friend reminded me of the Greek fable of the tortoise and the hare. The hare ridiculed the tortoise for moving so slowly, so the tortoise challenged the hare to a race. The hare accepted, being confident he would win. The tortoise began the race slowly and moved steadily along the path. The hare ran fast, but got tired so decided to take a nap. When he awoke, the tortoise had crossed the finish line and won the race.


My friend reminded me that my course work is a long marathon. To finish well I needed to persevere one step at a time. I set the turtle by my computer. It reminded me that every slow, deliberate step would help me cross the finish line. I was encouraged by my friend's gift and began sharing turtles with others needing encouragement during times of seemingly insurmountable tasks. What encouraged me has become a ripple effect as my friends have encouraged others with a similar gift. Perseverance is what wins the race!!

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A Student Who Persevered

A 2009 graduate from Vance-Granville Community College in North Carolina worked for 6 years on his nursing degree because he had to interrupt his education twice to serve in Iraq. The director of the program described this student as the "epitome of persistence and perseverance." One month after starting his program, he received orders to go to Iraq with the National Guard. He returned after 18 months to resume his studies. Two semesters before he was to complete the program, he again was deployed to work as a military policeman in downtown Baghdad. One year later he returned and his instructors again supported him in his reentry into the program. Being a father of two who worked part time during his nursing education, he described this journey as being a "struggle" for his family, but "it's worth it in the end." He graduated and is working in an emergency department with a goal of further education.


Strategies for Perseverance

Do the Will of God: "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised" (Hebrews 10: 36, NIV).


Be Strengthened by God's Power: "May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy" (Colossians 1:11, ESV).


Keep Your Eyes on Jesus: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2, NIV).


Vance-Granville Community College. (June 30, 2009). VGCC nursing graduate persevered. Retrieved May 24, 2010, from