1. De Haan, Julie
  2. Friesen, Pamela K.

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By Tori Ellens, a 2015 BSN graduate of Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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It's 2:30 a.m., and I'm wide awake. Not because I can't sleep or have a test tomorrow, but because I'm at work. My patients are all sleeping or resting quietly in their rooms, and I have a chance to get caught up on my charting. It's a rarity to have down time at work, day shift or night, but it's what nurses do. It's a busy work lifestyle, but we chose it willingly. We even put ourselves through the hardship of nursing school to get here.


When I picked my college major, I knew three things: I did not want to work in a cubicle; I wanted to work with people; and I wanted to keep learning throughout life. So I chose nursing! Those college years were the hardest of my life, and yet incredibly enjoyable. I don't think I could have imagined on my first day of college, that when reflecting on those four years, I would consider my most educational semester as the semester spent in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, studying Spanish. It wasn't a semester full of science; it was full of people, culture, and learning how to live in an environment where you can't always anticipate what is happening.


The motto for that semester was flexibilidad-Spanish for flexible. Our professor purposefully did not give us our schedule in advance because he wanted us to be immersed in the culture and not fixated on the future. I did not always appreciate his methods, but in hindsight, this was the most applicable life lesson I learned in college. I landed back in the United States and three months later started the nursing program-my hardest academic years by far. I kept flexibilidad in mind as I went through school, trying not to sweat the little things. I was learning that the small stuff didn't always matter.


Now that I am out of school, I can see how having that mindset of flexibilidad keeps me sane. I don't get worked up over little things, and I'm calmer when the bigger issues come along. The little quizzes in school didn't give me anxiety, which meant that I could study, while remaining calm for my big tests.


During my final semester, I discovered a quote by C.S. Lewis: "It's not the load that breaks you down. It's the way you carry it." I observed tired, stressed classmates and how they let the load break them down. But others, who took time for themselves and didn't worry about every little detail, were visibly less stressed and more relaxed.


Don't Be Anxious

By Tori Ellens


Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) are verses I have lived by since high school:


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


By the comfort of these words, and the peace they provide me, I survived nursing school, state licensure boards, and more. You can too!


Pride in Our Profession

In "How to survive nursing school without ending up in the psych ward" (Desenberg, 2013), the author lists 20 helpful survival tips. The last item states, "Finally, never, ever say 'just a nurse.' You are going to be a nurse. A healer. We do the dirty work. We are the physicians' eyes and ears. We are our patients' and families' voices. Be proud of your chosen profession!


Being a nurse isn't about grades; it's about being who we are. No book can teach you how to cry with a patient. No class can teach you how to tell their family that their parents have died or are dying. No professor can teach you how to find dignity in giving someone a bed bath. A nurse is not about the pills or the charting, it's about being able to love people when they are at their weakest moments" (Desenberg, 2013).


Desenberg N. (2013, September 29). How to survive nursing school without ending up in the psych ward. Retrieved from[Context Link]