Lifelong Media: Where Were You When I Needed You?

Lifelong Media:  Where Were You When I Needed You?

By Nelah DiAddezzio

I just had no idea. No one told me.  They painted a rosy picture for me, so I thought it would be like anything else I set out to accomplish in life.  Let me be the first to admit that I was gravely mistaken.

When I think about my personal journey as a nursing student, two aspects of Lifelong Media, The Research Masters’ new initiative, stand out to me: A Day in the Life and Project Nightingale. These would have been valuable resources 20 years ago as I took my first steps toward a lifelong career in nursing…

As a senior high school student with a robust portfolio of four consecutive years on the distinguished honor roll, membership in the National Honor Society, and completion of honors and advanced placement courses, I looked to the future with confidence.  Senior year was filled with college applications, financial aid forms, and excitement.

I was convinced I wanted to be a nurse.  I loved the idea of taking care of the sick, keeping them comfortable, and helping them recover.  I found first aid lessons in health class to be fascinating.  Adults would confirm this career decision with comments similar to: “It’s a rewarding career”, “It pays well”, and “There’s a lot of flexibility”.  This was the extent of my understanding of nursing.

My guidance counselor was busy preparing the large number of senior students under him for high school graduation. He had good intentions of arranging for another student and I to shadow a nurse for the day, but the plan never came to fruition. I was not counseled in determining my strengths and weaknesses and using this assessment to choose a career most fitting.

I didn't have a realistic understanding of nursing until my junior of college during my first clinical rotation in maternity.  Junior year of college is a little late in the game to come to the realization that nursing is a challenging and high pressure profession.  I only ever thought about the rewarding aspects of caring for patients prior to junior year. During the debrief session after the first day of clinical, I told my clinical instructor (with tears in my eyes) that I had no idea that this is what nursing was like.

In addition, my long standing high academic performance record started to fall apart. Higher level nursing courses that began my junior year tested my comprehension of the material I diligently studied in a way it had never been tested before. More than one answer often seemed correct.  What was priority? I struggled to know, because it wasn’t spelled out clearly to me in the textbooks or classroom lectures.

The first semester of junior year was filled with visits to my academic advisor, calls home to my parents for support and encouragement, and honest talks with a couple of treasured nursing instructors about this career called nursing that I now saw from a new, daunting perspective.  I started to wonder if I had chosen the right career and would be able to improve my test scores.

This is why A Day in the Life and Project Nightingale stand out to me and leave a positive impression. A Day in the Life would have been a valuable tool in helping me have realistic expectations of the career I chose. If I had access to the interactive videos, internships, and mentorships, I may have been better prepared mentally and emotionally to take on that first clinical rotation and the rotations that followed. The virtual clinical rotations available through Project Nightingale would have helped me go into clinical with greater confidence in my nursing skills. That confidence did come with time through repetition as I cared for patients in clinical rotations and as a registered nurse.

My testing skills did not improve until the summer after my graduation, when I first laid my hands on an NCLEX-RN prep book and practiced question after question in the comfort of my own home. I finally gained a solid handle of answering test questions. Project Nightingale would have provided opportunities for me to master those test questions while still in college. More specifically, Project Nightingale’s NCLEX Prep would have provided the repetition I needed to become comfortable with this style of testing.

My experience with choosing a college major and test taking is not unique. In a recent survey conducted by YouthTruth, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, only 45 percent of high school students think they are ready for college and a career. A large number feel school is not helping them develop the skills necessary to attend college (Leal, 2015). A survey of high-school students and adult career switchers showed that these teens and adults do not have a realistic understanding of nursing (Erickson, 2005).  According to Lundberg (2008), nursing students have a hard time applying textbook material to the clinical setting and would gain confidence in real-life patient care through repeated success with performing skill sets. With regards to test taking, nursing students often have difficulty with the standard multiple choice tests due to lack of experience with this style of testing where the correct answer requires critical thinking to select the best answer. Mastery of this kind of testing is gained through test-taking practice (Morris, 2012).

Unlike 20 years ago when I started this journey as wide-eyed and optimistic young woman, students today have an abundance of information at their fingertips. Ease of access is a present day advantage, but not all information found on the internet is accurate and reliable. A Day in the Life and Project Nightingale provide trustworthy guidance from professionals who desire for students to succeed. I am now one of those professionals who am so thankful that I am a nurse, have flexible hours, and have varied job options in which to use those nursing skills. I am also one those professionals who desires to help nursing students avoid my pitfalls by providing them with tools for success.

References

Erickson, J. et al. (2005). Issues in nursing; Why not nursing. Nursing2005, 35(7), 46-49.

Leal, F. (2015). “Survey: Most high school students feel unprepared for college, careers.” [Online]. Accessed July 2016 via the Web at https://edsource.org/2015/survey-most-high-school-students-feel-unprepared-for-college-careers/83752

Lundberg, K. M. (2008). Promoting self-confidence in clinical nursing students. Nurse Educator, 33(2), 86-89.

Morris, A. H. & Faulk, D. R. (2012). A guide for nurse educators. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, LLC