Dr. Nurse C

It seems I can’t quite figure out what I want to do with my life. Floor nurse? Instructor/professor? Travel nurse? I don’t know what I want.

So when in doubt, go back to school for another degree.

My friends are getting married and having babies while I’m over here adding more initials after my name.

The reason I went back to school for my masters was because I needed something different from the stress of floor nursing. So 5 years after graduating from undergrad I completed my graduate degree in Nursing Education and began teaching.

Weekends off, holidays off, summers off. Higher education has its perks, but it also has its headaches. On top of politics, you have to deal with the fact that education doesn’t pay as well as floor nursing, there are more students that don’t want to be there than that do, and people have zero understanding how nursing works on the college level.

I felt inexperienced, naive, and aimless. After two years of feeling like a complete failure as an educator, I decided to walk away. Not forever, just for now. I wanted an adventure and to add more diversity.

I needed a new plan and that led me to travel nursing. Considering how much I love traveling, I asked myself why I hadn’t opted to do this soon. It’s floor nursing, but less politics and short term. Less headache usually.

But there’s still this latent desire to teach and help and guide others.

I was on the tenure track when I worked full time as an instructor. One of the requirements to become tenured was getting the terminal degree for your profession. For nursing, that means getting your doctorate.

More school? Do I really want 3-5 more years of school? Am I freaking crazy??

The two years I spent acquiring my masters was harder then I expected. I was working for the college in multiple roles, trying to complete my degree, and working per diem at the hospital. Talk about overloaded. Tears… There were tears.

The idea of getting my doctorate never left my mind though. University of Pennsylvania is an institution renowned for its excellence in nursing and nursing research. A former professor pointed out years ago that they have a great doctoral level program and one of their centers of study focuses on women’s health. I finally went to an open house in September and found myself really impressed and excited by the things they do at UPenn. My mother was so impressed she kept asking what she needed to do in order to get a PhD from Penn.

The first 3 years of your doctorate are funded by the university if you’re full time. That includes insurance and a small stipend. They only accept about 17 applicants a year out of the 40some that apply. I was/am nervous about those odds. I mean, can I stand out in a sea of applicants with far more experience under their belt?

After sending in my application, I found out recently that I’ve been selected to have a formal interview on campus in February. I can’t believe it!

On the heels of my excitement came uncertainty. Do I know what I’m doing? Yea, I’ve always had a love for women’s health, but the years of intensive schooling already has me nervous.

Why do I want to go back to school anyway?

My passion lies in the building of self-efficacy in young teenagers as well as women coming out of the sex trade industry. Giving them the means to make good and healthy decisions, also to stop the cycle of repeated pregnancies. I want to teach good self-care and hope. Sex education is important for both groups as well as understanding their needs and goals for the future.

Just talking about it gets me excited, but… Am I ready for the hard work that would go into researching and understanding what goes into caring for and teaching either demographic?

Someone may need to hold my hand and listen to me cry through all these grueling papers I’ll be writing.

Bottom line even though the task is daunting, I feel pulled to pursue my PhD. I’m prepared to work hard even if I’m not 100% sure what I’ll do with my degree once I get it. Things will have to work themselves out as I go.

I’m hoping to find out in the next few months whether I’ll be accepted.

As for traveling? Well, I’ll do that for as long as I can and I’ll probably do it when I’m off. I can’t give traveling up so maybe I’ll integrate that into what I do.

Here’s taking those next big steps.

Travel on, road warrior

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