- Just do the next thing. People constantly asked me how in the world I was managing. I worked full-time and was a full-time student, and they wanted to know the key to perseverance. Plan, study, keep your head down, utilize every second and complete the task at hand. Most importantly, don't look ahead, worry, and fret. It accomplishes nothing. Remember, this is only for a season, not forever.
- Elicit help from your family. This commitment to advance your nursing education, after all, is for them too. My kids would bring me snacks and my husband ran the show. For a long time, I mourned not being able to be supermom anymore but he worked part-time and I was our main support. Life is what it is.
- Age is not a barrier. I did worry that perhaps the investment was too great since I was fifty when I started the journey and fifty-three when I finish my MSN. However, as a friend astutely noted, I was going to be fifty-three anyway. It is never too late to go back to nursing school to advance your education for better opportunities!
- Anything worth having is worth working for. Plan on sequestering yourself and studying. Also, if you are planning on attending graduate school, grades are important.
- Have a study in your house. I was lucky enough for this. I could close the doors, put my ear plugs in and immerse myself in the task at hand. If the family is underfoot and you need to study, consider the library, staying over at work, or hijacking your bedroom for your very own.
- Organization is extremely important. This is something I have to work at; it’s not an innate gift. However, rearing six active homeschooling children has probably helped me acquire some of these skills. Calendars are a must. Syncing phone calendars and computers are great technological advances.
- The internet is indispensable. At the very end of my program, our internet cable was cut by local builders. I ended up getting an iPhone so I could tether to my computer to hand in some documents and I spent time at my daughter's house. If you are going to attend an online course, have a back-up plan for internet. Don't wait till the crisis happens.
- It helps to have a friend. I was very blessed during my program to have one. Often on nights when we were working on projects, text messages of humor and complaint would fly back and forth over the airwaves. Yes, a friend is good. Thanks, Nikki.
- Go for it! A BSN is becoming more and more necessary. I love working as a staff nurse, however in our area of the country, floor nursing is about all you can do without a BSN degree. Realize that in the future, the day will inevitably come when you are tired of required overtime, tired of being short staffed, or just plain tired. You may be to the point where you simply want more. Prepare now!
- Learn the value of education. With more chances of going back to nursing school and gaining more knowledge comes more opportunity, more options, more independence and more autonomy. Yes, that pretty much sums it up. The older and wiser you get, the more you will desire these intangibles.
Recently, I asked a group of our closest Medicine X friends and colleagues to join me for a three-day spring retreat in Washington, DC. As I looked around the room, I saw something remarkable.
Participating in the discussions about the future of Medicine X were a doctor, a nurse, two pharmacists, an Internet geologist, a hospital administrator, a policy leader, three patient community builders, artists, designers, and a dog.
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Our conversations about our values at Medicine X mapped out concepts such as “give every person the dignity they deserve”, “value and respect the experience each person brings”, and “give everyone permission to be human.”
At our founding four years ago we set out to create a world-leading patient engagement program where:
- At least 10% of our seats would be allocated to patients;
- Selection of patients for our programs would be merit-based and needs-blind, and conducted in a peer-reviewed and transparent selection process;
- Travel, housing and program scholarships would be awarded on a financial-need basis;
- Wellness programs would be created to care for our patients and delegates;
- Free open-access video livestream and social media would be used to engage those unable to attend in person and join the conversation.
Because of these founding principles, we are sometimes referred to as “the patient conference”. Our conference tag line at inception was “an academic medical conference designed for everyone”. We still believe a better future for health care requires everyone’s voice.