Some of you probably will read my little blurby on the right side of my site over there that says I am a bullet proof wearing nurse and wonder Say what now? What does that even mean? Is that even possible? Short answer is yes, it is. I went to school for nursing and that’s what I have my degree in. In honour of Nurse Appreciation Week, I figured maybe I could tell you a bit about how I kind of fell into this profession.
So to start off I will say that my mother was a nurse. (Just to be clear…she’s retired, not dead. I wasn’t sure how that came across :/) Here in Ontario, we have Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs). RNs go to school for 4 years and end up with a University degree. RPNs go to school for 2 years and end up with a College diploma. My mom went back to school at 40 years old to become an RPN. When I was about 17 and getting close to the end of high school, like a good chunk of high schoolers, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I thought about studying languages because my best OAC subjects were French and Spanish (God, I’m really dating myself here…OAC doesn’t exist anymore.) Both my parents actually asked me “So what job are you gonna get when you’re done school if you study French and Spanish?” I was kind of annoyed by the question because I hadn’t actually thought it through. Being the indignant smart-ass that I am, I didn’t even take a breath when they asked. I replied, “Obviously a translator!” I was pretty confident in that answer, but truth be told it was the only answer I could think of on the fly. I did do my research and got a co-op placement at a translation company and quickly realized it was not the career path for me. In the midst of me stressing out during the post-secondary education application process, my mother suggested the idea of me going to nursing school. Her pitch to me was “with a nursing degree you can work anywhere in the world and you will never be without a job. Why don’t you use it as a fall back plan while you figure out what it is you really want to do.” Boom! Sold! I put down 3 nursing programs on my application and threw in 2 Humanities programs juuuuuust in case.
Fast forward to one of my first few classes in one of my core nursing classes. It was one of those touchy feely fluff courses where you focus on the spirit of nursing or whatever. We did one of those exercises where we went around the room and told everyone in the class why we went into nursing. The answers leading up to my turn were a collection of “I really care about humanity and want to do good in this world” to “(Insert dear relative) was sick with cancer and it inspired me…” to any number of heartfelt Florence Nightingale-esque responses. When it got to my turn, I was the first person who said: “I wanted to make sure that I had a well-paying job and job security after going to school for four years.” People turned and looked at me like I had two heads or I went around kicking their dogs. Some were visibly appalled that I would say something…very practical? Nursing wasn’t a passion of mine or something that I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a kid. It was literally just a suggestion my mother gave me to steer me towards a decent career path that would help me establish myself as a young adult.
As it stands right now I have been a nurse for almost 11 years. I have never held a full-time “traditional” position. Traditional meaning the type of nurse who goes around changing dressings and wears scrubs. From day one of my professional life, I found my niche. I immediately began working on a crisis team in an emergency department and after a few years, I transitioned into being a crisis nurse who patrolled with the police…hence, the bullet-proof vest. It has allowed me to create a decent life for myself, as my mom suggested. I can honestly say my CV doesn’t exactly read like most nurses out there…and I’m proud of that. Sometimes I sit back and think “what would I be doing if my mother didn’t make that suggestion to me? What would I be doing today?” It’s a question I definitely can’t answer. I’ve worked exclusively in the mental health field and I’ve had many people question my decision to do this. For the most part, they don’t seem to understand my job or the clientele I work with. I usually just summarize Psychiatry with a sentence a Psychiatrist I worked with once told me: “People are funny, love is strange, don’t do crack.”
Happy Nurses Week!