I delivered and buried my firstborn son in that February. Later that year, I buried my mom early December, just a few days before my birthday. I entered a depression. I was at a cross roads and really didn’t know what I was going to do with myself or how to do anything with myself. I was lost. I was without my baby and my mother.
Despite this, I managed to put what focus I could muster on helping my dad and my two younger brothers. At the time my youngest brother was in high school and my middle brother was in college. I was Mom’s primary caregiver. Dad, my brothers and additional close family helped how they could but the bulk of her care was done by me. Dad was working and it was important to our family that my brothers stayed in school.
I originally thought that I would go to medical school. In fact, I had spent a great deal of time preparing for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) prior to Mom’s cancer diagnosis. Along the way, things changed. Interestingly enough, throughout Mom’s journey a lot of light was shed on nursing. Mom even told me prior to her death that she thought I would make a great nurse. I had long come to realize the huge impact nurses made in healthcare. I even think back to when I was in the hospital to deliver my stillborn son, one nurse in particular was so wonderful and empathetic towards me. Her name was Jennifer. The impression of nursing was prevalent in my own care but especially in Mom’s.
I decided to become a nurse. With the help of my dear, loving and tough uncle I set on a path to become a nurse. I’ll never forget him coming over to my parent’s house. He is one of my Mom’s older brothers. I remember him firmly telling me that I’d put my life on hold long enough and that I could not continue to stay in a grief stricken state anymore. Now he didn’t quite say it in those words but this was definitely the message he was conveying. He’d told me to do whatever it was I was going to do and that he’d help me. I believe he gave me a time frame to figure things out and he made sure to check on my progress.
Since I decided I was going to become a nurse, I wanted to get a job in the healthcare setting right away. With my uncle’s help, I enrolled in a patient care technician course. Upon completion, I sought out jobs as a patient care associate or technician. My plan was to gain patient care experience and apply for nursing school. I completed the course and landed a job at a hospital in Birmingham. I wanted to be hired for the oncology unit of the hospital but at the time there were no positions available on that unit. I ended up working on the Acute Medical Unit/Infectious Disease and loved it! I learned so much and sometimes I got to float to the oncology floor.
Before applying to nursing school, I had to take two classes that I had not taken in my original undergraduate program. The classes were Statistics and Developmental Psychology. I already had a Bachelor of Science in Biology so the other requirements had been met. I enrolled at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and took the two classes. After completing the classes, I applied to nursing programs at UAB and at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). UAH was the first to send out acceptance letters and I jumped at the opportunity. I was on my way!
How did you determine your career path? Who helped you along the way? What obstacles did you conquer to get there? Share your story. It could inspire someone else.
My story continues next with Why I became a Nurse Practitioner.