Shakespeare on nursing

The other day a friend of mine asked me about graduation. I’ve been counting down to graduation since September of 2010. Yet, in that moment, it hit me that my classmates and I are now  incoming seniors. The expected flood of excitement and exhilaration I might have felt in that moment suddenly flew like a lead balloon. Oh… my…word. I am a senior?!!! Nope, check the records again please, because there is no way in the world I feel ready for this.

In a quest to quell my surging fear I purchased an NCLEX prep book online and began to flip through saved Power Points and notes from the previous two years. It was my intent to read through all 1.13 GB and commit it to memory by that afternoon. I made it as far as heparin calculations before I decided my brain must be one massive sieve because any previous knowledge I had of heparin calculations was long gone. It got me to thinking, what else was missing? Core skills? Calculations? Pregnancy and pediatrics? I shudder to think. How in the world would I be ready to take on the challenges of Leadership and IP? Oh, the mischief of self doubt, it’s such a charming little monkey on my back.

In the words of Shakespeare:

“Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt. “ – William Shakespeare (Measure by Measure)

It eased my fears a bit to know even Shakespeare struggled with doubt, his words articulately echoing the battle now raging in my head. I believe everyone at some point or another has questioned their own talent or the wisdom in an action. What separates those moments from failure is the decision to act. It’s interesting to me that when I typed “failure to act” into Google I wound up with a page full of hits on Maslow’s theory. According to Maslow, once basic necessities are met, the human psyche reaches a point where self-esteem and the mastery of skills or achievement precede self-actualization. I think Maslow’s theory is a perfect analogy for the incoming senior nursing student. We have been put through the basics. We have been sheltered and given the fundamental bread, butter, and water of theories and skills. As we used those in our clinical practice we became adept at making decisions and acting within the safety and security of skilled guidance from our instructors.  Certainly, you don’t survive the first two years without building some framework of friends and support. Nursing students have that sense of belonging that comes from the shared experiences of stress and struggle and triumph that is nursing school. As senior nursing students we stand at the brink, ready to lead and grow those basic skills into a mastery of chosen specialties with eyes toward graduation and the actualization of the title Registered Nurse.

All of that to say I have decided it is perfectly normal to feel doubtful about my ability to handle some of the hurdles and unknowns that lay ahead for me as a senior this year. In order to redirect that doubt into a focused direction, I have decided it is far more practical to review topics in smaller chunks than memorizing a GB sized file in an afternoon. Short review sessions and “curiosity-led-study” rather than a “fear-driven-drive” is far more effective for me. This is summer vacation, after all, and likely the last one I will have for a while. In that frame of reference it makes more sense to soak up the sun and take time to enjoy the break while it lasts. As I lay staring up at a cloudless blue sky contemplating nursing school I couldn’t help but smile and think:

“I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it” – Willliam Shakespeare (As You Like It).