My Journey to MSN, RN

Lately I've had a lot of hilarious high school photos pop up on my Facebook memories, and when I see them I am shocked at the amount of time that has passed. It's been over 7 years since I finished high school and 3 years since I graduated from college. What kind of madness is that!? Like most young people, throughout those years I changed my mind a lot about what direction my future would take me. Throughout grade school and at the beginning of high school, I was sure that I wanted to be a doctor or a forensic crime scene analyst (don't ask). Once I got really involved in speech team and theater toward the end of my high school career, I thought I wanted to become a news anchor. So, as any young aspiring news anchor does, I went into college as a broadcast journalism major.

When I started college at the University of Miami, I auditioned for a spot on UMTV, the university's local cable channel. I actually secured a position as a reporter, which I was super pumped about at the time. All my dreams were coming true... until I learned that the reporting life isn't all I imagined it to be. Part of my job as a reporter was to learn how to work all the cameras and microphone equipment, lug it around campus in a giant cart to the shooting location, create a video "package," and cut and edit my report. I was confused and unprepared for all of this, seeing as I was a freshman with very little background in broadcasting. Then, my first day on the job I had to help an upperclassman reporter film a package. It was a disaster. I pushed my cart full of heavy camera equipment across campus on a 90 degree day, and I couldn't find the girl I was supposed to meet up with. So, I brought the equipment back to the studio and just kind of quit the whole thing on the spot. In retrospect, it's kind of a hilarious failed attempt, but it goes to show that broadcasting just wasn't my passion. It was way too easy to give up and not look back.

At the time all of this was going on, I was enrolled in Psych 101. It was my favorite class, and it was the only one that felt right to me. I knew that broadcast journalism wasn't going to work out, so I talked to my counselor about switching my major. I knew right away when she asked that I wanted to study psychology. Throughout my college career as a psych major, I loved my courses and my professors. So many of them were super inspiring and intelligent women who I aspired to be like. With the help of their advice and mentorship, I started to get the idea that I wanted to get a Psy.D so that I could become a clinically-based psychologist.

My first step to pursuing that career involved seeking out a position as an undergraduate research assistant. I got a position at UMiami's PASO (the Program on Anxiety, Stress, and OC-Spectrum Disorders). This research program had the coolest faculty director, and all the graduate students were extremely knowledgable. My job involved running studies for the graduate students and collecting  evidence from databases. I was really lucky to get to be involved with such an intelligent group of researchers, but I learned through that position that I didn't want to go to graduate school for psychology. It would have involved a very heavy focus on research, which is great, but I'm the kind of person who has a short attention span and needs to get my hands dirty (so to speak).

Now that I was again unsure of my career path, I turned to the person who every young woman turns to when she needs a little help: my mom! My mom is a registered nurse and a clinical nurse leader, but her first career was as a school teacher. When I was in high school, she went to Rush University for nursing school, where she earned her Master of Science in Nursing and CNL certification. She gave me a lot of guidance regarding nursing and the many directions it can take you in. I considered that even though I would start as a bedside RN, I could have endless opportunities from there on out, even the possibility of becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner. After picking her brain and considering all the possibilities of nursing, I got the sense that this active, fast-paced patient-focused career path was a good fit for me.

Upon graduation from the University of Miami, I applied and was accepted to the Rush University generalist entry level MSN-RN program. This is a 2-year accelerated Masters program that also prepares you to sit for your CNL certification upon graduation. It is specifically designed for people with a bachelor's degree in anything except nursing, as long as you have the proper prerequisites under your belt (ex: A&P, psychology, microbiology, chemistry, etc...). It was an intense 2 years that flew by faster than I could have imagined. My clinical placements took me through all different areas of nursing, and taught me that a career in nursing could take you so many different places. My final immersion placement of nursing school was on a cardiac/telemetry unit that has a special medical/ behavioral designation. That meant that my psych background would tie into my work on the unit. The nurses and the techs on this unit were so welcoming and open to teaching and helping students, new grads, and each other. So, after graduation, I applied for a position there... and the rest is history!

I am currently working on this unit as a new grad RN and will be a part of the RN Residency program once the educational sessions start in August. It's been a great experience so far, and all of my preceptors have been extremely helpful in teaching me but also allowing me to learn and practice independently. I look forward to the near future in which I plan to hone my skills as a bedside RN, and I sometimes think about where the far-off future might take me. I have interest in working as a CNL, but I also sometimes think about going back to school to become an NP or possibly a CRNA. For now, I'm happy where I'm at.