Waiting for today...: A Challenging Transition, Part 1

Tuesday, January 28

A Challenging Transition, Part 1

con’t from: Not Long After

While in middle school my best friend and I would share our dreams of moving away from Pennsylvania over games of M.A.S.H.  My best friend made it as far as the Philadelphia suburbs.  I wanted to be far enough from home to enjoy the fruits of independence but within driving distance to visit friends and family often.  I chose Virginia and specifically Virginia Beach with this and other preferences in mind.   It was approximately a five hour drive away, near the beach, in a developing city much smaller than Philadelphia and without all the crime.  Upon this, I decided to make a beeline for Virginia Beach soon after graduation.  I loaded up my rented U-Haul trailer and headed south in January 2007, desperately seeking to leave undesirable remnants of my life behind.  
Although my orientation began shortly after my arrival, I didn’t plan for the two to three weeks that I would have to wait for my first paycheck.  I believe now that I allowed the eagerness and excitement of my transition from student to professional cloud the view of my true bottom line.  Days after my arrival my excitement turned to anxiety when unforeseen and a few “should-have-seen” expenses depleted my funds.  Thankfully, I had financial assistance from the man I've called Dad since I was a teen and the added support of my unit manager who graciously offered me a room in her new home once she learned that I was staying week to week in a hotel.
As a registered nurse applicant I received registered nurse pay.  Within a month or so my financial woes appeared to cease along with my stress and anxiety.  When my orientation shifted from the classroom to the floor, however, the difficult transition from student nurse to nurse became painfully evident.  My anxiety increased.  Depression was not far behind as I dreaded the reality of having to sit and pass the NCLEX.   As a lousy test-taker, this exam terrified me.  And as the final weeks before the exam approached, the same pressure I felt in nursing school hung over me like a lead cloak.  But beyond skimming the pages of an NCLEX study guide, I failed to sufficiently prepare for the exam.  I was overwhelmed and paralyzed.
I failed the NCLEX and I didn't need the Virginia Nursing Board to send me a letter informing me of that.  I knew it when I sat down to take the exam… when I got in my car to drive to the testing site… when I went to sleep the night before.  Anxiety greeted me when I awoke the morning of the exam but just like my failing my courses back in 2003 and 2005, it left me the moment I exited the testing site doors.  I was indeed disappointed that I failed and there was a dreadful consequence to my failing this time: I was demoted to a nurse’s aide and my pay was cut in half.

next in series: A Challenging Transition, Part 2