Waiting for today...: A Challenging Transition, Part 2

Friday, February 7

A Challenging Transition, Part 2

I could no longer afford to pay my bills with my revamped income but I couldn't bring myself to make another phone call home.  Instead, I applied for cash advance loans every two weeks like clockwork to supplement my income.  It would be three months before I could sit for the boards again.  To prepare, I enrolled in a mandatory study course paid for by my employer.  Having nursing knowledge without the ability to apply that knowledge to clinical situations presented in the NCLEX is a sure way to fail the exam.  The core curriculum of the Kaplan course helps eligible nurse applicants to understand the complex structure of the exam questions, thereby increasing their ability to identify the most appropriate answers.   On June 8th 2007, I passed the NCLEX.  The license verification was proof of what I already knew.  On that following week I received more great news: my orientation on the floor would be extended.
My first experience with a full assignment happened to be the last day of orientation and that day ended in tears. I was ill prepared going into subsequent shifts on my lonesome. I would continue to have days like that last day and worse.  My frustration soon turned into anger.  I would wake up angry prior to going into work and leave angry at the end of the day.  My speech and my behavior at work reflected my anger and frustration, eventually rubbing my colleagues the wrong way.  I would control myself long enough to express my concerns in a civilized manner but to no avail which further fueled my anger.  I was a new nurse, drowning in the stress that accompanies bedside nursing and it seemed as if no one cared.  On my days off my anger would melt into depression.  Because I was afraid to be vulnerable, I felt I had no other choice than to wallow in the darkness.  
Every shift came complete with a continuous game of tug-of-war between me and prioritization.  As I struggled to be mindful of my time management, I was also overwhelmed by the thought of giving less than quality care.  I began to question my choice to become a nurse.  I thought about all of the years wasted preparing to enter into a profession that didn't seem to be a right fit for me.  I knew that if I were to continue on in this field, something had to change.  I didn't know if I just longed to be home or if nursing would somehow be less of a stressor as long as my friends and family were closer.  In a twisted state of delusion, forgetting why I chose to relocate in the first place, the answer appeared to be “yes” and “yes”.
I was homesick and returning home seemed to be the answer to all my troubles at the time.   The return home would be delayed, however.  I was less than two years into a three year contract.  In the interim, I searched and applied for jobs, applied for a temporary PA nursing license and explored prospective residential areas outside the city of Philadelphia.  Because of the ongoing nursing shortage, I was sure that someone would hire me.  I was so sure that I almost relocated prior to gaining employment.  Thankfully “almost”; in the end I would not relocate after all.  The year I planned to relocate was two years after the economic recession and the marketplace was unforgiving, even to nurses.  

With no hope of returning home in the near future, I sought other ways to escape the bedside.  And then a funny thing happened.  A few changes at work made my time on the unit more tolerable.  A new manager, slight staff turnover and an improved nurse-to-patient ratio helped me to improve my time management and prioritization skills subsequently reducing my stress.  I actually liked Virginia Beach!  I still struggled with anger and depression but my new life seemed to be getting better.  I finally started to see and enjoy what I had been fighting so hard for.

next in series: Out of the Fire?