A little over three years ago, I was laid off from a teaching job I loved. I've mentioned this before in this blog, and the fact that the same week, two other awful things happened-- my father was diagnosed with cancer and one of my closest friends was murdered in a robbery. It was, without a doubt, the worst week of my life.
After staying in a holding pattern for a year, working at a teaching job in an "alternative" high school-- a high school of last resort, for young adults who'd dropped out, been thrown out, or were going back to high school as an alternative to prison time-- I made the decision to change careers. At first, my plan was to do Pharmacy School. I started taking the prerequisites for that at a community college not far from my home.
My friend and co-worker Leslie was also taking classes at the same school, Truman College, as prerequisites for Nursing school. She had a degree in Journalism and realized the futility of getting a job in a field that, for the time being, is struggling. Since the prerequisites for Nursing heavily overlapped those for Pharmacy, we signed up for some of the same classes, so that we would be assured of having a study partner we knew. All through it, Leslie kept urging me to consider the Nursing program at our school: it would take only two years, as opposed to the six years it would take me to do Pharmacy school (two years of prerequisites and four years of Pharmacy school); nurses were in as much demand as pharmacists; and I would actually have an advantage as a male-- they were trying to even up the females and males in the program.
As it turned out, she was right on all counts and more. I discovered, after I applied for and was accepted into the program, that my being male helped me-- as did the fact that I was (at the time) nearly finished with all the other courses I needed, such as English 101, Microbiology, Anatomy I, etc. In April, I was accepted into the program.
I started last week. I have a few observations.
There were a couple of problems at first. The first day, we were informed that the clinical time (we do one day of clinicals at a hospital one day a week) was changed; it was supposed to be from 7 am to 1 pm on Thursday, but was changed to 1 pm to 7 pm. Since I work Thursday night, this posed a problem. Fortunately my friend Susan agreed to switch her Monday night shift for my Thursday night shift for the duration of the class. The second problem was a medical one. We were given a slew of medical tests and inoculations to take care of when we had orientation in early June. One of those was a "titer" for Hepatitis B. If the titer showed that you had no immunity for Hep B, you had to get an inoculations for this. The Hep B inoculation is actually a series of three shots over a six month period. The hospital has suddenly decided that we need to show immunity to Hep B. You do the math; even if you started the series of shots the next day, you wouldn't finish until the end of clinicals in December. They're working out something in this regard.
I really like my teacher, Mrs. Murphy. And I like my classmates, who are an amazingly diverse bunch: black, white, male, female, Asian, Latino, gay, straight. Six of the twenty of us are guys. Six of us are white. I am the only white male in the group. I'm pretty sure I'm also the oldest, though there is one woman who is probably pretty close. She also turns out to be the mother of the classroom bully in my daughter's class.
I can see that there is a real air of help and cooperation. We are starting to plan study groups. On Monday, we had to take slots for work in the computer lab. People were really helpful to one another, changing slots so that someone who had kids or some other commitment could take a slot that worked out better for them. These people will, I think make good colleagues and, eventually, good nurses.
I'm realizing how much my experiences as a teacher, in addition to, believe or not, working as a law clerk, waiter and restaurant manager are going to be really helpful in my up an coming new career. I'm also seeing that my experiences working with very diverse groups of people are going to help me. While the amount of work ahead of me is a little daunting, I'm really getting the feeling that this was a really good decision.