Nursing and the Olympics

Registered Nurse: How I Got There

Everyone has their own interesting journey in life that we feel makes us more unique than the next person. We all overcome different obstacles that seem insurmountable to us. But there are no obstacles quite as daunting as obstacles that an individual pursuing a career as a nurse goes through.

After all, nursing is considered one of the most difficult degrees to pursue, so it only makes sense that the most battle tested individuals want to do it right? Well I am one of those people. And lucky for whoever is reading this, I have the opportunity to share my journey of becoming a registered nurse thus far.

I would like to think that my journey really began when I was four years old. My only memories of those days consist of me playing ice hockey and my mom, who also happened to be going through nursing school at the time. I remember watching her study for hours, and I would try to help her (or thought I was helping her) go through her thousands of flashcards, trying to repeat every term I could pronounce.

Apparently, my favorite term I would repeat was Culexpipiens, or a mosquito. It was not just the studying I remember, but the early mornings that started at 4:30 A.M. because she had clinicals at 5 A.M., or the few times she could not find a babysitter for me and my younger sister so we came with her to her lectures.

I feel that is when I started to develop characteristics like patience and compassion. I can only imagine how my patience was tested as a four-year old in a college lecture class. I learned my compassion through watching my mother in how she treated me and my sister when I am sure she was exhausted and stressed beyond comprehension by her clinical rotations. I know I did not appreciate it then, but I do now. It was back then when I believe my journey to becoming an RN really started.

I grew older and eventually showed more interest in medicine and the human body. With one parent being a labor and delivery nurse and the other a firefighter-paramedic, it was hard to not be interested in all the stories I heard. In high school I was a part of the High School Health Careers Academy.

Reaching New Heights

This was a three-year program designed to introduce a selected bunch of high school students to different facets of the medical field through special classes and internship experiences. On top of being in this special program, I was also a well accomplished student athlete and oldest sibling of four.

With that being said, I had a lot of responsibility and practice managing my time and emotions under stressful circumstances. Anyways, this program only heightened my interest in the health profession, especially nursing. I had the opportunity to job shadow doctors and nurses on different units at Mercy S Medical Center .

This also happened to be the hospital my mom worked at on the labor and delivery floor. I was selected to do a month-long internship on the labor and delivery floor and I would say the highlight was watching a live c-section. That was one of the most amazing experiences for my 16-year old self.

On top of this academic experience, a more personal event made me realize that I had the compassion, quick thinking, and ability to think clearly in stressful situations. During my high school years, my mothers’ asthma developed to a severe level. Severe enough to the point where she had to be intubated on my living room floor. These episodes would occur anywhere from 6-20 times a year.

Whether it was preparing and administering her albuterol treatments in lightening quick time, forcing steroids down her throat while she was fighting for air, giving her a dose from her epi-pen or caring for my sister and brothers for days at a time while she was in the hospital, I knew that I would make a great nurse. It was because of these moments that I further pursued my journey to becoming an RN.

Once I reached college, I obviously began pursuing nursing more aggressively. And this is where my journey challenged me to the very core. My first year of college was not unlike many other college students. I was learning to adjust to the heightened level of discipline needed to succeed in college, all while trying to balance other commitments in my life.

My journey took a unique turn in January of 2014, when I made the United States Olympic Team Handball Team which trained at Auburn University. I moved from my home and college in northern California to Auburn, Alabama. I spent the fall of 2014 at Auburn University but moved back home in the winter because of my deteriorating mental health.

Hurdles I Overcame

In the spring I was diagnosed with major depression disorder and severe anxiety, both of which I had been struggling with for over a year before I decided to seek help. During the spring of 2015, my confidence in myself was shaken, as was my desire to be a nurse. I felt that my performance in my science classes meant that I would never make it as nurse.

After several months of being on my new medication and deciding to take control of my life, I pulled myself out of a dark time in my life.Taking care of my physical health improved my mental health. In August of 2015 I began a job working as a home care aid for a quadriplegic woman on Thursday- Sunday evenings and often times working Saturday and Sunday mornings as well.

This job was on top of my other job as a day care teacher at an elementary school. But working for this quadriplegic woman cemented my desire to want to be a nurse and was pivotal in gaining back the confidence, discipline and work ethic that had been suppressed because of my depression. I did all facets of her care from helping her eat, dress, bathe, flush her bladder, maintaining her home and doing all that was necessary to keep her comfortable and healthy.

I did things for her that most 20 year olds would find gross, but I did them because I wanted to give her the best care I could. I knew that she had to give up a lot of her personal privacy because of her injury and I was sympathetic to that and the fact that I was a major component in her well-being.

I was always so excited to work for her even if it was at 6 in the morning and I had to empty her full catheter bags or whatever else she needed me to do. The relationship and bond I had formed with this 64 year old woman showed me that I had the compassion, skills and work ethic to be a nurse.

That fall, I made the President’s List at Sierra College while taking a full load of courses that included microbiology and statistics, on top of working 25-40 hours a week between two jobs. I did all of that because I wanted to be a nurse.

In the spring of 2016, I reached a point in my life where I decided that I was mentally and physically healthy enough to try to move back to Auburn and continue training with the Olympic team and pursuing my degree in nursing at Auburn University.

Work,Work, Work

And that is exactly what I have done! I took the risk again because I knew I could do so much better for myself than the first time. I had matured and proven I had the discipline and skills to be a nurse. Even when I was not accepted into the Auburn University School of Nursing for the fall of 2017, my faith did not waver and I am proud to say I have been accepted for the spring 2018 te!

I am paying for my education on my own through loans and out of pocket while training, going to school and working at Starbucks. As amazing of an honor as it is to be a member of the U.S. Olympic team, I receive no stipend from them and am doing it totally out of my desire to be the best individual I can be, and the educational opportunity it is providing me.

Whomever is reading this, I hope you see how much of an impact I want to make as a nurse. I want to impact lives in a positive way, especially in a time where many people need something to bring their spirits up. This is what I am truly happy doing.

Edward Glass

About the Author

Edward Glass

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