By Glenn Fredenburg, August 2015
I went back to college because I have a plan, one of those "I’m-in-my-early-50's-and-don't-want-a-sports-car" itches. I of course went to nursing school later in life, and have been a working nurse for 14 years now. For some reason I want to accelerate my job stress and become a Nurse Practitioner. Step One - the Bachelor's degree.
I forgot how much fun, and stress, college added to my life.
I've been a bit of a nerd for the past, say 50 years. I LOVE knowing how things work. As such, it’s been incredibly rewarding to me to get back and refresh my stale knowledge with another look inside the human body. I’ve found my practice refreshed now, recalling and re-learning things I forgot I had known. I also find a perverse thrill in knowing an answer at work because I just read that part of the book again. I've gained fresh insight into my colleagues and patients with a refresher on management and leadership. I find it incredibly rewarding to be back in an environment where I have to exercise my mental muscle weekly to replace memorized information like video-game cheat codes with something more important; nursing skills.
It IS a good feeling to get back to school, whether recently graduated from an associates’ program or if you’ve had a few years off; I find joy in learning and meeting new people in each class, each as dedicated to self-enrichment as me.
Of course, a bit of a challenge is fitting the homework and program back into my life. No longer do I come home from work, kick off my shoes and pick up my subscription to “Wired” magazine; I now come home, care for pets and children and cuddle up with my textbook to get my weekly reading done before the test. I have purchased a desk planner to visually plan when to start a paper so I can get it in on time without an all-nighter. I have to schedule ahead with my family "daddy needs quiet for his test" time so I can focus on getting a good grade to stay in the program and make my family proud.
It’s a bit of a challenge to fit even part-time classes in with family and work, each demanding a chunk of my day and attention. Add other life stresses (bills, neighbors, more bills,) and the work of staying in school (time to fill out loan papers AGAIN, scheduling classes,) in with the stress of the classes themselves and it all adds up.
A role model for my family
All things considered, though, the only thing I would do differently would be to have started this 14 years ago. Learning is FUN and it's nice to compare my grades with my 13-year-old's and challenging HIM to get 90's! I get to be; a better role model, a college student picking up more skills and information to make my professional self a better person, and a more complete person.
A person with a new college jacket!
About the Author
Glenn Fredenburg has been a Registered Nurse for over 13 years, coming to the profession after a career in sales. His experience in nursing has been primarily in the critical care setting, with over ten years in the emergency room and intensive care areas. His mother is a retired nurse and urged him early in life to "become a nurse" because it's rewarding helping others heal and using your complete "toolbox" of skills to aid in the recovery of body and mind. In hindsight, his mother was right. Don't tell her.