One way or another, I tend to keep myself busy these days. Even though I am currently not formally attending class as a full-time student, I still seem to average about one post a month. I hope that I can start posting more frequently at some point; a number of drafts are being actively worked on, but I can get a little particular about their finer details. At any rate, this post once again serves as an update about my situation, picking up where my last post at the end of December left off. At this point, roughly three months have passed since then, meaning that six months have passed in total since I decided to leave medical school.
I last ended by stating that 2015 will start as an unpredictable year, and indeed it has been. At the beginning of February, I decided to visit some of my friends in my old TCOM class. While only four months had passed since the last time I was on campus, I was a little taken aback by the amount of things that had changed. Straightaway, I noticed that the dynamic between some of my groups of friends had changed dramatically — since my leave, certain individuals had snapped and stopped talking to one another. I actually had to visit the campus on multiple days to see all my friends because some of them refused to hang out with each other. It was… paining to observe, in a way.
Another change that happened since my departure altered the future of the D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) degree that I was previously pursuing. TCOM is an Osteopathic medical school, meaning that medical principles taught in class focus on holistic treatment (intrinsic, bodily treatment) rather than simply prescribing medicine at the first sign of symptoms. Both physician degrees are prevalent in the United States, and many patients who are aware of the differences often enjoy the additional treatment methods associated with D.O. practice.
Unfortunately, as I have noted in some of my previous posts, the medical system right now is a messy affair. Until recently, politics tugged the two medical degrees back and forth, forcing them to squabble over residency slots and general awareness. Now however, I have come to learn from my classmates that the D.O. degree is being dissolved. The way my friend described it, D.O. doctors will now get M.D. degrees and the actual osteopathic training will become a “specialty” practice; one would visit an Osteopath solely for Osteopathic treatments, conferring upon them a role similar to that of a chiropractor’s. For current students, they can choose whether or not they want to actually want to pursue an Osteopathic residency of course, but it all just seemed like a piteous affair for a degree that previously prided itself in its refinement to traditional physician practice.
As one can imagine, this was quite a bit to take in upon making my re-visitation, and the woes of politics did not even end there. I will spare the vexing details, but it is suffice to say that internal conflicts plague TCOM at every level. To quote my friend, “[I] picked a good time to leave”. At the very least, I was glad to see my friends again, and they were as amicable (with me at least) as they had been before I left. Excited at a chance to see me again, they picked me up from my apartment and treated me to a sushi buffet at a pricey restaurant.
Soon after my visit, I also received an email from the company I had applied to work for last year. The email was apologizing for the unavailability of positions for the Fort Worth team I had applied to and asked whether I could wait a few more months. At this point, I was getting a little irked at the wait time, as I had been previously told that I would likely start working at the beginning of 2015. Without replying to the email, I began to research other jobs that I could pick up; while I had been making an effort to try and avoid a minimum-wage retail-type position, I could only hold out for so long. Miraculously, I received a fortuitous phone call from the same company the next day, offering me a position that had suddenly opened up. The recruiter wanted to speak to me because the position was only available for full-time employees, but I had applied for a part-time position. Knowing my background, the recruiter honestly felt that I could comfortably handle a full-time position, but of course needed to verify whether I would be willing. Thrilled at the prospect, I agreed and was scheduled for training later in the month. 2015 certainly was starting out unpredictably.
Since I started working full-time, I got busy between my prerequisite class-work and the odd hours I worked. The company I work for has me working between four emergency rooms in the South Fort Worth area. I bounce between emergency departments in the area and can be scheduled for shifts at any time during the 24-hour period (meaning that I get overnight shifts as well). A typical day involves me juggling patient charts in the EMR and documenting everything that goes on in the fast-paced environment. I am enjoying it immensely and it will prove to be a valuable experience for nursing school.
It was honestly a wonderful feeling to be back in that sort of environment. The hum of machinery… the various alarms sounding intermittently… the well organized response teams… the educated individuals that comprise the staff — a job that would be stressful to many others was a breath of fresh air to me. Between the doctors, nurses, and techs, one is made to feel like a vital part of the team because they are. It surprises me how a number of things I do as a part of my duties directly impact the patient — even their times of death posthumously. In addition, the nurses and doctors are amazingly friendly to talk with; it is just a great feeling to be surrounded by educated, like-minded, affable individuals.
Working the the ED, I have also learned a lot about just how meticulously hospitals are organized, especially with regards to critical situations such as cardiac arrest. I cannot go into details for various reasons, but I was impressed with the response protocols, security measures, and the tight technological integration utilized to ensure that the chaotic environment keeps moving along. Despite the importance and alacrity of the staff’s duties though, there are also breaks every so often, especially during overnight shifts. The nursing team especially is usually very friendly and often brings in food for the entire staff to enjoy. After having been a shadowing student for so long, I almost forget sometimes that I am a part of the staff until a coworker insists that I try the food. It’s a good time. The time also flies because one is constantly moving quickly from place to place.
Between my 8-10 hour shifts, I work on my prerequisite classwork. Initially, I would be too drained after work to do my class assignments, but I slowly got used to it. On the side, I would also obsessively check my admission status at the two schools I applied to. I was really hoping to hear back from the schools in March, but sadly received no news; if I had been accepted into one of my schools, I would not have to sign up for additional summer classes required by the other. Without any word from either of the schools, I would have to register for the additional classes anyways to cover my bases since course registration would open on April 8th.
On April 7th, I was working at the fastest-paced hospital in the area with my favorite doctor. As could be expected, the time went by very quickly and the doctor was even nice enough to let me off an hour and a half early (early dismissal does not affect pay). In good spirits, I walked back to my car and retrieved my cell phone from the glove compartment, as staff cannot carry cell phones in the ED for patient privacy reasons. As I scroll through the emails I had received while on shift, I notice an email that I was not expecting. The University of Texas at Houston had accepted me into their fifteen month accelerated nursing program.
Needless to say, I was elated. With this news, this is it. My year has finally been laid out. No more wondering whether I will be going to nursing school this year or whether I would have to work through the year and attend sometime in 2016. I finally know that this fall will be spent with me wandering about the Light Rail stations in downtown Houston’s urban environment. This fall, I will be a nursing student.
I am rather proud of the progress that has been made since September of last year. In six months, I have been able to steer my life’s course into a vastly different direction. All things considered, six months is an incredibly short amount of time to do this; it was in fact the shortest amount of time I could have possibly spent in getting back on my feet. At any rate, the lease for my Fort Worth apartment will expire on July 31st. Since UT Houston is close to my parents’ house and the nursing program is so short, I may yet decide to commute from there in order to recoup the financial blow the last six months have given to my bank account. Either way, as I look forward to what lies ahead, I gaze with excitement, anticipation, determination, and thankfulness.