What It’s All About

Another pin in my Map to ELSEWHERE has been added. This one is centered over a little place called College Orientation (Nursing Edition). It’s small, but not so small as the Nursing Information Session was. And it came with its own realizations and quirks.

I felt kinda like a kid being dropped off at my first day or school, because of the fact that my mother gave me a ride to the campus for the orientation – and even provided me with snacks (a bottle of water and a little bag of pistachios). I met up with D at the entrance and he exchanged pleasantries with her before we had to run to sign-in.

There was a pot-hole, right away, for me. D signed in, was assigned to Room 204, and immediately took off down the hall. I signed in and was told to go to Room 205.

Wait, what? Don’t we do this together? Why are we in different places???

I didn’t question the smiling receptionist. I took off down the hall after D. But Room 205 was on my right within a few steps and he was standing at the VERY END of the hall. There were so many people there to be orientated that we had been divided into three groups. And he and I were – by virtue of the alphabet – in different rooms. I had not anticipated getting separated from him, but I was somehow standing in Room 205. I put on the little name-tag sticker that was already filled out with my name and signed another roster sheet. And then found my way to a seat in the second row from the front.

Orientation itself went well. I think. I’m fairly sure that it was standard – though I have no experience in these things.

The Dean of Nursing gave a small speech about how we (those of us in the room who were coming in as freshmen) are embarking on a journey. I understood this, because I’m using a similar analogy in my use of the Map to Elsewhere. She also showed us a list that was created by a class of senior nursing students during their very last class. It was a list of things that they felt had helped them through the most difficult challenges on their journey. The words that struck me the most were Determination and Dedication.

You can be determined to do something. But you should also be dedicated to doing it.

She then asked us all what we thought we were going to school to do. Most of us answered that we were there to learn. When prompted to be more specific, we said we wanted to learn to help people – to make them better, or at least less bad. She then asked us what we thought we needed to be taught. Again, she got a few different answers – how to give medications, how to respond in an emergency, how to think critically. She was satisfied with all of those responses, but she pointed out that the last one was the one she was really looking for.

Thinking critically, she said, is one of the hardest things to teach. And it is one of the most essential things for a nurse. The NCLEX exam – which is the final step in becoming an R.N. – has questions that are intentionally phrased in such a way that every answer is right . . . but only one is technically correct, based on a full and proper evaluation of the information presented in the question. We all got what she meant, because some of the questions on the TEAS exam (our entrance exam at the school) were formed that way.

But then she went on to a topic that I knew right away I’d want to put down on paper (or into cyber-space), because it’s something that I had on my mind, though not so well-worded as she presented it. She started talking about how we’ll learn attitudes, too.

Some of them, she said, will be things we already have – hopefully.

Thinking compassionately, acting with integrity, being professional.

But some of them, she noted, we might have to work to acquire. Like teamwork.

Ick. Teamwork.Working with a team. And not one that I carefully selected in order to ensure comparability and  a positive outcome . . . one that will be arranged by my instructors and (later) my employers with little to no regard to my own preferences.

That’s one of only a few things that have made me hesitant about choosing this career. I tend to be a loner. I prefer to work on my own for reasons of convenience and comfort. I don’t like the potential for conflict that seems inherent in teamwork situation (except in some situations and circumstances). I don’t like unknown variables or sudden changes.

I’d been ignoring this – both my dislike of teamwork and my dislike of unpredictability. I didn’t want to consider anything that would be an obstacle in my following this map that I found. When there’s  treasure at the end and who cares about quicksand and pirates?

But the Dean introduced a new concept to me. And it was another light-bulb moment.

Working well in a team and handling sudden changes are both attitudes and attitudes can be learned. Just because someone is like me and doesn’t do well with those two things, doesn’t preclude that person from ever becoming someone who is able to do well with them. Not at all. A person can learn to adopt a different attitude.

The professional slacker turning into the business professional.

The awkward loaner turning to the motivational speaker.

Me turning into a registered nurse.

As long as there is a true desire for change, change can be enacted. As long as I am willing to make an effort to move beyond my comfort zone. As long as I am willing to learn something new. As long as I’m willing to ask questions to answers I don’t know.

It’s ironic, a bit, because this blog is called Chaotic Metanoia.

I knew there’d be change. I just didn’t expect to be doing so much of it – even though it feels like getting the answer to a question that I’ve been asking myself since I was twelve.

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