Life is understood backwards.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about how it all began.
In 2009, when I was in my second year of high school, if you told me I would end up as a nurse, I wouldn't have believed you.
Like every child growing up during that time, I wanted to be a pilot. The idea of something being so up in the air still fascinates me to date. It didn't take long for me to drop that dream. I also want to think aspiring to be a pilot was the pandemic back then.
After the pilot dream had waned, I stayed clueless for a long time. For a period I was fascinated by law. And then social work. And then Catering and Hospitality. And then Computer Science. These are the ones I remember. To be direct, I never really knew what I wanted to do or become.
How did we end up here?
Fast forward, I have cleared high school and now I had to think objectively. Typical of African parents, my mum suggested that I pursue medicine. I liked the idea as well. When I got my results, I had fallen short of the grade required. Again, the decision was made for me to do nursing. After all, I didn't know what I wanted.
That is how I found myself in Jomo Kenyatta Univeristy of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). From the name, the founders of this school did not plan to include anything medical in their list of courses.
We were the third class and the pioneer class of government-sponsored students. This only meant that there were no clear structures in place yet. Most things were still trial and error. Few lecturers. Few classrooms. A flexible curriculum. In fact, some JKUAT students themselves didn't know the course existed in the school.
In the first year, the excitement of freedom blurred my vision. Reality started dawning on me
in the first semester of second year when we started going for clinical placement. I realized that not only had I not chosen the course but also the school.
Every single day of clinical placements was a challenge. We relied on a few willing people to teach us. Most ward managers focused on harassing us. The worst parts for me was the conversation staple that "nursing has no future." The working relationship between doctors and nurses made the injury more sore.
I desperately needed a mentor or just some reassurance. I clinged to the few exceptional nurses I came across from time to time, a bit stalkerish even. (Awuor Opee knows this).
I hated my career. I hated myself.
Since back then, I've always believed in the Serenity Prayer or some version of it. I weighed my options and it was clear that I had no choice but to complete my course. I started being active in all matters nursing. We formed a nurses association called JKUSNA and ended up organizing an event for all the universities. This in turn gave birth to an association and the revamping of the NNAK Student's Chapter.
All these were in an effort to quell the fire that was raging inside.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
It wasn't all doom and gloom though.
The few lecturers we had were very dedicated, particularly the Late Proffesor Mwaniki. We were also just twenty of us in the class making us become a tightly knit family. We still call ourselves "Nursing 20"and have maintained relationships since then.
In addition, from the very first clinical placement I began enjoying the human contact that comes with the job of nursing. There is some level of trust that patients would give you that they don't give other care providers. Not to mention the magical moments. The first cry of a baby. Or the first conversation with someone just after anesthesia. All these are irreplaceable experiences that planted tiny seeds of hope in my heart.
At Internship, the seeds started growing. There was more respect with colleagues. I met people who loved nursing and would work passionately. I became more open to learning. With learning came confidence. And with confidence came passion and love. The good salary also helped. We all know money comes with a bit of freedom and power.
I'm still on my career journey. I only have one message. “There is a future in nursing.” There are so many prospects. Only you can limit yourself. I am so excited at the possibilities. and I hope that you are too. And if not, you will get there, trust me.
Of course, we are all still going to be challenges and difficulties, but have it at the back of your mind that the future is bright.
Moral of this story:
Its okay to not know what you want.
Its okay to trust your parents especially if you don't know what you want.
Its okay to struggle.
Most importantly, you are not alone.