I entered nurse practitioner (NP) school at Vanderbilt University in August 2011. I had just finished my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) a few months prior, and was eager to begin my studies. I moved into a small 350 square foot studio apartment in downtown Nashville.
On orientation day, I strode up to Godchaux Hall blasting Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and reminding myself why I came here. Uncertain what to expect, I was greeted by a small class of 25 other psychiatric nurse practitioner students. I remember my new professor speaking, but my excitement and anticipation made it hard to listen. I typed out everything she said on my very old, very heavy Toshiba laptop.
Slightly overwhelmed at the looming number of assignments, tests, and clinicals, I bought myself a giant dry erase board, which for the remainder of the program served as my north star.
Yes that is a real picture of the very real amount of work from just one week of NP school. During NP school, most of my time was spent reading, studying, and practicing.
I’ll never forget my first patient simulation, or what I now think of as the Twilight Zone. Vanderbilt’s simulation labs look and feel just like a real hospital, but rather than patients, it’s filled with actors. Every room is bugged with mics and cameras, and your professors watch as you fumbled around with your first manic, psychotic, and depressed patients.
Yep, that’s me trying to deescalate an actor pretending to be manic. Fun times. After months of rigorous case studies and simulations, I was set loose into the real world of clinical practice. I proudly wore my white lab coat and hot pink stethoscope while continuing to study tirelessly.
I was lucky enough to attend NP school with my best friend. We both had our strengths so we pulled each other ahead using those. We sought creative ways to study and reminded each other to have fun. Sometimes too much fun.
That’s us on graduation day. We made it!
NP school was one of the fondest times of my life. My mind was on fire, learning something new and fascinating everyday. I was taught by some of the most brilliant NPs I’ll ever know, and I gained a profound appreciation for the beauty of nursing paired with medicine. I can’t imagine a better combination to lead the future of healthcare.
Some advice for future NP students: