It all started last year. ROTC Army nurse recruiters came to my Student Nurse Association meeting and gave a presentation about the army and its benefits, why we should all give up everything and join, etc...
My thoughts about the army before the presentation?
"Army guys are hot"...."Or...I could never do that" or "Anyone that joins the army right now is insane...we are in the middle of a war."
My thoughts after the presentation?
"I could do this.."
What happened next was the most ballsy thing I had ever done in my life ever. (Not to mention- this time last year I was in my "JUST DO IT" Phase, when I joined all the clubs I was afraid to join and did everything without fear because I was just in an adrenaline phase).
I sat there, in my plastic seat- Similar to the ones I had spent the last three years of school in- watching the recruiters pack up. There were three of them. Two guys and a girl. My thoughts:
I can't. There is no way. Could I? There is no way. I can NOT join the army. I am just me. I am weak. I would fail miserably. But it can't hurt to talk to them, could it? Yes, yes it could hurt. These guys are in the army. They are serious. They wouldn't want me. THey would laugh at me. I'm not in shape, they would say I'm not army material and tell me to go away. Would they? I know a girl in ROTC- If she could do it, I can too...right? I am going to go talk to them. No, I can't. *Indecision goes on for at least ten minutes while recruiter packs up*. *recruiter leaves* *SNA meeting continues* Oh my god, they left. I just passed up my opportunity to join, If i had wanted too. I should have just went and talked to them. *realizes they are still in the hallway* .....
This is when my automatic pilot actually turned on. Adrenaline kicked in and I pushed out my chair from the table, ignored the questions from friends as to where I was going. I left the room, went into the hallway and introduced myself. I did it. He was interested in me, of course, thats what they came here to do. We set up an appointment to have a "real" meeting and swapped emails. I sat back in my seat and asked myself...What the hell did I just do?
It was a rocky week after that. We met, twice. We talked about the army and everything it had to offer. We talked about the drawbacks. The commitment. The benefits. The classes I would have to catch up on. Basic training. Other girls in the army. Iraq. Signing.
I couldn't sign.
Here is why it comes down to:
- I didn't believe in myself. I didn't think I would make it.
- I didn't think I was "fit" enough to make it through boot camp.
- I was afraid of the commitment.
- Me joining would have caused me to lose and hurt a lot of people in my life.
- I couldn't tell my parents.
For a more intricate narrative of what I was going through at this time, read this. It might make more sense: TeamWork Its really long, but the army frustration comes in about 3/4 through.
I wasn't in a good place, my thoughts were everywhere, all the time. I was in an adrenaline-save-me phase and just wanted something (army) that could bring me somewhere. I was in the midst of having just finished one of the hardest semesters I had ever gone through, and at the bottom of the hill for two harder semesters yet to come. I didn't have any faith that I could even pass those classes. Somehow, I did, and now I am writing about my future because graduation is in 2 months. Crazy.
After I told myself I was done with the army business and that I would not be signing, and I didn't have to scare myself with any recruiters, I sighed a huge sigh of relief. I thought to myself, "I can't believe I did that. What was I thinking?" I had somehow been so sure that I was going to join that it seemed unnatural at first to be done with it, to not go through with it. As much as I liked the idea of joining, I couldn't go through with the commitment it required...
Well, my fascination of the army never retreated after that. In fact, it grew to extend a fascination of the Air Force, maybe even more so than the army, but probably pretty equal. I have been on top of the army, reading about their progress and whats been going on in the newspapers as much as possible over the past year. Someone says army and I instantly look. I read three books written by army nurses, 1 from Vietnam and 2 from Iraq. I loved it. I knew that I could do what they had written. It made it more realistic- It drew a better picture of what I was missing, what I would be getting if I signed up.
At this past nursing convention, another army recruiter was there. This time I wasn't nervous to go talk, it felt natural. I wanted to. I picked up some brochures, talked a little.
|I GOT LOTS OF COOL STUFFF!!!!!! Recruiters are good at that.|
So this brings me to why I wanted to write Part 2. For me, and for anyone that cares what happens to me after Graduation. As of *right now* these are the (specific) pathways I am considering.
1) There are two nurse residency programs in Denver, Colorado. I group them together because they are associated with the same hospital but one is with the Children's portion of the hospital and the other is general nursing. I want to go to CO because it is something new. I fell in love with the state in my senior year while on vacation. I said to myself, "I want to live here", and I never forgot. Why I don't want to go: I'd have no support. My family doesn't support it and I need my family in my life. Also, I would miss the ocean terribly. Moving to CO is as big and scary to me as potentially joining the army.
2) I could stay in New Jersey and work for the same hospital I have been with for the past five years. Why I should do this: I know everyone, I have everyone's support, I love the staff there, I know how things work, I know where everything is, my family wants me to stay local for the rest of my life.... reasons I shouldn't: If I stay now, I will never leave. I know myself enough to know I will never grow the balls to leave my job and move to CO "Just because I want to", especially if, by then, if I have kids or a boyfriend/husband. As the years go on, it will be harder and harder to make the move. Also, as much as I love the area I grew up in, I just want somewhere new. Sometimes it takes moving away from home to realize how much you want to BE home. I know, I realize completely what I would be giving up: Where I live, I am an hour from NYC. I am five minutes away from back dirt roads that wind away to the heart of New Jersey. I am 2-4 hours away from the Atlantic ocean. It is a day trip. I have every restaurant or store I could possibly ever think of in a 30 mile radius. But...I just want to see what else is out there. Is that so wrong? If I hate it, I can come back home....can't I?
3) Join the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps. This is a 4 commitment. Benefits are excellent. Here's what they do:
•Perform traditional clinical services, including inpatient and outpatient care ranging from newborn care to geriatric services, from obstetrics to orthopedics to mental health, from prevention services to chronic care or acute disease management.
•Manage the review and approval of drugs and medical products.
•Respond to public health emergencies.
•Develop and implement national health policies.
•Develop and implement clinical practice guidelines and evidence-based reports on health care.
•Coordinate prevention and education efforts on a variety of public health issues.
•Develop nursing training and education programs for basic and advanced practice nurses.
Here are the benefits:
•Competitive starting pay that increases with promotions and years of service
•Health care and dental care at no cost
•Tax-free housing and meal allowances
•Thirty days of paid vacation per year—beginning the first year
•Paid sick leave
•Paid maternity leave
•Paid Federal holidays
•Malpractice insurance coverage
•A retirement plan with benefits eligibility beginning after 20 years of service
•Thrift Savings Plan [retirement savings and investment plan similar to a 401(k)]
•Low-cost life insurance
•Low-cost health care for your family.
•Malpractice insurance coverage
•Paid moving expenses when you join the Corps and relocation expenses if and when you change jobs
•Paid expenses for travel related to your job
•Access to military base lodging and recreational facilities
•Shopping privileges at military base grocery and department stores
•Veterans Affairs benefits, such as survivor and disability benefits, home loans, and burial allowances.
THIS IS AMAZING.
And, you can work anywhere in the United States...and jump around if you get tired easily, Like I do.
!!!!!! enough said.
4) I join the army or air force right off the bat. 8 year commitment. lots of the same benefits as listed above. I could be sent to Iraq, yes. But..if I do the corps, I could switch over to army/airforce later in life and keep my rank. So, its a lot to think about.
Well, those are my *main* options. I have been waiting for something perfect to just come along and say BAM! THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO!!!! And I think just maybe, maybe that is the corps screaming that. It makes a lot of sense. But is still scary.
Here is a picture I made, without intentions of posting. I started with the "What now?" And kept going, until there were no empty spaces left. It says everything on my mind.
Thank you for taking the time to read all the way down this far. I appreciate it....
With so much love,
~A Writer in a Nurse's Body
PS- I like input. :-)
PSS my spell check is not picking things up like "Pdfjkhsdkfh" so I don't think its working....so sorry if there is a lot of ridiculous spelling errors. Despite wanting to be a writer, (dont even get me started on where that fits in to my plans), I can't spell. Sorry.