1. Decide you want to become a nurse.
2. Listen to some people tell you that you don’t really want to do that because it’s hard.
3. Continue to think maybe you really do want to be a nurse.
4. Apply for nursing school.
5. Secretly hope that most of the other applicants fail microbiology so you have less competition.
6. Get into nursing school despite the competition.
7. Write a thousand care plans of dubious quality because it’s 3 a.m. and you have to be at the hospital in three and a half hours and you just need to finish because if you don’t get at least 20 minutes of sleep there’s a good chance you’ll try to stick a Foley catheter in the wrong hole.
8. Progress from being terrified of patients and pretty sure you’re accidentally going to kill someone to feeling like you probably won’t.
9. Meet a patient who helps you realize how lucky you are. And then meet a lot more. Suddenly studying doesn’t seem like a burden when you meet someone who went to the ER and said he was going to kill himself just so he would be placed on an involuntary hold for 72 hours and would have access to food, shelter, and desperately needed psych medications in the dead of winter.
10. Learn that the mannequins in the simulation lab at school have much better-defined … um … anatomical parts than do actual humans, meaning that the fear in number 7 is actually possible when your patient is female.
11. Learn that you truly are capable of using that “therapeutic communication” stuff the teachers talk about, and that someone who is in crisis can honestly benefit from your presence.
12. Realize that yes, nursing school was hard, but you can do this. You really, really can.
14. Be excited that you graduated.
15. Begin the interminable wait for you transcripts to be available so you can turn them in and get approved to take the NCLEX licensing exam.
16. Spend a lot of time on Facebook.
17. When one of your Facebook friends posts “Transcripts are ready!”, order your transcripts. (After “liking” their status, of course. You’re not a caveman.)
18. Drive your transcripts up to Denver to hand them in personally so you can be sure they arrived.
19. Pay $8 for parking, and then drag your kids around downtown Denver looking for the appropriate building.
20. Tell your kids no, they can’t play in that fountain because you’re not even sure it’s actually a fountain because it sort of looks like a water main break and you don’t want them to be swallowed by a sinkhole right now because that would definitely impede your progress toward turning in your transcripts.
21. Drag them around the block again.
22. No, they still can’t play in that fountain. You don’t want to deal with an E. coli outbreak right when you’re trying to study for the NCLEX.
23. Realize that you had the address wrong and the building was right in front of you the whole time.
24. Drag your kids across a busy street while the older one freaks out because the younger one let go of your hand for half a second and that means INSTANT DEATH.
25. Finally make it into the appropriate building.
26. Get on the wrong elevator because you don’t realize that in highrise-land, not all elevators go to all the floors.
27. Get on the right elevator and settle a fight between your children over who gets to push the button for the floor you want to go to. Unfortunately, the winner of the fight is the one who doesn’t know what the number 13 looks like.
28. Hand in your transcripts. The euphoria lasts exactly 2.3 seconds before your kids start arguing again.
29. Begin the interminable wait to get your authorization to take the NCLEX.
30. Watch as all your Facebook friends post statuses about their NCLEX dates while you wait and wonder why the hell you don’t have your authorization yet.
Note: The rest of this list is pure conjecture, because I’m still mired in step 30.
31. Get your authorization.
32. Study like a maniac until the test date.
33. Take the test.
34. Pass it.
35. Get your license. Congratulations, you’re officially an RN! Now get a job.