Let me start this off by saying, I do not fail. I don’t have a couple of classes from college that I stopped caring about, so I failed some tests, or just barely passed, or whatever. I don’t fail. Am I a perfect straight A student? Absolutely not. But, I do not fail.
Until a couple of weeks ago.
In nursing school, we have these things called Skills Check Offs. We’re taught a skill during lab, and then we have to practice it and practice it, and then we go back to the school on Skills Check Off day and show our instructors that we can do it well. We’re given a time to go in and do it. We have to be in full uniform, and a huge group of students sits around in the hallway waiting to get called in (meanwhile, everyone sits there with a lot of negative energy and anxiety while they wait. It SUCKS). We get called in and go into a room with an instructor and they watch our every move to make sure we have this skill down, so that they can trust us to perform it on a real person in the hospital. It’s stressful and insanely pressure-filled, and even the students who seem totally cool and calm in every other situation look like they’re going to throw up when they’re waiting. This past skills check, we had 4 sterile skills to practice, and we would randomly get one picked for us when we got there. We also had to do some medication calculations and perform an injection on a mannequin.
So, I get called back by our instructor who, in my opinion, is the most intimidating instructor of them all. She was very kind to me and told me to take deep breaths when she sensed I was getting too anxious, and somehow, I aced my medication skill. Then came my sterile skill. I got the skill I felt the least comfortable with (of course), and I took one step out of order from how I’d been practicing, and it was all downhill from there. I don’t know if it was nerves, or if I just wasn’t thinking, but that tiny change in my routine threw me off of everything. I broke my sterile field, and that was it. I’d failed. My instructor very kindly told me what I had done wrong, and what I could do differently in the future, and that I would have another chance to re-do my skill in two weeks, but all I heard was that I failed.
When I was leaving the school, I didn’t feel great, but not awful either. I was given another chance. You’re allowed two tries. I knew what I’d done wrong, and I would just go back in a couple of weeks and get it right that time. No big deal. Until I started leaving a message for my husband and as soon as I heard the beep, I lost it. Ugly crying the whole way home.
Then I forced myself to get some perspective. People screw up, it’s totally normal. I just needed to practice and do it again. The worst thing that could’ve happened that day had happened and I was still standing. I sent an email to the instructor who had worked with me and thanked her for her tips and assured her that I would practice and pass the second time around. And, as it turned out, about half of my class had failed for one reason or another. That’s just life. We’re learning things that are completely new for us. So, we may need a little extra help. If I’ve made it to 28 years of age and this is my first failure, I can handle that. In college, I got a D on the first exam of one my classes, and I panicked. But, I sucked it up, made an appointment with my professor, talked to him about what I could do to help study for future tests, and I came out of that class with a B+. I will use the same attitude for this.
And, I am proud to say that I had my re-do this morning, and passed! My instructors still had some tips for how I could improve in the future in a hospital setting, which I greatly appreciated, but that weight has been lifted.
I failed something, and it wasn’t the end of the world. I failed something and people didn’t point and laugh and tell me I was stupid. I failed something, and I got to come back later that week and ace an exam. I failed something and my teachers didn’t think less of me as a student.
So, even though I hope and pray this doesn’t happen to me again in my nursing school experience, at least now I know that it can and that I’ll be ok.