15 Years After Being a Nursing Topnotcher

Wow, can you believe it's been 15 years since that life-changing moment when I ranked sixth among 88,000 nursing graduates in the Philippines? Talk about a journey! But let me tell you, it's been one heck of a ride, and I've picked up some major lessons along the way.

Different start

First off, learning is like a hunger that comes from deep within. I've soaked up experiences like a sponge, from being a clinical instructor in the nursing academe to freelancing as a nursing lecturer. I've dived into nursing research with not one, but two master theses, dipped my toes into nursing administration as an assistant to the nursing dean, and even started at the bottom as a nursing assistant in a nursing home in Oslo, Norway. And let's not forget my time as a nurse in various hospital wards—Obstetric-gynecology, medical-surgical, pediatric units, and specializing in substance abuse in the acute department. Yep, I've seen it all—from different body openings and cavities to inserting tubes, needles, and drainages of all shapes and sizes. These past 15 years have been a whirlwind of learning, and I can't wait to see what the next chapter holds in store for me in the nursing profession. Bring it on!

Ultimate test

Picture this: once upon a time, someone whispered in my ear that I'd go from being the Summa Cum Laude to the topnotcher in the Philippine Nursing Licensure exam. People thought my path was paved with gold, all clear skies and rainbows ahead. But let me tell you, being a topnotcher wasn't a walk in the park. The pressure to shine was like carrying a load of bricks on my shoulders. Exhausting? You bet. But I didn't throw in the towel; I saw it as my chance to shine brighter than ever. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work, giving it my all.

But then came the plot twist: Norway. Moving there was like facing the ultimate test, a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Suddenly, my nursing chops felt like they were worth less than a penny, and it hit me right in the feels. Heartbreaking? You better believe it. But I didn't let it knock me down for the count. I squared my shoulders, dug deep, and told myself, "Time to level up." And you know what? I did just that. The rest, as they say, is history—a story of resilience, growth, and seizing every opportunity that comes my way.

Varied experiences

Let me tell you, being a nurse is like riding a rollercoaster through the toughest terrain. If you're in it for the long haul, buckle up and brace yourself for some wild rides. I've seen it all—like witnessing a guy with a bleeding head trauma on my way to another city. Talk about a shocker! And oh boy, delivering a baby and feeling that rush of warmth from the amniotic fluid? It's a feeling you won't forget in a hurry.

But hold onto your hats, because it gets even more intense. I still remember the stench of a diabetic gangrene foot like it was yesterday, and helping with a leg amputation? Not for the faint of heart. Then there was that midnight peritoneal dialysis session—talk about being thrown into the deep end! And don't even get me started on witnessing seizures, from convulsive episodes to eclamptic seizures in pregnant women—three times in one hour, no less!

And let's not gloss over the sight of needles going where they shouldn't, or the vivid image of heroin injections in all the wrong places. But amidst the chaos, there were moments of relief, like when I successfully inserted a urinary catheter, easing someone's pain. And when it comes to intervening in emergencies like cardiac arrest or pulmonary edema, let's just say I've never run faster in my life!

And remember those early days of the pandemic? Staring into the eyes of a Covid-infected patient was like facing the unknown head-on. Plus, dealing with demented elderly patients who lash out unexpectedly? It's all part of the job. And don't even get me started on the challenges of caring for patients with Parkinson's and Multiple sclerosis.

But amidst the chaos and heartache, there were also moments of inspiration, like chatting with an albino, blind, diabetic man who had lost a leg but still had the brightest outlook on life. And yes, even in the face of death, those moments with dying elderly patients taught me something valuable. Were they motivating? You bet. Because through it all, I learned and grew, turning every experience—good, bad, and downright ugly—into lessons that have shaped me into the nurse I am today.