“I’m going back to school.”
I was married for 25 years to my childhood sweetheart. We had successfully launched two sons into the military and our youngest son was a senior in high school. I had been involved with Women’s Ministry and taught bible studies. As a couple, we had transitioned to full time Christian ministry from the secular world. To all these achievements, I had worked for years as a certified nursing assistant. Certainly I could meet this new challenge-especially if the Lord was in it.
That was probably the last time for the next few years that I was assured of anything!
Within the first days of training, my observations were far from positive. It became clear that we were expected to become knowledgeable and proficient in a technical field that would be taught in a foreign language! At least it seemed that way to me. Our first homework assignment was to define and memorize a lengthy vocabulary list, and many words were unpronounceable.
My second observation came at the end of our first week of classes: from that point onward till completion, we would be having daily quizzes and weekly tests. For me, it had been several decades since I’d had my ‘worth’ measured by a scoring system.
One more shock awaited me: I soon discovered that I could study for hours and almost understand what I had read. But the simple act of closing the book erased every bit of information I had taken into my brain.
Along with the class work, came practical, hands-on nursing experience called ‘clinical training’. Several days a week, we actually worked in nursing homes or hospital units.
I found the nursing home a familiar environment. I had spent years, off and on, working in one of them. Of course, I did get ‘written up’ for not giving a laxative at the designated time. “After all, a med error is a med error.” my supervisor reminded me.
From the nursing home we went to the hospital. We started out on the med/surg. unit. For me, this was a traumatic. I mean, if one can make a med error on a laxative, what greater harm can one do to a patient with tubes and fresh surgeries and needles and multiple medications? Bearing the burden of potentially harming a defenseless patient can wipe the smile off of anyone’s face!
One day was particularly stressful to me. I had been very careful in selecting my patient assignment, never choosing anyone having a medical condition that was too complicated. However, my patient had required emergency abdominal surgery during the night. She had tubes everywhere; IV bags, and a drainage bag from the incision site. Her meds had to be injections, and the incision required assessment and dressing. My second patient was in the same room. She was an elderly lady who required insulin now.
My instructor watched me draw up the insulin and applauded my accuracy. She was beside me as I injected the woman. She saw the horror on my face as I plunged the needle into her flesh, only to have it pop out before I ever discharged the medication! The poor, old woman probably never did understand why she experienced two ‘pinches’ that morning! I hadn’t even begun to take care of my ‘greater challenge.’
Before the day was over, I was reduced to tears in a stall in the ladies room. Through my tears, I poured out my heart to my heavenly Father: “I can’t do this…it’s too difficult.” It was then that He reminded me: “You’ve prayed consistently that I would keep you from the hard patients, and for a while I honored that request. But you were aware that the challenge to your newfound skills was minimal. So today I allowed your skills to be tested. Though stressed, both you and your patients have come through this day. Remember the verse I gave you when you began this journey. Recall it often in the days ahead and believe.”
My self-assured, life experiences were not sufficient to bring me through nurse training; nor were my abilities and sound judgment enough. But I was given resources to succeed. He was my source and resource. And his word was my anchor.
“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me.
(I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him
Who infuses inner strength into me;
I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency).
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