Yesterday I took my last final. The Big One. Cumulative. I hadn't studied much at all, maybe a combined total of 2 hours in bits and pieces since I had my Dad and Raelene here for a visit, and who wants to study when your DAD is here and you haven't seen him in years? But I will say that I had a few things going for me: I had done well on all the exams, so I wasn't starting from too far down in the barrel. And, the day before finals, when the rest of my group that you see up there was in the library for an 8 hour study session, I was in the temple with my Dad and Raelene, and two of my children, Aiden for the first time, doing 334 baptisms for family members on the other side of the veil. I personally did 64 baptisms, and Lyndsay reminded me as I dropped her off at school yesterday morning and I expressed a bit of anxiety at going in for the biggest test of the semester so unprepared, that I would have 64 people helping me. It brought me such peace. She was right. At that moment, I knew God would honor my efforts and my sacrifice.
There were 100 questions on the exam. Nursing exams are brutal, by the way. There's hardly ever one right answer and they're never purely memory questions. They're always analytical, using the information you've learned about body systems and disease processes and applying it to patient situations and nursing judgment. Sometimes every answer is correct, but only one is the best, and that can be really hard. Around question 45, I was so sleepy. I had this overwhelming urge to put my head down on my desk and just take a quick nap. I kept telling myself, "Just one more question. Just one more." Once I got to #75, I got a second wind. And bubbling in #100 I almost started to cry. My last test question of first semester! It was really emotional for me, as memories of what this semester has been like raced through my mind's eye.
I remembered the first day we met together and I was absolutely terrified, not seeing a single familiar face, and knowing I was surrounded by very gifted students. I thought back to the craze of all those early mornings, packing lunches, cooking breakfasts, getting myself and the kids ready for another day of school. I thought of late nights studying after the kids were in bed. How I ran dry 4 highlighters. 4! Trying to keep track of all the different course work in each of the 4 classes. Practicing blood pressures on every willing person I could find. Practicing my head-to-toe assessments on my children. Each grueling exam. That first clinical day when I drove home crying. And then meeting Mrs. P. Winning the Success in Nursing Scholarship. My class presentation. All of the things we learned. And by the end, walking the halls of the Transitional Care Unit of the hospital with the confidence to enter any patient room.
Question #100 was now bubbled in.
I turned in my exam and looked back at the students left in the room. We'd become like a family, and it seemed so surreal that we wouldn't be back in this room for Friday lecture.
My clinical group met for lunch at a cafe in Pasadena to go over exam questions and wait till the time that grades would be released. Then we headed back over to the campus.
I missed 7 questions, which means I got an A not just on the exam, but in the class. The class that in the beginning we were told that maybe 2 or 3 students would get an A in, and that previously A students were relieved and thrilled with Cs. The first semester director came over to me and said, "You might like to know that you are tied with two other students for number one in your class, and that by the end of 4th semester, the number one student gets an award at graduation. No pressure."
I am amazed. Stunned. Humbled. To the point of tears, even now. It's okay with me if I'm not number one. (Though I'd like to get As all the way through!) I am so supremely grateful that I am getting to have this experience, and I really don't mean to sound proud or boasting at all. I'll tell you that most of those students have much, much more time than I do, and most of them study a lot harder than I do. I have worked very, very hard, but I know that my success has been a gift from God. I promised Him that no matter what, I would do my best to do important things first, like scripture study and prayer with my children and Family Home Evening. I would make myself (mostly) available to them, and do most of my studying after they went to bed (or at least Conor). And I would honor His holy day and never study or do homework on the Sabbath. I have kept that commitment through three years of schooling now, and I believe that it has made a difference. He is well aware of my limited resource of time, and how much there is to study. And He has magnified my capacity to learn, understand, and retain. I believe with all my heart that God honors those who honor Him. So, I humbly thank Him for His grace and assistance with this first semester of nursing school.
It feels strange to wake up this morning and not have school on my mind. I don't have to read anything or study anything. It's going to take some getting used to! But this 10 week break will be filled with other wonderful and rejuvenating things, and I am very excited for second semester. OB. Pediatrics. Med/Surg. Good things ahead!