Wednesday, May 3, 2017

LPN (Students) ~ The Red Headed Stepchild Of Nursing

I have always hate the two sayings "Just an LPN" and "Just a CNA"! Without these two vital roles, there would be many people whose care would never get done not because an RN doesn't care but because there wouldn't be enough for the number or patients and residents that need care.

I am currently an LPN student. Being an LPN or LVN if you live in Texas or California, it was never my first choice to be an LPN, in fact, I've spent far too much money taking classes to become an RN only to discover that if you are not a 4.0+ pre-req student, you can prepared to be placed on a waiting list and pray that one of those 4.0+ students decides that nursing is not their calling and somehow, you get on of those coveted spots. That is me. By no means were my pre-req grades terrible but as a non-traditional student who has a family and a full-time job, well.

When we moved to Oklahoma I had come to grips with the fact that I was going to have to take a longer, more expensive route to get to what I feel is my God given calling. God and I had some serious conversations about nursing school. Signs are huge for me and He just kept sending signs in so many forms. As I filled out the application for the nursing program I am currently in, I told God that if I didn't get in this program, I was just going to forget about nursing. Out of over 100 applicants, I got 1 of the 20 spots in the LPN program!

Most of the students in my class already have a college degree or two, most of us never wanted to find ourselves in LPN school, most of us pay for our own education or most of it out of our own pocket (thank you for awesome programs that do not allow students to graduate with debt from their schools), most of us have families and have to work at least part-time but most full-time and at least two of them work two jobs. Most of the students in my class are either Nurse Aides, Medication Aides or work in the medical field in some capacity. 

When you search scholarships for nursing students you will find that unless you are pursuing your ADN, BSN, MSN or PhD, your chances of finding a scholarship are slim to none. If you are going to an accredited LPN program that is at a tech school, your chances become even less. The program I attend is one of the most affordable in the state and it's still pushing $10,000 dollars if you are out of district and $8,000 if you are in district. If you are lucky to find scholarships, apply for them as soon as you can. 

In my nursing program I am the class representative. Some times that means person who hears student complaints with a fancy title but I am the go to for students and I meet with the Advisers and Program Director to discuss those student issues or suggestions. Today I decided that I was going to see what nursing organizations were out there for us. Like many people I did a google search and came up with a list. The first organization I looked at was the National Student Nurse Association. Following the prompts, I got to the location of adding my school but I find nothing. Feeling as though I was being thorough, I sent them an email explaining that I did not see my school. With a prompt response came that their organization was only open to those pursuing an RN or greater degree. Out of the 12 pages of nurse and student nurse organization, only two were specifically for LPN/LVN's or for LPN/LVN student nurses. I will be joining both.

LPN/LVN are the backbones of most long term care facilities, they take care of patients who are dying and on hospice/palliative care, can work in health clinics and take care of sick, work in some hospitals that may not be in a major city and where healthcare is still needed but you cannot join almost every nursing organization because the letters behind your name don't start with an R and somehow, in the world of nursing, that makes you less deserving of the benefits of nursing organizations.

Because you are an LPN/LVN student, you don't get the same benefits as the RN student through nursing organizations and you are sure not getting the funding that is for nursing students, just not for your kind of nursing student. By no means am I knocking ADN, BSN, MSN or PhD nursing students but there is a reason the phrase "Just an LPN" exist and it's because this is the how the nursing community and nursing education makes it. 

It makes me want to ask "Do you think LPN/LVN school is easy?" Let me tell you that it is not easy. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. There are nights I'm up all night long studying to pass a test and many mornings I'm up before the sun to work on an assignment. I miss time with my friend and family and I haven't even been able to get home to see my 3 month old grandson because nursing school is hard and it's work, lots and lots of hard work! My house is far from spotless, it takes me 2 days to do the laundry, I can't remember the last time I actually went grocery shopping or made a meal that took longer than 30 minutes for me to make. I eat way more fast food than I care to admit and I'm certain I pay for someone's salary at Folger's Coffee, Coffeemate Creamer Company, Universal Index Cards, Mead Notebook Paper, Sharpie Highlighters, Papermate Pens and Penils and the random stuff I find at Dollar Tree. I swear by my Jansport backpack, go through printer paper and ink like it's water and still can't find a headband that will stay on my head.

I have cried, cussed, threatened to quit, threw my books down in frustration, talked about things that make my family sick to their stomachs, am closer to my nursing school classmates because no one else really gets it, bounce ideas, study habits, questions and study tips off of one another and yet, I am considered the red headed stepchild of the nursing school community and after I have worked my butt off to be a nurse, I will still be the red headed step child of the nursing community. Somehow that seems so unfair and while my goals and plans are to bridge and get my BSN, I will promise to never forget that LPN/LVN's are nurses too who went through hard nursing programs and work their butts off doing patient care just like when I am an LPN, I will never forget what it was like to be a CNA and will help them as much as I can on the floor and will be happy to be "Just An LPN!"