Nursing School: A Balancing Act
by Patton Douglas Graham, BS (Sociology) is an EMT-IV in Tennessee and a nursing student at Columbia State Community College.
Nursing school began for me in spring 2011. Previously I had been through the rigors of a bachelor's degree, been a husband and father to three children, and manager of many employees and just as many resources. I had survived Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training and worked as a licensed EMT. I believed I knew how to manage my time well.
Although, when I sat for the first lecture of school, a thought struck like a tuning fork: perhaps I was not as skilled a manager of time as I needed to be.
As the semester progressed, I was challenged with new concepts such as pain (which is whatever the patient says it is) and wound care (I was used to dressing patients and passing them on), and skills such as patient bathing and perineal care. Learning these concepts required much of my time be relegated to studying with my “nose in a book.” And, of course, if my nose was in the books, my eyes (hopefully) were following and not watching my beautiful wife and growing children. I began to feel tension. Pulling from the left was my future career and the need to be sharply focused on excelling; on the right was my family, the ones for whom all the focus and excellence were required, who needed my attention as much or more. My attention to books (i.e., success on examinations) and family (i.e., total success) waffled.
This vacillation reminded me of King Solomon's words on the necessity of timing and the importance of sharp contrasts and divisions between and among life's events and intentions. To everything there is a season, and a time to every matter or purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV). What are some of these divisions as a nursing student?
1. A time to be born, and a time die—feeling “born” into the mastery of new ideas is great, however I feel the dying part after most exams.
2. A time to plant, and a time to uproot—every new concept planted new ideas and approaches into my skill set; hopefully time would not be the uprooting factor for my memory.
3. A time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh—I feel this most poignantly when faced with patients who are spiritually and emotionally broken—what an opportunity!
4. A time to get (bad news or good news), and a time to lose (life or limb).
5. A time to keep silent, and a time to speak...
Solomon was a wise sage who understood the necessity of divisions. Perhaps waffling isn't unhealthy, but rather a natural, internal attempt at creating and enforcing divisions between important life elements. I will always struggle with the dichotomy of being a provider versus quality time with family. I pray for romance with my wife like Solomon had (see Song of Solomon) and that my children would grow up without being like Solomon's son, Rehoboam, who allowed Israel to be divided into a Northern and Southern kingdom. I pray that my “kingdom” will always be unified, stamped with the image of God's kingdom, and blessed by healthy divisions, beautiful contrasts, white against black, joy against pain, and the cross of Jesus against the death I deserve.
Time Management Tips
* Begin every day with God. In Bible reading and prayer, ask God to help you accomplish all he has for you today.
* Plan out your day. Use a calendar/scheduler (software, notebook) as helpful to you.
* Prioritize ruthlessly; do critical things first!
* Be realistic about the time needed for tasks.
* Interruptions steal time; ignore interruptions as much as possible/appropriate.
* Create a “Do Not Disturb” environment as needed (put up a sign, block out all distractions (phone, messaging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
* Never waste time waiting. Read, balance checkbook, make a call, etc.
* Keep a time diary to uncover time wasters.
* Establish routines; this helps get tasks done faster.
* Schedule down time for yourself and with family, friends.
* Perfect time management is a myth, you'll never get everything done ... but you can set goals and do better!
Taken in part from: