“The City”

San Francisco. A place I’ve always wanted to live. Also the home of the school I’ve been itching to attend ever since I heard the phrase “Master’s Entry Program in Nursing”. If I were to line up “plus” and “minus” columns under the name of each school to which I applied, UCSF would win hands down.

So why the allure? Location, location, location. The more comfortable I become back here in California, the less willing I am to leave. I can’t imagine staying in my home county – does the show The O.C. ring any bells? – but my mom and brother are here, I have cousins galore in the Bay Area, and my sister will more than likely be in Berkeley beginning next August. And I would be living in a city that has so much to offer in the arts, entertainment, food and fun, with the ocean on one side and the beautiful forests of northern California on the other. I mean…

And then there is the school itself. Consistently ranked as one of the top 5 nursing schools in the country, in both educational quality and in NIH funding, I really couldn’t go wrong with a Master’s in Nursing from UCSF. The possibilities are endless. Plus they offer a direct track onto the specialty I suspect will become my life’s work: acute care pediatrics, more than likely focusing on pediatric oncology (we’ll touch on that subject and the horrified look on people’s faces when I tell them what I want to do in another post).

I’m no Pollyanna. I’m fully aware that 1) Nursing school ANYWHERE is going to be hell at times and 2) UCSF specifically still has kinks that need to be worked out. (Thanks to Nursing Zen by the way, for giving me an inside look at the program.) From what I can gather, while the school itself is second-to-none in its graduate nursing education, MEPN is relatively new and the instructors and preceptors face the challenge of turning complete novices who can’t even take blood pressure into graduate-caliber RNs in only a year. Just typing that sentence is intimidating. It is no small task and I suspect that the faculty sometimes struggle to figure out how much time they need to give to their rookies when they have students and advisees with the training and skills to not demand quite as much hands-on clinical training.

But master’s-entry programs are popping up everywhere and I doubt this issue is limited to UCSF. So I can’t really hold it against them. I can just anticipate that with every year the program improves and that they admit students who have initiative. Hopefully I’ll be among that crop. The pool is mighty tight.

There is also that nagging thought that what if I get into acute care peds and hate it with the fire of ten thousand suns? It’s been made pretty clear that switching specialties is next to impossible and you damn well better have good reasons for your choice on that application. Though I feel confident about where I am headed, part of me whispers, “How can you know what you will do with your nursing degree until you’re an actual nurse?” Would I be better served to go the more generalist route and specialize later once I get my hands dirty? But if I specialize now and stick with it, I’ll be an acute care pediatric nurse practitioner by the time I’m 30 and ready to take on the world. And again, that being female issue lurks in the back of my head. The longer I wait to delve into a specialty, the less time there is to gain valuable experience and opportunities before the question of starting my own family creeps in. Especially if I elect to work abroad for a while after I graduate. I know women nowadays start families later and have many more options and I don’t really think the “clock is ticking” but it is something to think about.

Then there is the reality of living in a city, which I’ve never really done before. Durham doesn’t count, Davidson and Orange County WAY don’t count and while Accra (look it up) is way more city than any American could handle, it being in another country means I can’t really compare it to city life in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Not that living in Accra didn’t teach me a thing or two about toughness. But I digress… parking in SF sucks, commuting in the Bay Area REALLY sucks and rent is through the roof. I’d be signing up for a challenge way beyond just the nursing program.

But again, it’s a challenge I would relish. Having lived a relatively sheltered life and knowing that I could never ever cut it in New York or L.A., I still feel that urban living is something we all should experience and now’s as good a time as ever. I’ll more than likely retreat back into suburbia at some point but I’m young, I’m adventurous and I might as well live it up.

Of course this whole internal dialogue could be a waste of time if I get the dreaded thin envelope in December. We’ll just have to wait and see…

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