Saturday, December 6, 2014

Surviving Graduate School

     I have two weeks left to my first term of Nurse Practitioner school.  Finishing cannot come soon enough.  Today, it appears in the actual academic class, I will score a solid A, and in the mandatory writing class I will finish with a solid B. However, the writing class has to be the biggest joke I have done in a long time.  We are literally penalized for paragraphs in our writing which use less than three sentences or greater than six sentences.  In the major research paper, not only do they give us a list of topics we must remain within, but they give us the journal articles are permitted to use.  Furthermore, we are penalized if we write less than three pages or greater than five pages. I could have found better articles on the topic on my own.  We are also penalized if we do not have the topic sentence as the first sentence of each paragraph, as if this is somehow the only way to write well.
     The condemnation that I will be including in my course evaluation is really quite simple.  In addition to the insanity of demanding that graduate level students conform to writing five paragraph essays, in addition to the reality that all of the course information states over and over again that a five paragraph essay is a minimum standard of writing for an undergraduate freshman, the basic reality is simple.  I have scored perfect scores on every single writing assignment for my actual academic class, while the same writing is earning me Bs in the writing course, only because I write "skillfully crafted prose style" and that is not at all what the class standards demand. (And yes, that was the exact comment from the professor grading my last paper included along with the trashing of my writing because it was too high standard for the criteria set forth for the assignment.)  The course fails to teach the standards of writing expected in the actual academic coursework for the program.
     I will be very glad when this term is over.  Its been a learning experience, for certain. I have thrived in my academic class, and despised attempts to teach me how to write, yet again.  I entered this program with the goal of not earning a single B in graduate studies.  I am finishing this class with the decision that if I earn a solid B, but my writing remains intact and not damaged by their inferior standards, then I'll accept one B in graduate school as acceptable.
       It has been a learning experience for the entire family as well.  Poor II has had to learn how to take over as the primary caregiver of eight children.  He has taken over the cooking, managing the afterschool homework, the cleaning, the bedtime routine, and even the holidays.  I come up for air in the afternoons and interact with the children until bedtime.  But, I am not the same parent I was three months ago.  Writing, assignments, deadlines, balancing work and school, meeting emotional needs of the children, and even paying attention to my marriage and self care are constantly running through my mind now.  I suspect I will be greatly relieved at the end of these three years, when I am able to simply BE again.  But, for now, I am a full-time graduate student, and my world has changed for this season, as has my children's world.
      I get two weeks for Christmas break and then I go into three courses, Nursing Research, Professional Role of the NP (a theory course) and Biostats and Epidemiology.  Its going to be a BIG term, and it precedes what is affectionately referred to as "Hell Term" that I will take April/May/June when I take Patho, Pharma, and Physical Assessment.  Now that I am nearly done with this term, I am looking forward to the next year of didactic coursework, even as I am terribly nervous about facing clinical year next year.  One thing is for certain, I am not the same person I was when I started three months ago, and I will never be that person again.  This journey is already shaping me into someone I am excited to know but not sure I fully recognize.

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