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Tag Archives: pre-nursing

Paying for nursing school

28 Aug
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From the incredible and hilarious nursing.school Instagram.

A couple of my readers have wanted to know how I pay for nursing school and while I’m no financial adviser, I can offer some words of wisdom on how to make it work and at least share what I’ve done. So let’s get real uncomfortable and talk about our finances!

One of the main reasons I decided to make the transition from veterinary nursing to human nursing is that it’s a more secure profession. Much better pay, better benefits and plenty of opportunity for growth and even better salaries over time. But getting there is by no means cheap.

Probably the biggest piece of advise I can offer is to start saving right now. Like right this minute. Top priority. Top of the list. How are you going to make this work? Most likely the time between when you decide you want to go to nursing school and actually starting will be a while. I decided I wanted to go back to school in January 2016, and I actually started nursing school January 2018. Between that time was a lot of pre-requisites and applying periods. I made a commitment to myself back then that I would scrimp and save. I also agreed to pick up as many extra shifts at work as possible. I took on every pet sitting client that asked me. I also went through my monthly budget and eliminated a lot. No more shopping. Not a lot of traveling. Eating in more. Cancelled Hulu, Spotify, New Yorker magazine subscription, etc. It all felt like little things that would never add up to paying for nursing school, but it has helped make a dent.

I would also highly highly recommend community college for any and all prerequisites that you might need to take. When I first decided I was going back to school, I shopped around for post-baccalaureate programs. I was accepted at the University of Vermont’s program. I was so excited and wide-eyed. It was all starting to happen for me. How fun it would be to live in Burlington! But then they started notifying me of the cost. About 22K per semester for 3-4 semesters, coming to between 66K and 88K for prerequisites. Not to mention the cost of relocating to Vermont, buying a car, etc. I opted for Laguardia community college where I racked up around 10K of debt instead. Not. Bad. Nursing schools DO NOT CARE where you did your pre-requisites. They care what grades you got. So save the money and go to the cheapest community college options available.

I chose NYU because I’m an older student, and it was one of the few programs that had a January start instead of a September start for their accelerated program. For me starting the nine months earlier was worth the heftier price tag. I would become a nurse sooner, and NYU has a great reputation, and I felt I could get a higher-paying job faster. But there are cheaper options, such as Hunter college, if you are looking in New York City.  Many nurses start out with an associates degree, gain experience, and return for their Bachelor’s. It’s a totally viable option if that’s what you can afford.

I have been careful about balancing work and school, and I’m lucky that I work at a place that gives me the flexibility to do that. My first semester I only worked one day a week, and second semester I worked two days a week. And I pet sit a lot. It’s a great side hustle, even though the money isn’t reliable. Some months I’ve racked up a lot of pet sitting money, and other months I barely make anything at all. My savings, my part-time work, and the pet sitting have made it so I only needed to take out loans that would cover tuition. I’ll still owe between 80k-90k in loans when I’m done though. That includes private loans (the majority of the debt), federal loans, and the small loans I took out to pay for my pre-requisites. Even when I think about it though, I feel nauseous. But for me, I decided that I will make it work. I’ll be making good money, doing something I love, and I’ll pay that down eventually. I did meet a lot of students at NYU who continued to work full-time, but I must warn that the majority of them failed out that first semester. So I personally don’t think it’s worth the risk.

So that’s how I did it/am doing it. Everyone’s situation is a little different. A lot of my classmates are living with their parents to save money on rent (not an option for me), and a lot of my classmates have their parents paying for their living situation (also not an option for me), and some of my classmates aren’t working at all and taking out additional loans to cover living expenses (gratefully not what I needed to do). The best piece of advice I can give is really take a long weekend to sit down and work through it. Is this absolutely what you want to do? Do you have debt already hanging over you? Are there things you can do NOW to start making extra money? How can you cut back on your spending, and what are you willing to sacrifice? What nursing school options can you afford? It’s not going to be easy, but if it’s what you really feel called to do, it’ll be worth it.

Some small Nursing School tips to save money!

  • Don’t buy the textbooks! I was an eager beaver who bought the textbooks a week before school only to find out on day 2 of school that there were free pdfs of the textbooks going around which were VERY easy to get. I wasted about $700. So at least wait through the first week of school to make sure you really need to be buying those books.
  • Go to student group events! My friends make fun of me, because I attend so many lectures on different aspects of nursing. But the not-so-secret thing is that it comes with a free dinner. Usually it’s pizza. Sometimes it’s salad, sandwiches, potluck food made by students. Basically they give you free food to lecture you for an hour about a healthcare topic. It’s usually very interesting and also gives you a great way to meet other students in the program and network with professors and alumni. But, yeah, free meals. Do it.
  • Invest in a good coffee maker, travel mug, lunch pails, etc. Don’t waste too much money at school/hospital cafeterias. Pack your own snacks, brew your own coffee. It adds up fast, and professors get weirdly impressed when they see you eating healthy snack options.
  • Sign up for a credit card with cash back rewards. Just a general money-saving tip, but it has especially helped in nursing school. I have a chase card with amazon reward points. Again, these little things add up fast, and it’s helped mitigate some of my smaller expenses.
  • If you don’t already have a job like mine that you can mold to your school schedule, ask your professors if they know of any. A lot of my friends have gotten “Companion” positions at hospitals. I’m quite jealous of them, because they get a decent amount of money, and they get to know a lot of the nursing staff at hospitals and will have in-house references once we graduate.
  • Optimize what your school offers you. NYU allows us free admission to most NYC museums, along with free gym memberships, not to mention a ginormous library. That means I spend a lot less money on going out, working out, and buying books.

I hope this at least helps!

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NYU Meyers

20 Nov

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About a month ago, I found out that I was accepted at NYU Meyers school of nursing. I was at work at the animal hospital when I checked the website. I was so nervous that my brain couldn’t even process the letter I was reading. My eyes floated over the paragraphs looking for that key word. Congratulations.

I’m so happy. I’m so excited. Partially because I worked so so hard for this. I made a lot of sacrifices with my free time, with my money. I had to balance work, school, and moving three times. I was so happy to get that letter, but I also just felt like, “I damn well deserve this.”

One of the first jobs I had in New York was working as an office manager for an endodontist who was a sociopath. He was bizarrely strict and demanding and often belittled me. I wanted to quit, as even getting ready for work in the morning gave me full anxiety attacks. But my boyfriend at the time discouraged me, told me I had to suck it up and find a way to pay my share of the rent. I finally found something to replace it and told the evil endodontist I was leaving. He told me he felt sorry for me, because I was just an unhappy person.

I was so mad and offended. He didn’t know me. At least I wasn’t the egomaniac. But even though he as a jerk, he was right. I was deeply unhappy, and I would remain unhappy for a long time. I went through an dark couple of years. I lost 30 pounds, only holding 95 pounds on my 5 foot 7 frame because I was too depressed to eat. I struggled to make it two, three days without sobbing in bed, unable to get up. I blamed it on bad luck with men. I blamed it on not making a lot of money. I was so frustrated because I didn’t know how to fix it.

Now, I’m happy. I’m so happy. Not just on a “I had a good day” level or even a “life is so much fun” level. It’s a deeper, all-encompassing peace that comes with knowing where my life is going. I’m going to help people. I want to heal people. I want to learn all the secrets of the medical universe. I want to meet other people that are as passionate about science as I have become. I feel so solid in knowing that it’s all coming together, and I wish I had a way to go back and tell that crying 25-year-old how happy she would one day be. How things would settle out and be okay.

I’m beyond excited for my journey to begin in January, and I’d love to write about it. But let’s be honest, I’m not that reliable with my posts! Either way, all I can do is say that I will try. That’s all I’ve been trying to do these last seven years anyway. Trying. That’s all we can ever do.

Introductory Nutrition

17 Jul

The one class I took this summer was Introduction to Nutrition. A standard requirement for every nursing school and most PA programs. The summer course was a condensed version. Instead of three months, it was over a course of five weeks. Note to self to never sign up for one of those condensed courses again.

I wasn’t sure what a Nutrition course would entail. Foods? Diets? Disorders? Why did every program require this class? THIS course was an overview of what can in and of itself be a degree program. We studied macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrate) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), the way the body processes and uses them, disorders that arise from them, the standard American diet (acronym SAD!), and food issues around the globe. We also had to track everything we ate through nutrition software and submit reports on our health and our diet.

From the first class, I was a little irked at my professor. I could tell 15 minutes in that she was a vegan and that she wanted us to be vegans and that every subject that we discussed would circle back to her main thesis: meat/dairy is BAD, EVIL, WRONG. I was angry that she seemed to be forcing an ideology on her students instead of teaching us the subject matter.

Maybe it was the condensed nature of the course, but I slowly began to drink the vegan kool-aid. Vegan diets lead to a reduction of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. I read a study that put vegan blood in a petri dish with aggressive cancer cells, and the blood KILLED the cancer cells. Blood from meat eaters (even healthy ones) only killed a tiny percentage of the cancer cells. The vegan blood killed almost all of them. Outside of the health aspects, I was affected by the environmental impact of meat production and the treatment of the animals in these facilities. I felt enormous guilt that I spend all day taking care of animals, then I spend money eating animals that were tortured their entire lives. I had also developed skin issues over the last year. A combination of acne and rosacea that only seemed to be getting worse. I saw two dermatologists who both told me the same thing. “This is caused by dairy, red meat, and alcohol.”

So I gave it a shot. I could do it. I could be vegan. But about a week in, I found myself leaving the grocery store with a bag full of hummus and veggies. Outside the store was a taco truck. I stopped and looked at the menu. Quesadillas, tacos, tortas, burritos. All full of meat and cheese. Not a vegan option in sight. About ten minutes passed as I stood there in my trance of cataloguing all the delicious things I was giving up. Cheeseburgers, wings, pizza, tuna melts, BBQ, hot dogs, chicken tacos, turkey sandwiches. grilled cheeses, brie on crackers. I felt so sad. Yeah, I was eating a lot healthier, but what’s the point of life if I can’t enjoy anything. As Dr. G told me, “We all dig our own graves.” Something is going to kill you one day, and it’s all about making choices with the risks we are willing to take.

I brooded on my diet for about a week. I tried to come to terms with what I believe, what is best for me. I came to the conclusion that I don’t believe that eating meat is morally wrong. But I do think the way we produce meat in this country is. A couple of years ago I vacationed on a cattle ranch in New Mexico , where I got to see cattle roaming free, living a happy life with plenty of fresh air, quality medical care and healthy, natural feed. They had a good life, and I felt no guilt about eating them. But unfortunately that’s not the life that the majority of livestock in this country lead. That being said, I couldn’t go vegan. I just don’t know how. There had to be some type of in-between.

So I created an allowance for myself. 5 instances of dairy/eggs per week. 3 instances of meat (including fish). Two weeks in, and I think it’s going well. I’m still eating a mostly vegan diet, but when I’m out with my friends, I can have a buffalo wing. Or I can have a small ice cream cone on a summer day. At least I know I’m reducing my intake and making sure it stays low. Since I decided to do this I’ve noticed that my skin has almost completely cleared up, I’ve stopped having stomach issues, I need less sleep at night, and I feel as though I’m forced to eat more fruits and veggies which is never a bad thing. Overall, I think it’s going swimmingly.

I’ve also noticed a lot of push back from the people around me. I’ve had some friends dramatically scold me for my new diet. They tell me that I’m not going to get enough protein (not a problem if you eat smart), or that I’m being annoying/crazy, or that it’s worthless, that my eating less meat isn’t going to make that big of a difference. I don’t understand why people get so defensive about MY eating choices. So I’ve decided to stop talking about it, to just do my own thing, eat my own way, and let that be. I earn my paycheck, as modest as it might be, and I choose to divert my money away from meat/dairy and toward more whole foods. That’s my choice. My small difference to make in the world.

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

-Edward Everett Hale