That’s me! I had just finished climbing up the 821 wooden-stair, steps of the Kaymoor Miners Trail, at the New River Gorge National Park, of West Virginia. You basically go down and back up the entire mountain side. The first part of the wooded trail is rocky but well cleared. Then if you’re brave, you continue your descent on 1,000 plus wooden stairs and switchbacks to where the coal rail cars are kept by the railroad tracks.
Now, going back up is a totally different story. I really enjoy hiking, but the hike back up really tested my ability and patience. I had to stop several times to catch my breath and rest. The 90 degree weather with 80% humidity started to take its toll on my muscles. I had to use all my strength and will power to get back up those stairs and up the rest of the mountain.
Achieving my BSN degree, in many ways, felt like the same journey…
Did I really need to climb that mountain, probably not? Do I really need my bachelor’s degree in nursing, especially when I already have a BA in Biology? That is a question many associate degree and second degree nurses ask themselves. And the answer is YES, you really should consider continuing your nursing education and get your BSN. Just like the beginning of the trailhead, going down the mountainside required watching your step, stopping to sip some water and snapping a photo or two. My nursing career followed the same daily pattern; follow orders, pass meds like a pro, take lunch while standing, catch up on the latest floor gossip and go home completely exhausted.
Halfway down the trail, you come to the top of a great, wooden staircase, that looks to be about 25-step decent before your view is blocked by tree branches. Nursing also presents “stairs of opportunity”. Some “stairs” look easy enough from what you can see; carry a phone, no patient assignment, can sit when I want to, answer questions, and get to direct my peers. The 25 steps soon turn into a seemingly endless staircase drawing me into “what’s at the bottom?” Charge nurse duties lead me into the same descent, “Why does the Unit Director schedule too few nurses?” Reaching the bottom of the gorge, ended with a view of the river rapids and the realization of the only way out was up! My Unit Director was offered an early retirement package to be taken within the next year. The opportunity for me to climb into that position required a minimum education level of BSN. My BA in Biology is not the same and didn’t cut it as far as Human Resources was concerned.
Now, the 821 “stairs” to my BSN were in front of me. I wrote more papers than I would like to count. There was the occasional “paper” to create a brochure, comparison chart or even a video. The 90 degree temperature was all of life’s other responsibilities, the 80% humidity was my family obligations, and my “muscles” (mental toughness) were screaming in agony. I used every ounce of self-discipline to stay on time in the 8-week timeframe per session.
After it was all said and done, it was an awesome experience, beautiful scenery, great professors, and an awesome mental workout! I highly recommend it!