So far, my experience has been a mixed bag. On the one hand, I have learned that:
a) commuting mostly sucks
b) the days off on Fridays thing doesn't really count, because you could spend 12 hours studying and still not do everything
c) the professors expect that nursing is your one priority in life. Anything else must be shuffled to the side for that email they will send you 14 hours before your reading is due updating the assignment
d) there is a LOT of dirty work involved. Ever heard of a fecal ostomy?
However, on the other (more influential) hand, I have learned what nursing really is, and it has been eye-opening. In my mind, nurses worked for doctors. The doctors were the bosses, and the nurses did all the dirty work. There were subtle hints of my ideal ideas of what nurses also did, obviously, or I wouldn't have chosen the career at all, but the stereotype definitely hung heavy in my mind.
In reality? What nurses do is beautiful and all-encompassing. We watch the body for reactions to medical treatments and new problems, as well as the return to health. We watch the mind for uncertainties and confusion. We watch the soul for ways to steer it back to more health-promoting states. Today on the bus, the older gentleman next to me said, "I assume you are studying to be a nurse?" (judging from my scrubs and pharmacology textbook, I imagine). When I nodded, he said, "What a noble profession." I felt the fuzzies from that comment for the rest of my 6 block walk to clinical. Ever since I've switched to nursing, I've felt the need to defend my decision, to explain to everyone that it wasn't a step down from pharmacy, even though no one has come out and told me they thought it was. Still, it was nice to get some external validation for the decision, and I think it was a perfect echo of what has been going on inside my head for the last four weeks, underlying the stress and the frustration with due dates - I have found the right profession.