On becoming a nurse at 50
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
“Why?” people asked me. “It’s such hard work physically: long hours, on your feet all day. Even nursing school itself is tough. Especially when you’ve been out of school for so long. How can you compete with those kids?”
But I started on this path long ago. In the 1970s I studied pre-med in college. After graduation, marriage and a move to Glenwood Springs ended dreams of attending medical school. I can’t deny I’ve lived my life to the fullest in this valley. I raised two fantastic kids and concentrated on a successful career in computers.
And then, at my daughter’s graduation from Colorado Mountain College, I saw a class of graduating nurses receiving their degrees. A spark was ignited. My children had flown. I no longer had the financial responsibility of supporting two other people. Now was the time to think about the rest of my life.
I’ve always had a great love for nutrition, first aid and teaching. My daughter encouraged me, saying, “Mom, you’re the only person I know whose entire bathroom is a first aid kit – you’re a natural!”
I went to CMC and made an appointment with a counselor who looked at my college transcripts and outlined what I would need to do to apply for nursing school. It was possible!
I took a psychology class as a prerequisite called Human Growth and Development. In this class we learned about Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. This describes the development of the human psyche from birth to death. The period of middle adulthood is called “Generativity vs. Stagnation.”
Generativity for me means contributing to society. The early adulthood focus on children and career gives way to finding fulfillment in helping others. In nursing school, I was a peer tutor helping our class to be unique, in that each and every one of us who started in September 2008 graduated in May 2010.
I am so lucky to be part of Valley View Hospital’s nurse residency program. Valley View is guiding me to become the very best nurse I can be, with classes and one-on-one preceptorship. I already feel a part of something good. Simply being a nurse at our local hospital gives me the opportunity to care for the people around me.
Volunteering is part of this generativity, and community health is a passion of mine. I am honored to be able to contribute some of my time to the Mountain Family Health Center board of directors. I am able to contribute to the health of the people who live here in this valley.
Becoming a nurse at 50? My dream come true. Tough? Very. Doable? Yes! It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, and it makes me happy to be alive every single day.
Valerie Curry, R.N., is a nurse in the critical care unit at Valley View Hospital. She is a 2010 graduate of Colorado Mountain College’s nursing program.
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