Welcome to Nursing School


(or, Let’s All Go Pee in a Cup)


There are a lot of stories about nursing school, some hilarious, some heartbreaking, some terrifying. I read many stories and dreamed up a few of my own as I waited for a certain Monday morning in January to arrive, when I would begin nursing school. Finally the day came, and I walked my jittery self up to the third floor of the nursing building to begin a story of my own. I was soon surrounded by sixty-three students, most of whom I barely knew. My first challenge would not necessarily be picking the most correct answer out of multiple acceptable choices. Instead it would be more like what I had confronted my first day in kindergarten: saying hello to another kid my age. Except the stakes were a little higher this time, like learning how to save a life together rather than who gets to go down the slide first.

Luckily, nursing school tends to send many students through the proverbial fire all at once, and that tends to make people press together. My classmates and I were in the same boat, headed for many of the same experiences. One of those memory-makers was urine testing. After going through the syllabus and course expectations, the professors for level one sent us out the door to the representatives of a drug testing company. We lined up in front of the table set up by the restrooms and were given a special testing cup with a green screw cap, and specific instructions. Fill up to a certain line, bring straight back for evaluation, don’t wash your hands until after it’s all done. I finally decided that urine tests were a remarkably effective way to get me hydrated. In my mind the one thing that might be more awkward than carrying my own cup of urine in front of a bunch of strangers, was to have nothing to fill up that cup with.

There were two bathrooms available for sixty-three of us, going one at a time. And no matter how awkward it may have been, it was somehow comical. All of us newbies were in this adventure together now, and there was no way that we would all remain strangers for very long. Our nursing professor seemed to agree. “This is bonding time everybody” she announced, a wide smile. “Time to get to know each other.”

If the proverbial journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, maybe it could be said that the journey of a nursing student begins with a clear plastic cup and a green screw cap.


Welcome to nursing school.