Monday, December 20, 2010

First Aider today!

I had an extra bit of excitement at my gym today...I got to be a first aider!

My workout was finished, and I was coming out of the change room towards the coat area.  I saw the gym owner hovering beside a lady who was sitting against a bench.  She didn't look too good, so I asked if I could be of help (oh, how it was killing me inside, to not be able to say 'Can I help?  I'm a nurse"!!!). 

The owner gladly let me take control of the situation, and as the lady was unresponsive at this point, I lay her down, and elevated her feet a bit.  I also had the owner call 9-1-1 right away.  She was positively grey -- even had grey lips.  Her skin felt hot and sweaty, and she was completely unresponsive.  I dug around her neck to check for a pulse, and eventually found one, but it wasn't easy to find, and it was very slow.  I had visions of having to start CPR, and was comforted to know that they gym has a defibrillator machine (which I was just recently trained/certified to use). 

Luckily, she started coming around slowly, opening her eyes and looking a little less grey.  What a relief!  I rolled her over on her side, to the recovery position, and continued to watch her, and try to ask her medical questions that may give an extra clue to why she was like this, while we waited for the paramedics.

One paramedic arrived, and answered what I could to the questions he was asking me.  As he was alone, I mentioned that if he needed me to do anything, to just let me know.  Again, what I wouldn't have given to be able to say, "I'm a nurse." 

Then two more, beautiful, gorgeous medics strode into the ladies-only gym, and the owner exclaimed in a loud voice, to those who were working out, "Here you go, ladies, your early Christmas present!!!"  What a laugh. 

They pricked her finger for a blood sugar reading (the results of which I was very curious to know, but couldn't think of any good reason why they should tell it to me, so I didn't dare ask!)  I hung around for a bit, mostly because my gym bag was still under her feet, and they were taking a long time getting a good read of the blood pressure, and I didn't want to disturb that.  I heard them telling that her BP was only 78 over something (couldn't hear that number, but again, I didn't dare ask for clarification of the diastolic reading!), and that they were going to start an IV and give her some oxygen. 

The gym owner was ever so grateful for my help.  I told her I'm hoping to start nursing school next fall, and she said that was definitely an excellent choice, based on what she'd just seen. 

I'm still feeling the after-effects of my adrenaline rush.  What a 'natural high' it is -- I love it, and so look forward to having this as a regular part of my work!!!

I so hope and pray this life-long dream of mine finally comes true one's not just a career choice / change for me, it truly is my vocation.

:-)  Future RN

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Five steps to making a decision

I have been reading a lot over the past couple years (thank you, bus system, for a long daily commute!). 

There was one book I was reading, although I can't remember the title, I do believe it was by Dale Carnegie, in which the steps to making a decision were outlined.

In a nutshell, and I am loosely paraphrasing what I remember reading, from a book I don't remember the title of (hope this is legal and not protected by some obscure copyright law...) :

1. Identify the problem/issue.

2. Gather data and facts about the problem/issue at hand.

3. Analyze the data.

4. Take action.

5. Don't look back.

Step number 5 is my favourite step in theory, and most difficult in practice!  So now I am hovering somewhere between steps number 4 and number 5.

Action has been taken (and I continue to 'patiently' wait), and am trying to keep looking ahead while not looking back toooooo much. :-)

I should probably add my own, extra step to this list.  I think this one should ideally appear somewhere between steps 3 and 4, and it should read, "Trust the gut."  The so-called 'gut feelings' also play a role in life, as I have repeatedly learned over the years.  Listen to your heart, too.  Heart, gut, whatever -- you pick the body part that speaks to you, and listen to it. 

Sometimes decisions are made based on logic, and these may not necessarily be the right decisions.  One must also take into consideration how one feels about a decision, not just making one based on analysis of data.  If something just feels right, or doesn't, that should be an important factor to consider too, even if it cannot be proven by data or validated scientifically. 

If I were to just follow the logical side of my mid-career change decision, I am certain I would stay put in my office until I retire, and be completely and utterly miserable.  My 'gut feeling' on this change says it is a good decision, even if my logical left brain copes with the impending huge change.

Getting back to why I remembered this decision making list, I just wanted to highlight step #5, which made me laugh -- "Don't look back."  So true, yet so difficult sometimes!

Future RN

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is it selfish to change careers?

This is a question that has been popping into my brain over the past few years, whenever I've thought about changing my career.

What gives me the right to suddenly change direction, when its impact will have effects on others?  For a few years, our family won't have the same financial situation that we currently enjoy (but they will see more of mom, and see a much happier mom & wife, so that counts for something too!)  However, financial rewards will continue, as soon as my degree is finished.  It's not as if I'm leaving the work force forever.

I compare my situation to others (perhaps that is a fundamental mistake).  I see people struggling to bring in enough money to look after their families, working sometimes several jobs that they clearly don't enjoy doing.  Yet, they keep at it as they have responsibilties.  I admire this. 

I see immigrants landing in my country, well educated professionals where they came from, only to find themselves doing menial jobs here, often beside high-school students.  Yet they continue.  They have responsibilities.  I admire this too.

I find myself in a completely different scenario.   It is not about 'having' to keep doing this career, it is about 'wanting' to do something different.  My future career plans are well thought out, do-able, within a finite time frame, and have a attainable outcome. 

However, we are in a position in our lives, where keeping the status quo would be so simple.  So incredibly simple.  I could cut back my hours to part-time, have more time at home with the kids and actually be able to even do some personal interest stuff, that I love to do, such as music, writing and water-colour painting.  Maybe even continue to do my medical-related volunteering, like I used to do.

Yet, job passion and satisfaction would still be missing.   But what gives me the right to look for job passion, satisfaction and fulfillment, when so many others have it so hard?  I tell myself that I really have so much to give others in the medical field.  This field chose me long ago, not vice-versa.  I think that fact is at the core of both why I cannot stay in my current, easy-living career, and why it is not selfish to change careers.

I have so much to give to others, I love sharing and helping.  I love doing things for others that are appreciated and valued.  Doing such things is a core value of mine.  I have always absorbed anything medical like a sponge.  It was always the most interesting possible area to learn about. 

I feel I'm not using my abilities, and I'll even go as far as saying my life, to its full potential.  Yes, I could carry on my easy, comfortable life, or I could really live to my full potential.  When I think about it, I think that the people in the situations I described above, if they were in my shoes, I bet they'd jump at an opportunity to live their passions.  I've worked hard to get to where my family currently are.  If there is now a chance to work again to achieve something different, so be it. 

No, it is not selfish to change careers.  One must look at how a current situation is impacting the bigger picture, positively and negatively, and weigh the pros and cons of staying and changing.  If somebody feels OK staying where they are, and are motivated by financial reward and having an easy lifestyle, stay where you are.  If somebody feels their potential is under used and valued, and it is realistically feasible to make a change, then go for it. 

As a person I know, for whom I have a lot of respect for, said to me this past summer when we were discussing my wanting to switch careers to nursing, "You know, you won't regret doing this."  And I know the opposite of that statement would also be true.

It is OK to change, even if much time, money and effort has been invested in an earlier career venture.  Change can be scary.  Embrace it, as life is all about change.  It is not static.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Career-descriptive words

"If you are passionate about what you do, motivated by improving the health of the community, excited by leading-edge medical technology, and as committed to excellence, quality and patient safety as we are, we would like to hear from you."

This is a quote taken from a local hospital's nursing recruitment site.  I love the use of the words, "passionate", "motivated", "excited" and "committed", as they are how a career in medicine makes me feel -- always has ever since I can remember. 

I dream of one day applying these adjectives to my medical career.  Sadly, none of them apply to my current career choice, aka my "job".  For my current position, I would have to write "money", "pensionable time", "job security" and "another work day over".  I've got it good at work - I am really not complaining, and grateful to be where I am.  I'm in a position that those in my field would aspire to be, and well positioned for climbing the corporate ladder.  Is it selfish to leave and change?  (this will be the basis of an upcoming post.)  However, it is completely the wrong fit for me, and it seems to be taking all the "joie de vivre" out of me, for a significant portion of my week...and as a favourite saying of mine is, "If the momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"  I certainly don't want to negatively affect my family and those around me.

I cannot wait to do something in my career that actually makes a difference in a person's life, if only a small difference.  That would give me such satisfaction in my work.  That will make my work seem worthwhile.

Otherwise, still (patiently) waiting for word from the university (and starting to panic about how soon Christmas is approaching, and about how much I have yet to do to get ready for that!)  Lol!

And getting back to my first sentence of this post, following the quote -- I can guarantee that this local hospital will be hearing from me, as soon as I am qualified!!!!!! 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Still (patiently) waiting

Well, not much new to update regarding my application.  I am reassured in the knowledge that my file is still currently under consideration.  So I wait, and keep very busy with work and life. 

I plan to write more soon, about the transition process.  One of the key reasons I started this blog, was to document the process of deciding to leave a good job in mid-career, to start something completely new and different.  I started this blog, given that I couldn't find anything like this out there in the blogosphere.  I was hoping to follow the path of somebody who had already done this, and ideally, was a few months ahead in the process, compared to me.  To no avail, so here I sit and write.

There is much to write about what goes on in this process -- the thoughts, worries, hopes, anticipation, discouragement, etc, etc.!  Much more on this soon. 

And what I truly hope is, that when everything is settled and real, I will look back at what I agonized over during the transition, and think to myself, "All that worrying and stressing for nothing.  What a waste of energy.  It all worked out great, just as you thought it would."

And one more thing, since I have a few minutes to write -- one thing I am very curious about, is how I will react when (if!) I actually get my nursing school acceptance letter.  Will it be a loud WHOOPEE shrieked out in my office, or will it be stunned silence, all alone, in my office?  I suspect the latter scenario, but nonetheless, one I am looking forward to finding out.

In the meantime, I continue to check the university web site daily, the one that will tell me what my future holds....

Friday, November 19, 2010

"The evaluation of your admission file is presently in progress."

Well, the title of this post says it all. 

This is the latest message I have received from the University.  That message, plus one more message, that said that the school has all the documents it requires from me, that my file is essentially complete. 

Now I wait, and hope, and work on being patient.  Actually, with the patience part, I think that's all OK now.  I admit I was a bit impatient to have the university finally acknowledge receipt of my file, but that was more in terms of just wanting to be reassured that some administrative goof-up wasn't happening.  Now, I am reassured that all is well with my file, and now I just wait.

How long do I wait until the admission decision is made?  That is an excellent question, and one that I do not have an answer for.  The other information the University web site indicated, was that admission file review do not start until mid-March, for the programs starting next September (like mine).  But they clearly wrote to me and said what I wrote in the title of this post ("The evaluation of your admission file is presently in progress.")

I do remember the guy who took my application package initially, saying something that the University tends to look at applicants with a post-secondary degree already completed, earlier than others.  So perhaps that is why my application is being processed somewhat sooner. 

Now I just sit tight and wait to hear further.  And in the meantime, try to continually convince myself that it really is OK to quit my current career and basically start a new career from scratch, at my age and with my current responsibilities!!!  I really want to make this change, and I am 99.9% sure I will make this change.  But in the meantime, I can drive myself crazy while in the transition phase!

This is one of the reasons I started this blog (no, not to drive myself crazy!).  I wanted to document the transition phase, and how hard it actually is to WILLINGLY leave an established career, to pursue another.  If I were to be laid-off, this decision would be so simple.  But initiating the change myself, not so simple.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

GASP!!! Horrendous generation gap highlighted...

Well, I got my wish of finally being in the University computer system.  The old saying, of being careful of what one wishes for, as it may come true, applied yesterday. 

Now that I'm officially in the school's computer system, I am also now on their mailing list.

I received an email from the school, announcing an upcoming information night being held for prospective students.  OK, so far so good.  That's certainly standard practice and good communication.  Then the email continued on, stating that I am welcome to attend and that I can even bring my parents with me to the session!!!  I burst out laughing, as I considered calling my mom to attend with me.  I was howling with laughter as I described this scenario to dear husband.

My dear, "dear" husband, then one-upped me on the scenario.  He proceeded to describe a scenario where I go without my mother, by myself, to the info night, and I get asked if I brought my kid with me!!!  YIKES!!! 

I was soon howling again, but no longer from laughter!  (OK, not really.)  Seriously, I did think that was funny too, but it did hit home the obvious generation gap that I'll be facing when school starts.  Clearly, I know I no longer look or act 18, which is a good thing in some regards (although I'd take back my firmer, 18 year old face in a heartbeat!!!).

Going back to school as an adult, is certainly going to be a very different experience than my previous experiences.  I remember there always being one or two "old" people in my classes, particularly in my science undergrad classes.  I would be very curious to know how old they actually were.  Maybe they were my current age (gasp again!), although I clearly remember most of women having short, grey hair, which is something that I at least, don't have.  So in any case, they probably looked older than perhaps they actually were.  I am certain, however, that I will look very old to the fresh out of high school kids.  I remember being that age, and anybody over the age of 26 was considered really old.

In hindsight, it must have taken a lot of courage for those people to join in to our young classes, where they didn't seem to have anybode else there, their age. 

What I do have going for me, in my upcoming adventure, is that nursing school seems to be quite a popular career choice among mid-career changers.  While I don't know what to expect in my school (there is an inquiry I need to make, to find out!), I have read that in some programs up to one-third of the class are mid-career changers. 

I know I won't be the only older student there, and once I get over the initial 'shock' of being in such a class, frankly, I don't believe I'll think twice about it.  I'll be back at school for one purpose, and one purpose only -- to get my BScN degree.  This time around, I'm not there to make a network of friends, to figure out how to live on my own for the first time, how to cook, how to do laundry, dating is not a concern, figuring out what to do with my life, etc. etc....all the factors that kids starting university for the first time have to deal and cope with. 

It will be very interesting (and dare I say, refreshing!), to truly be in university, and just have the classes to focus on, and nothing else.  Granted, I have all the home responsibilities to deal with that my average classmates won't, but I am dealing with those regardless if I am a student or at my job.

And frankly, I'll take my current life, with its stable, loving relationships and home responsibilities any day, over the learning curve of the early days at university for the first time!

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm in the system!!!

Wahoo -- my wish of my application being formally acknowledged by the University has happened!   And I am also very pleased that so far, there are no glaring administrative mistakes on the application, like my program choice for admission being listed as accounting or philosophy.  So far, so good. 

University admission procedures have changed somewhat since I last applied to an undergrad program.  As would be expected, everything is electronic now.  (Apparently one can even sign up to have your admission offer texted to your cell phone!!!)  I was told that my application would be acknowledged on a certain part of the University's website, which I have been checking (I admit, somewhat obsessively) in the past few days...  And then, there it was!  This is part of the message: 

"The Admissions Office of the University of XXX has received your application for admission. We are in the process of reviewing files to determine what documents we require for evaluation. We are presently processing the heavy volume of applications and documents. Please be patient. Within the next two weeks, any missing documents will be indicated here."
I might add that that was the University who highlighted the "please be patient" in bold font.  It's almost like they know me!
So the wait continues, and I will try hard at being more patient....  ;-)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Getting cold feet...

...and I don't mean just the type that happens every year when the temperature drops outside!!!  Those, I have practically year 'round, along with cold hands.  Oh, my lucky, future patients!!!  :-)

Regarding this mid-career change, nothing, of course, is yet set in stone.  I am still employed full-time, and I am still waiting for the university to as much as acknowledge receipt of my application.  I am just dreaming about nursing school.  So the current job situation retains its status quo. 

So why the cold feet?  In one simple word: financial security. (OK, that's two words!)

For some reason, I am not at all worried about landing a great nursing job at the end of my studies.  I know I'll be a very competent nurse, I know I'm an outgoing 'people person' and will love finally being back in the medical field (this time as a paid professional, rather than just as a volunteer).  I have a very good 'gut feeling' about the whole career change idea -- and over the years I have learned to 'trust the gut'.  If I had any reservations at all about the actual career change, I would not be considering it any further.

What concerns me, are the few years between quitting my current job, and starting to work after graduating as a nurse.  The financial unknowns during these few years concern me.

As I'd mentioned earlier, my dear husband and soul mate is very supportive of this change.  I would not be considering any career change if we had not talked this through in great detail over the years, and I didn't have his full agreement and support.  He is a professional in his field, and has a great job and career, one in which he is very intelligent and well respected by his colleagues.  He's in a great place -- AND he loves what he does (lucky guy!!!)

In the many years we've been together, he has only gone through one lay-off (and that one came with an amazing severance package, so even through that ordeal, there never were any financial issues).  During those few months that he was off work, it was also reassuring to me to know that I had a full-time job (even though I was on maternity leave at the time). 

This lay-off scenario would be different, if I were a student again.  We know we can comfortably live off one salary - we have proven that.  The difference would be that we would have so many more expenses, with university tuition and books and everything else.  And the guilt that I would feel in that scenario would simply be unimaginable.

I don't know why I have such strong worries for this situation.  Without getting into any personal financial details, we are on a very solid financial footing.  This scenario really should not be a huge concern, particularly given that the odds of my dear husband being laid off in the next few years are relatively slim.  Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but I don't think this should be such a major worry for me.  But it is. 

I have read that being in a position as I currently am (wanting to change careers, but finding it very difficult to leave the current, comfortable situation, even though it is completely the wrong field), is called the "golden handcuff".   Hard to leave, and hard to stay.

I also know that the TRANSITION stage, the flux stage, is the most difficult to deal with, as there is an ending happening (ending of the familiar situation), a new beginning dawning (into the unknown), but neither is complete yet.  This is still the muddled middle ground, when closure is possible, but not yet happened,

The transition stage is the most unsettling, as one knows that change is coming, but one has not yet actually rolled up her sleeves (scrubs!) and gotten to work on the new project. 

It is far too easy to worry about potential, hypothetical situations!

Monday, November 8, 2010

My application is now complete

Still the long wait continues, to even get an email validation from the university to acknowledge receipt of my application. 

However, last week I received the one transcript that I had yet to submit, to make my application complete.  The person receiving the transcript confirmed the info that I had to wait at least until mid-November (to late November), to get a first acknowledgement from the school.  At least that bit of info was reassuring to hear.  I don't know why, but it seems that if an administrative mistake is going to happen, it seems to happen to me.  This is perhaps why I have become extra vigilant when dealing with an administrative process, as I often manage to catch errors and fix them.  The transcript I submitted last week was written under my maiden name, and my current application is under my married name.  This seemed to somewhat confuse the person taking the document.  My student number remains the same, so this should really not be that confusing.  However, what worries me somewhat is that the document I submitted had to be given to the university in the sealed envelope it arrived it (somebody had even written their signature on the sealed flap of the envelope!).  So I handed in the document without being able to make a photocopy for my records.  Hopefully everything will go smoothly...all the more reason why I am so keen to finally have a written record from the school, regarding the status of my application!

In the meantime, I am somewhat of a keener, and I have already started re-learning the anatomy and physiology I once knew, when I did my Bachelor of Science degree.  I figured I might as well start learning the anatomy now, as it simply requires rote memorization to learn, and also because I love learning it.  Once upon a time for a course in comparative anatomy, I had to memorize all the bones, muscles, tendons, insertion points of the tendons and muscles, major blood vessels, organs, tissues, various layers of various tissues, etc etc.  It was certainly a challenge, and not something that could be done at the last minute.

Regarding physiology, I must say that I was rather surprised and pleased with the amount of endocrinology I actually remembered.  It gives me hope that my somewhat older brain still retains something from when I was in my early twenties, and that it still remains capable of learning! 

Now if I could just know that I am (FINALLY!) actually doing this learning for a real, medical-end result career, that would simply be the ultimate feeling.  I have studied much anatomy and physiology in the past, but never for a medical end result, even though that was what I always truly wanted.  Hopefully this wish will be realized in the coming year.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Waiting is the hard part

After so many years of thinking and dreaming about changing careers, I finally took action and applied to nursing school.  That felt great, if somewhat surreal.  Now comes the long wait, and I wouldn't exactly put 'patience' on my top ten list of outstanding personal qualities.  The decision to change has been made after so many years of waiting -- and I am ready to jump in right now!

It turns out I have to wait until mid-November, just for the University to put my application into their system!  The University has certain programs that have a January intake, so they are currently concentrating on processing those applications.  The BScN program I have applied for, only has a September intake class, so those applications are (understandably) somewhat of a lesser priority for the University right now.  I just want to see something official that says I have truly applied to the nursing program!  Yes, I have a photocopy of the stamped date of my application form, but that doesn't feel official enough.  I want an acknowledgement saying that, "We have received your application for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at XXX University...."  I am still waiting for the one transcript I requested, that I know I have to submit to make my application file complete.  Hopefully that will come in the next week, then I can check off the last remaining item to submit.

Waiting is not easy.  However, luckily, I have a very busy home life and work life to keep me well occupied.  However, during the work day, I often find myself wishing it was nursing classes I was focusing on, rather than the job at hand. 

It is also very difficult not to talk about this with my colleagues and friends.  Two very trusted colleagues know of my plans, and several close friends know.  Apart from those people, however, I am not saying anything to anybody else.  I just want to have that acceptance letter in my hand -- to truly know that his change is happening, before I (finally!) start sharing my news with people.

On an unrelated note, I found several websites that specialize in 'future RN' items one can purchase, such as various pieces of clothing, travel mugs, bags, fridge magents, etc etc (you get the idea).  Some of the items made me laugh.  One was a T-shirt that said, "Pity me.  My wife is a nursing student.", and a button that said, "Be nice to me...I could be your nurse one day."  I think when my acceptance letter to nursing school comes, and my upcoming career change becomes public knowledge at work, I will print up the latter saying, and hang it on the door to my office!

I'm also following media coverage of the current cholera outbreak in Haiti.  How ready I would be to jump on a plane and start helping out.  Back in January when the earthquake hit, and I was watching the coverage of that, and I literally had a 'dull ache' inside, as I was so desperately wanting to go help give medical assistance there.  My first aid skills and many hands-on experiences with the St. John Ambulance Brigade just aren't good enough qualification to go help in a situation like that!  Nursing is a career I will never, ever retire from.  Our dentist organizes volunteer dental clinics in South America, and I've already told her that in 2015 I'll be able (medically certified to help) and willing to join her on one of her trips.

Here's to waiting, waiting, waiting, hoping and dreaming.....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The DECISION has been MADE & ACTION has (finally) been TAKEN!

To the friends who have known me for a long time, they know that a career change has been a long time coming.  Those same friends who have known me for a long time, have also known my life-long dream about working in the medical field.  To those friends, it was probably somewhat surprising that I did not end up in the medical field earlier.  But better late than never!

Deciding to change careers, especially when one finds herself in a very secure, well-paying job, one with excellent benefits, pension and great opportunity for promotion, is a scary prospect.  Factor in several children, and the prospect becomes even scarier.  Any major change is a scary prospect.  Also factor in the unconditional love and support of an incredible husband who believes in me, and the prospect of change becomes truly, if still somewhat vaguely, possible and real.  However, when I will eventually start talking about this upcoming change more-widely in my circle of friends, family and colleagues, I am quite certain many will think I need to get my head examined!  Lol!

I can honestly say that deciding to change careers is neither a mid-life crisis (even though it may appear that way!), nor an impulse decision.  It is something I have been actively and seriously thinking about and dreaming about for about at least the past decade.  However, being pregnant and getting through the early years of three separate newborn babies, required much time and energy.  Family was definitely a priority, over any career.  Now the children are a bit older and all have started school, and I am again in a position to decide if I can truly take the plunge and fulfill my dream of being a medical professional.  I feel like it is now or never (gasp -- I am definitely not getting any younger!)

So with all that as a pre-amble, I can get back to the point of this entry, as outlined by the title.  I have made the decision to change my chosen career field, to go back to school, and to do something completely different with my professional life.  To do something I've dreamt about for as long as I can remember.

I now have my completed application dropped off at the University, my application fee has been paid, my MA transcript has been submitted.  I am just waiting for one transcript to arrive, from a school I spent my first year of university life attending.  Once that arrives, my file should be complete, unless the university asks for some clarification of something.

It feels GREAT and somewhat unreal, to have actually submitted the application. 

Now I can worry and plan the 'what if's", something that I am surprisingly good at (it is a honed skill....).  While I am somewhat, relatively confident that I'll get accepted, (my application is strong -- undergraduate degree was finished Magna cum laude, MA was top of my graduating class, almost 1,000 hours of volunteer work in the medical field), until I have that acceptance letter in hand I will remain somewhat on edge.  After all, I'm not fresh out of high school, like many of my classmates will be.  However, I have other valuable qualities and talents to bring to the job, gained by life-experience and real-world, on the job, experiences, that those fresh out of high school don't have yet.  So it is all a balance and trade-off.  But from everything that I've been reading, I also certainly won't be the only mid-career aged woman there.  In fact, there should be quite a contingent of us 'older' students. 

I will fully relax and fully believe that this is actually happening to me, when I hold that acceptance letter in hand.  

Wish me luck and join me in my journey!!!