The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Friday, October 06, 2006

In the Court of the King, A Rant

I can’t remember which Louis it was, but one of the King Louis’ had an ingenious method of preventing plots against him at court. Where other kings resorted to strong arm tactics, Louis simply made sure that the mores and required mannerisms at court changed constantly. What you had to do to be accepted at court one week would be outdated and wrong a week later. Would-be plotters found themselves far too busy keeping up to spend any time organizing against him. For instance, at one point the correct protocol was to knock on doors. Shortly thereafter, knocking on doors was a terrible gaffe; the correct thing to do was to scratch at the door like a cat. (Since this required growing and maintaining long fingernails, it was especially clever.)

Why do I bring this up, do you ask? Because trying to get into nursing school is starting to make me feel like a member of the French court. When I was younger and went to school the first time, I saw an advisor. I figured out what classes I needed. I planned when and how to take the classes. Then I simply went and did it. Well, the times they are a’changing. I understand that the nursing program is competitive and that this necessarily requires some adjustment. But here’s how it’s gone:

I called my first choice of college. I asked to speak to an advisor. I was told I couldn’t unless I was a student. I enrolled in school. Then I was told that only a nursing advisor could advise me. Then I was told I couldn’t see a nursing advisor unless I was in the nursing program. Finally I managed to see someone and I planned my classes. I figured I was now at the “simply go and do it” part. Then I found out that the classes listed on the application as co-requisites—to be taken any time before graduation—were actually pre-requisites that had to be completed prior to application. Okay, fine. I rearranged my plans. Then I found out that they moved up the application deadline. Okay, I rearranged my plans. Then I found out that they were going to a lottery system. Okay, I changed schools.

At the second (and my current) school, I started out nervous and made sure that everything that was told to me was verified. Twice. I figured out what classes I needed. I asked someone else. I asked a third person. I planned my classes. I got them checked over. I did it again. I started school. Then I found out that they had changed the requirements to include two more classes. Okay, I rearranged my schedule. Then they decided to require a state CNA (certified nursing assistant) license. I was a CNA when I was younger, but I was MUCH younger and do not have a license. Further, the state will not let me test unless I have taken an approved class within two years. Okay, I rearranged. I worked out that I could take 15 credits this quarter, 15 in the winter quarter, and then the 16 of the CNA class in the Spring quarter and still make the July application deadline. Which is good, because the class enrolls once per year and if I don’t make the deadline for Fall 2007, I will be stuck until Fall 2008. Good, right? Wrong. Because yesterday I found out, quite by accident (I was seeing an advisor about something different) that now they’ve moved the application deadline to March 30, one full quarter earlier. To get the prerequisites and the CNA training by that date would require me to take 31 credits next quarter which, even if I was willing, the school would not allow.

I contacted the school to see if, since they’re the ones who advised me to set up classes the way I have, they will allow me to apply without the license, with the understanding that I would have to have the license by the time I start in the nursing program, assuming I was accepted. I was told “the license is required for application. If you are unable to meet the requirements, you may include a letter with your application asking for special consideration.”

“Special”? Now it’s “special” consideration to have the amount of time they told me I would have? To back up what they told me and what I signed up for in good faith? That’s “special” consideration? I kind of thought it was just plain old consideration. Shows you what I know. I sent them another e-mail explaining the situation again, and pointing out why I think this is an unsatisfactory solution and why I think the school should work with me. I don’t know if it will make any difference.

I found another school that offers a 14-day CNA class in the evenings. I have to contact them to see if it’s offered in a time frame that will work ….but it costs $2000. Which is insane. And sure, I can wait one more year and apply in 2008. But I left my job for this. I've put my life on hold for a plan that the school counselors helped me to create. More to the point…..

…..more to the point, let’s say I do this. Let’s say I drop $2K on a class teaching me to do what I already know how to do, and preparing me to take a test that I am already educated enough to pass. Then what? Will they back up the deadline another quarter? Will they add another class or three? Will it be necessary for me to have worked as a CNA in the last two years? (I’ve worked as a medical assistant—a higher level of training—but that counts for nothing in this process, I’ve learned) Will I need to stand on my head, whistle a Broadway show tune, make hush puppies from scratch, dress in all green for three days out of five for the year preceding application? Or be proficient in the knowledge of whether I’m supposed to knock on or scratch at doors?

Folks, I’m tired. I'm actually insulted by the notion that I should spend my valuable learning time running around trying to figure out how the requirements have changed in the last half hour. I'm offended that in a world with huge nursing shortages, places of higher learning are making the process of creating them unwieldy, cumbersome, discouraging.

See, if the goal is to avoid murder by your court, inconsistency, arbitrariness, and even downright absurdity is highly desirable, one might even say appropriate. But if you want to create educated students, thoughtful students, students who have taken the time to really learn the necessary material instead of nervous, stressed out students just spitting knowledge back without ever truly "getting it" because they can’t afford anything less than an “A”…..I’m not sure that scratching at the door is the way to go. An anxious court is good for the king...less so for the learning mind.

I have to think about this. I said that I don’t want to be a nurse—that I am one. This is true. But the official documentation of that reality may remain, for me at least, tantalizingly out of reach.


  • At 10:17 AM, Blogger Charity said…

    Oh, Ms. Knitingale, I feel your pain. Be assured that this nonsense is not restricted to the nursing profession. I've gone through, and still am going through, similar experiences on my way to the accounting profession, as well! Is this their version of a doctor's intern program?

  • At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    Darlin, it is NOT out of your reach...will they let you 'test out'? for the course? they should, those bastards. Like it's not enough to have to deal with the psych(o) (a bit apt now, ain't it?) teacher, but sheesh, what a bunch of nincompoops.
    Yeah, ask them if you can test-out. I'm sure there's a more official word for that, and I think it's niggling in my brain but for the life of me it won't come out of hiding.
    Keep your faith.

  • At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good greif. Bastards. Keep your good head of mad up and you will get through.

    Can you switch up to some program that is a funnel from your old job to nursing rather than CNA? What about some sort of CNA/Old Job equivalency?

    What about an angry lawyer friend? Do you have the advice of the advisor on e-mail? Because that would be unto a contract....

    I"m angry for you....fuckers.


  • At 2:02 PM, Blogger Kit Is Knitting said…

    I have gone through the exact same run-around only with Excelsior Online. Fortune smiled on me, though, and when they dropped all EMTs and CNAs from their courses, I was and still am an LPN with a current license.

    But yes, I would love to strangle administration or bring them to light to the national media. After all, it should not be necessary to jump through hoops just to help with what I feel is a self-inflicted shortage.

  • At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Jill said…

    And people wonder why I never went beyond high school.
    Beauracracy sucks!

  • At 9:11 PM, Blogger Faren said…

    That's crazy, do they want more nurses or not? And $2000 for a CNA course? In Kansas I think it is around $300. If there is such a shortage of nurses why don't they make more spots avaiable in the program? Plus they need to make up their mind. sheesh, I feel for you.

  • At 5:09 AM, Anonymous angie cox said…

    Now you tell me...considering what I am reading I could have passed on some very nifty tips to the English court..seriously that is a crazy idea but okay at courts but not for you.Sympathies .

  • At 12:48 PM, Blogger Jo said…

    The worst thing about your far-fetched, ridiculous, impossible story is that it is tragically true. Sometimes I wonder why we bother at ALL. In your case I would want to go home, get the box of matches, indulge in some satisfying arson, and then go become a brain surgeon. Somewhere else. Bl-n-g b-l-y h-l, has anyone told the hospitals, the patients, who are crying out for help, that bureaucracy is doing this? Can you get on TV to highlight it? That would hit them where it hurt (wouldn't do too much for your application but who the heck wants to study somewhere like those institutes?)

    So angry for you I could hit something.
    Celtic Memory Yarns

  • At 6:49 PM, Blogger Ms. Knitingale said…

    Jo, there are no words for how much I love you for those words!!


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