Challenge Yourself To Fear Less In Your Pursuit Of Being A CRNA
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In May 2015, I took a huge leap of faith by quitting my job as a registered nurse and moved along with my family from SC to Maine so I could attend nurse anesthesia school. This one decision had a lot of moving parts and not only involved me but my whole family. There was so much at stake. While I was thankful for the opportunity, I remember feeling utterly sick thinking about what was to come. I just felt more fear than you could imagine.
I feared dang near everything. Fear I would look stupid in class. Fear of failing a test. Fear of not having enough money. Fear I would no longer be able to make it to my kids activities. Fear I would totally butcher clinicals. Basically, just fear of failure in general.
Fast forward to today, I am a CRNA and so happy I made the decision to “feel the fear and do it anyway”. I have to give credit to Susan Jeffers, psychologist and best- selling author of the book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” for the saying. This was one of the many motto’s I chose prior to starting CRNA school. I created a nice little graphic and placed it on the front of my binder. I looked at it everyday. But as I stepped on campus fear was still present and ready to derail everything at a moment’s notice. To this day this is still my go to motto whenever I feel nervous or uncomfortable. Because these feelings are just part of life, right?
Correct, these feelings are a part of life but they shouldn’t control your life and hold you back from accomplishing any goal or dreams. I don’t want you to spend another day agonizing over whether you should pursue nurse anesthesia or any other goals. It is time to fear less on your journey and do it anyway.
I have listed some ways to pursue your dreams in the wake of fear. But first let’s discuss what fear is exactly.
What is fear
Fear is natural, powerful and a primitive human emotion. It is also a vital response to both physical and emotional danger. It can also be a good thing since it is a fundamental survival mechanism that tells you to get to a safe place. Unfortunately, this same sensation is what we experience whenever we are faced with the unknown. Like when you are striving towards your dreams- career, personal or whatever.
Everything you want is on the other side of fear
– Jack Canfield
Confront your fear
Maybe instead of trying to avoid fear, you actually get in front of it. In order to overcome fear, you must first acknowledge and confront your fears. For example, in my first few months of clinicals I would pray my clinical coordinator would not assign me to a patient who might require a spinal anesthetic.
This was because the very first day I ever touched a spinal needle a professor belittled me and said I wasn’t doing the procedure right. Do you think? This was my first day in the lab. Therefore, anytime I thought about spinals I also felt fear and dread because of that experience. On a side note, we as people and definitely as medical professionals need to watch how and what we say to people. This is another way you can be derailed while striving towards your dreams.
So, I started placing more spinals, albeit mostly in a simulation lab first. But over time I began to pick those spinal cases and decided I needed to embrace feeling uncomfortable and fearful of performing spinal anesthetics. So guess what my new mantra became at that time. In order to get through CRNA school, you have to be okay with being uncomfortable every single day.
Eventually, it was nothing for me to pick a room with 3 spinal cases and get each one on the first try. I became known as the SRNA with great hands. Who would have thought such a thing from the first time I actually was scolded when I just picked up a spinal needle. As you probably can tell this did wonders for my confidence and my fear was not based on facts.
Connect with other like- minded positive people
Do everything you can now to limit your time around these kind of people. And this also includes those on your job prior to starting school.
Your time and mental health is precious and therefore you should spend time with helpful, calm, confident people. You need people around you who always find a way no matter what. Be intentional when forming your core group of people in your life that you can rely on. The key to finding people like yourself is knowing what kind of people help you to feel the most confident, inspired and motivated. You will need people in your life to not only push you to be the best person but also be there for you in times of need as you work toward becoming a CRNA.
Examine your fears
Why would I want to examine my fears, you ask?
I remember way back in grade school I always feared speaking in front of the class. And as I got older it only got worse. So quite naturally one of my biggest fears was public speaking. And this was not just some old ordinary fear. It was paralyzing and nearly stopped me from applying to CRNA school.
I began to really examine why I was afraid of public speaking. I couldn’t really pinpoint why but I decided to look at ways to overcome those fears. For me it involved a few different tactics. Ultimately, lots of practice and eventually a beta blocker for performance anxiety. I’m not advocating you seek medications but this worked for me. There is always a way we just have to figure it out.
Do it anyway
When you find yourself in a new or scary situation, such as starting CRNA school, it is easy to doubt yourself. It is so easy to say I can’t do this. I don’t belong here. But as I stated earlier, I chose to do it anyway. And you will too!
I know contemplating a major life change such as attending CRNA school can create a significant amount of fear and stress. It was for me also. But you are on the verge of doing some great things in your life. You are so close to living in your purpose and working in such a rewarding career. Instead of feeling a flurry of fear, work on sensing happy anticipation for what’s to come.
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