Home > The Literary Nurse > A Shift In Mental Wiring

A Shift In Mental Wiring

Over the last two weeks of Nursing school something has been made very clear to me: my brain is wired in a very particular way. Let’s call it English (as in English Major) way.

My natural tendency, honed by the training of an English degree, is to absorb content, then look for concepts and ideas embedded in that content. I read sentences and my mind automatically takes notice of the length, the word choice, the rhythm. Is there a reason for the flurry of short sentences? Why are there all these semi-colons here? Why this word instead of a more common synonym? This is how my mind works with the written text.

With other media, be it visual or auditory (including class lectures), I primarily absorb rather than notate. Even during my science classes during my Pre-Nursing time, I would mostly listen and observe the lecture, making notes in a rather automatic manner, as the audio/visual data was far more important for me. This info then percolates in my head and gets absorbed into practical applications. I may not be able to parrot it all back, but the info is there and I can recall it when it is applicable.

The thing is, the English brain wiring is not gonna cut it in Nursing school.

When I read my text books, there is no subjectivity to the written word: the author meant this, period. As my friend Christina put it, “You can’t read into and/analyze board questions! It is what it is! That’s your new mantra.” And she’s right. I’m not in English anymore, I’m in Nursing.

This isn’t to say that all my previous skills are useless. There is room for critical thinking and analysis in Nursing, especially when it comes to the care of patients. But in the classroom, and in studying, there really isn’t. The NCLEX doesn’t care if I find that question 4 is wrongly constructed, it cares that I know the correct answer. My professors don’t really care if the writing in the Fundamentals textbook is dry, boring and devoid of character, they care that I read the assigned readings and know the material they will include in the exam.

It’s hard, I admit. While there is an element of a scientific process to my thought pattern (for all that I’m an emotional softie, I’m actually a fairly logical person), it hasn’t been the primary wiring of my brain for years. I now find myself forcing new neural pathways into being and clearing the debris on old ones that have lain dormant. It is the process of creating a new mental wiring, a Nursing mental wiring.

I just need it to happen before my test next Monday!

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