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Considering a new challenge? Michele Faehnle explains how to put the right supports in place.

Three years ago I transitioned back into my profession of nursing as a school nurse. It was the perfect fit for my family, since my work hours would be when my children were in school, and I was off summers, weekends, evenings, and holidays (all the things I didn’t like at the hospital!). However, in Ohio, school nurses require an additional licensure through the Department of Education, and that meant returning to college after graduating 20 years ago.

Although I had always wanted to return to school, working full-time with four kids and going back to college after so many years was daunting to me. I took the plunge and enrolled in an online program that was a full year of coursework and included 120 hours of clinical work. A year later, I am elated to share I completed the program and received my license. 

If you are contemplating going back to school, (or even tackling something like writing a book or running a women’s conference), here are some lessons I learned along the way: 

Find Your Tribe. In order to get all the required reading done and papers written, I needed to rely on others who were going to support me. My husband and kids knew this was going to be a challenging year for me, and they all chipped in on cleaning the house and my older kids helped watch my younger ones so I could get my assignments done. I also have a wonderful friend who would take my girls to her house to play for hours when I needed some quiet time. It’s also important to reach out to friends who have done a similar program for tips, mentorship and support. Having people who believe in you and support you is vital! 

Just Say No. I am a “yes” girl - always taking on some sort of new project. I realized my time was limited, and giving my best to my schoolwork had to take priority over volunteer jobs. It meant giving up things like coaching my daughters volleyball team and turning down some writing projects, but over committing to things usually means sacrificing quality. I explained to everyone who asked me for help this year I was unavailable due to my school schedule, but promised after completion I would return to volunteer work. 

Be Quick About It. Although “there are no shortcuts to success,” there are some that can be really helpful to help you manage your time! My favorite shortcut to use was steam. The Instant Pot helped me prepare quick, easy and health meals to my family and my steamer allowed my a quicker process for ironing my husbands dress shirts for work! 

Mental Health Matters (and so does your physical health). I learned the hard way when I cut out exercise and recreational activities and added the stress of schooling, my body suffered. After a flare-up of an autoimmune skin condition, both my dermatologist and my functional medicine doctor helped me rethink my priorities. I changed my diet, added in some vitamin supplements, started short exercise routines and used a Catholic meditative prayer app in the evenings to help decrease my stress and better connect with God. Although I still experienced stress, I was able to manage it better, and acknowledging my stress level to another adult was very therapeutic. 

This Too Shall Pass. Keeping the perspective that this process was short term pain for long term gain helped me push through when I was overwhelmed. My preceptor reminded me this was just a “blip in time” and I would be grateful later for the sacrifice. 

If you are taking on a new challenge, I hope this encourages you to take the leap with the right supports in place.

5 ways to put the right supports in place before a new adventure. #catholicmom

Copyright 2020 Michele Faehnle
Image: Canva