Why Nursing School

I remember nearly passing out while watching my first circumcision.

I remember my friend Anna accidentally stabbing herself with a needle the first time we practiced giving injections.

I remember the 95 year old woman that I worked with two weeks in a row that passed away before I arrived on the unit for my third week.

I remember cutting the umbilical cord of a newborn baby boy moments after he’d been born.

I remember the feelings of doubt I had after administering powerful opioid pain medication via a direct IV push into a patient’s vein.

Sewing on my NSC patch onto my scrubs

Sewing my NSC patch onto my scrubs


I remember a lot from my two years of nursing school. I graduated with an Associate’s degree this past June and passed the NCLEX exam in July to earn my Registered Nursing license from the state of Washington. As time has passed and the dust settled from this experience, I have reflected on why I chose to do nursing school in the first place, and if those same reasons are the ones that were with me as I finished.


I chose to pursue nursing school during our post-Fisher Investments travel years. We had hiked the Appalachian Trail and ridden bicycles down the West coast. We had freedom, but we were struggling to find meaning and purpose in guiding our next decisions. As a result, we made a list of valuable life experiences that we were interested in. Learning a medical skill was high on my list. I had looked into jobs in healthcare previously only to be immediately turned off by all the high barriers to entry for employment. Whereas in finance, the hiring manager basically said, “You are a bright and driven guy, we’ll teach you what you need to know to be skilled in our field”, the healthcare world said that for each position there was a requisite amount of schooling that must be completed before even having a chance of getting started. With our current freedom, and our list of valuable experiences, I dove into nursing school.


First day of school in September of 2013.

First day of school in September of 2013.

I remember nearly turning around and driving home on my way to the hospital for my clinical rotation. The instructor felt that creating awkward, stressful situations would make us better nurses. It was an unpleasant experience and one I came to dread.

I remember talking with classmates after a lab exam with a class average that was nearly failing, trying to figure out why we were all in such a stressful situation.

I remember talking for a couple months about only finishing my LPN portion of the program because I was so frustrated with the experience.


Then, as I neared the latter part of my first year of school, I re-framed my perspective on why I was in nursing school. I wasn’t in school so I could become a nurse. I had learned quickly that while there are great things that I could do as a nurse, I wasn’t one of those people that felt that nursing was a life calling. I felt just as strongly about being a nurse as I did about a lot of different careers. Given that the end goal of becoming an RN was not motivation to get me through the program, I had to see things differently or get out.


I realized I was fortunate and lucky. Every day that I went to the labor delivery unit, to the psyche ward, to the OR, to the emergency department, to the medical floor at the hospital, or to the children’s clinic, I was seeing people, life, and the world in a new and unique way that most people rarely get to experience, through the lens of a student. I was privileged to be in these situations and I didn’t realize it because of how I had framed the experience. With the initial goal of becoming a nurse, followed by the realization that I wasn’t actually overly interested in becoming a nurse, I was consequently struggling to enjoy the experience. Once the experience of learning for the sake of learning took hold, my motivation was renewed. I was awarded scholarships for my second year. I smiled more, and I had more fun as I experienced everything that was available to me as a nursing student.


North Seattle College Nursing School Graduation, June 2015

North Seattle College Nursing School Graduation, June 2015

I look back on the experience of nursing school and I remember the 31 other students that went through the program with me.

I remember going for walks around campus with Kristin in between classes.

I remember going to Chipotle with Maile for lunch on our long days of lecture.

I remember the joy my clinical cohort had in learning that I had finally cleaned a poopy patient after a year and a half of never encountering feces – thanks Lactulose.

I remember dinners at our place with Anna and Kristin as we talked about nursing school and experiences, boring Julie to tears.

I remember the confidence I had in the hospital by the end of the program, knowing that I knew the basics of taking care of another human being, not only emotionally, but medically.


While a nursing career may not be in my future, I am deeply satisfied with my choice to learn about this part of the human experience. I saw people and the world in a new and valuable way. I saw people at their most vulnerable, and did my best to make them feel special and cared for. I made new friends.


I don’t have a definitive answer regarding what life is all about and what is the best way to use the time we have, but I feel good about how I’ve spent the past two years. I know myself better, I know how to help others in new ways, and I am more prepared for experiences to come as a result of my nursing education.


I hope I remember these experiences for a lifetime.

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10 Responses to Why Nursing School

  1. Karla Roquemore says:

    So eloquent, as usual. I have a dear friend who has just started this journey. I am going to share this with her. The timing of this is perfect.
    Hugs to you both. Cannot wait to meet the newest Urbanski.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks Karla. Happy to talk with your friend. Nursing school, while challenging, is a great experience.

      We’re excited to be heading to Colorado next week for Run Rabbit Run 100 in Steamboat. Give us a call if you happen to be in the area. Cheers.

  2. Ann says:

    You have gained such a valuable and lucrative skill. Nurses are always needed. In all probability, you can find a job wherever you go if you so desire. You both are very fortunate to have experienced all you have, especially your awesome hiking! God willing, I hope to be out there hiking long-distance in the future.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks Ann. We love hearing about people getting out on the trails. Contact us if you think there is anything we can help with. Julie is an expert planner and loves to help others prepare for their trips.

  3. Jasmine says:

    I love that you wore running shoes with your suit to the graduation! Congrats!

    • Matt says:

      Last minute decision. I was feeling fun and lively on graduation day. First I chose the bright green tie. It was then logical that the bright green running shoes would complete the look!

  4. Reenie says:

    As a retired RN, I hope you will decide to work as a nurse. As you know, there are so many options and specialties for nurses. I eventually found my niche in Radiation Oncology nursing and I didn’t have to work weekends or holidays or 12 hour shifts!! Yay! I can’t imagine not having worked as an RN after spending all that time in school. But for sure you will now be much more prepared to take care of your baby!! Keep us all posted!! Love all the books, btw!! We have a log cabin right on the Benton MacKaye trail (literally it is in our yard), so if you and Julie are ever in this part of the country again, stop by!! 🙂

    • Matt says:

      That is so cool that you live right on the Benton MacKaye trail! Thanks for reading our books, and for the encouragement. I’ve met so many good nurses that love what they do. Cheers.

  5. Trish says:

    wow, so interesting! I finished all three of your books this past year, and am glad to catch up with you thru your website and hear what you are up to. I find myself very inspired to tackle a long distance hike myself one day, if I can find the opportunity to do so. and I love hearing about what you both are up to. I am the type of person who finds real life much more fascinating than any science fiction. Keep writing!! and good luck

    • Matt says:

      Thanks Trish. I encourage you to follow your desire to get out on the trail. Often, the hardest part is figuring out how to stop what you’re doing so you can go do something else. Good luck.

      And thank you for reading our books! Cheers.

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