On the Value of Hard Work

Yesterday, I encountered this image:



So, recently I earned a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. I didn’t have any scholarships this time. I took out student loans which I plan to pay off as quickly as possible. I wasn’t living with my parents, who have regrettably both passed. I worked my butt off for this degree. I put in long hours studying. I earned it fair and square.

Moreover, I got up off my butt and attended a job fair right before classes ended. I made the effort to dress for a potential job interview, took copies of my resume, and came home with a job offer. That’s right, my job was lined up before I even finished. Hard work paid off, right? Of course it did.

And while this is all true, it ignores certain things that are luck. I had the good luck to notice an ad on Facebook for that job fair, and more good luck that my employer was considering new grads that day. I am lucky enough to live in a city that has multiple accredited nursing programs. Through a combination of luck and work, I actually was accepted into two different programs. If I lived in a small town, I might have had to relocate to get into a nursing school. If I lived in California, I might have had more competition for a seat, and may have had to get on a long waiting list.

Those problems are relatively easy to overcome, sure. Just a little extra hard work, a little extra money, maybe a little extra time.

I am further lucky that I read and write well in English. Sure, learned skills. It turns out that I was lucky enough to be born into a middle class household in a middle class suburb that had good enough schools. My road to this place would have been more difficult had I been born into poverty, living in an inner-city neighborhood with a crappy school system. A matter of a few dollars and a few miles changed the potential course of my life.

And frankly, I was lucky enough to be born in the United States. There would be no road to where I am had I been born, for example, in Afghanistan. My educational and career opportunities in such a place would have been sharply limited.

Sociologists have a term for these little turns of luck: “life chances.” While hard work is very important, sometimes it is overwhelmed by circumstances.

Or, to put things very simply, there’s a very famous little girl named North West. It is very unlikely she will ever want for money. Hard work, or lucky enough to be born to the right family?

In Closing: Happy Thoughts of Peace for Munich; Glenn Greenwald; the TSA could use some house cleaning; yes, obesity is bad; drug tests; how sad that we need a law to enforce common sense; teen abortion; cop killers (thanks, Mikey!); unpaid internships are a bigger scam than I thought; time to rethink the War on Terror; pet adoption; senseless violence. Have a peaceful weekend, folks. It’s crazy out there.

Why I Hate those Fancy New Coke Dispensers


At first, I thought they were interesting. Then I realized that everyone had to get ice out of it, no more other ice cube machine. This includes those of us, like myself, that like iced tea (plain, unsweet, like God intended). This — plus only one soda spout — means that whenever it is even mildly busy, there is a holdup at the machine. That holdup is longer if there is anybody who has never used this sort of machine (oh wow wouldja lookit that) or doesn’t already know exactly what he/she wants.

And above, the other reason I dislike these machines. Gross.


At the beginning of this week, we celebrated a holiday commemorating a document that reads in part:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

All of us are created equal — not identical, but equal. Men and women are created equal. People of various races are created equal. Yes, there are differences between us all, but we are all people. One is not simply better than anotherFurthermore, we all have the right to be alive, the right to be free, and the right to attempt to be happy.

And, oddly enough, that brings me to the events of this last week. In case you are unaware, two men in two different cities and two different circumstances were shot and killed by police officers. Those men happened to be black. A peaceful protest in a third city ended when one disgruntled black man shot a dozen police officers, killing several of them. I find all three incidents disturbing.

There is a controversy going on over whether “Black Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter” is the appropriate way to say that a traffic stop should not result in death. My local hip-hop station (I like Tupac, so what?), aired a PSA several times today proclaiming “All Lives Matter; Choose Peace.” I like this sentiment. It respects all the people whose deaths I mentioned above: white or black, cop or citizen.

If you aren’t bothered by the fact that in some areas of the country, the only thing between you and summary roadside execution is racism, you aren’t paying attention. You still have the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Choose peace.


Things I Learned in Nursing School: Senior Edition

Nurse w lampThis is it folks, I have survived. Here are a few choice tidbits from the last semester

Wisdom from a Professor: “They don’t put trauma centers in nice neighborhoods.”

Political Power: One in every 10 women voters is a registered nurse (Source: Maurer, F., Smith, C.  (2013). Community/Public Health Nursing Practice, 5th Edition)

On Cars: When you drive a big yellow car, it’s totally reasonable to refer to it as Big Bird. Oh yeah, and one more thing I don’t like about GM vehicles: apparently some of them have their own phone numbers. Because we totally need cars to be phones in addition to connecting to our cell phones. Riiiiight.

On the PICU: PICU stands for Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The kids there are very sick. This is not as sad a place as you might think. Or maybe I just have a ridiculously good attitude.

On Pediatrics: Much like Maternity, moms have a little advantage in this class.

Wisdom from another Professor, on How To Keep Your RN License: “Do your drinking at home, don’t take other people’s narcs [narcotics], and keep up with your CEUs [Continuing Education Units].”

On Yoga: Some classmates talked me into doing a brief yoga demonstration for a class project. People who don’t do yoga are impressed with what I can do. Imagine if they watched some of the other people in my yoga class….

On Chronic Illness: This semester, I had the opportunity to work with home health nurses. That is, nurses that actually keep people out of the hospital by visiting their homes. Now, think about your last doctor’s visit. You probably had to call some weeks in advance. Things ran late. You had paperwork, that was annoying because it was literally the same questions you answered last time you were there. Now, imagine that you or someone you love has a serious, debilitating chronic illness. Every day you have to deal with a system that requires multiple phone calls and properly filled out forms to get the simplest thing done. This system, which is supposed to “save money” by making sure services aren’t unnecessary or duplicated, costs time.

On Home Health Nursing: Florence Nightingale herself knew that nurses who go into the field need more training than their hospital-based colleagues. They don’t have a giant supply closet down the hall. They don’t have a charge nurse or any kind of help just a shout down the hall. They can’t count on a doctor coming by a little later. They have to look out for their own safety. Cars and cell phones have made the home health nurse’s life easier — you can have a trunk full of stuff and you can call for advice — but it’s still a hard job.