The Road to Achieving Your Dreams Is Paved with Failure

By: Fatema Balooch, FNP ’18

Student Voices is a blog series written by SMU students. If you have an idea for a story, reach out to Sasha Solomonov at This article is written by FNP student Fatema Balooch.

Do you want to become a nurse, but think there are too many obstacles in your way? I can relate. My journey to becoming a nurse was not an easy one. I almost failed anatomy class in junior college and my professor told me I should just drop the class, suggesting I could not get into nursing school. Her words really affected me. I thought, maybe I should drop out. Maybe I wasn’t fit to become a nurse. If I couldn’t pass anatomy class, how did I expect to do well in nursing school?

Instead, I got my act together and changed my study habits. I stayed over after class to work on the cadaver in the lab for extra credit. My grade improved significantly and I aced the final exam. My professor was impressed and offered to write me a recommendation letter for my nursing school applications.

After completing my prerequisite courses, I applied to nursing school. However, I was not accepted so I got my bachelor’s degree in health sciences instead. I started working as a medical scribe in the emergency department to gain some experience in the healthcare field. I assisted the physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners with their documentation and learned so much from them. Feeling ready to go back to school to continue my pursuit of becoming a nurse,  I started applying to entry level MSN nurse practitioner programs. Becoming an NP has always been my main goal. Unfortunately, I was rejected by multiple schools.

I was losing patience and hope, but I continued to apply to nursing schools. Soon, I was accepted to a school in Henderson, NV, so I packed my bags and said goodbye to my family and friends. I moved away from home to an unfamiliar place where I knew no one. It was the first time that I lived far from my family, but it was the best decision I made in my life. Who knows how long I would’ve been applying to nursing schools if I limited my applications to only Bay Area schools? By stepping out of my comfort zone, I changed my life and finally became the nurse I was destined to become.

I moved back to the Bay Area after graduating with my BSN, landing a night-shift position on the telemetry floor of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center right next to SMU. I walked past the school campus every night on my way to work, wondering if I could ever join their FNP program to pursue my  dream of becoming an NP. Then one day, I set aside all my fears and doubts and just applied to the FNP program and was accepted! Words cannot describe how I felt that day when I received my acceptance letter. All my hard work paid off and I was glad I did not give up along the journey.

Here’s some advice for those who dream of becoming a nurse:

1) Stay Focused

I know there are a lot of distractions out there (trust me, I have been in your position), but you need to learn how to manage your time and make sure you complete all the requirements. If you have not finished your prerequisite courses, register for them as soon as they open because those classes fill up quickly.

2) Do your research

You should consider many factors when choosing a nursing school, like location, cost, reputation, and accreditation. Do you prefer online learning or face-to-face, on-campus learning? Do you want to travel somewhere far for school, or do you prefer to stay close to home? Multiple factors will influence the decision you make, so be sure to do your research!

3) Keep the long game in mind

It can be stressful to think about the future, but with proper planning and preparation, the decisions you make today will influence how your life will turn out. If you are worried about money and being able to afford college, start saving now and limit your spending. If you are a parent and worry about how you will be able to care for your kid(s) during nursing school, think of the positive impact you will have on their future. Of course, it may be difficult to care for a child when you have a bunch of homework and studying to do, but in the long run, it will all be worth it. Your kid(s) will have someone to look up to and may even follow in your footsteps and they will always be in good hands when their parent is a nurse!

4) Never give up

Many obstacles will stand in your way on your path to nursing school, but don’t let them deter you away from your goal of becoming a professional nurse. The road ahead may seem long and exhausting, but your goals are attainable with hard work and perseverance. You will be a fantastic nurse one day and all of your efforts will be worth it in the end.



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