To be completely honest, I didn’t know much about interdisciplinary approaches to learning until I started to explore my career and education options this past summer. I started at Plymouth State University (PSU) as a Nursing major with the hopes and dreams of one day becoming a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. My passion and love for the nursing field goes all the way back to my middle school years, it is a career that I have always wanted and strived for. I followed this career path all the way up until my junior year of college when I started to develop doubts about my future and the path that I chose. I found myself to be completely dissatisfied with my education and the field that I was practicing in, I was mentally and physically drained and completely lost as to what I was going to do. A door opened up for me at the end of my junior year when I didn’t pass one of my courses by a mere 0.2 of a point. At first, I was extremely disappointed in myself and confused as to what I was going to do next, I was about to be a senior and my options that would allow me to graduate on time were slim. Being an out of state student, I have had to take out a substantial amount of loans and I wouldn’t be able to afford anything more than a year. I decided to reach out to a former PSU Interdisciplinary Major who started at PSU the same way I did and asked her questions about this type of learning and got advice about my next steps. After having this conversation I discovered that my journey at PSU was not quite done and that I could have a future in the interdisciplinary department.
One of the reasons that I was dissatisfied with nursing is because of how fast paced the program was, I felt like I wasn’t learning as much as I should have been and that everything was being shoved down my throat too quickly for me to grasp what I needed too. I feel like many disciplines have this style of learning. Vartan Gregorian stated in Colleges Should Reconstruct the Unity of Knowledge, that “instead of helping students learn and grow as individuals, find meaning in their lives, or understand their role in society, college has become a chaotic maze where students try to pick up something useful as they search for the exit: the degree needed to obtain decent employment.” This is exactly how I felt, all of the skills and material that was being thrown at me was too much, I was scrambling around trying to obtain a substantial amount of information that would help me pass the NCLEX and launch me into a career as a nurse. I didn’t feel myself growing as a person, the role that I thought I was meant to play in society and the meaning that I thought my life held was no longer there. I started to notice all of the burnt-out and miserable nurses all around me, all of the unsatisfied patients given little attention, and I became just as unhappy as them. I needed something different, a path that would prepare me for a future filled with helping others while giving some sort of meaning to my life which is where interdisciplinary studies came in.
I decided that I wanted to become a patient advocate and in order to develop the skills required for this profession I needed a more integrated style of learning. I realized in order to be a true patient advocate I needed information from a variety of fields to help me better understand the situations of the diverse population that I will be helping. Interdisciplinarity without a doubt is my best option not only for a successful career but for my own personal growth. This style of learning will help me become a well-rounded individual that is able to grasp concepts from a variety of fields and apply those concepts to my career. I will be more prepared to face conflicts and develop solutions that integrate all aspects, as Moti Nissan stated in Ten Cheers for Interdisciplinari-
ty, “all too often, experts forget that problems of society do not come in discipline-shaped blocks.” I want to be the outsider, the jack of all trades, that is capable of looking at problems within the healthcare field and be able to point out where we are going wrong and come up with solutions. So far, this new path that I chose has been a success and I have absolutely loved every moment of it. This style of learning has shaped how I view the world’s knowledge and has made me realize that problems in society cannot be fully solved by strictly looking through one discipline but by having a bigger understanding of everything that is connected. It is refreshing to finally feel like I am back on track and headed in the direction that I am meant to be.