Shifting gears: From nurse to lawyer

Maria Reylan M. Garcia

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If Zosimo Bolaños, the 70-year-old law graduate, thought he wasn’t too old to become a lawyer, then so can I at 22


Not to brag but, my batch in college was one of the best in our university. We graduated with 34 Latin honor recipients. We garnered a 100% passing rate in the nurse licensure examination, with 4 topnotchers. Yes, we were certainly promising nurses.

Much was expected that, somewhere in the distant future – where nurses won’t be settling for minimum wage and underemployment as call center agents and Korean English tutors – we would  be the next nursing leaders. But the future for nursing in the country currently seems so distant that even Superman’s X-ray vision could not see through the halls of the US embassy granting working visas non-stop.

So instead of waiting for Florence Nightingale’s deliverance, some of us “promising nurses” made a detour.

A hefty number of my batchmates pursued medicine. A handful became teachers. Several became entrepreneurs in their own right. One is training to be a chef. Another joined the Philippine military. Someone even went back to college and took up interior design. And, well, I was recently admitted as a 1st year law student.

Now before foreheads crease and eyebrows raise, let me spare you the bother of probing our sense of practicality. I already had my fair share of Boy Abunda questions as to why I deliberately took off the white cap and decided to wear a suit instead. It was difficult not to second-guess oneself that’s why I felt the need to write down my – our – two cents. Thus, shamelessly, I decided to answer these questions and perhaps represent those who, like me, shifted career gears.

Won’t you regret your rash decision of changing career paths?

American Psychiatrist David Viscott said, “The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized — and never knowing.”

If ever I might regret getting into law school, please don’t worry for me. I’ll take it to my own account and not blame anyone for it. I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than spend my retirement on a rocking chair thinking about what I could have been. The what-ifs are absolutely terrifying. 

Don’t you think all your expenses and sacrifices for nursing school are put to waste?

No. Deciding to take up law came as a result of a process. It did not come instantly. I even initially preferred to take up journalism in college. But the false hopes of Winter Wonderland and Benjamins rendered me submissive to the bandwagon.

Nursing made me realize that I wanted to become a lawyer. Though I was diligent in my major subjects to the point of practicing Postural Drainage with my dog, I was giddier during my minor classes in logic, philosophy, history, and the Philippine Constitution. I guess if it weren’t for nursing, I might not realize that I wanted to be a lawyer. As for the expenses, I pledge to make up for them soon. Give me at least 5 years.

Will you be ready? It’s a different course and your background in nursing won’t give you an edge.

I have to be because I know that I want this. I once met a regional bank director who exuded the aura of someone born to be a regional bank director. But when he revealed that he graduated with a degree in Agricultural Engineering, I knew then that no career is exclusive.

Nursing wasn’t a wrong move and it wasn’t unnecessary, for some might reckon I should have taken a pre-law degree instead. The fact that there are no prerequisite degrees for law school and even med school speaks for itself.

Nursing might be light years away from training me to be prepared for law school but choosing to take a BSN 5 years ago was also a blind shot. I wasn’t trained in high school to be a nurse but I graduated college with honors and I got a pretty high score in the board exam.

What’s keeping me from doing the same in law school? What’s keeping my batchmates from doing the same in med school or the military? What’s keeping a nurse from being the best interior designer in town? Norms? Tradition? Screw them all.

Don’t you get tired of going to school? You could already work and earn, you know.

No. If Zosimo Bolaños, the 70-year-old law graduate from the University of Batangas, thought he wasn’t too old and too exhausted to become a lawyer after having practiced as a teacher with prior Master and Doctoral degrees, then so can I at 22.

Yes, I know I could already work. I was already a signature away from getting a paid non-volunteer job from a regional hospital where I trained for 6 months. But I wanted to make a career and pay my bills out of what I am passionate about. Also, I’m taking advantage of my parents’ unconditional love for me. They haven’t thrown me out and will even help with law school expenses.

With that, I turn a deaf ear to all your negative vibes. The nurse will see you in court, soon. –


Maria Reylan M. Garcia is a 22-year-old registered nurse and a first year Juris Doctor (law) student at the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City. 







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