Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Who has two thumbs and is moving on to level 3?! This girl!!!!!!

You read that right…I’m moving on to level 3!!! Somehow by the grace of God I made it through another semester of nursing school. It was a stressful semester indeed. It was filled with mix-ups, schedule changes, delays, and anything and everything that could possibly make nursing school even more stressful than one would prefer.

I had a pretty descent clinical experience this semester. Thankfully I was able to spend more than 5 days with real patients! We still had to go on campus for 3 weeks, but somehow everyone made it through those rough days that we had to act out scenarios of patient, nurse, graduate nurse, and observer! If you ask anyone how those weeks went they’ll tell you they didn’t sign up for acting classes and it was the worst 6 days of their life…but somehow we made it through anyways!

My clinical instructor was probably one of the hardest of all of the instructors for level 2. She was notorious for sending students home if they didn’t have their med sheets completed, lab results filled in, or if they weren’t squared away on their immunizations etc. Yes, she was very hard and didn’t go easy on any of the students, but I’m thankful for that. I already feel that we’re behind because we missed out on so much clinical time last semester and it was nice to be pushed to do as much as possible in the time we were given. Something else that I can say is that I’m walking away with a better understanding of medications and lab values. I have a better understanding on how lab values are affected by meds, diagnosis and other situations! Another nice thing that happened in my instructor told me to hang onto her phone number so that I could use her as a reference whenever I go out to find a job after graduation!  Woot!

I think it’s fair to say that everyone in nursing school is in a fragile, physical, mental, and emotional state! We’re being pushed to our limits, we’re cramming our brains with every last bit of information we can learn, we’re exhausted from the hours we put into our studying, our families suffer because we may be home…but we’re not “home.” We don’t have enough time to clean or organize so everything becomes one huge mess each semester. I’ve been able to see some of my fellow classmates and how they react when they hit “emotion overboard.” Some write nasty comments on our classes’ homepage, some make snide  remarks to the instructors, some hold it in until they explode at a friend because they accidently said the normal range for sodium us 3.5-5.0 (the range for potassium) when it really should be 135-145! I’ve seen all of the reactions above. The one thing that has really stuck with me this semester is that I need to learn to just roll with the punches. There’s a lot of things that I can’t change and there’s even more things that I don’t know or haven’t learned yet. However, the one thing that I can take control of is my attitude and the way I react in certain situations. In nursing school it’s nice to be able to have control of something…even if it’s as small as smiling at your instructor when everyone else is mad-dogging them. Some may call it brown-nosing; but I call it respect.

So that’s that. I’ve completed level 2! I’ve still got two thumbs and some brain cells in my head and I’m moving on to level 3! So I have 4 weeks to relax, recoup,  and do something fun and maybe even have a bit of a social life *GASP!!!* I would however, like to leave you with a quote that has helped me make it this far through nursing school. It’s a famous quote/prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I don't know about you...but for Thanksgiving I....

The hardest part about not having time to blog is that there's so much to catch up on once I finally find some time to I hope you have some fluids, a snack, and if you need...make a quick run to the restroom! :) Ready or we go...

Well, first things first, I took my 4th exam; which has always been rumored to be the worst, most dreadful, horrendous, gosh-darn-awful test that there ever was. The rumors proved to be true. It covered the cardiovascular system, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and addiction. Some of the questions seemed to have no right or wrong answer, it truly came down to, "which of these is the most correct answer". I'm proud to say that I passed the exam and got a pretty decent grade too!!! *Super happy and kinda freaky celebratory dance* Now I'm left with one more exam (HESI which is an exam to help us prepare for the NCLEX) and the final which will have 50% new material and 50% cumulative info. 

I'm filled with utter excitement and disbelief that this semester is almost over...each time a new semester begins I get this overwhelming feeling that it's never going to end and by the time I get close to finals I'm left scratching my head wondering how I ever got here! This week we have Thursday and Friday off for the Thanksgiving holiday and then next week we get to review/prep for the final and it will also be our last week of clinicals. So how does a nursing student enjoy school while at the same time not forgo ones studies? Well, I'm glad you asked because I figured out the perfect balance between enjoying my time off and taking advantage of the time I have to study...Well, I don't know about you, but for Thanksgiving I LOVE opening up the bag of giblets and getting my hands dirty (for educational purposes of course)...

That's right...I tore open that baggie full of glorious treasures and I made use of this lovely turkey that gave its life to feed us for our Thanksgiving dinner. It contained the lovely glorious gizzard, the heavenly heart, and the lustrous liver! So what did I do? Well, I taught my mother and brother how the blood travels through the body and into/through the heart. I taught them the different structures and their functions...and helped myself review for my fantastic final that I have coming up....okay enough of my annoying alliterations! :) Basically, I played around in some guts and had fun trying to identify the different structures of the heart and liver of the turkey! 

 Hey, sometimes you just have to have some fun with some freaking turkey giblets...that's all I'm saying!

It's really nice to have a break and be able to spend some time with the ones you love. I was having a particularly nice time with my mom. My mom has a friend who is a great cook along with her husband and on his blog he talks about brining the turkey before you cook it. I had never heard of it, but my mom had, and her friends husband had a blog post devoted to it. So we got the ingredients to brine ourselves a was one of the most glorious, aromatic, delightful thing I've smelt it quite some time! 

So there. I'm learning to enjoy my time off from school and still reap the benefits of what free time I have to learn. 

Another quick after lecture I was walking to my car and all around me I realized I was surrounded by my fellow classmates. I just want to say how thankful I am for each and every one of them! There's something comforting about walking into a classroom filled with people that you've been going to school with and walking along with on this journey. I'm thankful that I have such amazing friends in this program...all that I can say is, "Look out have a great batch of nurses headed your way"

So take some time to enjoy your family....and I don't just mean sitting chowing down on some turkey...I mean really take the time to be with your family and enjoy each thing that you learn real quick in nursing school is that no one is guaranteed tomorrow. Regardless of your age, gender, health status etc. Until my next post...Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Time Flies When You're Having Fun! little time and so much has happened; so I'm going to try and get you all back up to speed! It's just that time in the semester where everything comes at you at the same time (e.g. exams, papers, case studies, preparing for clinicals etc.). I just feel like there is never any extra time to spare in the day...which in turn leaves me exhausted by the end of the day! 

First, I finally rocked an exam! I'm super happy and proud of myself! I got an 88 and the class average was an I was happy to be a few points above the average....however, that test is over and it's now time to start studying for the big one, aka, the Cardiovascular, Cancer, Addiction and Autoimmune test! :O Every time that I go into an exam, I try and think of it as a brand new page, a new chance, a clean slate...otherwise you get caught up on the past times that you wish you would've done better!

Second, I went to the OR (operating room) and I didn't pass out! (It's not uncommon for people to pass out the first time to the OR for those of you who may not know) There was a girl in the program, bless her heart, who just had the worst experience at the OR...essentially anything and everything went wrong for her. She passed out, they had to cut her scrub top off of her, her car was ticketed and booted...needless to say, I went into my OR day slightly terrified and just a little worried and I was thankful to come out with my dignity, clothes, and car/wallet all intact. I'm thankful for the girl who, unfortunately, had to be the guinea pig and go through that experience. She did, however, share with us..."don't lock your legs, look away if you need to, breath through your mouth"  I'm eternally grateful for her words of wisdom!

Third, I have the cure for constipation!!! :D I've been meaning to share this for a while, but whenever I sit down to write it always slips my pun intended! So, at my clinical location they have this despicable concoction that they use for patients who are constipated. They make about an 8oz glass that has prune juice, MOM (milk of magnesia), they heat that up and then put a pat of butter on the top of the mixture so it then melts. They say the butter acts as a lubricant and helps things slip and slide a little easier! So...for those of you who may be suffering from the unthinkable...there's your cure! You may write your checks out to Margaret Rosecrans! ;) hehehe...

On the more serious I had a bit of an "ah-ha" moment. I met up with my mother to have lunch with her and as I sat with her and "people watched" I realized that I was doing assessments on each person that I watched. I saw an older gentleman in the tripod position that looked like he should have an oxygen saturation of about 90%...I saw an older woman that was having difficulty feeding herself and I found myself keeping an eye on her to make sure she didn't aspirate as she swallowed. I saw a younger girl on crutches that was had the crutches right under her armpits and I couldn't help but cringe as I watched. While sitting I caught myself doing this assessments and thought to myself; regardless of how difficult, stressful, emotional/physically draining nursing school is, I know that I'm in the right field. Sometimes I feel like I'm not going to make a great nurse or that I just suck at my head-to-toe assessments...and somehow being able to make these quick observations of people was comforting. I can honestly say that I'm headed in the right direction!

Hahaha...I feel like this sometimes!

Fewsh...with all of that said...I register for level 3 sometime this week...I keep scratching my head wondering how on earth is it possible that I'm getting ready to register for the next level? Oh how time flies when you're having fun...which means I need to make the most of my time and get to studying! :D 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Master of None

Oh where to begin...the time is just flying by. We have just wrapped up our eighth week of classes and fourth week of clinicals. This semester our clinical situation is similar to last semester. We have a total of 9 weeks of clinicals and 3 of those weeks we have to spend on campus in a clinical simulation. So lucky on-campus time is right in the middle of my clinicals...meaning I spent three weeks at my clinical location (healthsouth) and I'm now on campus for 2 more weeks and then I'll go back to healthsouth for 3 more weeks! :) 

I've really tried to go into the campus-clinicals with a positive attitude but this past week was torture! We do a lot of acting out situations and it's really hard to take the scenario serious when others are laughing and joking about the situation. I think the instructors get overwhelmed sometimes or run out of activities for us to do and try and use up as much time by asking questions like, "so how did this situation make you feel?" or "tell me what you think we were trying to get you to realize..."     Hahaha...for all you nurses/nursing students out there...our instructors do a great job at coming up with open-ended questions (aka therapeutic communication). 

Well that's enough complaining about campus clinicals because no matter how much I want to fight it or talk about how much I don't like is what it is and there's not any chance for us to get out of I suppose I'll suck it up and be as great an actress as possible ;)

Actual clinicals are great! I love the place that I'm at and I've had the opportunity to work with some interesting patients and some really great nurses. I think one of the most accurate and funny things I've heard is a nurse share with me what she felt it was to be a nurse. She told me, "I'm a jack of all trades and master of none!" Initially, I just laughed and thought nothing of it; however, as the day continued on I'd to little tasks that I'm good at, but not great at...and I heard in the back of my mind, "jack of all trades and master of none." In a strange way that bothered me, for those of you who may not know I tend to struggle with perfectionism. Nursing is the type of career that you never always learn, change and grow. This is something I'm finding to be truer with each passing day and something that I'm working on accepting.

I had a patient that was labeled a difficult, rude, unpleasant patient. I was worried about going in to meet this patient because of the comments that had been made from the other staff. I reminded myself though that that was their own assessment/opinion and I needed to enter her room with an open far as I knew she had a clean slate. At first she did seem a little standoffish but the more time I spent with her and the more I showed her that I really cared about her and wanted to offer (as little as it may be) as much help to her as I could, she started to open up. I think what she wanted was for someone to take a little time and actually talk to her and hear her out. I like to take people that have been stereotyped and labeled as a rude patient and prove it wrong. I think the biggest thing is realizing that this person has more to their life than whatever illness has brought them to the hospital. I don't know exactly where this woman has been or how she has been treated..and regardless of what she may, or may not tell me, you never know how much of it is the truth. So the next time someone tells you to avoid "so-and-so" because they're in one of "those" moods...try and remember that maybe their situation isn't what we may think it is...we haven't walked in their shoes...

Now that I'm done preaching I just wanted to share one last quote that I heard this past week...and I don't remember exactly where I heard it so I can't give the person who said it credit but it was this, "Hard work beats talent and talent doesn't work as hard!" So I'm going to work harder at having a better attitude with my campus clinicals. I'm going to work hard at becoming the best jack-of-all-trades that I can be. And I'm going to work hard at going into each patients room with an open mind and allowing them to show me who they really are...or who they aren't!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Has me pondering…

So I it’s time for an update! As of Friday we have our clinical assignments…of course there is always a chance that things will change, but I’m hoping that they won’t seeing as how we have our orientation to our clinical location on Thursday! I get to spend my time at a nursing rehabilitation center called HealthSouth. We’re told that we’ll see a lot of patients with TBIs (traumatic brain injuries), SCIs (spinal cord injuries), and ortho cases (e.g. total hip replacement). I’m hoping to have the chance to practice some skills…I hear that there’s a lot of PIC lines there so hopefully I’ll get to change some dressings! One must keep in mind during clinical that you have to make your presence known (in a good and not so annoying way) so that the nurse will remember to save something for you! So…if you see me walking around with a brown spot on my nose, well, you’ll know why! ;)

The downside to clinicals this semester is that we’ll have to spend parts of it on campus for a simulation again. We’re broken into larger groups of about 12 (because of the lack of clinical instructors) therefore 4 of us will have to stay behind for campus clinical…We’ll get rotated through both campus and actual clinical locations, but I’m a little bummed that not all of our time will be spent with “real” patients! Oh well…I told you that I wasn’t holding my breath when it came to clinicals…I’m trying to be optimistic and remind myself that last semester even though it wasn’t as much fun, it was a great learning experience!

Well then, it’s time now for story time! This past Thursday and Friday (the week we were supposed to start our clinicals) we spent our time on campus for our final “check-off”. This was comprised of our instructors making sure that everyone knew how to wear their uniforms so we weren’t a disgrace to the CNM name! So we all got lined up in a massive line as we got examined from head to toe. Literally, they started with an inspection of our hairdo and went all the way down to the style of our shoe! The only thing they didn’t make us do is stick out our tongues…and that’s only because they forgot…and I wish I was kidding! J

So after our lovely day of being inspected for the umpteenth time we spent the next day watching a movie (apparently our instructors couldn’t think of anything more exciting). Honestly though, it was a really good movie that got us thinking about the way we interact and treat each person. The movie we watched is called Wit. It’s about a woman who is diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer and spends the rest of her time in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy. It’s a drama filmed like a documentary about the time she spent with her healthcare providers from the time she was diagnosed to the time she died. The moral of the story is to treat each patient as a person and not as a disease. We’re reminded that regardless of how grumpy someone may be, how fascinating their case is, or how few questions they ask…they’re still a person and they deserve to be treated as that…an individual; a mother, brother, nephew or niece, grandma or grandpa or a neighbor that lives down the street.

I think the main thing that I wanted to share with you is how my fellow nursing students reacted to the end of the movie. I took a moment to glance around through my watery eyes and everywhere eyes were teary, noses were running, tissue was being whipped out like Kleenex was running out of business ;) and it was there that I realized how awesome it is that I get to share a career with people that honestly have a passion to help each person to the best of their ability! While yes, there will always be that one grumpy nurse whose life would be so much better if everyone just went away; however, for the most part all that we nurses want are to cherish and nurture each individual to the best of our abilities. Shamelessly wiping away at our tears realizing that we have the potential to affect the way someone heals and perceives the entire healthcare system…it’s overwhelming and extremely exciting all at the same time. Hey, I may not be perfect at giving you a quick and easy IM injection and it may take me a while to change your dressing, but when you just need to cry I can offer my presence to you and just sit there with you and give you a tissue to blow your nose. I can listen to what you have to say and be an advocate for you. I can go out of my way to get you an extra pillow to make you more comfortable so you can rest. I can listen when you say you’re in pain and do my best to ease it and not judge the kind of pain you’re in. I can be there. I can listen. I can intervene on your behalf. I can brush your teeth after you vomit. I can wipe your butt when you can’t reach. The list goes on and on. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that the movie has me pondering the different things that I can do to make each person feel like a person and not feel like they’re being treated like “the disease in room 123”.

 Even though we student like to give the instructors flak about lame days where we sit around and watch a movie…it doesn’t hurt to be reminded every once and a while that each person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect (hmm…reminds me of elementary school…who knew those words would come back to haunt me)!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Coulda been better!

Headed into the fourth week. We were supposed to be starting our first week of clinicals..but I don't believe that is going to happen! (Like I've said before, expect the unexpected) Hopefully we'll be getting our clinical assignments soon! I have the first exam under my belt and it really coulda been better. I got a 76% .... just a little recap...for our grading scale a 75% is a C, an 84% is a B, and a 93% is an A. So I got a C but that's not good enough for me. If you've been around nursing students I'm sure you'll hear a C equals an RN, but I'd rather be in the B's! However, in times like these I try and remember my mother's words of wisdom, "Don't sweat the petty things and don't be the sweaty things!" However, something still has to change in my studying habits!

After class today my friend and I were leaving and we kept running into people and of course the first thing we ask when we hear they did well was, "How do you study?!" I think this has to be one of the must frustrating things for me as a nursing student. I've always had straight A's and known what to expect on exams and I knew how to prepare for them, but it's completely opposite here! So I'm always open for new ideas and lovely words of wisdom!

A lot of us are a little frustrated with our new lecture instructors over their teaching methods. Our level 1 instructors set the bar so high and were simply amazing that we're now struggling to figure out how we should best go about learning this material since our class consist mostly of our instructors reading their adorable slide-shows to us! :) I have a feeling a lot more self-teaching is gonna be happening this semester and I'm hoping I'm up for the task!

Oh...we had our skills check-offs on Friday..that went very well! Completely opposite of our level one high stake check-offs! Basically they just gave us a bunch of scenarios where we had to write out what was wrong, right, what is called what, who goes where etc. We also had to demonstrate our fantastic IM injections and how to spike and prime an IV line! I'm ready for the real world now! What happens is they then tell you if you're adequate at the skill or need remediation while in clinicals...thankfully I rocked it and didn't get any remediation! (FEWSH!) But this cartoon completely describes how I was when I was drawing up my meds for my IM injection....

Well I need to get my hind quarters into bed. We get to have our test review tomorrow...that's where I get to kick myself for picking the wrong answer when I knew in my gut I should've picked the first answer I initially had chosen! You see you can always deduce your possible answers down to 2 out of the 4...the hard part is picking which of those 2 answers is the right 1...and with my luck right now I don't think that I'm going to be trying my luck at the casino any time soon!!! ;)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Well dang...

Into week three and things are heating up! We have our first exam on Friday...which of course everyone is thrilled about! I thought that I'd have a better idea how to study this time around and I thought I'd have a handle on things but I find myself running around like a chicken without its head and its feathers plucked out to boot! I believe I'm forever going to curse the subject of fluid and electrolytes! There's just something about those two things that makes me want to pull out my hair!

On the up side...we also have our clinical skills check offs this week. Thankfully they're not high stake so no one is really worrying about them. However, I must admit that I'm a little nervous about giving IM injections! Sub-q injections are know...tiny needle, tiny volume, easy injection sites etc. The IM injections is just a little bit bigger...a little bit better! :D But the only way to get better is to practice! So I made sure I injected the crap out of my grapefruit! We had the privilage of getting real close and personal again with our know...feeling them up for their acromial process, anterior superior iliac spine, greater trochanter. Only in nursing school is it ok to walk up to your classmate and say, "Hey do you mind if I feel you up to try and find the ventrogluteal IM injection site?" and there wouldn't be a problem whatsoever
Whenever the time does come though to give my first injections this picture is basically what I'll be thinking in my mind! But I'll be telling my patient, "No, you aren't my first injection...I've had hundreds of people before you! You're in the hands of a pro!" (hahaha as my fellow nursing students stand to the side and laugh as I fumble with the needle)...So...for those of you who will be getting your flu vaccination this know to look for me!! ;)
Well's time for me to sign off and get to studying! I have a lovely exam coming up and I'm hoping to be as prepared as possible for it...flash cards here I come!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The tweet I've been waiting for...

I just got the tweet that I've been waiting for...saying, "CCT scores are released." I immediately logged into blackboard to see my results. Now just a quick recap, the CCT is the dosage exam that all of us are required to take at the beginning of each level. We have to get a 90% or higher in order to continue on in the program! If we didn't pass we had one chance to take a retest and if we failed that we wouldn't be able to move on for the semester! A lot of students complain about this test, but in reality, if you mess up on 1 out of every 10 doses that you give, that's a heaping lot of med I really don't mind it, but it certainly makes the time we have to wait seem like a lifetime. So results....dun dun dun...29/30 = 96% YAY!!!!! I wish I would've gotten 100, but I'll settle for a 96...for now! :)
Of course being the good friend that I am I had to send out a mass text to everyone saying that grades had been posted! See that is how we nursing students work! When we hear some exciting rumor, hear an amazing tip from a higher up student or just hear that grades have been posted...we let them my phone is vibrating off the fell off the table! So that's my update! Now I shall prepare myself for bed...once the clock ticks 10pm my mind switches and I start thinking in, "how many hours will I get if I go to bed in (fill in the blank) minutes" so I'm hoping to not think that way tonight and get to bed at a descent hour!! :) toodalooooooo!!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

1st Week Down!

This first week flew by and I'm pretty sure that's what I should expect for the rest of the semester. This week we were once again reminded by our level 2 coordinator that we shouldn't text/talk during class...she went on to say, "If I see you looking at your crotch, smiling, I know what you're're texting" :) Oh how hillarious (and brilliant I might add) my nursing instructor(s) are!

We've already had our high stakes testing for the semester which is our dosage calculations exam. We're required to get a 90% or higher on it. If we get below that then we have one chance to retake and get a passing grade. If we don't pass the second time we don't move on for the semester! So it's just slightly a big deal! Hoping grades will be posted soon, but I know how this program works and I'm sure we'll get results later rather than sooner!

Already I'm having to catch-up on reading assignments and review and relearn things that have slipped my mind...ack! If I thought that there was a lot of reading last semester I guess that I had no idea what was headed my seems like we have a few hundred pages to read each week...and everything is still in the (new semester/unorganized) stage which makes it very difficult to get organized enough to know what readings are required for a particular lecture or lab! But I'm slowly organizing things in a way that will allow me to stay on track. Or, as others may call it, my OCD is showing, but you know know what...I'm not even going to go there!

As soon as we get the results from our CCT (the dosage exam) we'll be getting our clinical location...I'm extremely excited to find out where I'll be going. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that we'll be able to spend all of our clinical time actually in clinicals and not a simulation...but again...I'm not holding my breath! :) "Expect the unexpected" I do believe that has become my life's motto!

Well I've finished my readings for today and I'm going to go and try and enjoy what little is left of my Labor day! So until my next posting...TTFN...Ta-Ta-For-Now!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Can't wait...

I do believe these have been the longest 2 weeks ever! However, I've learned some very important things: 1) Remember to love your little brother even when he locks the keys in your car with the car running and leaves the car unattended! 2) I learned where my spare tire is! Hey, you never learn anything if you always get it right. 3) Never hesitate to teach the difference between knowledge and wisdom: When turning onto a one-way street my sister asked me why I looked both ways...I told her that knowledge is realizing that the street is one-way, wisdom is looking both directions anyway!

Another crazy thing that happened this past week is I took my baby sister (she's 15) to the community college to show her around campus because she's starting her first semester of college. She's a sophomore in high school and doing dual enrollment this semester! I told her that there's not much I can do to calm her nerves and prepare her for the college life. But one thing I wish someone would've done with me when I started my dual enrollment at 16 yrs old was walk me around campus to get me familiar with the territory so it's not as intimidating on the first day! So that's exactly what I did. It's not much but it always helps to know where you're going and not have to worry about that as much on the first day of class!

With my time off I had time to reflect on my outlook of some cool situations (nursing school) and not so cool situations (parent's divorce) and some mediocre situations (flat tire). I had a bit of an "aha" moment...and I'd like to get serious for a moment!

 I've always had a struggle with my attitude...I know that blows the socks off your feet because I'm the sweetest person in the entire world right?! :) Well...most of the time. But especially this semester it was hard to keep a good attitude about my clinical situation...I mean really...only 5 days in clinicals and the rest in a clinical simulation?! But I realized that on the days that I went into my clinical simulations with a good attitude how much better it all seemed to be! Attitude is way more important than challenges that come our way because our attitude is what will determine the outcome of the situation...we can choose to be victims of our circumstances or we can choose (one day at a time) to overcome our hardships with a good (or at least better) attitude. It's amazing how having a crappy attitude can ruin a friendship, date, household or family. But if we make a daily choice to have a better attitude..well...I think we'd all be surprised with how much better our days would be! (Anyways...enough of the serious talk!)

I start up level 2 in 3 more days...I'm super excited to be back in class and with my friends again! This semester will focus on Med-Surg and Psychosocial and Behavioral needs of patients! So it should certainly be an intense semester to say the least. I have heard that level 2 is harder than level 1 which means there won't be any room for slacking...but I think I'm up to the challenge! I can't wait to get started!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Taking it to the Next Level!

 Wednesday morning I took my last exam as a level 1 nursing student. Although I'm pretty sure every single one of us left that exam wondering what in the heck had just happened to us. It was the hardest finals I've ever had. Thankfully, I wasn't the only one that thought that was the case! The exam was at 7am in the morning (100 questions and worth 200 points) and we all finished around 10ish...and then the LONG...LONG...LONG...LONG wait began. Thankfully we have a pretty amazing instructors and the grades were posted before 6pm.

It was so exciting to see my grade posted on blackboard and to see that I made a victory was short lived when the texts, phone calls, and facebook posts came in about friends that didn't make it. I've learned this semester that we nursing students grow, celebrate, mourn, and thrive together...and when one of us falls we help that person get back up. But when we can't pick them up anymore and we have to keep moving on it's one of the hardest things to do. We're taught that nursing isn't a competition; it's not about who gets the better grades or who got to do the most in their clinical rotation...rather, it's about the success of the whole clinical group! I'm sad to see some of my friends that didn't make it and I'll miss them as the rest of us continue on, but I'm certain they're gonna make it and become some amazing nurses!

I was thinking about an old show that I used to watch, I'm sure some of you know it...ER! And I was reminded of something that one of the nurses said (I think it was nurse Haleh)...It went something like this, "I've been doin' this job for 17 years, honey. Doctors come and go, but nurses make this place run. We don't get much credit or pay. We see a lot of misery, a lot of dyin', but we come back every day. I've given up bein' appreciated, but I sure as hell won't let any of us be taken for granted."

Every single nurse and nursing student is a fighter! And we're going to fight to the end until we reach our goals! I can't wait to see what this next level has in store for me and my friends! I'm ready to climb this next mountain. So I'm going to take it easy these next 2 weeks (and try and find something productive to do) as I prepare myself for the best and the hard times that are about to come my way..because ladies and gentlemen..I'm taking it to the next level!

Monday, August 8, 2011

78 Days Ago...

I can't even wrap my mind around it...78 days ago I was a newbie...I was just getting started as a level 1 nursing student. Sitting in the front row with my friends that I'd taken my pre-reqs with; and others that I had never seen before. Mumbling amongst ourselves what we thought it would be like...what we thought our instructors would be like. We pondered how difficult the (much talked about and dreaded) exams would be. And who can forget the horrifying things we had heard about Care Plans!!!! :O We discussed how we thought our clinical rotations would be. So much excitement, nervousness, and anticipation packed into each of our bodies...our heartbeats pounding, our blood pressure increasing, stress shooting through the roof...

But that was 78 days ago.

Here I am 11 weeks later and almost done with level 1...yet somehow that same excitement, nervousness and anticipation is pulsing through me. Two more finals (lab and lecture) and then I'm no longer a newbie. How does the time fly so fast? I can't even begin to tell you what an amazing journey I'm on. I've made some of the best friends in this program. I've learned so much (more than I knew my brain could handle) and yet I'm just getting started.

Before I started the program I actually hesitated with fear wondering what I had gotten myself into. All my life I've known that I've wanted to be a nurse and I was suddenly worried that I had pushed myself into this career because of my other family members that are nurses...but all of that diminished as soon as I stepped foot into the JS building. There's not a lot in life that I'm sure about...but I'm sure about these things... 1) with God all things are possible and I can make it through any situation, 2) Nursing has to be one of the hardest yet most rewarding thing I've ever done, 3) Nursing school has to be one of the greatest and most challenging thing I've ever experienced...and I can't wait for my next 3 levels (that is of course after my final!!!) :D

So 78 days ago if you asked me what I was doing...I would have told you that I was starting nursing school; with next to no idea of what I was getting myself into. But if you asked me (78 days later) what I'm up to...I'd tell you I'm on the greatest journey of my life...I'm no longer just a student, no, I'm a nursing student. Learning new and great things every day and meeting some of the most amazing people along the way...So the next time you see something that's not the me...or as one of my patients put it, "If you see someone with a little extra something...I wanna see!!!"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Do you have a minute?

In my last couple weeks of nursing school I had my clinicals on-campus. Due to insufficient funding and not enough instructors we had to split up our clinical experience between the hospital (VA for me) and our "clinical simulations". Now if I'm being honest I went into the clinical simulation with a horrible attitude...which I'm sure surprises you! I knew that nothing could compare to the hands-on experience that you get with a "real" patient. But if I'm being honest, which I am because I'm a truth-teller; I'd tell you that our instructors made the best out of the worst situation.

One of the greatest things about this clinical simulation was our "passing meds" simulation. Of course we were given the worst case patient had meds that had drug-drug interactions with every med she was on, there were wrong doses, routes, times, etc. It really made you think about the reality of passing and administering medications...peoples' lives are in our hands...and if we don't take the time to correctly and accurately look at what we're doing we could kill someone. For me that's the scariest part of nursing...give me blood, vomit, poop, urine, pressure ulcers the size of my fist but there's something about administering meds that's extremely intimidating.

At the VA all of us couldn't help but notice just how much time all the nurses spent at the med we know...they're taking a minute to block out the distractions and put their patients best interest at hand. My patients' life and well-being is in my hands and if I just take an extra moment to look through and "read the fine print" I could have just spent the best 60 seconds of my life.

So the next time your pain meds are a couple minutes late, or your nurse seems a little frazzled because she's running behind...look them in the eyes and thank them..because you'll never know if they just caught a med error and saved your life!

So even though I would have rather spent my last couple weeks as a level 1 nursing student at the VA working with real scenarios...I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to practice administering medications. I'm thankful that my instructors took the time to set up a situation that really made me use my critical thinking. I'm thankful that I've been pushed past my limits and past the line that I had drawn in the sand; that line that said, "this is the stupidest thing ever...ugh...why do good things always get cut short for me, why do I have to do this stupid fake simulation". Because if it wasn't for this simulation I might have never thought twice about administering 1,000 mEq of K-Dur crushed along with 500 mcg of Digoxin and 80 mg of Lisinopril...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Nearing the End

Each day I get a little closer to the end of level 1! I can hardly believe how fast the time is flying by! This week I finished up my clinical rotation at the VA and I'll spend the last couple weeks back at school to do some intense clinical simulations; or at least that's what they told us and I'm hoping it's true...because I don't know that they can even compete with my clinical experience!

First of all I just want to brag about the amazing clinical group I got to go with! I had a fantastic instructor and amazing classmates that I'm now proud to call all of them my friend. Everyone was so willing to "share" their client with one another and whenever someone needed to give an injection everyone else would always let that person know when their patient was getting one, or if someone wanted to see wound care everyone would go around and let us was phenomenal!

Seeing as how it is extremely late I'm just going to sum up the experience I had with my client. He was there for rehab to help him learn to walk again after suffering a stroke and bilateral toe amputations. He was discouraged and feeling a little hopeless! I always tried to make sure he was getting his pain meds to help take the edge off of his pain and I tried hard to encourage him as much as possible, but I just never felt like I was getting through. I took time to just sit with him and listen to his stories but still it just didn't seem like enough! However...on my last day as I was telling him goodbye he said, "Thanks for taking the time to listen to me, thank you for giving me enough strength to make it through the days and for encouraging me to make it through my physical education (and by PE he really means PT)." After that he asked if I wanted a "pop" (soda), I gratefully declined and he said he wanted me to go get him a orange pop and a Butterfingers!! :D I don't particularly know how, but somehow I was able to get through to him!

You see, nursing homes (long term care facilities) aren't where people go to die...even though I think that as a society that's what we think...nursing homes are where people go to keep on's where they go to get enough strength to make it through their days and to enjoy their time! It's so easy to get caught up in the "care" we're providing when sometimes all that our patients need is an encouraging word, a back rub, or just for us to sit next to them and listen. It's not comfortable for us...we're all about getting up and at...silence is uncomfortable and it's hard for us to remember that sometimes that's all that someone needs....they just need another person there to draw strength from and to help them make it through each day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Supplementary Lab

So I told you that I would share with you some about our supplementary lab! We're given the option to take this, but of course, wanting every opportunity to practice almost every (only 2 out of 103 didn't sign-up) signed up for the lab. The lab is used to enhance and reinforce whatever was taught that week in lecture (or round robins). We get to work with these pathetic looking manikins and practice our Foley insertion, wound care, NJ tube placement, injections etc.

My favorite part, of working in the lab, is the over-exaggeration of certain body parts...for instance when you go to insert the catheter many of the manikins have abnormally large urethral meatus making the insertion of a catheter the most wonderful and easy thing in the world! But our instructors drill into our heads...make sure you have a penlight so you can actually find the meatus when you're inserting a catheter into a real patient. (I gasp and think "you mean it's not going to be this pronounced and easy to find?!") hahahaha...Another thing that I just loved was practicing injections on the lovely little injection pads...once they had too much fluid in them they'd start spitting back at you when you'd go to give the injection. It was a blast randomly getting squirted with normal saline by this little piece of imitation skin!

These aren't the exact pads we used...but pretty close!

This is Wilma Wound Foot

We also had the privilege of working with some pressure ulcer models (See Stan at the bottom of the page) to give us a vague idea of what we may see when we're working with our patients!


I'd like to share with you though one of my most favorite experiences thus far! We're constantly being told to expect the unexpected (potential complications, adverse reactions, side effects etc) but apparently some didn't think that applied to our instructors as well. Our instructors were preparing to demonstrate the head-to-toe assessment. The instructor that was going to be the patient was given a hospital gown to wear just to make the situation more real. We were all taken back when our instructor takes off her vest, takes off her necklaces, removes her over-shirt (she still had another shirt on underneath)...of course we're all thinking that she'd go behind the curtain for the rest, but no, she throws off her other shirt and while standing there in her bra looks to us students and said, "If you were expecting modesty, you're in the wrong field!!" Gotta love nursing instructors!

However what I think is most amazing is the skill of gaining our patients trust...I mean really..we walk into their room and say, "Hello Mrs. Smith my name is Maggie, I'm going to be your student nurse today. I have a Dr. order to insert a Foley catheter into your you have any allergies?!" Common...where else can you do that? It's like walking into a strangers house and going straight for the refrigerator!!

Anyways, we had to pass our final skills check-off which just included Foley insertion (sterile procedure) and our head-to-toe assessment. If we didn't pass this check off then we wouldn't have been able to go on to it was slightly important! Bless the people who decided wound care is no longer a sterile procedure but rather just a clean procedure! I passed with flying instructor said,"You do a superb head-to-toe" and I didn't forget any steps or break sterile technique while inserting my Foley!!! HORAH!!! So needless to say I'm in clinicals, and speaking of which, I need to get working on that care plan!! So until next time...

This is Stan the Pressure Ulcer

Are you a nurse or a pitbull?

Today we got to finish up our week long lecture/discussion on Diabetes. Fewsh....let me just say....that's a nasty and chronic disease that is to have! It's amazing to think how three little things can play such a huge role; diet, exercise and weight!! At the end of class our instructor went over some practice exam questions with us. Let me just start by saying how awful nursing questions'll be given a situation, and then answers you have to chose from will all be the right answer, but your job is to find out which answer is the best! So, we had narrowed our answers down to two possible choices. I decided on which answer was the best and so had the others. The answer I selected was correct, but there were still other students who put a different answer. My instructor wanted to hear why the students thought the other answer was correct! (Now this is what we nursing students do...instead of just taking the answer for what it's worth we decided that we need to think about the "what ifs" like what if this was the situation, or, what if they had this problem too...but in all reality everything we need is in the question and not the what ifs!) So after explaining to us why the other question wasn't the best answer she went on to say, "I'm not training you to be pitbulls...LET GO! I'm training you to be just let go of all those what ifs and maybes because that's not what this question is asking you!"

I think we were all grateful for that gentle slap on the face saying, "HELLO?!?! Is that what this question is asking you? Because if it's not then you just have to let it go!!!"....although it's much easier said than done but I'm reminded yet again that I'm not just the student...I'm the nurse!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Somewhere inbetween...

For those of you who don't know me my name is Margaret...but you can call me Maggie if you want to. I could try and explain the dynamics of my family and my life story but that would take to long so let me sum up; I have a big family and like any family we have our difficulties...currently they seem to be constantly occurring, but hey, when it rains it pours! I'm a nursing student right now though so I don't really have much time to care about the other stuff going on! :D That's what this blog will mostly be about anyways...the real important stuff in life right?!

An older picture...but that's all of us!

I'm currently a level one student (meaning this is my first semester) at Central New Mexico Community College. I'm in week 8 of this 12 week semester. It's hard to believe that I’m over half way done! However, since I'm starting this blog a little late into the program I didn't get to share the trials and joys of beginning this program! So, for you to be able to fully appreciate my endeavor I would like to share with you my experience thus far!

I'm legit!

Since I was lucky enough to begin this program in the summer we had to hit the ground running! On Week one we had reading and assignments up to our neck! You think I'm joking? We had 13 different chapters to read, paperwork that needed to be filled out and turned in, physicals and drug tests that had to be done and returned within a certain amount of time, we had to get fitted for our scrubs, get our equipment for our lab and clinicals...the list goes on and on! To say the least it was overwhelming and a whole new environment that we had to throw ourselves into. When signing up for this program you have a general idea of how things will go and of course you know that it's not going to be easy, but I'm not exactly sure that there's anything that can quite prepare you for the overwhelming amount of stress and pressure that you'll be put under!

I signed up to take a supplementary lab; which is supposed to reinforce the topics that we cover in our lecture and also give us extra clinical time to prepare for the real deal! I think I'll write a separate post on our lab time! :D

We have class Tuesday thru Friday. Tuesday and Wednesday are our lectures days (and Wednesday I also have supplementary lab) and Thursday and Friday are our clinical days. Initially we spent our clinical days at a workforce training center and in the labs. We would do round robins where we basically go room to room learning new skills and getting a chance to work with it hands on! (Talk about getting close and personal with your my instructor put it, "What other kind of job allows you to know 60 different students bowel movement patterns...honestly I have the best job!" that's the kind of instructor you love to have!)

Honestly I couldn't have asked for better instructors and mentors. They're full of wisdom and support, they have great constructive criticism, and they're immensely compassionate and truly want to see you succeed! Anyone that's ever gone to college knows that the most popular question to ask is "Who's a good instructor? Who should I take?" but I'm learning more and more that in this program it doesn't matter who you take..yes, they all have different teaching techniques and different backgrounds but they all are there to help you succeed and become the best nurse that you can be!

Well I can see that I'm not going to have any problems writing down my wealth of information! I'll stop for now, seeing as how I have clinicals to prep for! But this is just a sip of this ocean I'm currently taking goal is not just to stay afloat but to soar across and take in as much as possible along the way! Right now I'm somewhere inbetween the mindset of a student and a goal is to no longer call myself a college because I'm not just any college student...I'm a nursing student...I'm redefining all I've ever known and building upon my limited knowledge. I'm somewhere inbetween going crazy yet knowing this is what I'm meant to do! :D