Archive for February 27, 2012

Senior Year – Topics in Class

The last semester of Senior year is somewhat hectic for most of the students. Not only are we busy keeping up with schoolwork, we’re also applying to jobs, applying to graduate programs, culminating research projects, and practicing for our NCLEX Licensure Exam. In addition, we all have two 12-hour clinical shifts per week. Needless to say, there isn’t a lot of free time! Our courses this year are geared towards bringing together all of the fundamental information we’ve learned in the previous three semesters. Senior Year courses include: Synthesis, Core Concepts: Acute Care Nursing, Community Health, Role Transition, and Professional Development: Politics and Public Policy.

Synthesis is a course that focuses on preparing Nursing Students to take the NCLEX Licensure Exam. We take practice quizzes every week on a variety of different topics, such as general Medical/Surgical care, Psychiatrics, Pediatrics, Maternal/Infant Care, and many others. Overall, we’re reviewing what areas we need to review prior to taking the NCLEX exam.

Core Concepts: Acute Care Nursing focuses on the “sickest of the sick.” Many of the patients that nurses come into contact with, especially in the hospital setting, have some type of illness. However, this course instructs students on how to care for the “acute” patients – such as those patients experiencing Hypovolemic Shock and Cardiac Instability. Thus far in the course, we’ve learned a variety of different monitoring devices for patients with Cardiac Output issues (i.e., patients whose hearts aren’t functioning/pumping effectively). In addition, we’ve also learned techniques never before discussed in Nursing School – Emergency/Disaster Nursing. We’ve covered many different subtopics under this umbrella, from care during an environmental emergency (e.g., flood or tornado), to care during biological terrorism events (e.g., Anthrax and Viral Hemorrhagic Fever).

The Community Health Nursing course addresses nursing care on a larger, population-based level. Students participate in a Community Health Clinical two days a week at a variety of different locations, working with vulnerable community groups, such as immigrants and the homeless. As mentioned in some of my previous posts, my clinical is at the Gateway Center in downtown Atlanta. This facility caters to homeless men and women in the area, and provides them with shelter, healthcare, educational opportunities, and assistance finding work.

The additional Clinical course this semester is Role Transition. This course focuses on the students’ involvement and experiences in their Role Transition/Practicum site, where they are placed based on their particular interest. Students participate in either the Community Clinical or the Role Transition Clinical for half of the semester, and then switch mid-way through. I will be finishing up my Community Health Clinical in a few more weeks, after which I will begin my Role Transition Clinical. I’m placed at the Mother-Baby/Postpartum Unit at Emory University Hospital, Midtown. During this clinical, I’ll have two 12-hour shifts to complete each week. It sounds a little hectic, but the students in Role Transition now are somehow managing to meet the requirements, so I know it’s possible!

Our last course is Professional Development: Politics and Public Policy, specifically relating to Healthcare. Because of the rising costs of healthcare, and new policies being enacted regarding healthcare, it is imperative that students become informed and aware of these changes. This course provides invaluable information to us about a variety of different topics, such as the economics of healthcare, healthcare reform, and quality improvement. In addition, we also attend some type of legislative day for this course. I attended the Georgia Nurses Association Legislative Day this past January, where I was able to speak with a variety of senators and representatives about Healthcare delivery.

This is a busy semester for virtually all of the students, but I think we’re gaining information that will be highly useful for our future careers as BSN nurses. I think one of our biggest motivators to keep working through this semester is the countdown to our graduation on May 14th!!

Have you ever heard that nursing school is difficult, well I have come to know that this is true. I feel that the hardest part of the program is time management. It is common to have two tests and many papers due in the same week. You have to prioritize the tasks and this is where time management comes into play. With exams and papers comes stress, however, there is joy and excitement through clinicals. You are able to put what you have learned in the classroom to work. Being able to see the care that you are providing to sick patients is a remarkable feeling. In life, I have always been taught to look at things that make you happy. Happiness to me is comforting someone and helping them feel better so they are able to fulfill their life to the fullest. Not all of the patients that you will encounter are sick, some are bringing a life into this world. The past two weeks I have been in my labor and delivery rotation and it is by far my FAVORITE. I absolutely love it and it clicked, this is the type of nursing that is meant for it. Things happen in your life for a reason and these past couple of weeks have been wonderful. Within two days I experienced approximately ten births. It was wonderful! The nurses on the floor were wonderful and taught me the roles in becoming a labor and delivery nurse. To see the face of the mothers when that baby is laid into their arms is wonderful and to see the fathers cry with joy is moving.

Besides the joy of clinicals…. (school) the following week is hectic but manageable. There are two tests but thankfully is not on the same day. Spring break is within the next couple weeks and within the next couple of months the first year of nursing school is over. What a wonderful feeling!

Senior Year – Community Health Clinical

Throughout the last semester of Nursing School, the seniors have either one of two clinicals – Community Health or Role Transition (i.e., practicum/preceptorship). After half of the semester is completed, the students switch from one to the other. For the first half of this year, I’ve been in my Community Health Clinical at the Gateway Center in downtown Atlanta. This facility serves homeless men, women, and children that have come to the Atlanta area for a variety of different reasons.

The Gateway facility is able to provide temporary shelter to these clients, but it places a special emphasis on gaining work and education. Many of the clients are enrolled in a variety of educational or treatment programs in an attempt to restore their lives and regain their independence. The initial intake area is a large, open room with a variety of clientele – all different ages, races, genders, and ethnicities. One of the first things I learned very quickly in this clinical rotation is that there is no stereotypical “face of homelessness.” Many people have preconceived notions about what a homeless man or woman looks like. However, just from working in this Center for only a few weeks, it is quite clear to me that this is not the case at all. Many of the clients we work with were once in very stable positions, but due to some unforeseen event, they have come to find themselves homeless. In fact, one of the staff members of Gateway was even a former client of the facility. Working with this population makes it quite obvious that all of us, no matter what our situation or background, are susceptible to homelessness.

During our clinical shifts at Gateway, we participate in a variety of different activities, such as educational sessions, art therapy, and health fairs. Some of the topics that the clients are most interested in include hypertension, diabetes, stress management, and heart health. We usually get a pretty good turn-out at each event, with a record set for our group of 39 participants in last week’s health fair on Heart Health (conducted by students Chelsea Pharr and Marcus Whitlow). The patients are always especially interested in finding out what their blood pressure is, ways to reduce these numbers, and information on healthy diets. I’ve been so impressed by how interactive and receptive the majority of them are with all of the students; they’re genuinely interested in hearing what health advice we can provide, and ways to improve their situations.

The nursing students at Gateway act in many different roles during the clinicals – student nurse (of course!), educator, counselor, and listener. I’ve found that the latter role, listener, is often one that the clients appreciate most. As our clinical instructors, Prof. Monica Donohue and Jordan Simcox, have informed us – many of these men and women are never even routinely called by their own name when living on the streets. So many of us get caught up in all of the busy work we have to do each day with school, friends, and family, and while this work is difficult and time-consuming, it’s important to think of populations that are quite worse off than us. Imagine living on the street and having most people avert their eyes whenever they walk past you, as if to ward off any type of conversation or pretend you aren’t even there. When a student, or anyone, sits down with any of these men or women and takes the time to talk to them, and especially listen, it truly seems to improve their outlook. Once again, the “art of listening,” that is often highlighted as a gift of nurses, serves to provide a connection with these clients that may have been missing in their lives for quite some time.

Junior BSN 2013

Another blog…. another day!

These past couple of weeks have been great. Clinicals have been great. Last week I was in the Special Care Nursery (NICCU) at Northside and those poor little babies are so small but have a heart that will help them survive. The one that touched my heart was a baby that was just admitted and she was not even 1 pound. It was a happy day but there were some sad times also- a poor little one quit breathing and had to be resistated, and lived. This week (tomorrow), Oppblåsbare spill I’ll be in the labor and delivery department and I’m  very excited because I would love to work in that field. On average- my fellow classmates that are with me on the my maternity rotation has gotten to see close to 4 births in their one day rotation there. So that is very exciting. Northside is the #1 hospital in the United States for delivery, so that is an amazing place to be learning.

The upcoming weeks in our classes are extremely busy with tests, but before you know it, it will be spring break. The main thing about nursing school is to prioritize you tasks and to look ahead and upcoming things to be done so when it gets crazy busy with tests and papers that you have been prepared and ready.

 

Alternative Winter Breaks – Recap of Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica

The weeks following my Alternative Winter Break – Bahamas trip have been both challenging and rewarding. With the start of my final semester in Nursing School, I’ve begun a variety of different tasks and processes to complete my transition from “Student Nurse” to “BSN-prepared Registered Nurse”! There have been so many wonderful moments throughout the past years of Nursing School, but I can’t say I’m not incredibly excited to graduate and begin working. However, that process can still seem quite far away, especially when getting caught up in readings, assignments, papers, quizzes, and tests. I know I’m not alone, though, as many of my fellow Senior Year classmates are always able to provide the exact countdown to graduation – 96 days as of today! Overall, though, it’s the little things throughout the process that make the entire journey worthwhile – one of the most recent ones being the presentations of all the Alternative Winter Break students.

Over 30 Emory School of Nursing students (from juniors to nurses in Master’s programs) traveled to either Jamaica, the Bahamas, or the Dominican Republic in the early part of January. We reconvened just a short while ago to present our trip highlights and information taught (and most importantly – learned) to a variety of fellow students and faculty at the School of Nursing.

The Bahamas group focused on the variety of care that the nurses provide on the rural island of Eleuthera, and the way that these nurses act in a variety of roles that far surpasses the work I’ve ever done as a student nurse. We spent a great deal of time either in the clinics, working directly with these nurses, or at schools providing health talks and education on a variety of topics. The Bahamas group was also especially amazed by the level of community involvement, knowledge, and caring throughout this culture. We couldn’t overemphasize how welcomed, respected, and appreciated we felt throughout the entire trip.

The Dominican Republic group similarly felt this same sense of welcoming and appreciation while they were working with a variety of different patients in the DR. Many of these students were able to work in a maternity/labor & delivery clinic, where they were able to perform perinatal and neonatal assessments, as well as actually deliver some infants! They described how the nurses in this community were able to do so much with the limited resources that they had; a finding also similar in the Bahamas. Many of these students participated in a new infant care system in this clinic known as “Kangaroo Care” – a process in which there is almost constant skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby during the initial days after birth. This Kangaroo Care is able to keep a great deal of premature babies alive at this clinic, despite the fact that they do not have many technologically advanced tools and resources.

The Jamaica group had a variety of different experiences, some of them arguably the most challenging of all three groups. These students explained how the majority of the patients they interacted with were incredibly poor, needy, or abandoned. Much of the time was spent at the “Missionaries of the Poor” Catholic monastery near Kingston, where different missionary Brothers provided care to anyone who was in need. They described the importance of religion in this care, and how it was incorporated into their daily lives. These students also had the initially heartbreaking experience of working with many abandoned and disabled children through this program. The students expressed their initial feelings of overwhelming sadness, but soon learned to see the joy and resilience of these young children. One of the students emphasized how much happiness she found in these patients, despite their obvious hardships. Finally, two of the Missionary Brothers actually came from Jamaica to sing a song for us and promote a concert they are having in March to raise money for the Missionary, which is funded completely through donations.

Overall, it seemed quite clear that all of the students not only had an amazing experience and provided a great deal of teaching while abroad, but they also learned so incredibly much. Some of the common words throughout all three presentations included: “helping,” humbling,” and “enlightening.” We all expressed that all of the hard work before and during the trip was more than paid off whenever we received a smile, hug, or “thank you” from any of the patients we interacted with. We’ve all gained so much respect for these countries, and especially the work that the nurses and medical personnel do there. We’ve learned how dedication, perseverance, and motivation in any situation can enable such incredible things to be accomplished, especially in healthcare settings with such low resources. I’m sure that for many of us, including myself, these trips were some of the best highlights of our entire Student Nursing career.

Transition into Spring Semester

1st Blog of the semester!

1st things first: This semester is extremely busy-compared to Fall semester. The concepts in the classes are not that difficult, the work is just time consuming. This semester’s schedule is: Evidence Based Practice, Core Concepts, Clinical Nursing: Developing Families, and Integrated Science II. This is the hardest part of the semester (beginning), getting used to everything and trying to figure out what the professors want and how they want it done. The first test is the worst but then you are able to gauge what their teaching objectives are and then you are able to inflatable bouncer figure out how to study for that.

Integrated Science II is alot more easy for most of us. The first test of this course is on Monday, Feb. 6th. After studying all weekend… I think that this test will not be that bad… there is just alot to remember but not hard topics. The topics revolve around the Reproductive system.

Clinicals: I love my clinical site: Northside Hopsital: Women’s Center. It is an amazing opportunity for me to be apart of such an amazing hospital. We were told that Northside is #1 in the nation for delivery. That is astounding. My dreams after graduation would be something involving babies and their mommas. I would love to be a midwife or a pediatric nurse practitioner so this is the place to be. They are rotating us around the whole women’s center… next week I’ll be at the Special Care Nursery (NICCU). On the post partum floor that I have been on is very fun and interactive with the moms and babies. I have done some changing of diapers and feeding sweet newborns… some not even a day old. We have to do a head to toe assessment on the moms and babies, which is a great learning opportunity. I will be in my maternity rotation for 7 weeks then I go to my Peds rotation, which is at Egolsten (CHOA). Very excited to be working with kids and their families.

I have spoken with some of my fellow classmates that are in the Maturing Families Clinical class and they think that it is very interesting. Most of them that are in that rotation, really want to be in those fields when they graduate. Many of my friends are in the psyc. rotation and they are so interested in doing that when they graduate. I think that is great.

I’m very excited about this semester. I think that it will be easier for me because  maternity and peds are the fields that i’m strongly interested in and that makes learning about them more easy and fun.