Archive for September 28, 2012

The Start of Something (Else) New

The first day of clinical started out pretty bad, to say the least. It takes about a 5 minute drive from my house to get to the hospital. I made sure to leave early so that I would have time to find my way and eat a little breakfast before we started. After arriving 20 minutes early, I could not find the parking lot and ended up being 26 minutes late! That was even more frustrating because I had driven past the lot five times before I found it. Even though I was not only angry at myself but also embarrassed, I brushed it off quickly. I did not want my attitude to take away from what I was about to experience that day.

We took in a truck load of information that day. I was sure if I tilted my head the wrong way, some information was sure to spill out of my ears. It was pretty overwhelming. I know that I’ll be able to do it and do it well since so many others have done so before me, however, if it wasn’t clear before that my social life is out of the window, it is now. Our overall workload pretty much doubled in one day.

I was happy to get in the hospital. Having an orientation day really helped to ease my anxiety about it. Everyone from the nurses to the patients seemed so friendly. I assumed that a patient who is sick and in the hospital can only muster up a friendly face if he is being treated well. I was assured of that by a wonderful woman I had the pleasure of speaking to. Everyone is concerned with helping the nursing students to learn and to excel at nursing. On our first day a tech gave us the opportunity to do some of her vital signs. She trusted us enough to do it on our own. I believe I am going to love clinical and I will learn a lot.

Words of Wisdom

Today, I want to talk about how to make time for yourself. It sounds like something that’s second nature, but, when all the pressures of nursing school and everyday life are thrown into the mix, it calls for one big mess. I think the most important factor is time management. This is something I need to work on myself. I think it is the backbone for many things: how well you perform in school, how rested you get each night, how high or low your stress level is, among other things I could make a laundry list out of but won’t. It’s just too easy for a lot of us to procrastinate. And, in order to not procrastinate, you have to learn to discipline yourself. I feel like it really is something that takes a lot of work in order to break the habit. I do think that I have gotten better in the four weeks that I’ve been at Emory. To just get things done and over with feels so much better than frantically cramming nonsensical information into my brain at 2:00 in the morning. If time management is lacking, then making time for yourself will suffer because you’re always going to be playing catch up. And that stinks. Establish a system. Study and do work for a few designated hours each day, or every other day if that floats your boat, and let that be it. But use that time wisely. Then after those hours of studying, or on weekends, or whenever you decide, do something that makes you happy—or made you happy before being sucked into the abyss that is nursing school. Finding “me” time will make that abyss a little shallower for you. You can’t cut everything except ATI and Craven text out of your life; you won’t enjoy it and it will also make studying how to be a nurse-what we are all here for-a real drag. Sometimes I’m so desperate for me time…that I’ll do laundry and clean my apartment. But things that make me happy, other than a clean apartment, are baking and cooking, shopping, exercising, shopping again, seeing my friends (without their textbooks), checking out my Netflix, going back to the mall, and taking a well-deserved nap every now and then too. It IS possible to be a successful nursing student and to have a life you love at the same time. It might not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done, but it’s possible. And that’s the important thing to realize and remember.

Making Connections

Today we had a pop quiz in Integrated Science. I was so close to being late, that I almost missed it. Not a great start to the day. Luckily I was pretty familiar with the question on the quiz so immediately, the day started looking up. Lunch hour flew by and then I found myself sitting in Clinical Nursing I. Man was it tough to get through that class. The tiredness that came over me slightly alarmed my teacher. She came over to me during break to make sure that I was ok. I laughed and explained that I was just burnt out.

Even though I struggled to stay awake, today’s class was very interesting. We talked about the incidence of health illiteracy in America and the numbers are alarming. To illustrate just how bad it is, our teacher showed us a video on Youtube from the American College of Physicians Foundation about health literacy. This video was funny and sad at the same time. It really opened my eyes to how a simple non-health related issue such as being able to read can greatly affect a person’s health status. One mother on the clip expressed that she gives her four year old child Motrin for fever. That would be ok if she understood how administer these doses.  She expressed that she would give her child three tablespoons instead of three teaspoons because she did not know the difference.

That is a very big difference and could potentially cause very serious issues. Today was the first day that I began making real life connections to nursing. It’s not all about what Iwill see in the hospitals. Instead, it’s about using my knowledge to better my community because there is a need right there in front of my eyes.

A Change of Scenery

So in two days…clinical rotations are beginning for the junior BSN class. Excited much?! I know I am. I’m going to be at Emory Midtown in Unit 21. Unit 21, that sounds…enigmatic, but, exciting nonetheless. I think it is some type of surgery and recovery unit. My clinicals are on Friday mornings from 7:00-3:00. It is going to be a long day, but I’m sure it won’t seem that way. This is what we have all been looking forward to: getting to be “real” nurses. I think this week is more or less orientation to the clinical site, and getting adjusted to the change in our curriculum. I am thankful for this, I was dreading just being thrown in and having to learn on my own.
I think my roommate and I will be carpooling a lot since we are going to the same clinical site. It will be nice to have company that early in the morning. And she will also be helpful in that she can come bang on my door in the mornings if I somehow sleep through my alarm for 5 in the morning. (I’m really not a morning person. Like, at all.) I think we are going to take a trial drive within the next night or so, just to see what the drive is like. Hopefully the traffic won’t be too bad at 6AM.
I hope we get to meet the patients we will be working with soon. I’m really excited to meet him or her, and I can’t wait to start giving them care. This excites me and scares me at the same time. I don’t want to hurt them! And everything we have done so far seems like there could be pain involved. I think clinicals are the ultimate test to see if we have what it takes to be nurses. There’s nothing like being immersed in a sea of “nurse-dom” to know whether or not we are cut out for this. The thought doesn’t scare me, but instead makes me really curious. Can’t wait to hear all about how everyone’s first day went!

Stop Being So Testy

Test 1: Graded. Test 2: Taken. Test 3: Complete. Yay! I think we can all attest to how nice it feels to just be able to go home after classes today and unwind a little bit. I know I will be for sure. For the past two weekends, I feel like it’s pretty safe to say that all most of us were doing was frantically trying to figure out how the heck to study for these first exams—what to study, how much of it to study, which test to study most for…you know, the same things that happen every year. But even though we’ve cleared the first wave, I still feel like a lot of us are in the dark. Maybe it’s just because we’ve never taken tests that are so…open to interpretation? I think that is the overall evaluation of the tests we have taken this week. It’s like…no one knows how to feel. I know I’m in that boat. I feel pretty confident, but still, sometimes it’s just hard to stop thinking about it, and wishing you had a rewind button.
I think our pharmacology exam was the “easiest.” Not because of the material per se, but I think it’s because we either know it…or we don’t. And there are no guesses about it. In my opinion Pharmacology is the most difficult class we have, but at the same time it is the most cut-and-dry when exam time rolls around. I have found, though, that I am really enjoying all of the classes we are taking this semester. I guess this is a good sign since I’m going to school to be a nurse, and all of the classes are nursing related. So, gold star for me. I think after taking the first batch of exams we have a much better understanding of the course and a better grasp of it as well. I think when the next test rolls around I will be able to feel better prepared, just because I will know what to expect. So, I hope everyone is happy with the way this week’s exams turned out, and also with the grades we got for Integrated Science. Hopefully everyone can take that much needed tiny little break I mentioned earlier. We did it!

Discombobulated

So we’ve finally taken a test in each class. Shockingly, they were not as bad as I had dreamt of long before I started nursing school. We still have not gotten our grades yet (considering there are people still testing as I write) but I know that there are areas I can improve on. Above all things, I have this overwhelming sense of relief. The back to back testing block is over and the pace of my studying can go back to normal for a little while. For the last week or so our entire class was on edge about the many things being required of us. I have also been trying to keep up with my life outside of school as well as keep a part-time job. All these obligations are starting to wear me out. Last Friday I was so tired that I did not remember driving to school or where I parked. I spent ten minutes walking up and down the aisles of the parking lot looking for my black Chevy before I remembered that I had recently begun driving a green Nissan. Needless to say, I was annoyed. Lately I also have found that I’m forgetting to eat. If I don’t schedule meals or if they do not fall comfortably within my day, I experience sudden bouts of intense hunger and then realize that I had not had any food all day. I’m becoming slightly discombobulated (for lack of a better word). I’m hoping that when fall break gets here in a few short days (or 2 and a half weeks) that I’ll have enough time to turn my brain off and just relax. Though school is interesting, studying is not really fun. I miss fun. I need fun. Until then, I’m definitely looking forward to Grey’s Anatomy on Thursdays. That will definitely be one fixed scheduled study break!

 

Overload

I understand now why they stressed to us how important it is to make time for ourselves. It’s so easy to become so wrapped up in all the things you have to do that before you know it, five weeks have gone by and you have not done anything other than eat, sleep, and study.

That’s not exactly what’s happening to me, but I still feel like I’m running on a quarter tank. Yes I have been able to find small moments to just relax every now and then, however with the continuous demands on my brain I have become overloaded. This is especially unsettling considering the fact that in the coming two weeks we have two tests, two skills check-offs and will be starting our clinical rotations. I am trying to figure how I can give myself some much needed down time for my brain while still preparing for my exams on Monday and Tuesday.

Taking a break and preparing at the same time is sort of oxymoronic. They contradict each other, but as a nursing student I feel that it’s just something we must learn to master. I’ve decided to take a day for me. I am not going to do any activities, not even the ones I like to do because my mind and body need to rest. Once I get so bored lying around with nothing to do, I will be compelled to open a book and continue studying. In my mind it’s a great plan but I’ll have to try it first and then evaluate its effectiveness.

Regardless of all the things that I have to do, I can’t deny that I am still excited to be here. It’s hard to get bored because something is new every week. There’s always something to look forward to. Right now, I am looking forward to being in the hospital and learning injections in skills lab. Doing these things makes it clear to me that I am going to be a nurse. It’s not even going to be very long from now. I’m surprised at how much I’ve learned and changed in just the short time since school has started. Even though I am so appreciative of where I am, what I’m learning and I’m eager for what’s to come, I can’t wait for Fall break!

Lab Talk.

Let’s talk labs. Today marks the 4th week of labs for clinical nursing, and I have to say that I have really been enjoying it thus far. In fact, this week is the last week of Thursday and Friday labs because next week….CLINICAL begins. I feel like…well I know…I have learned so much in these past four weeks. Though I have not learned all the “cool things” yet like injections and drawing blood, I have learned the basics of the important things: bed baths, bed changes, interviewing patients, and a lot of other skills as well. These skills, I think, are the most important because as nurses it is not only our duty to perform the medical aspects, but the caregiving aspects as well. The patient is the most important part of any nursing situation, and they must be as comfortable and happy as we can possibly make them and well, we can’t do that if we aren’t taught how to. In addition to all of this, we have been taught how to take blood pressures, and I’m pretty sure that every student will take anyone’s blood pressure during any free time we might have. It’s almost addicting. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, I think. It has been fun learning how to use the stethoscope too. On this past Tuesday during my Health Assessment lab, we were taught how to listen to all of the heart sounds. It’s so cool when you figure out all the different sounds: aortic, pulmonic, mitral, etc. We also had our first skills check-off evaluation that day too, but I got a 100! I was very happy. I’ve come to realize that in addition to knowing all of the information needed for the job, you have to be confidant in the job as well. Without confidence in what you’re doing, you won’t do it very well…even if your methods are correct. Today was scary for me. We had to prick each other’s fingers. I played nurse first. I’ve never pricked anyone’s finger before, and I really didn’t want to hurt my partner! I know how much it hurts when nurses prick right in the center of the finger tip. So I made sure I didn’t do that. So I tried and…I succeeded! It’s really a great feeling when you do something right in nursing school. I’m really looking forward to the adventures that await me next week as I start my clinical rotations. I will be in Emory Midtown’s Unit 21. I’m feeling all kinds of emotions: anxious, excited, a little scared. I’m sure one of my posts next week will tell you allllll about it.

Is it Over Yet?

It took some time but I finally feel like things are coming together. I have settled into a steady schedule and I know pretty much what is required of me each day. I like this feeling. It feels like I have a handle on my life. The funny thing is that the more settled I feel the more work I seem to have. It never really ends. As a child there was the phrase “finished with my homework” that I don’t seem to be able to use anymore. The work is never finished. There’s always more reading, more videos to watch, or just something more I can do to get prepared for the next day’s lesson. I love it. I feel responsible. These challenges are preparing me for real life. In the future, I may be a mother who has to take care of more than one child, make time for her husband, work as a nurse, make time for herself, and most likely be in school again moving up the latter of nursing. There will always be something to do. The other day, a friend of mine who had recently graduated from undergrad complained of being bored. She had not started working yet and she had nothing to do with her days. Most of her friends are still in school and cannot empathize with her. At first, when I heard her remarks I felt a hint of jealousy. I longed for the days when I was able to stay in bed all day and catch up on the last six episodes of Grey’s Anatomy without a care in the world. However, after thinking about it more I realized that I don’t envy her at all. My mind is now wired to do. I want to fill my days learning and practicing my skills. Even if I feel that I have read all the pages I need to and have watched every video that was assigned, I can’t wait to hang out with friends so that I can take their blood pressures! I am a new me. I used to be the person who wanted to finish everything early, regardless of if I understood it or not. I just wanted to be done. Now, I can’t even imagine a situation in which the work would be done. Not until I graduate at least!

I Might Need to Start Drinking Coffee

It seems to me as though once the first test comes…they don’t stop. The seal is broken. The junior class had our first nursing school test on Monday! And boy, it was nerve wracking to say the least. I always get nervous before the first test in any of my classes. Not because I doubt myself, but more because I have no idea what to expect. The first test could be anything. It could be…the easiest thing you’ve ever done in your entire life or, the most miserable. I like to expect it to be the most miserable that way I’m more prepared, and pleasantly surprised when it isn’t.
So, you know how when it’s the beginning of the school year and you are incredibly motivated to do everything you can to get that A? Well this was me. I was so on top of it. I started getting ready over a week in advance: looking over my notes, doing all of my objective questions, writing all of my study times in my planner with the teal pen from that pack of pens I told you about yesterday. But…it turns out that this year was no different than any of the previous ones: I am really, really bad at studying ahead of time. Let me rephrase: studying a bunch ahead of time. I try and try, but I get distracted really easily. But I told you I was determined, so I even deactivated (temporarily) my Facebook in order to get some work done. I may be bad at studying ahead of time, but I suffered through it. I was determined. I was going to make that good grade on this horrific Integrated Science test that was looming over my head.
It’s interesting how much easier studying becomes when you know the material you’re studying. The more I looked at the study guides and objective questions, the more my mind was set at ease about the test. But not too much ease…I was still nervous. The week flew by of course, and so eventually 1:00 early Monday morning rolled around and I was still up, sitting in bed, reading over all the drugs I would need to know for the test at 10:00. So about 20 minutes later I was so sleepy that I finished my last page of notes and hung it up for the night. I was still a little iffy on a couple of things, but I knew them well enough.
Health Assessment came first from 8-9:50 that morning. I half-way paid attention, half way reviewed my notes for the test. I know that isn’t a good idea, but I just wanted to look over any last minute things. I’m sure you all have been in that situation too. 10:00 finally came. I went to room 201 and found my seat, and then I waited for the test. I took it. It wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t absolutely atrocious either. I don’t like to talk about tests with people after it is over and done with-it just stresses me out more. So during the 12 different post-test conversations surrounding me at lunch, I just tried not to listen and focus on eating my leftover Chili’s honey-chipotle chicken crispers. It wasn’t too hard, I was starving.
So now it’s just a waiting game until Friday. That is when the test grades will be posted to the Blackboard site. I think everybody is feeling a bit nervous. Hopefully the outcome is a good one. But now that that is over, it’s time to get ready for the 2 tests coming up next week! Godspeed juniors.