Tag Archive for Senior Year

V.L. Franklin Conference on Psychiatric Manifestations of Physical Illnesses

One of my many great experiences throughout nursing school, and consequently one of my passions and interests, was my mental health/psychiatric clinical rotation. While working at the Behavioral Health Hospital, Peachford, I found that I truly enjoyed working with the populations there, especially the adolescent group. Because of this, I chose to attend the 2012 Virginia Lee Franklin Memorial Conference, hosted by the Emory University School of Nursing. This year’s topic was “Psychiatric Manifestations of Physical Illnesses.” Mental health and well-being assessment and treatment should be emphasized in every aspect of nursing, even if a nurse is not specifically working in a behavioral health facility.

The Virginia Lee Franklin Memorial Conference has been held by Emory’s School of Nursing every year for the past few years in honor of former Emory Nursing Student Virginia Lee Franklin. Ms. Franklin graduated from Emory in 1957 with a Master’s Degree in Nursing, with her expertise in neurology. The program brochure stated that she was well-known for being “an excellent teacher, an advocate for the nursing profession, and a compassionate nurse.” Originally, her parents started a fund in her honor, which has since grown into the present day Conference.

The “Psychiatric Manifestations of Physical Illnesses” topic covered the objectives of discussing psychiatric symptoms commonly seen with physical disorders, describing “red flag” physical symptoms that can be associated with psychiatric disorders, and examining specific physical illnesses commonly associated with psychiatric symptoms. The program faculty included the Dean of the School of Nursing, Dr. Linda McCauley, and the main speaker, Dr. Nzinga Harrison, Clinical Adjunct Faculty at Emory’s Department of Behavioral Health and Sciences. In addition, a variety of other well-known School of Nursing Professors and Clinical Faculty Members also participated on the planning committee. The majority of the attendees were nursing students or nurses in the community, with a wide variety of backgrounds. Some of the nursing specialty areas that were represented included: psychiatric, med/surg, neurology, rehabilitation, emergency room, social health, and advanced practice.

Dr. Nzinga Harrison provided an informative, engaging lecture on a variety of different symptoms, both physiological and psychological, in mental health and non-mental health patients. We learned about a variety of different factors that are associated between psychological and physical disorders. For example, we spent time discussing symptoms of Anxiety Disorders (such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), including: increased heart rate, insomnia, nightmares, decreased concentration, irrational thoughts, irritability, and hyper-vigilance, among others. One of the most important things that I learned was to document symptoms of any patient in terms of the following areas: physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral. The vast majority of illnesses present with symptoms in a variety of these areas. Therefore, taking an assessment with this framework in mind will help to include as much information as possible in the diagnosis and treatment.

One of the greatest benefits of Emory is having such a strong, interdisciplinary group of schools and departments. In this instance, the School of Nursing and Dr. Harrison, from the Department of Behavioral Health and Sciences, worked together to share their strengths and knowledge with a variety of students and professionals. This Conference is one of many wonderful educational opportunities that nursing students are able to participate in throughout the year.

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!!