Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just Checking In

So it seems that some resolutions are going better than others.  I am almost finished with the two handmade projects I featured in my last post, but as you may have noticed, the "blog more" and "take more photos" resolutions have been suffering.  Maybe I'll work on that next week, after I take the big, scary NCLEX-RN!  Until then, I will continue my intimate relationship with this not-so-little jewel:

I cannot wait to hold my RN license and be able to respond to the small-talk stand-by "What do you do?", with, "I am a nurse".  Then the next step it to be able to answer the follow-up, "Oh, where do you work?"  Yep, still working on that one.

I have no doubt that the NCLEX will be nerve-wracking and scary and self-doubt inducing....but I've been preparing.  And also, gainful employment is strong motivation.  Being a broke college student has really interfered with my "buy made-in-America" resolution and that's the rationalization I'm going to stick with on that one.

On a side note, I have developed a minor addiction to Pinterest.  I wanted share this pretty (although slightly geeky) print with you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Welcome, 2012.  I don't always make New Year's resolutions, because about mid-year, I forget all about them.  This year, they are posted on a sticky note above my computer at my desk where I seem to spend a great deal of time.  And here they are in no particular order:

1.  Pass the NCLEX on the first try.
(Hopefully I can mark this one off after January).

2.  Have a daily to-do list, to help me stay organized and focused.

3.  Blog more.

4.  Finish projects that are already started (please refer to exhibits a. and b.) before starting something new.

5.  Take more pictures - these are memories people!

6.  Make the effort to buy American-made products, when possible.
This is something new I am going to try, after failing miserably at it during my Christmas shopping.

7.  Be as quick to pray as I am to text or tweet or update FB or blog.

Exhibit a.
Christmas tree rag quilt started before Christmas 2011, must be finished before Christmas 2012.

Exhibit b.
Granny square baby afghan started summer 2011, must be completed by February 2012.
These are only two of at least four projects that I can think of that I need to finish!

Notice there are no resolutions about exercise or dieting, because I never keep them.  Forget it!  I resolved just to take care of myself and listen to what my body and spirit need.

Cheers to the New Year, peace and blessings to all.

2011: Let's Review

So things got pretty busy there in the last semester of nursing school.  My little blog kind of fell off the map while I scurried to finish projects and papers and financial aid paperwork in anticipation of the big G day.  As I was transferring information from my old 2011 planner to my new 2012 planner, I reflected a little on the past year.

I reluctantly started the dreaded double-clinical block with Peds and OB. 

I completed my OB rotation this month - delivered some babies and taught some new moms how to breastfeed.  Woo-hoo!  Decided that too much knowledge is a dangerous thing (for future pregnancy and motherhood).

This month I had my first taste of the night shift during my Pediatric rotation.  FYI, babies are a lot less pleasant than adults when you wake them up with a blood pressure cuff in the middle of the night.  Similar to OB, I felt totally inept at caring for my tiny human patients with no prior personal experience.  I did love the atmosphere of the hospital, however, and the nurses seemed to really love their jobs.  Also, I got to spend one day on the oncology/BMT unit, and I loved it - even the sick kiddos.  Their spirits made me smile.

After a lazy spring break, I started block two of the semester with Med-Surg II.  What a better experience than Med-Surg I!  Things started to actually make sense in this class.

  I completed my clinical rotation on an organ transplant unit, which was really interesting and challenging.  I learned that as quickly as modern medicine advances, it is not quick enough for some.  Cancer patients aren't the only ones with a long hard treatment road.  I learned about family-centered care, and witnessed the emotional strain and outpouring of compassion of a seasoned nurse in the field.
Finally enjoyed some time off!  J. and I traveled back to my hometown to help my Dad brand his new baby calves.  I'm going to make a cowboy out of J. yet.

Mental health - not within my comfort zone, although I recognize its importance and implications for other areas of practice.

More mental health, a big case study paper, and a couple of fun weddings!  I also celebrated the life of my Papa Virgil, who passed away from Alzheimer's Disease.

This month gave me some more time off - a much needed break before the last semester.

September & October
Bioethics and Senior Integrated Practicum on a busy oncology unit.  Finally, my unit of choice!  Unfortunately, night shift again.  However, I learned so much from my incredibly knowledgeable and experienced preceptor.  Despite my grumblings about not being placed at my first choice site, I had a great experience, improved my organizational and prioritization skills, and met a lot of neat patients.  I also completed a teaching poster for the unit about Graft Versus Host Disease.

This month found me closer to home as I completed my Public Health rotation at a rural county agency near my parents.  I gained valuable experience about the politics of rural small towns and the jobs of rural health professionals.  Although I knew it existed, the shortage of qualified health professionals in many rural areas was made very clear to me.  I enjoyed working with people I knew, and I completed a Health Planning Project about improving the environmental health inspections of child care facilities.


2011 was a good year for me in nursing school.  I passed all of my dosage calculation exams on the first shot, and avoided killing any of my "patients" in simulation (or in real life).  I also made some great connections with instructors and preceptors, as well as patients.  And most of all, I earned another degree (more is better, right?).  Now if I can just pass that NCLEX!


I did it.  I graduated from nursing school.

When I started an accelerated BSN program in June 2010, I thought it might never end.  Nursing school was intense, and consuming, and I did not love every minute of it.  But it least, this chapter.  
And I survived!  
(Actually, I survived quite well considering my habits of procrastination.) 
And I am happy with the overall experience.  I feel like I received a well-rounded education and had lots of good clinical experiences.  Now, whether or not that translates into being prepared to be a real nurse is a different story.

Dad, Grandma Marj and Mom - part of my fan club!

J. and I - he's been a good cheerleader.

The spoils:  Gold cord for honors, purple for Sigma Theta Tau International membership.  The pin and Florence Nightengale's "Notes on Nursing" were gifts from Alumni and faculty.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

You know those "25 days of I'm thankful for _____" status updates that started today on Facebook?  Well I think those are great.  Though I will spare you the day-by-day, I will share with you my day #1 and encourage you to take a moment to recognize and be grateful for the blessings in your life.
Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to further my education and achieve a degree that I believe will lead to a challenging and fulfilling career.

Even though I am really tired of boring textbooks and online discussion postings and research papers...I am grateful!

Monday, October 31, 2011


Ok let's talk about options.

First, new-grad nurse residency programs vs. preceptorship (assuming that I could actually get a spot in a new-grad program and get hired at a hospital without one, and would have the option to choose).  I know that there are statistics that show that new grads who go through the residency program make less mistakes and are generally more satisfied with the transition from student to RN.  However, I feel like the length of some of the programs might be overkill, and I wonder if I would appreciate the increased autonomy of a shortened preceptorship instead.  I would have to start applying to new-grad programs now for a March start.  Thoughts?  Experiences?

Second, what about joining a professional organization (e.g. ANA, ONS, etc.)?  I know if I join now as a student, I get a discounted membership.  Are there real benefits besides receiving a journal in the mail?

Third, how about NCLEX prep courses?  I could pay a whole bunch of money for a Kaplan course that guarantees that I will pass on the first try...or I can take my chances with my NCLEX review books.  Has anyone taken the Kaplan course?  Any other ideas?

So Close Now

Well hello again, old friends.  I realize it's been a while since we've caught up.  I hope you've had a lovely fall.  

So I completed my Senior Integrated Practicum.  I was a little less than excited about my placement.  However, I had a great experience.  My preceptor was a lovely woman who has been an oncology certified nurse for almost 30 years.  What a wealth of knowledge!  I also enjoyed the culture of the hospital, and the other nurses and administrators were extremely supportive.  
(They even encouraged me to come back and apply for a job once I pass the NCLEX!)  
I completed an educational project about Graft-Versus-Host Disease after stem cell transplant for the unit, and really enjoyed both the subject matter and the research.  The night shift was difficult, but I learned to manage.  It's not so bad as long as you are prepared and manage your time accordingly.  It does require a lot of planning ahead for meals and homework (and I'm sure childcare and transportation for many).

The actual didactic portion of the class was less than fun, but important I'm sure - to cover the roles of leadership, management and quality in nursing.  What I am learning in this semester is that I am really not a huge fan of online classes.  I miss the connection with classmates and teachers, and sometimes it is hard to know if you really grasp a concept if you don't have someone explain it to you.  Sometimes, books and articles just don't cut it.  But then, you don't know that you haven't really grasped it until you do poorly on the exam.

After SIP ended, I decided to feed my creative soul for a bit.  I did no homework for a week.  Instead, I got a haircut (see above photo), I finished the thrift store dresser I had been trying to refinish since August, and I started crocheting again.  It feels good to relax and put my effort into something I really enjoy.  
I recommend a creative and/or active outlet for anyone going through nursing school.

Public Health is my last course, and it started a week ago.  My clinical placement is in rural Colorado, near where I grew up.  Although public health is not something I want to jump into after graduation, I do have an interest - especially in rural public health.  I know that it is very hard to recruit and retain qualified health professionals in rural areas, and that access to care is limited in many areas.  I think that once I have some acute care experience under my belt, I will probably be interested in doing some rural public health work.   Perhaps I will even enroll in a Masters or Doctorate program in the future.  But let me not get ahead of myself!   

By the way, did you notice the countdown to graduation in the sidebar?