Life, Nursing School

It’s almost back to school

Somehow, this brief vacation is nearly over. I don’t want it to end though. I finally feel as though I’m starting to become a human again, functioning at a normal level and not worried about my next test. But sadly, next Tuesday, we go back to it, jumping in feet first to try and finish this wild two year ride.

I am blessed because I got scholarships to cover the entire year, so I don’t have to pay for any of this or worry about getting money from work (who will help a little bit, if I needed them too through an education program). That’s all good. I was reminded to day of all the little things I still need to do before going back.

The senior students get little sisters/brothers from the incoming class. So I have to contact both of mine, something I still haven’t done as I’ve simply been enjoying not having to worry about getting things done. I have to clean up the bookshelves, from where I just threw books and notebooks onto the shelf, not worrying about where they landed. They have an order that I need them in (that’s the organization in me). I have to check my clinical bag and see what’s stuffed in there and clean out anything that needs to go and make sure I have pens and whatnot.

I also need to go through my backpack, which is full of all kinds of random stuff from going to work and clean that out. Possibly run it through the washer. The only thing I know is clean is my scrubs, which got cleaned after my last clinical and hung up and they are still there. My jacket may be stuffed in my clinical bag, actually… I may see if I can track down a different pair of pants for clinical that actually have pockets in them.

I have two books that I need to try and finish before we go back. That may be challenging. One of them I haven’t started yet, so we’ll see how that goes. I got the kids registered for after school for this year. The only potential problem is that our first clinical day is also the day of open house where the kids meet their teachers. I don’t have hours for that clinical yet, so I don’t know if I can go or not. I’m hoping that I’ll make it. It’s from five to seven at night, but if our clinical goes to six or seven there’s no way I’ll get there (because let’s face it, I’ll be at the hospital farthest from me, like always, so it’s about forty-five minutes from the school).

I meant to make freezer meals but alas, I spent most of my time writing. Who am I kidding, I’ve loved spending so much time writing. So if you are inclined to read crappy fan fiction I’ll leave you a link here: Lost and Found – A Court of Thorns and Roses FanFiction. You don’t have to register to read, I don’t think. Don’t feel obligated. I just know that I’ve talked about it quite a bit and thought some of you may be curious. My original writing isn’t posted anywhere and I’m not at a point to post anything, so sorry if you wanted to read that. Maybe once I have something solid down. Right now it’s mostly outline with vague character ideas and general descriptions that need to be actually written out.

I also have to get a 504 meeting scheduled for my youngest for her ADHD. I meant to get that done before now but it slipped my mind.

The upcoming eclipse has me excited. It’s been awhile since I’ve been anywhere near a solar eclipse… I think there was a partial when I was in elementary school. This one will be nearly complete and I can’t wait to see it (with protective glasses, obviously – don’t look at the eclipse without protective glasses!).

I got through all of the past season of NCIS. I didn’t have to go back and watch any Criminal Minds because I got through all of that during the season. I’m back to watching whatever looks good on Netflix. That’s good because I’m not trying to find time to watch anything.

The rest of my week looks to be pretty quiet. I’m meeting a friend for lunch Friday before working this weekend. We have a friend coming next week to stay for a week. It’s been awhile, so I can’t wait for that either. Otherwise, I’ll be trying to wrap up my fan fiction so that it’s done before school starts (I have more written than I have posted) and then I need to get my planner in order. I meant to do a post about my new planner spread and forgot about it, so I’ll try to get that done tomorrow!

Nursing School

Fall is coming…

In two more weeks, I begin the battle to the end. Two more semester stand between me and the NCLEX. I know I can pass the NCLEX. I just have to get there (I’m trying to go in with confidence, knowing I will be a lunatic waiting for the results of the test to come back). In two more weeks, we start an eight week class followed by a week off and then another eight week class.

The best part of this semester is that we get Mondays off, so it’s only four day weeks. That makes my life a lot easier. Then if I have my preceptorship I won’t do clinical for at least part of the time because I would have to be at the hospital. We’re actually kind of in limbo about how the precepting works because we haven’t been given a lot of details yet. So patience is key here.

One of the things I’ve been contemplating is where I want that experience to be. We’re limited in where we can go, so labor and delivery is off limits, for example. This makes some sense but at the same time is limiting because that’s one of the places I’d like to get more experience. It’s not something that I have any control over though, so I’m moving on. We’re supposed to pick three places that we’d like to go and rank them in order. Currently, my thoughts are: 1) ED, 2) ICU, and 3) pediatrics (or PICU if that’s an option).

My decisions are based on a couple of things. First of all, they are all places that have critical care components and I really think I would enjoy that. I also feel like if I wanted to interview in an ED and I had experience in an ICU that would be better than just a regular med-surg floor. Secondly, they are all places that I feel like I would thrive. I generally do better with higher stress environments than I do in typical environments. This was apparent to me this semester when I had experiences off of med-surg and felt far more competent in those situations than I did on the regular floors. I don’t know why that is though. Am I just trying harder? Is it that those nurses didn’t know me and expected more (but the ones on the floor don’t know me either, so…)? Was I simply more engaged because there was more going on around me? No idea. All of these things are things to consider though. For the record, I don’t feel like I didn’t do well on med-surg, but rather I felt like I had a better grasp on what I was doing off of med-surg.

Either way, the time is approaching where we are going to have our little selves tossed out of the nest, so to speak. In one sense, I can’t wait. I want to get a chance to really experience working, especially in those environments. On the flip side, it’s a little unnerving to be told we’re going to be kind of on our own and expected to do this. I guess if you’re not a little bit afraid of that, you’re probably a fool.

Nursing School

Grades matter but they’re not everything

There seems to be a great discourse going on within the nursing community of how grades and the ability of a future nurse are related. Of late, I’ve heard that it’s not all about grades (the famous C’s or B’s get degrees line) and that a great nurse isn’t defined by their grades. These things are entirely true. But I have an issue with the flip side of this portrayal which seems to imply that if you have good grades, you won’t be a good nurse.

Now, I honestly don’t think that’s the intended connotation. However, words carry meaning and when you repeatedly emphasize how a person being a B student or a C student can still be a great nurse, the other side of that argument quickly becomes A students aren’t good nurses because… well, the only reason I’ve heard is a lack of common sense. Seriously?? That’s just as bad as implying that a student with poor grades wouldn’t be a good nurse.

I will be the first to tell you that it’s damn hard to get A’s in nursing school. Those things should be celebrated for the achievements that they are. It’s terribly unfair to then turn that around and imply that because a person has a high GPA they must be a bad nurse.

Are there people who are bad nurses? Of course there are! But their grades have nothing to do with that. There are nurses who have straight A’s who are fantastic. There are nurses who barely make it through nursing school who are fantastic nurses. There are nurses who make A’s and are awful nurses. There are people who barely make it through nursing school and are awful nurses.

Let’s be real for a minute here. Nursing school is hard. This stuff is not for the weak of heart. There’s a ton of material, a lot of which is pretty complicated stuff because the human body is a pretty complicated thing. Then there’s the people side of it. Some people are just awful to try and deal with and nurses see people at the worst moments of their lives in many cases. And it’s not just the patients that nurses have to work with but their families too. It’s a job that requires both a huge quantity of knowledge and an ability to work with people. And that’s before you even start looking at different specialities within nursing which can be years of knowledge and still not even scrape the surface of what there is to know. Not every person in nursing school is going to be adept at both of those things. The best of us adapt and learn the skills that we’re missing. That makes us better. Some of us don’t adapt or learn new skills. But as in all things, sometimes people get jobs even when they’re not the best candidate.

So what’s my point? Be nice people! If someone is struggling, offer help. And sometimes there’s nothing that can be done. There are people who struggle with tests, especially the way these questions are worded. If someone is doing well, be proud of that accomplishment. If nothing else, they can be a source of help for you – they obviously know a few things. We need to spend our time lifting each other up, not cutting each other down. We will all be better in the long run if we support one another, in whatever ways we can. I mean, isn’t that what nurses do anyway?

Books, Life, Nursing School, Writing

School’s out for summer

This is officially, the beginning of ten days of vacation for me. I started my job just over a year ago and since then, I have worked every weekend and have been in school almost every week. So as of now, I am working on several things all at once. We shall see how successful I end up being.

First and foremost, I worked on cleaning today. That’s not to say that I haven’t cleaned in over a year but aside from little daily tasks like sweeping and dishes, lots of things get neglected day to day. So I scrubbed a bathroom today (1 of 2), took out some garbage and folded the laundry that had piled up. I have one basket still left to do but I thought I’d sit down and write first.

Speaking of writing, I have been practicing my writing. What I mean by that is I have been writing fan fiction (nobody needs to read that though cause honestly, it’s fan fiction). This seems like a silly way to practice but it really allows me to focus on things like prose and point of view without having to think about characters and backstory because none of that is mine. I have started a new story in my head but it’s in the very early stages of thought. Sooner or later, one of these stories will stick and I’ll actually finish one. I have so many bits and pieces that don’t go together, it’s kind of funny. Creativity is fickle like that, I guess.

I spent time working on my bullet journal. Not a lot of time, mind you but some. I got August going and while I have a few spreads to still work on I could put next week in if I didn’t get any further. I am still seeing how this new weekly spread works for me. It’s a little wishy-washy right now. That’s probably a result of my not being sure how to best use the space which happens when I try a new way setting up. That’s ok though. This spread may work a little better, in terms of functionality.

July is almost over. I’m not quite sure how that happened. I suppose the fact that I was in school for the first half of the summer explains it. I have started filling in my day zero project list but at this point it’s mostly books that I’ve read or planning for bigger things. I have been considering a few of my photo projects that are on the list. I will update that tomorrow. For now, I’m going to put away the rest of the laundry and then watch another episode of NCIS (because I’m watching last season and I’m LOVING IT!!!). See you in the am!

Life, Nursing School

Welcome to summer break

I just got home from my final exam for my summer class. It’s an indication of how ingrained my routine is that as I unpacked my bag, I immediately thought “Ok, what do I have to look over?” The answer is nothing, as I am now out of class until August 14th. I had to stop and reflect for a moment because that was a true moment of surprise. It also reminded me that this journey has an end. This time next year, with any luck, I will have a new job. Wow… When I look back at the moment where I quit my job teaching and think about how much work was in front of me it almost amazes me that I can look forward and see the end.

It has been more than worth it.

For now, I am going to look at the next three weeks and see what kinds of stuff I can do in them. I want to try and get through at least three books. I have plenty of time for that. I also want to try and get ahead with some blog posts so that when I have exams come next time, I don’t have a big gap with no posts. I will do some bullet journaling and hopefully refine my newest version of a weekly layout so that it works for me. I may make another declutter pass and see if there’s anything else that needs to go. And of course, I have my day zero project list to work on.

Then there are the practice things like getting the house clean, going through the kids’ clothing and seeing what they need for school.

Today, however, is a day to celebrate. This break has been a long time coming. It seems as though I’ve been going nonstop for a year (there were a couple weeks off between fall and spring so I know I haven’t been but that’s how it feels). This occasion is momentous. I think it deserves cupcakes. 🙂

I’ll be back tomorrow.

Life, Nursing School

I am sitting here looking over my notes for my test tomorrow and I quite suddenly came to the realization that I haven’t blogged in a few days. How did that happen? Part of it has surely been switching planners and working through a new way of planning. It may not be as effective as I need it to be but I’m trying to ensure that I incorporate a few things that I have been ignoring. Part of it has likely been that I have been tired. Well, coming off of an adrenaline high might be the better description. I crashed hard. It’s been a crazy week, so I guess I’ll summarize what has happened.

First off, Monday and Tuesday off and I actually took those two days and did… nothing. I studied for a test on Wednesday and that was pretty much it outside of reading, running and generally laying around doing nothing. That threw me off schedule for sure. I cleaned the house on Monday, which hadn’t been done in awhile and I did some decluttering of my wardrobe. Both things were needed.

Wednesday I took a test and had to take my daughter to the behavioral therapist. The test was great. I did really well. My daughter’s appointment just threw me off more and I forgot to blog and since I had clinical the next day I did more nothing that night except read. I really wanted to get through that book (I only just finished it today).

Thursday was clinical day and that’s where things got a little loopy. I spent the day in the emergency department which is one of the places I have been considering working. I honestly expected that the day would be dull. I trained as an EMT a couple of years back and had several days of ambulance rides where nothing happened. Seriously, every paramedic team I rode with commented on how dull the days were by the end of my time there. So I thought, just my luck, the day will be filled with splinters and fevers. Nope.

We had an actual, real trauma come in. I can’t share details but suffice it to day that it was a real trauma with lots of blood and CPR and, in the end, death. And that was all before lunch. The rest of the day kept me busy and I hadn’t even realized the amount of adrenaline that I had in me. Until the next day when I woke up feeling like a truck ran over me. I sent Friday recovering, grocery shopping and working on paperwork for clinical. I have never been in a situation anywhere near that and while I did enjoy it, I now have to contemplate if the overwhelming adrenaline crash is worth it. Or if it will quell with time and I won’t crash so badly. It’s a lot to think about, honestly.

And then the weekend came and I went to work. And I hand’t blogged all week. So I apologize. I meant to blog, thought about it more than once but simply forgot after a couple of days. So now I’m back and will strive to do better.

Coming up, I want to talk about my bullet journal switch. I just started a new one and am trying a new format. It may not be working well but I’m trying to give it time. And think about options for other ways to handle what I need it to. I finished the third book in the series I referenced previously and A Court of Mist and Fury was interesting. Not how I expected the story to go but as there are more books to come and I did enjoy the first three, I will probably give them next one a go. This author also has some other books, so I may consider reading those too. I stopped at the library today and picked up Chris Colfer’s new book, Stranger Than Fan Fiction which looks very good. I have officially begun my Day Zero Project, with the first of July and so far things are not going well. I asked for book recommendations and got almost a handful from one person and one from another person. I need to ask again. Or redefine that goal if nobody has books for me to read (something I find odd given the number of people I know who read). Finally, this summer semester is nearly over with only seven class days left… five if you take out this Thursday and Friday for clinical. And the last three are all test days! We take a test tomorrow and then we have two days of class before all our final testing for the class begins. Then we get a month off, to rest before starting the second to last semester before graduation.

For now, I’ll sign off. I need to read through my notes again and see what’s sticking and what isn’t. I also need to put kids to bed and get some sleep myself. I’ll be back tomorrow!

Nursing School

How to study every day

So yesterday, I posted about how nursing school is like prepping for a marathon and that one important thing to do is study every day. I truly believe that because there is so much material and so little of it is memorization that going over a little bit every day makes the monumental task of each test a little easier. It occurred to me that not everyone may know how to do that, so I’m going to go over what I do to study every day (and it’s not just re-reading all my notes!).

  1. Write it down – if you are of the age of computers, you may not ever spend much time writing things. You probably type. There’s nothing wrong with that but there are studies that show that writing things by hand helps you remember them more. Yes, it’s hard to do and it takes longer but honestly, I think that’s why it sticks better. You have to think about what letter to write. I take my notes in class by hand, following along on the powerpoint. If I can’t get everything down, I will make a note in my notebook to go back to look at a slide again. Writing by hand helps me remember a LOT of stuff. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to be legible.
  2. Read what’s in the book – and not just skimming it. I mean actively read what’s in your book. Most teachers assign reading and it’s not because they’re mean. It’s because there is so much that you can’t possibly get it all in class. You may not even be able to read everything (I’ll get to this is a bit though) but you should try. If nothing else, find the sections in your book that correspond to what you did in class. Chances are that your instructor finds that material important. While you read, look for anything that stands out as different from your notes. That way you can ask questions the next day (or email your instructor and ask).
  3. Answer practice problems – Nursing school is unique in that every student must take the NCLEX before they can become a nurse and begin to work. So most nursing schools base their tests around NCLEX questions. So you have ready made question banks to practice with. Buy a book or an app or whatever you want. There are plenty of free resources online (but be sure it’s a good source!) that have questions as well. Do those questions before your test. Most books also come with question banks that you can access online as well. Use those resources. I promise your instructors do too. If nothing else, you’ll be getting good practice before you graduate and have to take your real NCLEX.
  4. Make flash cards – it sounds high school and odd because not everything is memorization. However, this gets you to write again (or type it, if you insist on not writing by hand) and gives your brain another chance to process the information. The more times your brain sees it, the more you will recall later.
  5. Schedule time to study – Time management is crucial in nursing school. The more you have to do, the more crucial it becomes. It’s also important of you are a person who gets easily distracted by things like Netflix. Write down a time to study and stick to it. My life is super scheduled and it helps immensely. It’s very easy to get distracted by something and lose track of time. Before you know it, it’s 10 at night and you’re saying you’ll look at it tomorrow.
  6. Reread your notes – again, more exposure.
  7. Complete the extra assignments – sometimes you get those things that you know won’t be graded. Often times, they get pushed aside and only half heartedly completed. Put effort into those assignments though. Again, your instructor assigned with a purpose in mind. I’ve yet to met any instructor that assigned something just because they felt you needed to be kept busy.
  8. Take breaks – your brain needs time to process. Make sure that you take time off from the notes and reading and other things. Give your brain a chance to figure out what it knows and what it doesn’t. You may be pleasantly surprised if you take the rest of a night off and go back the next day.
  9. Apply material when you can – use clinical time or friends, whatever you need too (please don’t stress your friends out, just think about them if they’ve ever had the disease process you’re studying). Especially clinical time, really think about the disease processes your patient’s have and try to apply what you learned in class. That doesn’t mean you have to go into a patient’s room and go over everything with them. Just think about it. Look at medications, symptoms, behaviors and apply what you know.

So that’s my process. I do each of these things before every test, when I can. I don’t always have extra assignments and sometimes I can’t do everything because there isn’t enough time. That’s especially true this summer when we’re taking a class crammed into four weeks. Do what you can everyday though and you’ll be surprised when you get to the test just how much you can recall.

If you’re in school or about to be, I hope this helps you. The rest of my blog readers (if you read this!) I’ll have something non-school related tomorrow, I promise! Until then!