Category Archives: Me

Medical Mondays: I’m a NURSE!

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After two long years of nursing school, and four long years of school in general, I am finally officially a NURSE!  This road has not been easy by any means and I thought it might never get here but I actually made it out alive.

I started back to school part-time in June 2009 and knew for sure I wanted to be a nurse.  My community college has an extremely competitive nursing program.  I knew that if I wanted to have a fighting chance at admission I had to have excellent grades and a very good score on the entrance exam.  I finished my pre-req’s and applied April 1, 2011 for fall admission.  At the end of May 2011 I received notification that I hadn’t been accepted into the RN program but was offered a spot as an alternate to the LPN program.  To say I was disappointed would have been an understatement.  Going the RN route directly meant only 2 more years of school but starting in the LPN program and bridging to the RN program meant at least 3 years in front of me.  I got over the disappointment quickly and praised God for the opportunity to become a nurse, no matter the route it was going to take.

I started nursing school August 2011 and by the second day in I knew something wasn’t quite right.  I heard multiple students talking about their grades and I got the distinct impression something with my application hadn’t been figured right.  After two conversations with the Dean of Nursing it was discovered that a mistake had been made and I actually should be in the RN program.  There are no words for how excited I was and how extremely blessed I felt in that moment.

The feeling was short lived only because the reality of nursing school hit hard and fast.  Tests every week, lab check-offs every other session, and a constant fear of failure were my companions.  Getting through the first weeks felt like some kind of alternate boot camp where we had to leave who we thought we were behind and learn a whole new way of life.  Tests weren’t simple anymore.  There were questions with multiple correct answers but we had to know the MOST correct answer.  Yes, that’s right, the MOST correct answer.  It was like learning a foreign language that had multiple possibilities for one word but we had to make sure we knew the MOST right word.  Yep, like that.  The end of the first semester alone felt like a victory.  We had survived and we might actually get through this crazy thing.

Somehow three more semesters went by and I made it.  I passed every class, loved my clinicals, and made friends who I know I will have for a lifetime.  On May 17th I donned a cap and gown and joined my fellow graduates to celebrate our accomplishments.

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Graduation was one of the proudest times of my life.  I walked across the stage, was pinned as a nurse, and said the Nurse’s Pledge.  I had accomplished a major goal and it was a feeling of relief and pride.  But it wasn’t completely over yet.

To become a registered nurse you don’t just have to complete a program (diploma, ASN, or BSN) but you have to take a national exam to show that you are able to be a competent entry level nurse known at the NCLEX-RN.  The NCLEX was originally the “big test in the sky”.  In August 2011 it seemed like something that would never get here.  In May 2013 it seemed like the scariest prospect a nursing graduate can come up against.

The NCLEX is the road block between a graduate nurse and a licensed RN.  It costs $200 and it’s one of the most stressful and nerve racking things I’ve prepared for in all my life.  The last two years prepared me along with a live review and Kaplan course.  I studied for hours each day to try to prepare to pass a test that many people fail every day.  That’s a thought I tried my best to keep out of my head.

I scheduled my test for June 10th and told very few people about it to try to reduce the stress (yeah right!).  The test is only offered at certain testing centers so I made my appointment and Gabe and I stayed at a hotel the night before the exam.  I started my test at 7:40 a.m. and finished with the minimum number of questions (75) about 45 minutes later.  I walked out of the testing center at 8:30 a.m. feeling relief and fear of failure all at once.

Most people I know were finding out the next day whether they passed but it could be 48 hours before the quick results were ready.  I knew I had a wait ahead of me so I headed back to the hotel prepared to go to breakfast with Gabe and to fill the next day or two with distractions.

I started texting my classmates right away to let them know it was over and the wait had begun.  Less than 30 minutes later at a little before 9:00 a.m. one of my friends texted me to say my license number was already up on the state website.  It was official, I was an RN!!  I could have done a cartwheel, I was that excited.  It honestly didn’t seem real.  Everything I had done for four years was to make this happen and yet it didn’t seem possible when it actually happened.  I shared my news with the world and had so many congratulations it made me want to cry.  The support I had from Gabe, my family, my church, and my friends is truly what got me here.  I am a nurse and could not be more proud to be able to say that.

Now to find a job…

MedicalMonday

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Bad Ways to Fund a Holiday Party

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So I’ve been AWOL (I blame nursing school and that’s just the truth) but the holidays are upon us and it’s time for a few posts!!

Today there was an article written by the awesome Alison Green of Ask a Manager regarding holiday aggravations at work. Please go read it, it’s fabulous.

I have to write about this because I experienced #10 just last year. One year ago last week I was “laid off”, which basically means I was let go due to outsourcing and not for cause. They let go our entire transcription department, hiring one of the women for a new role but leaving the rest of us without a position at the hospital.

That was fine (a hardship but not a shock as we had a few months notice) until the first week in January when the hospital posted photos of their “holiday party”, which was a lavish, catered affair where awards were handed out. Now that was a slap in the face. We were all told about the hospital having financial issues and that they were outsourcing our department to save money. And then they spent umpteen thousand dollars on a holiday party.

So yeah, to all the companies out there thinking of doing this, it’s probably better NOT to post pictures of the event on Facebook. Unless slapping the laid of employees in the face is the point.

Breathe, Sometimes I Feel It’s All That I Can Do

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The title of this post is from a song that I love. MercyMe’s song “The Hurt and the Healer” talks about loss and not understanding. It talks about the only healing coming from the Lord. I believe in that from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I believe it because I have lived it.

Ten years ago today I lost my dad. He had struggled with kidney failure for 2.5 years but his death was very sudden. He succumbed to congestive heart failure, a complication of the kidney failure.

I was devastated. He was 46 and I was 22. I never expected to bury my dad before I had children, before he retired, before he got to finish living his life.

Following his death I went through a period of depression, which is normal but so very different than my everyday personality. I wasn’t sleeping and very little of life brought me joy at that time. I know without a shadow of a doubt that my faith brought me out of that time and helped me want to live life to the fullest again.

I still miss my dad every day. I look at my children and grieve because he would have loved them so very much. I know that they would have had a blast with their papaw Max and I hate that they have missed out on that.

One of my very best memories of my dad is on my wedding day. I have a picture* in our dining room of him walking me down the aisle.

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I love this picture. It really was a beautiful moment. I’m glad I have this but it’s another picture*, one that’s not in a frame, that truly captured the emotion of the day.

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I almost cry every time I see this photo. Our photographer somehow caught this moment, raw with emotion and so quickly fleeting. To others it might mean nothing more than an “ugly cry” in a picture. To me it means the world.

Our ceremony was over and we were greeting people. There was laughing and congratulations. It really was a happy time. When it was my dad’s turn he wrapped me up in his big arms and told me how much he loved me. He choked back tears and that’s all I could take. I cried as I hugged my dad, knowing he didn’t want to let his baby girl go. As he let go the photographer caught my face and a glimpse into a deeply personal moment between a father and daughter and for that I will forever be grateful.

Today, ten years after his loss, the breath still catches in my throat at times and I can’t believe so much time has passed since I saw him last. I still go to visit him but it’s here.

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I know this isn’t really where he is but the dad that I knew, the body that I hugged, is there. It gives me comfort when I know I can be just a little bit close to that body again.

I’m sad today and having a hard time but I’m thankful I had my dad for 22 years. He was a good man and a good dad. I love you dad.

*Please ignore the quality of the first two photos. I didn’t have the energy to scan them so I took a pic with my phone. I know it’s not the best but it’s what I could offer today.

The Mountains Look A Lot Higher From The Valleys

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Monday will mark the official start of my second year of nursing school.  I haven’t talked about it a lot here but I am currently in the middle of my Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) program.  One year left and I will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to officially become a registered nurse.

With less than a year left (really only NINE months – WOO HOO!) it actually feels like this goal is in sight.  The next two semesters are not going to be easy but it doesn’t feel as overwhelming as it did last year.

Last year it felt like I was flying blind and felt like I was learning a whole new language.  Now it feels like I have the basics and just have to build on them.  I was looking through my old notes (yes, I keep all my old notes and just about everything else and it drives my husband INSANE – love you babe!) this week and came across things I wrote down on the first day of class.

These may not mean anything to anyone else but to me these are a victory.  I have conquered APA style (I still don’t like it but I can ROCK it) and have no problem writing anything in this format.  I know what PPE (personal protective equipment) is, how to use it, how to remove it, and the rationale behind it.  ROM (range of motion) seemed scary and intimidating and now I could do ROM exercises on any patient that needed them.  I passed every “check off” (completing an assigned procedure in front of an instructor) on my first try and would feel comfortable trying anything from a catheter removal to starting an IV (I did get to do both by the second semester and couldn’t have been happier).

The first day of class felt like I was looking at a mountain that I might never get over.  It was intimidating and overwhelming.  Now I look back at how far I have come and I’m proud.  I can’t say that the mountain didn’t knock me down a few times (there have been very real breakdowns in the hallway after a test) and send me sliding down just when I thought I was making headway.  I can say that looking up the mountain doesn’t seem nearly as high and that I know I will make it to the summit before I know it.

If any new nursing students or prospective students come across this blog please keep your head up, even when you get knocked down a little, and know that if you keep going that you will have your victories too.

Friday Fire Up – Discipline

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Ever need something to get you motivated? Just speaking for me, I do ALL THE TIME. I wish I could say that I’m always motivated to do the things I need to do or live the healthy life I need to live, it’s just not always the case. That’s what Friday Fire Ups are going to be for!

I’ve always seen myself as someone that has had issues with discipline. I am faced with a temptation and my willpower falls. It’s frustrating and tiring. I don’t like it and I want something more.

Tonight I saw a quote that rocked my world.

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Could that be any more simple?? It’s not about giving something up and depriving myself, it’s about choosing what I want MOST.

I want to like myself more. I want to feel better, be healthier. I want to push past the voice that says to veg out and instead lace up my running shoes to help propel myself to my goals.

I’m done looking at what I want now and I’m ready to fight for what I want MOST!

Freedom of Expression

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Aren’t we all allowed to have an opinion, even if we don’t agree with each other?  Aren’t Americans still entitled to protection of free speech and expression?

I’ve avoided this topic on my blog because I try not to get too political in a public forum.  I don’t think it’s necessary and what it usually results in is miscommunication, arguments, and hurt feelings.  I don’t want that in any way.  I’m not going to get into the specifics of my beliefs regarding the topic I’m going to discuss.  I want to talk more about the generalities of how we treat each other, especially in the media and in social media outlets.

By now I can’t imagine any of you out there have missed the controversy stirred up by the CEO of Chick-fil-A and his comments on gay marriage.  Again, I’m not going to comment about that specifically here, as I have no desire to get into a debate about whether he was right or wrong.  What I care about is that he is entitled to his opinion.  He was asked a question and he answered honestly.  I know that’s not popular and I know that many people feel discriminated against because of his opinion, but we do live in a country that supposedly offers us the freedom of expression.

Social media and news outlets have made this controversy all the worse.  People are posting on Facebook and Twitter on one side or the other, often alienating their friends and hurting feelings.  I absolutely can see that when said in certain ways, expressing an opinion could be hurtful.  The problem is that I have seen some people simply agree or disagree only to be vilified online.  Why is it okay for someone to vilify their so-called “friend” but it’s not okay for that friend to have their own beliefs?

What made me want to write this post today was a news story I saw this morning.  CNN aired an interview with Sarah Palin regarding this controversy.  Honestly, I don’t care what Sarah Palin has to say, or very many people affiliated with news outlets for that matter.  I do care that CNN chose to play the song “Stupid Girls” by Pink* to lead in to the Sarah Palin segment.  I mean, really??!!  Isn’t this supposed to be a well-respected news outlet?  Now it’s reduced to playing “Stupid Girls” before a segment to disparage the person getting ready to speak?

I find this so disrespectful and discouraging.  Yes, people may be offended by her opinion but isn’t she entitled to it?  Please, let’s have a bit more respect for each other.  I may not agree 100% with everything every one of my friends agrees with or supports but I have enough respect for them to love and support them no matter what.  I read a quote recently, which I think I saw floating around Facebook, that says “your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does”.  I like this because while I have strong beliefs, if I don’t back them up with actions, then truly they mean nothing.  I also know that my beliefs mean very little if I don’t respect that other people have different beliefs, and are allowed to express them, than I do.  I’m pretty sure the people who wrote the amendment for freedom of expression would be a bit disappointed in the way we are treating each other these days.

*To be clear, I actually really like this song and am a fan of Pink.  I have the album and this song is currently on my iPod.  Just want to make sure no one thinks I have a beef with the song, which I don’t, only the context in which it was used.

Why The Radio Silence??

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I am looking down the barrel of final’s week and it is kicking my butt.  I am buried in things like this:

Chemistry.  Blech.  I absolutely hate chemistry.  I will try to avoid anything in my nursing career that makes me have to break things down to their molecular formulas.  I say that with all seriousness.

This is Med-Surg.  I think my binder may explode if I try to add anything more to it.  Each one of the things in that binder might possibly be on the final.  My head aches just thinking about it.

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My Pharmacology review.  These are the kinds of things I need to go over before Friday.  My eyes start to cross every time I look at these papers.  I do very much care about medications and knowing what they do so that I can be the best (and safest!) nurse possible for my patients one day.  I get a bit nauseous when I think about trying to get it all out on to a test paper though.

So this is what I have been doing and why I haven’t been giving this blog the proper attention.  Hopefully after this week I will be back and definitely getting ready for more summer fashions and fabulous deals!