Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Health Assessment Midterm Exam

Well, that was an interesting exam!

What a strange exam. We were told about the types of questions we'd encounter, so it wasn't a surprise, but actually writing it was a very odd experience.  An experience I best get used to, and quickly!

The exam was all multiple choice, but included in the answers, were several correct choices. It was up to us to choose the "most correct" choice of the correct choices (follow that???)

From what I understand, these are the types of questions we'll be asked when writing the CRNE, or the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination -- "the" exam we must write (and pass!) after four years of nursing school are finished. 

"The purpose of the CRNE is to protect the public by ensuring that the entry-level registered nurse possesses the competencies required to practise safely and effectively."

It is an exam that essentially tests us on everything we learned in nursing school. And even if someone graduates with honours from their BScN, if they don't pass this exam (which would be odd, I know, but I'm trying to make a point here!), they will not be licensed to practice in Canada.
No license = no work.

Getting back to yesterday's exam. There were enough "regular" questions on it (i.e. those with a clearly correct answer), that I know I did well enough on it. I think I was able to pick the 'best answer' for the more complicated ones, but until I see the results, I won't know for certain. What a strange feeling.

For the better part of yesterday, I found my mind wandering back to several of the questions that were particularly tricky, analysing the various answer options. And this morning, I am no further ahead in trying to figure out if I choose the right answer or not!

I think this type of exam will become easier, when we have actual EXPERIENCE.  It is one thing to learn about best-practice health assessment interview techniques from a textbook, and completely another to actually do it on real patients.  (Sim lab experience doesn't count for me in this case, as my partner and I are model patients with each other!!!)  

I best just focus on the next two upcoming exams, as those are ones I can still do something about. Yesterday's exam is over and done.

Pathophysiology, here I come...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Simulation Labs

Sim labs are great.

Every Friday we (finally!) get to wear our brand new scrubs and casually toss our Littmanns around our necks as we parade into the lab. We get to look like the medical professionals that we aspire to be...our reality is quite the opposite!

Honestly, I love simulation lab. I have a great lab partner, Z, who gives what she gets from me. We learn from each other, and we don't hesitate to give each other feedback. We each have three kids. I didn't mind her examining my post-kids abdomen. She rocks!

In the sim lab, we are now saying sentences to each other, sentences I never thought I'd be saying, like, "Of course you don't hear anything well through your stethoscope, Z, you've put it in your ears backwards!"

And I get it back from her, "Umm, Kate, I think percussing the dorsal chest means percuss my BACK, not my FRONT chest!" (OOPS, that was awkward!!!...and I've known the difference between dorsal and ventral/anterior and posterior, since high school...)

It is just suddenly so different when doing it in a (quasi)medical context.

All I can say is "thank goodness" we have this semester to practice on each other, and our new buddy SAM, the Student Ascultation Mannequin, before we're let loose on the unsuspecting public, when clinical rotations start in January!!!

Bring it on!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

First midterm exam

Last night I got to write my first mid-term exam for second year nursing school.

It was on "lifespan psychology", which, I must admit, is a course I am having trouble linking its real value, to nursing. I'm hoping it will get more interesting/useful as time goes on, but the first exam focused heavily on theories -- Piaget's theory, Erikson, Pavlov, Bronfenbrenner, Watson, Skinner, Bandura, and on and on....

There was also a large component on heredity and prenatal develpment. Both of those topics we covered in detail so great in last year's physiology classes, that it was amusing to listen to our prof, a newly-minted PhD in psychology, (who is apparently teaching his first course ever, based on his ego-laden lecturing approach...but I digress...), lecture us about neurotransmitters, neurons, axons and the like (this course is reserved for nursing students, so we all have the same background in physiology).  It was a repeat of high school biology class. 

I don't mean to complain, but frankly, I sincerely do hope it gets more useful and interesting.

Something happened to me as I sat down to write yesterday's exam.  Something that has never, ever, ever happened to me before (and this is my fourth university degree!)

I realized I had NOTHING to write the exam with.  Normally, I bring my backpack or computer case, which has loads of pens, pencils and erasers in it.  I'm the one who shares my pencils with others.  For the exam, however, I brought only my purse with me.

So last night, I sat there in the classroom, and my blood ran cold as I dug through my purse and realized it contained my wallet, my BlackBerry, my daughter's Epi-pen and two lollipops.  Nothing else!  I could not believe it.  Perhaps what I could not believe even more, was that that making sure I had a pencil with me hadn't even crossed my mind when I left the house!!!

Luckily two friends came through very quickly as I sheepishly voiced my need for a pencil.  But I just kept shaking my head in disbelief that I could come so unprepared like that to an exam.  After all the university exams I've written in my life, you'd think, just maybe, I'd know better.

It all ended well, and gave us a good laugh after the exam!

Onwards and upwards!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Medical "toys"

Toys are fun, and this doesn't just apply to kids!  In recent weeks, I've had the priviledge of buying some medical toys of my own. 

My first purchase was my stethoscope.  Much debate went into this, whether or not to get a simple "student model" basic stethoscope, or invest the money into the real thing.  On one hand, a basic model would probably suffice, given that we are starting from the basic level in our simulation labs (we're just allowed to practice on one another this term, and that is a very good thing...more about that soon!)  But I was also thinking that it's probably a good idea to have a good stethoscope in school, as this is the time to learn from our instructors as much as we can, and having the right tools is important. 

I talked to various nurses I know about it.  Again, the results spanned the spectrum of opinions.  Some people said that as nursing students, we just need stethoscopes to hear breath sounds, so we don't need a high quality one, while others stressed the importance of learning what we're listening for correctly, from the start. 

In the end, I decided I might as well invest in a good one now.  So I very happily brought home my "ceil blue" Littmann Classic II (for those of us who speak French, "ceil" is a typo -- it should be "ciel", which means "sky"). 

And that evening, everyone in my family got their heart beat and breath sounds listened to attentively, by a keen nursing student, who didn't really know what she was listening for...

The following week in simulation lab, we did blood pressures on one another.  Apparently I am somewhat of an "anti-talent" in finding the brachial artery, both by touch and hearing.  So off I went to get me my very own blood pressure cuff.  I am still working on saying the word, "sphygmomanometer" with a straight face and without stuttering too many "momamomoms" in it.  About half my simulation lab group was in the medical bookstore buying blood pressure cuffs, so that made me feel somewhat better, that we all need to practice. 

Finally, after last week's lab, I felt the need to have my very own penlight.  We had a lab on ear/nose/throat, and I have thoroughly inspected my lab partner's nose, probably like no one has inspected it before. 

I feel very professional now with my new medical equipment and scrubs.  Now we have to keep practicing and learning more, and by January, they'll let us out in the "real medical world".

Until then, my poor lab partner, husband and kids will continue to have their blood pressure taken regularly, and I'll practice whatever else the labs teach us to examine!!!