Monday, December 16, 2013

Medical Math!

Last week saw us facing two exams, on back to back days. The maternity/L&D exam went quite well, I think (I hope!). The ethics/professionalism/legalities was another reality.  It was awful. Simply awful. I'm hoping for the best, but was not pleased at all with that exam.

In theory, I had already passed the course going into that exam, given that 65% of the course was based on two major research papers. But that's definitely not the type of marks I get, so that is of little reassurance.  Hopefully I'll somehow still manage to pull of an A-, despite that exam.  But that's still frustrating knowing I had an A+ going into the final.  Still, I'd happily settle for an A-, given that awful exam. That's my hope, anyways....

The only exam still to do is 'med math' -- doing all kinds of math calculations based on children's weights, dosages ordered, dosages on hand, IV drip rates, medication reconstitution, and the like.  You get the idea. Its not difficult math, but its clearly of the utmost important to not make any careless mistakes.  Medication errors simply terrify me.

They say that every nurse makes some medication errors.  And they also say that if a nurse say's they've never made a med error, that's even scarier, because that person probably doesn't realize the errors he/she's made.  Yep - this is one aspect of nursing that terrifies me.

Here's a great site I've discovered to quiz myself on medication dosage calculations:

There are so many great resources out there.  Its quite the change from my previous degrees (says this dinosaur from prehistoric times, as my oldest kid like to tease me) -- students have it great these days.  I'm in awe of resources available today, and how profs all post their slides online before classes.  When I did my science degree way back, how I used to wish my profs could hand out their lecture slides and we could actually listen to the lecture instead of writing (with pen on paper!) like mad to try to capture the info in the slides.  Times certainly have changed, for the better.

I cannot believe we only have 3 semesters left.  That feels awesome.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Exams Start Tomorrow

Two exams are waiting for me, in the coming two days.  Maternity/L&D and a course about nursing ethics, professionalism and legalities of the profession.  Truth be told, the more I learn about the jurisprudence aspect of nursing, the more worried I get about the legal implications of doing something wrong -- not charting as accurately as I could, or whatever.  Scary stuff.

Anyhow, I'm here very briefly (OK, perhaps I'm procrastinating a wee bit), as a study break. I'm so happy that after this Christmas, there will only be one more pre-Christmas preparation time that nursing school basically ruins (until I start my Nurse Practitioner schooling, that is!).  I'm so stressed about Christmas, its just not right.  But I'll worry about that after Thursday's exam.

To those of you who read this blog and who actually know me in person -- I'm tellin' ya now that my Christmas cards will be l-a-t-e this year.  Maybe they'll be New Year's cards...

OK. Back to the books.  I just want these exams over and done with.  3 more terms to go!!!

It's almost over.  We can all do this.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Less than 500 days to go

That may seem like a huge number to some, but when I first figured out how to put a countdown clock item to my blog, the number was just over 900 days.  And honestly, that doesn't feel like it was that long ago.

There is one more week of school left, and this term is finished. 

That means that after next week, three terms remain.  In more concrete numbers, that means only 36 more weeks of classes.  36 weeks of education stand between me and being allowed to say, "I'm a nurse."  Its scary to think of how much I still have to learn, and how little time is left.

Nursing school gives you the basics to go start your practice.  Reality will be very different, and truly becoming a nurse comes over time with experience.  I imagine the first couple years out of school will be THE biggest learning curve of my working life, and probably the most stressful too. 

I have two more shifts this weekend -- my last two in L&D.  How I'm going to miss that!!!  Next term will be mental health and a rotation on an adult medical floor.  Meh.  I'm open to every experience and hope to get the most out of both rotations, but I know that those areas of nursing are not for me.  Kids and babies and labouring moms are my nursing niche.  :-)

Back to reality.  I have a presentation to draft now and to give next week.  I've got to focus on the 'here and now', so I can actually carry on to the next three terms, and not just think about them!

This has been (well, still is), one of the busiest 12 weeks of my life.  It's almost over, and I'm still smiling (most days, anyways!)  Lol!!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Another great delivery!!!

Wowie!!!  I had another fantastic shift in the birthing unit last night.  I left the hospital after midnight, and practically floated home.  I learned SO much yesterday about fetal monitoring, reading the heart-rate strips, re-positioning baby inside by mom changing positions, about adjusting epidurals and Pitocin drips, about dealing with labouring moms who aren't the most engaged in the labouring process (puts my first-career diplomacy skills to good use!!!  Looks like that's a 'transferrable skill' I'll be using often as a nurse!). 

And I also learned how much I still need to learn.  I mean I totally realize that nursing school can only teach us so much -- the basics, so to speak.  But real life work experience in the first couple years out of nursing school are going to be a learning curve all of their own. 

Bring it on, I say!  One step at a time.

And thank you to for the following laugh, which exactly sums up how I feel in clinicals.  And apparently that tome is just Volume 1! : 

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Thong underwear???

I'm working on the post-partum unit these days.  I was shocked to see someone had brought thong underwear to wear.  And this was not a first-time mom -- that I could understand not knowing exactly what's involved in the post-partum period.  I mean, the pads the women need are approx. 40 cm long and about 15 cm wide.  They're huge.  Thongs barely hold those mega-pads in place.

To each their own.  I'm not here to judge anyone.  (But I can shake my head in!)

Off to the birthing unit for a shift today!!!  I l.o.v.e working in labour & delivery.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thalasso Bain Bébé Jumeaux - Twin Baby Bath

Last year, I posted a video of the Thalasso Bain baby bath. 

It is a type of newborn bath performed by a nurse in France, Mme Sonia Rochel.  It was a beautifully done video, set to soothing music, and it showed the baby enraptured by the experience.  The viewer could also not help but be enraptured by the video.   

Now, another video is making the Internet rounds, produced by the same French nurse.  This time, it is twins who are enjoying their Thalasso Bain.  I loved this video too, so I also have to share it here.

Maybe one day I'll have the privilege to have the chance to learn to perform such baby baths.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fun Nursing Links

OK -- time to lighten up a bit.  I've noticed how serious I'm getting, as the stress of what is third year nursing school drags on.  I knew this would be one of the toughest years of my student life -- and its living up to expectations.  Luckily its also been one of the most interesting and rewarding semesters of my student life, and even more luckily, the end is coming into sight for this semester.  Yay!

So, on a lighter note, I wish to add two links to some sites I check regularly.  They never fail to bring at least a smile to my face, if not actually a "lol". 

I've got two weekend shifts waiting for me on labour & delivery (double yey!!!) and a maternity midterm exam on Monday morning.  So guess what my focus is during every spare moment until Monday morning...

Enjoy!  (I'll be sharing the latest post, "So, You're Married to a Nurse" with my will be required reading for him!)  (BTW -- that title refers to the nurses adventures in post partum nursing -- that type of "babeland"...the real thing, not the other "babe" type...This site has not been updated in eons, but the clips in the archives are good.)

Its always good to have a laugh.  :-)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Poor, neglected blog (and my first birth!!!)

Third year nursing school feels a lot like the early days of parenthood.  Bringing a newborn home makes for very, very long days (and nights), yet suddenly another week or month have flown by. At times, it seems to be getting through each moment as it comes.  Basically, that's what this year at school feels like, most of the time.

There are so many deadlines, so many individual items to keep track of.  Somehow they all get done on time, but its a constant scramble.  I can honestly say that I am so looking forward to finishing school, and getting back to a more 'normal' life.  Life that simply involves work and personal life. No extra scholarly papers hanging over my head, no quizzes, no writing and meeting clinical objectives, no lab exams, no exams.  There are 40 more weeks of this life to get through.  The end is starting to be in sight, yet in the meantime, the mad rush continues.

On the (very!) bright side, I assisted in my first delivery.  It was an incredible experience.  The mom already had several children, so having another baby was definitely not a new experience for her.  She didn't use any pain medication, so the stages of labour were 'textbook' to watch -- transition was so evident that even I, attending my first delivery, knew exactly what was happening. 

The baby came out with one push.  It was almost anti-climatic, given how fast it happened.  One moment she's sitting calmly and quietly, then she has a few severely painful contractions where its clear she's pushing, yet there's no evidence of baby being close to delivery, then one more push where its clear the baby is just inside and next thing, the head is out and the rest of the little body. 

It happened all so fast, that the nurse I was with delivered the baby. The resident and the medical students all ran in en-masse, but it was all over. Baby was on momma, they clamped and cut the cord, did a very basic assessment, there was no laceration so no need for any more medical interventions, and they all disappeared seemingly as quickly as they appeared.  Then momma put baby to her breast, and just like that, it was all over. Assessments continued, yes, but the room was calm and serene and peaceful once again.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

L&D Clinical Rotation Starts Today!!!!!!!!!

Today will be my first shift in Labour & Delivery.  At the same hospital where I gave birth to all my children, and the same hospital where I let nursing students examine me as part of their post-partum assessment skills. 

Its the same hospital where I told the clinical instructor, that I so wished I could switch careers and go to nursing school.  She didn't hesitate when encouraging me to do so.  And here I am, today, at that very same nursing school, being the nursing student, and not the new mom. 

I have so long dreamed of being a nurse, and for the past decade or so, its specifically been a L&D nurse I've dreamed of being.

Today, it feels like its come full-circle, and I get to start my training as a L&D nurse.  Pediatrics still has an extremely strong grasp on me, and I know I need to work in that specialization, but I know I'll also love L&D with my whole heart too. 

I'll need to find a way to combine the two areas.  I'll work on that later.

Today, I'm going to Labour & Delivery, and I'm not having contractions!!!  ;-)

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be living this dream.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Another Research Paper...

So a grey and rainy Hallowe'en Day finds me slogging away at yet another research paper.  This is my fourth so-called "scholarly" paper thus far in nursing school.  I imagine there will be at least a couple more to go, in the coming three semesters.  Bleah.

Its funny, this is one aspect that didn't even cross my mind when thinking about nursing school.  Rather, nursing school was all about anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and clinical rotations.  And I find myself writing scholarly prose about "delegation" -- fully referenced, of course. 

I get the importance of having nurses how are critical thinkers, who are aware of and able to analyze and discuss ethical issues.  I truly get it.  It is important, and I actually enjoy learning about it.  The writing of research papers, well, there's not so much enjoyment there, to say the least.

I've already earned a Master of Arts degree.  I've done a MA thesis.  I think I've proven myself that I can write and research academic papers.  My first career specialized in communications.  I wrote many, many press releases, backgrounders and statements for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and a few even for our Prime Minister.  Yes, I can write -- that's proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Yet here I am, seemingly in a time-warp back in time, researching and writing a Bachelor's level research paper.  If I had to list a few negatives about being a 'mature student' or 'second career student' -- this would rank high on that list.

But I've never taken 'ethics in nursing' courses before, and writing these papers is part of the requirements.  Even with my previous education and experience, I can't see how they'd credit me by exempting the research papers.  That's just not how it works.  I get it.  That's OK.  It just doesn't make the task of actually writing the papers any easier or enjoyable.

Time to get back to my draft.  Its good to vent sometimes.  I'll probably be checking back in with another research paper-related vent next semester.

On a totally different (read: positive!) note -- my Labour & Delivery clinical rotation begins this weekend!!!!  That still feels completely surreal.  I am so excited about that.  This is truly a dream come true.  L&D was "the" specialty that tugged at me the most, in all those years trying to gather up the guts to quit my first career and launch into nursing.  Now, pediatrics seems to have me under its spell, but I'll wait and see what L&D is truly like.  If I could just somehow combine the two areas in my future work as a nurse...

Now, just a completed draft research paper standing between me and my dream clinical rotation!!! (That's a self-imposed deadline -- gotta try to motivate myself any way I can to get through the less appealing bits!)

Keep smiling!!!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Last Pediatrics Shift Today

It was the best of times....yes, it truly was the best of times, these past two months.  Especially over this past weekend.  I had a day shift for both weekend days.  I had the same two patients.  They bonded with me and I could see an improvement in each of them.

One patient was at the end of his antibiotic treatment, and was a lot of fun today.  Yesterday, he was more distant and not really wanting to interact much with me.  Today, I pulled out my flashlight to get a better look at his IV site, (because he wasn't too keen to show it to me, and I didn't like the look of the colour, and didn't know if it was just a shadow or something more ominous), and that made all the difference in the world.  The flashlight had to examine each of his fingers, individually, and then his toes.  We had to count, to make sure he had all his fingers and toes, and we even checked to make sure he had his bellybutton.  My goodness, I love working in pediatrics sooooo much.  The kids are truly so much fun to be around and to work with. 

Even the sicker teenagers who are in pain, and their families present at their bedsides -- I just find a way to connect with them all.  Its such a heartfelt, sincere joy to be able to do so.  If any 'veteran' nurses are reading this, they may well be rolling their eyes.  But, I'm coming from a first career in the government that was definitely NOT based on human interaction and compassion -- being able to connect with people in this way, in the context of my work, truly means the world to me.

My other patient today was a little baby, whom I got some genuine smiles from today.  I got to sit in a rocking chair, give her her bottle, and softly sing to her.  My clinical instructor kept mentioning, yesterday and today, how much she seemed to like me and be so comfortable with me and not fussing too much.  It felt incredible.  I did something genuinely useful today (-- a feeling that I never had in my first career!)

A few years ago, I'd sit in my government office and watch a certain commercial on TV, from an American pharmaceutical company (I was in communications, so I always had a TV in my office).  It showed a male nurse giving an injection to a what looked like a pediatric cancer patient, and he sang a song with her as he gave her the injection, to distract her from the pain.  I would sit there in my office, with tears welling up in my eyes, as I so much wanted to be a nurse and to be in a position to do rewarding work like that.  Yes, I'm a realist, I know every day is not like that and that every shift will bring difficulties, challenges, stresses, and yes, even joys.  Well today -- I was that nurse in the commercial.  I practically had tears welling up in my eyes, to know that I'd had the courage to leave something financially secure yet that gave me zero career satisfaction and that didn't use a fraction of my personal talents that I have to offer, and go to nursing school.

Today totally validated any and every insecurity and worry that I had about my mid-life career transition.  It was scary as hell, yes.  But so incredibly rewarding in the long run. 

I love pediatrics, and was none too pleased when I had to turn in my badge today, at the end of my shift.  Next week, I start my maternity rotation.  I am very much looking forward to that too, yes, but I simply cannot wait until I can get back into my beloved children's hospital and continue my pediatrics specialization. 

Life. Is. Great.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mini Break

We had a very short fall break this week.  Normally, its a full week off, but at least I got two days off from classes, plus Thanksgiving Monday, which is a national holiday here in Canada. 

I have my last two pediatric clinical shifts lined up for Saturday and Sunday.  Then I have to hand in my "nursing student" ID badge at the children's hospital (sniff!!!).  But I'll be back.

Truth be told, I am very sad to be leaving the children's hospital, but I'm also very much looking forward to doing the maternity/L&D clinical rotation that starts next week.  It was L&D that I was totally focused on as a specialty, when starting nursing school (and for many years before starting nursing school!).  Pediatrics may have derailed those plans, but honestly, I'm still very, very much looking forward to the maternity rotation.  It will be incredible.  Who knows, its maybe still a toss up between pediatrics and maternity.  I need a way to find out how to do both....

In the meantime, I have to concentrate on the here and now.  Our school has "intensive" courses, meaning we cram an entire semester into half a semester, by focusing only on one subject.  Its great to be able to have complete focus on pediatrics, but it also means I have a final exam looming next week, in the middle of the semester.  I still have so much studying to do to prepare for that.  It truly seem surreal to be studying for a final exam in the middle of October...but it is what it is.

Gotta get back to the books.  The weekend will be busy with shifts and my own kids.  This whole nursing school experience is forcing me to better manage what precious little free time I do have.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

5 more pediatric shifts

A well-deserved break is almost upon us, and it is desperately needed.  I'd mentioned before how much I had been dreading third year of nursing school, and now I'm in the thick of things.  I must admit, however, that all in all, its not quite as difficult as I'd anticipated (it never usually is!)

It is so busy -- there is always something to hand in, to prepare for or to be tested on.  That part is relentless, and we have to be vigilant and help each other remember all the details.  But it's certainly doable.  And the amount I've learned is staggering -- particularly during the clinical shifts.

Here in Canada we have our Thanksgiving weekend in October, so that is the reason for the little break ahead of us.  And combined with that long weekend, we also have two days of no classes.  So its just clinical shifts for the next week.  Oh, plus a ton of studying for the final pediatrics exam that is looming on the horizon...

I am so looking forward to having a bit of downtime to have time to play with my kids, enjoy cooking meals (instead of just getting them ready asap!) and hopefully getting outside a bit too into nature.  The fall colours are hitting their prime, and the weather forecast is simply beautiful for the coming long weekend.  We've gotta get out there and enjoy the moment.  Winter is just around the corner...

My pediatric care plan is finished -- that is due this afternoon.  I will re-read it and tweak it a bit more this morning, and go for a run.  I have three shifts in the next four days, so running is helping keep my sanity.  When you find something that works, use it!  :-)

I want to write more about the clinical rotations, but that will have to wait until next time.  They've been such interesting experiences, and my patients at the children's hospital have ranged from 21 days to 17 years, from failure-to-thrive to a skull fracture.  There's never a dull moment.  Sometimes I wonder how I'll ever learn everything I need to in the next 18 months -- there's just so much to learn.  But that will all come over time, I am certain. 

I honestly don't want this clinical rotation to end -- I don't want to leave pediatrics -- I've found my nursing niche. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!  I am so blessed in so many ways, and so very grateful for everything.

Future-nurse Kate

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sim Lab

We had our first real simulation lab experience yesterday, with a baby Sim named Emma.

She was breathing, had O2 sats, respirations, had a post-op club foot, and even cried.  It was almost eerie how real she was, yet so obviously made from plastic. 

In next week's lab we'll be video taped as we do our assessments and care, and then we get to watch it and analyze it.  Oh yay.  I can "hardly" wait to see that video...sigh...

I remember once in my first career when I was video taped, in a media course.  In was a course in how to handle the media (like that's possible!).  The trainers set up a fake scrum situation, and we were in the middle of a throng of reporters fielding questions.

I handled the media part way better than I expected -- in fact I thought I looked very professional and calm and in control -- which was the opposite of how I was feeling inside.  So that was reassuring and has transposed to other situations in my career. 

But, the one thing that stood out in that media training video was my need for a new hairstyle -- or simply a hairstyle!  I remember calling my hubby and saying I was going to be later coming home that night, because I was stopping at the hairdressers for a haircut!  It's funny the things one learns from video...sometimes totally unrelated to the topic at hand.

And I should add, then next time I had a training session with a video component, I made sure to put on my best power suit, take time with my hair and do good make up.  And I looked great on that video (if I can say so myself!).

In next week's video, it'll be back to make up, scrubs and hair pulled back in a ponytail.  I'll have to do extra well on my nursing skills to try and overlook how I actually look!

Life goes on.  It'll be fine.  And can I repeat once again, how much I love being in nursing school and launching a new career?!?!?  :-)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mid-term happy dance!!!

So after reading about 400 pages of pediatric textbook over the weekend, listening to recorded lectures and reviewing slides.....I managed to retain enough info to score an 88% on my pediatric midterm. 

We had one quiz to do in peds, which focused on the topics covered in today's exam.  It was a good review, of sorts.  I scored an 88% on that 'preview/review' quiz too -- apparently my learning is very consistent!  Lol.  I like consistent, especially with it involves good results. 

Wahoo!!!  The old brain still works!!!

What a relief.  These "pick the most appropriate answer" questions are going to be OK.  I really didn't know what to think of them initially, but I seem to be "getting" them just fine.

What a relief.  A huge, blessed relief.  Big sigh.

Now I can turn to the other 15 nursing school items/deadlines breathing down my

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Still smiling

Yes, still smiling (although I thought I was starting to drool a few days ago...scroll down and look at the cartoon from a few days ago, if you have no idea what I'm talking about!)

After a few days of nervous waiting, I did find a "S" beside my name, as in a "satisfactory" result for my practical lab exam.  WHEW.  That's one less thing to worry about.

Tomorrow I have my first midterm exam.  The school has condensed learning experiences, so we basically cram all the information in one semester into a half semester, so everything is sooner.  The midterm exam is tomorrow, and the final will be in mid-October.  Then pediatrics is finished, and we move on to maternity.  I like that its so focused and concentrated, but wow, is it ever a lot of work and clinical shifts.

Speaking of clinical shifts, I had t-h-e best pediatric shift ever, on Friday.  Not that I did anything more complicated, it was a difference in my approach and confidence.  I felt that I almost knew what was going on in the unit, where the important stuff was, how to work the monitors and other various equipment and stuff like that.  It was almost a day-night difference in my approach. 

The 8 hours flew by, and before I knew it, I had to leave.  I didn't want to.  But I did, with a bounce in my step, a huge smile on my face, and a feeling of accomplishment and having done something useful, like never once in my first career.  This is a sign of things to come for the rest of my career.  I am thrilled.  I got home, chatted with my son, got laundry (scrubs!) going and went for a run...all that after I'd been awake since 4:45 am...and I am NOT a morning person.  Incredible.

But back to the academic reality now.  Apart from my exam tomorrow, I also have to do a pediatrics quiz that is part of my final mark, prepare for an upcoming lab for Tuesday, but the quiz for that prep needs to be done today, try to start my care plan, prepare a brief talk on complementary therapies for Tuesday morning and keep working on my ethical dilemma paper.  Did I mention that this is a busy year???  Last night I was feeling a bit sorry for myself with all this work on my shoulders, when I could have just simply stayed in my first career, and had weekends mostly free.  But then I just thought about Friday's great shift, and its all worth it.  I am ready for school to be over, but it is worth it...and school cannot be over yet, as I still have so much to learn!!!

To top it off, my hubby is away this weekend, which leaves me as the parent in charge of the kids all weekend.  It is such a beautiful fall weekend, sunny skies and warm temperatures -- the kinds of weekend that literally begs you to spend it outside.  But here I am, nose mostly in a book and the kids mostly entertaining themselves.  They're such great kids -- they built a huge fort yesterday and did various crafts in it.  Now they are "helping" me by watching TV -- they are more than happy to help me that way!  Lol!!!

OK, back to the books...this too shall pass...


Thursday, September 26, 2013

In a holding pattern

Yes, life feels 'on hold' as I nervously await the results of Tuesday's lab exam.  I don't think I've ever been so nervous before an exam before. 

I arrived at the exam location 15 minutes early, in case they were running early with the testing.  They weren't.  They were running late.  So I had to sit there for 45 minutes, until my turn was called.  In those 45 minutes, I took in everyone's angst, stress, worries, hearing parts of procedures I'd never heard about before, and people insisting their instructors had told them that was part of the procedure, people saying they were about to throw up from nerves, etc. etc.  It was nuts.  Yet, I had to choice but to stay there and wait my turn.

All that nervous energy was absorbed into my body, and added to the nerves I already had going in for my test.  It was simply awful.  I couldn't focus on reading the doctor's order, I couldn't think clearly, I couldn't get myself started doing the procedure.  I did pull myself together, and once I started talking, it got better.  I also was able to backtrack verbally, and identify a few aspects that I missed during my awful start to the test.  Luckily, that backtracking was allowed, and I believe it earned me more points.

The question remains, did I get enough points to pass.  It certainly wasn't elegant, but I think I may have covered all the key bases in the end.  I hope.  I so hope. 

If not, there will be a re-test lab exam next week -- one more shot -- otherwise we're out of the pediatric clinical rotation.  I can't even let my mind go never, ever crossed my mind that I would not complete this nursing program, when I was deciding to leave my first career.

So for today, I obsessively check my school email account.  If there is no email, that is good news.  If there is one, that means I didn't pass the lab exam, and instructions will be sent to when/where the re-test will take place.

I have never so hoped to NOT see an email in my inbox before!!!

Just trying to breathe and concentrate on the dozen other things I need to do for nursing school right now.  My first mid-term exam in pediatrics in on Monday, and that in itself is overwhelming in how much material we need to prepare. 

So hoping NOT to see an email from my prof today.....

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A new day, a new perspective

Sometimes just a day or two can make a world of difference, in one's outlook.

I had my first 'real' peds shift yesterday -- 'real' in the sense that I was actually assigned a patient to care for, not just a buddy shift like my first one, where I just shadowed a nurse.

I had the cutest, sweetest 4 month old baby to care for.  He cooed and gurgled and smiled at me...and it seemed that his cooing was the loudest when I was trying to ascultate his chest.  What a sweetie.

I even got to accompany a nurse and patient to the diagnostic imaging centre, where I watched a technician do an ultrasound of the head, through the fontanels.  She asked if I was a nursing student, and then proceeded to explain all the brain anatomy that we were seeing, as she did the scan.  We watched arteries pulsating, and she made the machine show arterial and venous flow.  It was surreal.  My textbook learning from anatomy/physiology classes came to life, in front of my eyes.

And even though I'm still fighting off this nasty head cold, I made myself exercise.  I love to run, but was not motivated lately, for being so busy and feeling so crappy.  So I told myself on Friday, after writing my blog post, that I was going to at least go for a walk, if not a run.  Off I went, and I actually did a short, easy run of just a few km. 

Yesterday was busy, with school work in the morning, my daughter's birthday party at noon and then an evening shift 3-11 there was no time to exercise.

But today I just finished another short run, and yes, I feel good.

Off to do some house-related stuff, and then get ready for today's evening shift.

I should also add, at one point during last night's shift, as I was ascultating the baby's chest and doing vitals, and he's full-out happily cooing and smiling and interacting with me, I thought to myself, this is my future work environment.  No, it won't always be that pleasant and wonderful, but at times, it definitely will be...and that is something I would NEVER have had in my first career. 

It felt so great.  I felt so thoroughly happy and content.  And that alone, made me realize that all the angst and worries about leaving my first career were for naught.  This was definitely the right decision and the right change.  There are sacrifices in the short term while I go to nursing school, but the long term benefits far outweigh any and all sacrifices.

Now I just need to remind myself of that the next time I'm feeling almost overwhelmed, which may be as soon as tomorrow...  Lol!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Tired, sick, scared and (almost) overwhelmed

Yes, that sums up my state right now. 

My 'groove' that I was starting to get back into a few days ago, described in my last post, has vanished (again).

I just cannot seem to shake this stupid head/chest cold.  Two of my kids also have it, and I think their virus is a bit different than the one that floored me last I'm probably fighting off that one too. 

I have a foggy head and almost no energy, and the work continues to pile up around me and deadlines are fast approaching.  Yesterday, I spent almost the entire workday on a pre-prep assignment for my next clinical shift, which is Saturday.  Without a head cold, it probably would have taken me a couple hours to complete.  With foggy-brain, it took about six hours to do.  So frustrating!!!

And speaking of my second pediatrics shift tomorrow...I was so looking forward to it, until I heard the experiences of a different group of students who had their second clinical shift last weekend.  O.M.G.  It was an awful experience as they described it, with the nurses they were assigned to treating them in ways that'd I'd only read about up to now.  And the kicker is, they were on the same unit I'm assigned to, for the coming weekend.  So now I'm scared and worried about what the weekend holds, instead of eagerly anticipating it.

I realize full well there's all kinds of colleagues and people in the world, and one needs to learn how to work alongside all types of people.  I'm not naïve.  I've been in the workforce already for over a decade.  I get it.  But when you're placed in such a vulnerable position of having to do medical procedures for the first time on real people -- not just people, but TINY babies -- its scary.  And the population you're working with and on is also vulnerable -- babies and scared/tired parents.  Of all the workplace situations, that is NOT the place to have a toxic work experience. 

If I ever get through this program, I will do my best to mentor and teach students assigned to me on my shift. 

Big 'if', right now.  If I could just shake this virus finally, and get my energy back, my outlook and work capacity would be so much better.  This is only week three....

I've got to somehow get it together, and plow through all the work that is facing me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Getting into a groove (finally!)

I've dreaded third year of nursing school, loooong before I even applied to nursing school.  Seriously.

When researching (dreaming!) about doing the nursing program, I thoroughly checked out the university's website that gave all the information about the nursing program - year by year.

And third year looked simply horrific.  Lots of clinical shifts, labs, classes, tutorials and small group work.  And all at once.  Oh yeah -- not to mention actually studying and reading and doing assignments and scholarly papers and care plans and preparing drug cards.  I'm sure I'm missing stuff. 

Well, guess what.  My take on third year was not exaggerated.  It is horrific, in terms of workload and pace the classes go at.  However, it is also the most exciting and thrilling year of university I've ever done (and I've done a "few" years (and degrees) already, before nursing school!).

But to be honest, it is almost overwhelming.  Factor in the kids' homework and activities, and the day to day business of having a household to look after, and add in some early head cold viruses that are making the rounds in my family, and yes, it feels almost overwhelming.

In a small group yesterday, I mentioned that its only been two weeks of classes, but it truly feels like two months have elapsed.  My prof really seemed to like/agree with that statement, and she brought it up in the larger class discussion today during our peds lecture -- in a little speech of encouragement.

Its important to try to focus on the day-to-day work, and the week ahead.  If I do that, then I feel like I can actually get through this year.  Clearly, many others have gotten through, so obviously I can too.  Its just a question of getting the work done, and not looking too far ahead. 

I'm finally starting to feel almost normal again, after a horrible head cold.  Saturday was a complete write-off in terms of getting my work done -- zero energy, chills, sore throat, ear and head.  Now its spread to my kids, but at least I seem to be getting my groove back.

Yes, its taken two weeks, but I'm FINALLY starting to feel like I've got my feet under me again, and settling into a good school groove...even if it third year.  They tell us that third is THE toughest year.  Fourth year is somehow easier.  I guess that we'll have all the clinical experiences from this year to help bolster our confidence and make fourth year a bit better.  There'll be less classes and different clinicals too, as we focus on our consolidation/specialization.

OK, Kate, pull yourself back to third year.  I have to get through third year before I can think about fourth (and final!) year.

We'll get through this. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

First Pediatric Clinical Shift

Well, the orientation day was very long, very formal and made for a very long day...but today's clinical shift was incredible.  I got to do a few simple procedures, learned how to use the electronic charting system and was totally overwhelmed at times at the pace of things happening in the unit.

In a nutshell, I didn't want to leave the floor at the end of the shift. 

And I walked out of that hospital with a huge smile on my face.  For the first time in my working life, I felt like I'd done something useful today.

There is a huge learning curve ahead of me, but wow, this work is incredible.

Yeah, I didn't want to leave. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pediatrics Orientation Today!

Yes, today I have my long-awaited pediatrics orientation, at the children's hospital.  More to follow, but I just wanted to document how exciting and still somewhat surreal this feels.

I think I now truly understand the expression:

"This is the first day of the rest of your life."
Gotta run!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

First weekend

All I can say, is that week one was only three days long, and yet it felt like one of the longest weeks of my life.

I am now catching up on my work, on the first weekend!  I have 5 quizzes that need to be done for labs, and a medical math calculation assignment that needs doing.  

I knew this year was going to be intense.  Maybe I just figured it would ramp up gradually....

My goal is to finish the math assignment and prepare for at least some of the quizzes, before I actually do them online. 

On the bright side, we learned about IV pumps yesterday.  My biggest fear is that I'll somehow accidentally hurt/kill someone on my clinical rotation with a medication error.  I'll be asking all kinds of questions and doing only procedures we've learned in lab, but I still have this fear in the back of my mind.

Anyhow, we learned that the IV pumps they use at the children's hospital where I'll be doing my clinical shifts, are basically idiot-proof.  If you follow all the prompts, the chances of doing some damage to someone are extremely minimal....unless you decide to over-ride the prompts.  I don't think I'll over-ride any prompt probably in my first decade of nursing, just to be on the safe side.

So at least that's a bit of reassurance.  ;-)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First lab day - year 3

Oh. My. Goodness.

I simply cannot believe how much I've forgotten over the summer. 

Yesterday we were informed that we had to read about 200 pages to prep for today's lab.  I got through most of them, but do admit to skimming the last 50 or so.  We reviewed in class the various types of injections, and head-to-toe assessments.

Then we had to write a brief nursing narrative of a particular case.  Do you think any of the appropriate terminology was coming to mind as I stared at the blank sheet of paper???  In April, a mere few months ago, I was starting to feel I actually sounded a bit like a medical professional.  Today, nil.  Nothing.  Hopefully that will come back quickly.  I felt like I was a 5 year old writing a nursing note.  How embarrassing! 

We use mannequins ("dummies"!) in the lab, and they are so realistic, I can hardly believe it.  They have a pulse, we can take their BP, we can listen to their breathing and various breath sounds and crackles and the like.

At one point today, I was listening to the heart of a simulation baby.  I have 3 kids, and have listened to their hearts even as babies.  A lot.  Yes, I had a stethoscope for many (many!) years before finally getting my courage up and going to nursing school.  So all that to say, I have listened to many baby hearts.

Today in lab, when I was listening to the sim baby, had my eyes been closed and I didn't know it was a sim dummy, I would have sworn it was a real heart I was listening to.  It was incredible.

We were told they also have a circulatory system on one side where we can practice inserting IVs....that is on tomorrow morning's agenda. 

It is still very overwhelming in figuring out due dates for quizzes and assignments, and doing the readings.  However, I am beyond thrilled to be in third year nursing school.

Our clinical rotations start next week, and I'm assigned to a floor where 0-4 year olds are looked after.  I got the "baby" floor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Then for the next clinical rotation I got placed on the L&D floor that I have long dreamed to working on.  Seriously, how did I get this lucky???

Back to my reading and preparation for tomorrow morning.  It's only been 2 days, but I cannot wait for the weekend to catch up on everything.

Yes, they warned us this would be an intense year.  They were not exaggerating.  Lol!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day One, Year Three

OK, now we are officially more than half way done our nursing program!  Today was the official half-way mark, and its over, so we're technically more than half-way done. (I'll take what I can get!)

We had our "intro to 3rd year" orientation, where we met up with classmates after the l-o-n-g summer break, and met our profs, clinical and lab instructors for the coming year. 

Even though I had the usual "butterflies" while getting ready this morning, it was more a reunion of sorts.  The first familiar person I happened to see was my best nursing school pal, Z, and so that was the perfect way to start the year.  So many hugs were exchanged with so many people -- it simply felt great to be back. 

We had the usual presentations about being organized, staying on top of your readings, the plagiarism policy, etc. etc.  But some questions about schedules and classes and the like got sorted out.  And frankly, it simply felt so good to be there, and just feel the positive (and nervous!) energy of the room. 

It seems the clinical rotations are going to be fantastic.  I cannot wait to learn from them, and to see how we grow and develop into quasi-nurses, and not just students who are studying nursing. 

I am so looking forward to jumping into this semester with both feet.  I must go look at my school's website, as we were told there are already items posted there that we need to prep for tomorrow morning's lab orientation.  And my daughter starts her piano lessons tonight.  Another one starts dance classes.  Factor in the Scouts for my son, and Guides and Brownies.  And downhill skiing for the family.  Ah, I'm sure homework will factor in there somewhere too....

Yes, school/activities/homework/LIFE as we know it, has truly re-started again after the summer break.

Bring it on.  This year is going to be g-r-e-a-t!!!!!!!  This is going to be fun.  Busy, but fun.

Life is good.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Year 3 starts tomorrow!

The kids went back to school this morning.  I am feeling out of sorts having them gone.  It was a busy, fun, truly great summer.  And suddenly its over. 

Maybe I was in denial about school starting up again, as I've never been so unprepared for the start of the school year, as I was this year.  My middle child and I were at a couple stores late on Sunday evening, trying to scrounge up duotangs and glue sticks and pencil cases.  We did find some though, and most everything got organized in time.

My first orientation is tomorrow, when apparently the university will clarify everything for me.  I must admit, I think I was born under an unlucky star, when it comes to administrative stuff.  If something can go wrong in paperwork, sign up, basically any kind of administrative role, there's almost a guarantee that it'll go wrong with me.

My school's website tell me that I'm doing my paediatrics rotation first, followed by the maternity/L&D rotation.  The charts clearly show when my paediatrics lab orientation is, later this week, as well as my placement at the children's hospital, along with all my shifts.  That's great, I've made a calendar for myself with everything organized and clear.

Then I get emails from clinical instructors -- three different instructors, to be precise, who are all telling me when and where to report for my L&D rotation (the one I'm supposed to start at the end of October, and the one I don't have any labs scheduled for until again, the end of October). 

And not only did I receive information from three different instructors for the same clinical rotation, I've been told to report to two different hospitals for the same rotation!!!!  Crazy!!!

I've emailed the co-ordinator for third year, outlined the issue, supported my facts with evidence (yes, evidence based nursing practice!) and basically asked for clarification.

She replied and assured me that she'll clarify everything tomorrow morning, during the intro orientation. 

I'm so frustrated.  I just want to know where to go and when, and what rotation I'm doing, and when my clinical shifts will be.  I'm trying so hard to be organized this year, and it feels like I'm at the same place I'd have been, had I not been trying to be organized.  Spinning my wheels in place. 

Hopefully tomorrow it will get all sorted out.  It better, because the lab orientation starts the day after that.  And hopefully it will just get better...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Less than a month of summer left

School re-starts in less than a month from now.  That hardly seems possible.  I have my fall schedule printed off and ready to go.  Its a busy, full schedule.  Very busy.  Very full.  Paediatrics and L&D rotations and classes and labs await.

The problem is, I can hardly fathom actually living that schedule right now.  Right now, we're still in the middle of summer bliss -- no commitments, no real schedule, no morning rush, no lunches -- a whole bunch of nothing.  The kids and I are still doing tons of stuff; this has been one of the busiest summers we've ever had, in terms of doing fun and interesting things.  But the difference is that we're doing things on our schedule and on our terms.  If one child sleeps in one morning, that's OK, we'll just start our activity a bit later.  That's what I mean about having a 'schedule free' summer.

It's truly bliss.  This summer and last summer, I am enjoying my kids like never before. Before I started nursing school, summers we're just another marathon we had to somehow get through, and they basically had to be planned by late March, when the day camps filled up.  I now look back at those frenzied, stressed and over-tired days, and wonder how we did it all. 

Add to that, my going to a job every day that involved me putting in time, rather than enjoying it and looking forward to a fulfilling day, and it just made the entire situation even less pleasant. 

I want to stress that when I did work, I put in my best effort and did good work.  I was not a slacker, and on the surface, nobody would have had any idea how miserable I truly was at that job.  But from my perspective, it was simply a question of putting in the time, and getting through another day.  One more day closer to eventual retirement, several decades from now.  That was my perspective, and it was neither healthy nor living the life I wanted to live.

I really don't know how we did it, without the entire family unit falling apart.  It was having a detrimental effect on the kids -- they were showing signs of fatigue and stress.  My oldest was at the school's before-and-after school daycare, and was there from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm -- 10 hour days.

I'm not saying that such a lifestyle is not possible.  I am fully aware that this is the reality for many, many families, and they don't have the option to leave it. 

What makes me shake my head in wonder, is the fear of change that kept me back for so many years, and how it negatively affected the entire family.  We had been talking about this career change for over a decade, planned for it, saved money for it -- basically had all the parameters in place, except one.

That one was me actually having the guts to make the change.  Change is scary.  High job security is a strong force.

Now, having made the change, I cannot understand why it took me so long to make the change.  How I wish I'd done it so much sooner.  Yet, I am so grateful that I did make the change.  It would have been soooo easy to still be sitting in my office with the window, waiting to finish yet another work day...

Yes, I am so grateful to be where I am right now in my life -- even if it took longer to get here than I think it should have.  At least I'm here now.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dreaming about nursing school

OK, not dreaming as in wishing to be going to nursing school...rather, having nightmares about missing clinical shifts in nursing school.

A few nights ago, I dreamt that it was the first week of third year, and by Friday afternoon of that first week, I finally got around to looking at my class schedule (like that would ever happen in real life!!!).  And to my horror, I realized that I had missed a clinical shift on Thursday and I'd half-way missed the Friday shift, which was already in progress.  I had no excuse for the missed shifts -- just simply that I had not bothered to look at the schedule!  Yikes. That would not go over well with the clinical instructors -- and with good reason!

Anyhow, to make a long dream short, I finally realized that it was just a very bad dream, and woke up with great relief.  Blessed relief.  It is still only July, and third year classes are still several weeks away.  And, I have the fall schedule already printed off and am very much aware when my clinical orientation starts.

I just found it interesting that my brain is already thinking ahead to starting that dreaded schedule that third year promises to be.  It will be very interesting and I know I will learn tons, but getting through those eight months will be a marathon in itself. I'll just have to take it day by day, and not get all worked up about the big picture/schedule. 

One day at a time.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lessons on Living, from the Dying

I came across an article recently in a French magazine, that talked about a palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware, who came up with her list of what the top five regrets were of dying people she was working with. I was going to translate the five regrets into English and post them, but today I found an English version of the article.

I believe there is so much truth to the five statements.  Personally, the first regret puts my career change in perspective.  That it truly was 'ok' to change careers even though I already had a great one going, and that ultimately, its 'ok' to be happy.  It's truly OK.  Really!

The five regrets are as follows:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

If I were to add one more to the list, I'd say, "I wish I'd been more grateful for what I already have."  I mean, its great to keep dreaming, growing, learning and experiencing new things. That's very important.  But at the same time, I think its also important to periodically look at just where you are in life, who is in your life, and what you already have, and just simply be grateful for it all.  I think most people are more blessed than they realize.

The link to the full article is here:

If you're interested, Ms. Ware wrote a book the topic:

Friday, July 5, 2013

This is brilliant!!!

I saw this article on our national news broadcaster - CBC - website today.

What a genius idea this is:

This is a dog somewhere in the US, born with cleft-lip.  He had surgery to allow him to eat.  Now this puppy visits with and counsels kids with facial differences. 

Lentil is a French bulldog born with a cleft lip condition who spends his days boosting the self-esteem of kids with similar ailments.

Simply genius!!!  Way to go, whoever came up with this idea.  :-)  I am so proud of people who do things like this for others.  Proud of people who see beauty and potential in everything and everyone.

Go Team Lentil!!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer (textbook!) Reading

I'll admit it, I'm missing school, now that I've had a couple months away from it.

I've ordered my fall textbooks, in order to get a head start on the readings...and the good news is that I'm currently on Chapter 4 of the maternity textbook.  The first few chapters are soooo dry and difficult to get through -- all about nursing theories regarding perinatal nursing.  It's just not my thing - I know people who simply love nursing theory.  Just let me roll my sleeves up and get to work, is my preferred course.

So just one more 'dry' chapter to go, and then it gets into the good stuff. 

The one textbook covers both perinatal nursing and paediatrics, both courses that will be taken in the fall term.  The textbook is about 2,000 pages long and weighs about 10 lb.  So my currently being in Chapter 4 is good, but it is only a drop in the bucket...

But I'm lovin' it!!!! 

And I so miss wearing scrubs!!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

One more day until summer vacation

For my kids that is!  So that means there is one more day of MY summer vacation, before the kids are home until September.

I had meant to get so much done during this time they were still in school and I was not.  I truly did.  It was all there in my mind's eye -- the clutter-free main floor and bedrooms, the sorted clothes that various kids had outgrown, the painting/decorating projects all done, the basement cleared to enough of a state where I could think about having some contractors go down there to give us ideas on how best to finish it, the super-level of fitness I'd have achieved by now.  S.I.G.H......

Sadly, most of that remains in my mind's eye.

OK, so I did get some painting and decorating projects done.  Two bathrooms and the family room, to be precise.  I did run more -- even did up to 10 km one day -- new record for me!!!  The de-clutter projects...well....that's an ongoing battle in our house.  The laundry room and kitchen did get majorly de-cluttered, but they're slowly creeping back to their cluttered state, with different clutter!  I somehow always forget that when I do get a room in order, entropy kicks in, and it goes back to its 'natural' state.  Why fight the laws of physics???  ;-)

So I guess it hasn't been a total loss and waste of time, but it's still not where I thought it would be.  But that's probably just reality. 

What did happen, though, is that I recovered from the huge work load that last semester was, between being a full-time student, starting clinical rotations, being a mom, wife and community volunteer.  The volunteering was the one thing that almost broke the proverbial camel's back last term, and is the one thing that will be eliminated in the coming four terms of nursing school.  I loved being a Guider with Girl Guides of Canada, but I have to be realistic about the work load for the remainder of nursing school.  I can only do so much.  There's many other responsibilities that trump volunteering, as much as I enjoy giving my time.  And I'm not 20 anymore!!! 

I'm rested, and actually ready to start the next semester, but alas, have to wait until September.

Today I plan to run, and finish the teacher's gifts.  How the last day of school takes me by surprise every. single. year. is completely beyond me.  I start thinking about what to get the various teachers in early June, come up with great ideas with the kids, and then suddenly, tomorrow is the last day of school and I've got nothing.  Aaacckkk.  I'm definitely not a mom who will be posting her home-made wonder creations on Pinterest...(as cool as I think that would be to do!)

And I have to mention, just because it is so important to me, how incredibly grateful I am to have a second summer to be at home with my children.  There's one more summer after this one that I won't be working...'cause after 4th year's done, its back to work for this lady.

Just this morning, I was thinking of what life would be like had I not been able to start this career-change, and was still working FT -- all the day camps that I'd have to have organized by now, the before/after camp care I'd be paying for, the stressed mornings of getting everyone ready to leave the house early and dragging kids to places they really didn't want to be at.  I realize this is a reality for many, and I've lived it myself.  And that is what makes me so grateful, knowing that I have the opportunity to be home in the summer, and just BE.

Here's to another "Hands Free Mama" summer.

Have a wonderful day,

Monday, June 10, 2013

How time flies...

My goodness, I cannot believe its been so long since I last wrote on my (neglected!) blog.  School ended and I've been so busy trying to catch up on all the non-school-related stuff in my life.

What I also realized, was that its now been a full year since I permanently left my first career.  I wrote about my thoughts on this on my last day of work.  Some bloggers know how to make a neat little link -- I just copy/paste the entire link...

What a difference a year makes.  For the better. 

I've learned so much since I started nursing school.  I've grown as a person, I've experienced emotions on clinical shifts like I've never before experienced at any time, during my first career.  As a very emotional, feeling person, (not necessarily expressed outwardly, but very much alive on the inside!), I find it incredible that feeling and expressing emotion is part of my new career.  Both the negative and the positive feelings. 

It made me realize how completely devoid of feeling and caring my first career was.  My colleagues were always great, fun and intelligent people to work with (and I expect that to stay the same in my nursing career), I got to travel to some neat places on my beloved red diplomatic passport (yes, I LOVED that perk!), but the actual work was so individual, merely process-focused and deadline-driven. 

While there will be many parallels and many 'transferrable' skills that I'll bring to nursing from strategic communications, the core-focus, the PEOPLE, will be the biggest change.  I don't have my head in the clouds and think that every interaction will be pleasant -- I've got enough life experience to know the realities of that -- even in my non-people focused foreign policy strat comms career, I still had to deal with a huge variety of people.  But when the 'end product' is something like holding a newborn, healthy baby in my arms, or watching a tiny baby grow and thrive in the NICU and eventually leave in its parents arms -- that's satisfaction. 

I just never got that same thrill, joy or job-satisfaction when I saw my press release/backgrounder issued and it made the lead story on the national news, or press conference go really well.  It felt good, yes, like a job well-done, but empty.  I just wanted to do medical stuff and be a nurse...

Life is good.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Some fun for Friday

I'm sharing a link with you today -- a link I go to every few days, to see if there's an update.

These are great for a nursing-related laugh!!!


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Almost Nurses Week

I'm jumping ahead by a couple days -- Nurses week kicks off next week.  However, the article below, from the Peterborough Examiner, caught my eye this morning as I was catching up on news.

Another successful career changer to nursing is profiled -- from a successful career as a law clerk to nursing.  Now she's a nurse practitioner, and clinical director of a clinic that has an incredible mandate and focus.

Way to go!!!  Hopefully I'll have those initials (NP) after my name too, one day...

Here's the link to the full story:

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and trust that you’ll end up in the right place.

Cathryn Roka was 35 and making a fantastic living as a Bay St. law clerk. She liked what she did for a living and she was good at it.

But then she got sick. A virus attacking her liver had her in and out of hospitals for the better part of a year. As she watched and worked with the caregivers who got her helped her back to health, she had a revelation.

“I thought, wow, this is nice. Helping people instead of suing people,” Roka said.

So Roka leaped.

She took a leave of absence from work. She went back to school to pursue a career in health care.
Her family thought she was crazy, she said. It didn’t help that she didn’t know herself where she would end up.

Roka spent a few years working in public health before she decided to take another leap, heading back to school one more time to attend Queen’s University for nursing.

She’s landed in the right place. At 49, Roka has found her calling, working as a Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) nurse practitioner.

It’s a career that blends her desire to care for and advocate for people.

“Everyone should be entitled to health care,” Roka said.

That means health care when you need it, she said, be it today, tomorrow or even right now. And Roka wants it delivered without judgment. She’s also a tireless advocate for more nurse practitioner led-clinics, and wants to see more of them in the province. " continue reading click on the link above...

Happy early Nurses Week!!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

100 more weeks to go!

As of next week, I'll be in "double digits" in my countdown!

It may seem like a lot of weeks to go, but to me, it seems well on the way to completion.  It's less than two full years now. (That was three weeks ago!)

I remember when I first found the 'widget' that counts down the days, the number was in the upper 900s.  Now, it's almost in the 600s.  The days may seem long at times, but the weeks sure do fly by.

I think what amazes me the most, is just how easily I could have still been sitting in my office still wishing I had the nerve to change careers...and how quickly two years would have passed with still just wishing to make the change.

Half way there!!  Woot! Woot!!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Next Step

My next step, is to try to update my curriculum vitae/résumé.  I would like to find a part-time or casual job as a home care worker this summer, as I'd like to get some health care experience.  Some extra money wouldn't hurt either!

I'll be going to meet with my univerity's career counselling people this week.  I hope they have some good insight to share with me, regarding how best to update my c.v. in a way that includes my transferrable skills from my first career, plus my education and relevant health-related volunteer experience.  This should be interesting.  I've researched this topic a bit on the web, and there is no shortage of suggestions out there - and they vary widely!

I've volunteered to help out as part of the medical team for my city's upcoming marathon.  They want nursing students.  Yay!

Now that classes, labs and clinicals ore over until September, I've realized that I miss wearing scrubs!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Freedom is a (GREAT) Feeling!

Well, its done!  I'm officially "half" a nurse.  Every class, every clinical shift, every care plan from here on it, will be on the latter half towards the finish line.  It's as if these past two years have been 'climbing' to the peak, and the next two years, will be sliding down to the finish line.

It feels great to be half-way done. 

I truly cannot believe how quickly these two years have flown by.  And what's a bit scary to think about too, is how quickly two years would have also flown by had I still been thinking and agonizing over my decision to quit my job in my first career, and start nursing school.  I could so easily have found myself still sitting in my chair, in my little office, wishing I had the nerve to start nursing school and dreaming about being a nurse.

Well, guess what?  I did it - I made the decision and haven't looked back.  One of the best decisions of my life, and without a doubt, THE most difficult. 

Now to relax a bit, start to tackle my huge list of projects around the home that need to be done by September, get myself back into shape and catch up on having some fun times without school hanging over my head. 

Today, I am an 'rn'...not an RN, but an 'rn' (lower case).  This time last year, when I finished first year, my son declared that I was a "lower case r", this year I've earned the "lower case n".  Next year I'll be working on getting a capital R...

Future Nurse Kate

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

T minus 2 hours

Two more hours to go until my final exam of second year mercifully begins.  The waiting is killing me.  Ijust want to sit down and write the test.  100 multiple choice questions (100 little coloured in circles on a scan sheet!) stand between 4 school-free months.  Bring it on.

I just took my dog for a nice, long walk.  I'm at the point where I really can't retain any more info.  I know what I know, and I'll try my best, but cramming at this point is useless.  Instead, my brain is refreshed from being outside, and I feel calmer...and my dog is happy too!

Bring the last exam on....champagne is waiting in the fridge for later today!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One more day to go

Just one more day stand between having four months free from school...and FINALLY getting around to tackling the clutter pile that is my house.

I have my schedule for third year, and I realize I truly need to get my house in order, literally, before the start of third year.  House-related things need to be functioning smoothly and relativerly easily, in order that we'll be able to keep up the other family-related demands a family of 5 has.  I've got the summer to purge, de-clutter, organize, clean, paint and streamline, and now I also have the impetus (i.e. 3rd year nursing school's schedule looming over my head!) to do so.

Just one more day to do my best at sitting at my desk and trying to learn what's in the textbook and in my notes. 

Oh, and my youngest child had her two front teeth knocked out at school yesterday, when they made contact with her friend's head.  She is resilient and has re-bounded fully, and I am still somewhat shaken.  One was knocked clean out, and the other was hanging all askew and bloody.  Ugh.

Yesterday at the dentist's office, I was the mom who had to briefly leave the room as her child's tooth got yanked.  I just couldn't bear to watch.  I now fully understand the need for a "degree of separation" needed in the medical field.  It's not an absolute must, if truly needed I'd have stayed there and been composed...or even participated if I'd had to...but honestly, it would be so hard caring/treating a family member or friend. 

Just one more day!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

RN - expanded scope of practice!

Now this is seriously cool!  I hope it'll be in place when I graduate.  It makes so much sense to make these changes.  Way to go!!!


Expanded role for RNs = greater access to care for patients

TORONTO, April 15, 2013 /CNW/ - People in Ontario stand to benefit from changes announced Friday (April 12) by Premier Kathleen Wynne that will expand the role of registered nurses (RN).
In her address to nurses attending the 88th Annual General Meeting of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), Premier Wynne said she recognizes that nurses want their scope of practice to match their expertise. The changes include working with the College of Nurses of Ontario (the body that regulates the nursing profession in the province) to expand the scope of practice of nurses so they can dispense medication in specific circumstances (for example, when patients do not have quick access to a pharmacy), and to identify additional opportunities to expand their scope to include allowing RNs to prescribe certain medications and nurse practitioners (NP) prescribing controlled substances.
"We're very pleased with this news," said RNAO President Rhonda Seidman-Carlson, adding she understands the public's frustration when they can't get access to care in a timely way. "When all health professionals are able to work to their full and optimized scope of practice, patients will benefit and we will have a better and more efficient health system." Seidman-Carlson pointed to other jurisdictions that are already ahead. "If RNs can diagnose common ailments such as an ear infection or a sore throat, and prescribe medications in UK, why not in Ontario?"
RNAO's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) echoed her colleague's remarks. "RNAO is delighted with the announcement made by Premier Kathleen Wynne. It demonstrates the government's commitment to increasing timely access to quality care for the public, and recognizes the central role Ontario's nurses play in our health system. Maximizing and expanding the scope of practice of nurses is in keeping with RNAO's Primary Solutions to Primary Care report released last June," said Dr. Doris Grinspun.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.
For more information about RNAO, visit our website at You can also check out our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter at
SOURCE: Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
For further information:
To arrange an interview with a nurse, please contact:
Marion Zych
Director of Communications, RNAO
647-406-5605 (cell)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Still trying to concentrate on studying

On one hand, it was great to have an almost two week break between the end of classes and the start of my final exams.

Actually, given all the sickness, fevers, coughs, congestion and general lack of sleep and energy of the past week, its been a totally needed break.  I haven't been sick all year, and now, as soon as classes ended, I was flattened with sickness.  Then my older daughter got sick, and then my younger daughter got sick.  And when there's sick kids awake at night, there's a mama awake at night.  There is hope on the horizon that we are all finally overcoming this potent virus.

But seriously, it is so hard to maintain a sustained concentration on studies.  Memorizing all the drug names for pharmacology has just been the worst.  The only bit of gratitude I have in memorizing all those names is that my exercising my brain at my age, to this extent, will hopefully stave off my developing dementia when I'm old.  One can but hope that memorizing all those crazy names will have a benefit that outlasts the three-hour exam! Lol!

Back to the books.  This will all be over in another 10 days...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On the homestretch of second year of nursing school

The end of second year is in sight.

Only three exams stand between me being officially "half" a nurse!

Thank goodness the weather is co-operating by being utterly miserable and cold.  At least that helps keep me firmly planted in my chair, studying.  If it was beautiful outside, studying would be torture given that all I'd want to do is spend time outside.

Getting there!!!

Friday, April 5, 2013


...during today's final LTC clinical shift, I witnessed first-hand the incredible power of Milk of Magnesia. 

The PSWs were all on break, so the two RPNs were left to deal with the ambulatory patient who had no intention of going back to his room.  Finally, I just felt too sorry for them, got a pair of gloves, and went to help them out.

What I learned during today's shift: always administer Milk of Magnesia approximately 30 minutes before the end of your shift.

I'm still reeling (and laughing!) from the sight of today's episode!!!  That was simply surreal.  :-)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Final week of second year BScN program!!!

Today is my lab exam -- talking my way through an exam as I show the instructors how I do practical skills. 

It'll be either giving injections or doing sterile dressing changes.  I have to prepare both procedures thoroughly, and then I find out which one I'm doing at the exam.  I just want this over with -- waiting is always the hardest part. Doing something is always much better than waiting to do something!

Tomorrow is my last shift of my LTC rotation.  I'm going to miss 'my' patients in the end-stage dementia unit.  I've certainly learned a lot there --both in terms of nursing skills and what's truly important in life, what priorities are key in life.

The past few weeks have been a very bumpy ride, and I am extremely grateful that the end of second year is in sight.  After tomorrow's clinical shift, I just have 3 final exams to study for, and that's that.  I'll officially be "half" a nurse -- half way through nursing school.

Whew.  It's flying by faster than I ever expected.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beautiful quote

I read a beautiful quote that exactly sums up how I feel about nursing -- both my contribution to the profession and how I will be impacted by my patients. 

That latter point has already started in my LTC rotation, but when I think of it, I think I have already also made a positive impact on my patients and their patients won't remember me, given that they're end-stage dementia patients, but their families certainly will.

It's not that "I" want to be remembered by my patients, it's what I did for them that makes it special and important to me.  It's the same idea about how I don't remember the names or faces of my Labour & Delivery nurses when I gave birth, but I remember what they did for me.  And that's what I want to be able to give, too.
"When I think about all the patients and their loved ones that I have worked with over the years, I know most of them don't remember me nor I them.  But I do know that I gave a little piece of myself to each of them and they to me, and those threads make up the beautiful tapestry in my mind that is my career in nursing."

                                                            -- Donna Wilk Cardillo, A Daybook for Beginning Nurses

P.S.  Note to self -- gotta get me that book!!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Injections.  Needles.  "Noodles" -- as my kids call them. 

We are now officially trained in how to give all the various types of injections, and are giving 'noodles' during our clinical shifts.  I love giving injections!

I continue to practice at home, honing my skills and preparing for the upcoming lab exam.

No orange is currently safe from receiving an injection in our house!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stomach of a nurse!

I've just realized that I have absolutely no issues eating my lunch while reading the chapter in my textbook about "skin integrity and wound care".  It is full of disgusting-looking and awful photographs of all types of wounds in various stages infection and necrosis.  (How those patients must suffer with those!!!  I simply cannot imagine.)

I had this same realization a few weeks ago, as my fellow nursing students and I sat around the table at break time, during a clinical shift.  We proceeded to discuss all the painful and hideous-looking conditions that we encountered that morning.  Again, we did it while eating and seemingly as if we were discussing hockey scores (I'm Canadian).  Future nurses, indeed!!!

Yep, that's wound care.  Keep learning.  Keep eating. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

This poster was made for me

I think this poster was specifically made for me...

...however, if someone actually made a poster with this message, it tells me that I'm not the only one out there, who is this way, and that makes me feel a lot better!  Lol!!!

OK, OK....I'm going for that run now!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

First patient death

Today was an emotional rollercoaster, as I experienced my first patient death.  He was palliative yesterday on my shift, and today was his last day.  I'm still processing everything that I saw today, from seeing him mobile and active a mere two weeks ago, to seeing him being zipped up into a body bag by the funeral home staff.  Powerful stuff.

Another patient also had a fall today, so I got to perform the neuro assessments according to the facility protocol.  For the first hour, the assessment was to be performed every fifteen minutes.  It was all so new to me, that I barely finished one assessment of vitals, when it was just about time to do the next set of assessments!  I am pleased to say, however, that I got much faster the more times I did it.

With all the goings on, I didn't have a chance to do my medication administration today.  That will wait until next shift.

I almost felt like a real student nurse today!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Still Alive!

These past few weeks have been a blur, ever since clinical rotations started!  "This" is the crazy busy nursing school workload I'd read about! 

There is so much to write about, and so little time to do so.  This reminds me of my first real job -- suddenly I had lots of disposable income to travel (one of my passions!) and just as suddenly, had only three weeks a year to do so.  This experience feels similar -- now I have so much to write about during the clinical rotation, and practically no time to do so.  Such is life, I guess!

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon...the end of the term is almost here.  I'm jotting down all the neat stuff I want to write about, so it'll be coming here soon...

Yes, I am so loving this experience!!!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

First Official Clinical Feedback

After three semesters of nursing school, the fourth semester FINALLY really feels like nursing school, because we FINALLY started our clinical rotations.

We finished our public health rotation, and are starting our LTC placements. 

It was a great experience doing public health, and actually stepping out into the world viewed in the 'nurse' role.

I got my written feedback from my first clinical instructor, and the words actually brought tears to my eyes.  Those beautiful words were like a validation that despite all the years of wondering if should make this career change, and confronting all the reasons why I shouldn't change careers (there were many!), it was ultimately the right choice.

I know its been the right decision, simply based on how my family has changed for the better in the past almost two years.  We are all less stressed, we have more time to spend together, everyone feels more relaxed and is able to enjoy the days/weeks/months, rather than simply get through them.  It is a real gift, a real blessing, to be able to enjoy the fleeting time the kids are small. 

So all that to say, is that I knew a long time ago that this was the right decision to make, but my instructor's words underlined that decision as being the right one.  My decision was validated by a medical professional, who will be my colleague in four short semesters.

We had to hand in a critical reflection of our public health rotation.  Her comments on this piece of writing were: 

"Awesome reflection.  Very insightful and thoroughly thought out with an impressive learning plan for future growth and development.  Your quest for excellence in your nursing practice is inspiring and engaging for me.  You will be an asset to the profession.  I look forward to being your colleague some day."
Thank you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Make Health Last. What will your last 10 years look like?

This short video was shown to us in a nursing class yesterday. 

Given that "health communication" and encouraging a fit lifestyle are two of my goals as I study to become a nurse (and even after I become a nurse), I need to share this.

There are factors that are out of our control as we grow older, but there are also many factors totally within our control.

Go for a walk. 10 minutes a day.  No excuses. (Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Whisper Test

Yesterday we had our second of three clinical rotations for school nursing.  The second session was much easier than the first session.  Yesterday, "our" kids already knew us a bit, and felt comfortable with us.  Their teacher told us the kids were very, very excited to have their nurses coming back.

The goal of the school nursing experience is to do a well-child assessment, based roughly on the Rourke Baby Record Assessment grid.  It was quite the event, trying to glean info about our child, mostly through play! 

As part of the assessment, we had to evaluate their hearing.  Of the two tests we were to perform, one was the "whisper test".  As the name implies, it is a simple test of auditory acuity done by whispering.

I whispered to my child, in the very noise classroom, asking, "Can you hear me if I whisper?"  The child nodded vigorously, affirming that my whisper had been heard correctly.

Then I told my child, "You can whisper something to me too, to see if I can hear it."

My child thought for a bit, then with a shy smile whispered back to me, "I love you."

Yes, I'm so loving being a student nurse.  Being a nurse is THE career I was meant to do.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nursing Textbook - 1926!

As a parting gift when I left my first career, my boss presented me with a nursing textbook from 1926.  Its original owner had signed the inside cover, and had studied in my city, in 1930.  The full title is, "Text-Book of Nursing Technique", by Irene V. Kelley, R.N.

The textbook even contained some inserted, loose pages, that were nursing school exams from the early 1930s!

All I can say, is wow, has the field of nursing ever come a looooong way since then.

Naturally, given my love of obstetrics/L&D, I went to that section of the textbook first.  There were many notable paragraphs in it, but I want to highlight two here:

1- During the second stage of labour, the nurse is to "anticipate the physician's wants, and act quickly."  I realize that is certainly the ideal situation and exemplified good teamwork, when each team member knows what the other is doing and what that person may require.  However, I found it amusing to have a nurses's role spelled out that way. 

2- the other sentence that I really loved, was in a section that described how a nurse is to care for a premature baby.  The textbook reads as follows, "The salient features of the care of thepremature are: Keeping the tiny morsel of humanity evenly and constantly warm." 

Yes, I want to work with "tiny morsels of humanity".  That's so sweetly written.  :-)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Inspired Words for Today

Even though I am loving being in nursing school and thoroughly enjoying all the gifts and experiences that making this career-shift have brought me, I seem to struggle with getting through January.  This same phenomenon happened last year, too.

I don't know if it is the post-Christmas build-up let-down (if that makes any sense!) or simply the dark, freezing days.  It has been one of those weeks that happen in Canada -- where the temperatures plunge so cold, that it is truly impossible for average people like me to enjoy the outdoors. 

It is a week of being too cold to take the family skiing (like we do weekly), tobogganing, the snow is too crumbly to build anything with it, the kids are kept indoors every school recess because of the frostbite they'd get in a couple minutes.  I dread the thought of even having to go outside, as I know my nose and lungs will feel frozen in seconds.  Maybe this is the so-called "cabin fever" phenomenon, where people have simply been cooped up inside for too long...

Before anyone reads too much into this complaint, I must say this is not a clinical issue -- I just find it a wee bit harder to motivate myself to keep as active, energetic and eating well as I do the rest of the year.  It is frustrating to me to not have my usual energy and motivation levels, even if these moments are relatively brief.

However, the extreme deep-freeze of last week is over, and the days are getting noticeably less dark.  This is all good!  Apparently I don't do well in extremely cold, dark climates.  Give me palm trees and a beach any day....

All of that intro to say, that when I am feeling in a bit of a rut, I turn to several blogs I've discovered, and read the archived posts.  One of my favourite inspirational blogs is called "Smile With Your Heart", written by a Canadian nurse and fitness/adventure lover, Jenn Thiel.  (

Today, as I was just wrapping up my "fun" computer time, before I turn it to school-related work, I read the following sentences.

"Combine your passions. Create your dream life. Who’s stopping you? If anyone, it’s only yourself. Toss that little voice out the window and keep on keepin’ on. Keep doing what you love. You’ll discover that it really is so much more possible than you thought."  (

Those are the words I'm taking to heart today.  I'm off now to go for a run, as I contemplate with gratitude all the possibilities, people, opportunities, experiences and gifts I've been given in my life, and open my heart, mind and soul with further gratitude to any and all future amazing experiences.