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 na├»ve.  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...