Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Whew - finished!!!

I survived semester 7. Barely. Am now battling chest and sinus infections and have sick kids at home. However, most importantly, the term is done.

Labs are also done forever. I had my final lab exam on Monday morning, and found out Tuesday that I passed it. I hadn't slept in about 5 nights, and seemed like I spent half the exam coughing my lungs out, but I somehow managed to convey enough intelligent information and do the required skills to pass. I've never been so relieved in my life to pass something.

Now I have a bit of a break, while I study for my two final exams. I hope to catch up on a few blog posts that I've started over the semester, but never finished writing. Or, I might just sleep every spare minute and try to counteract the horrible sleep-deprived person I've become thanks to this semester...

Things are looking up again.


P.s. 4 more months until graduation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Writing the HESI tomorrow

Yes, I'll be writing my first HESI exam tomorrow morning. The second one, a HESI/CAT will be written in April.

I am very curious to know where I'm at with the learning curve for the NCLEX. I think this is a great opportunity to review/plan my learning path for the coming months until June 2015, when I write my licensing exam.

And I must say, for a change, it is extremely nice to not have to study for an exam!!!


Friday, November 21, 2014

One Step Closer to RN

This week we had to sign a form and let our university send it to our provincial nursing registration college. It was a form that said we allow the school to send our personal info to the college of nursing, so that we will be able to be invited to write our licensing exam after we finish in April 2015.

Yes, please. Bring it on!

I write the HESI test this weekend, to see where I'm at in the learning curve for the NCLEX exam, and more importantly, to see where I need to improve to get that exam passed.  Here in Canada, we only get three chances to write it successfully. So this is critically important to do well on, for my first try.

Six more days of classes/labs/shifts left this semester!!!

I did my first two 12-hour shifts last week, back to back. It was fine, actually much, much better than I expected. I was tired, yes, but not crazy/can't think straight tired like I thought I'd be. So I'll take that as yet another positive learning experience on this crazy ride called nursing school and career change!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Last Midterm Exam!!!

I think I may have written my last midterm exam last week!!!

I'm not completely sure, as there is a very compressed course next semester. But that course is an entire semester worth of classes, crammed into several 6 hour days over the span of two weeks. It seems unlikely that they'd have a mid-term exam in a course of that format.  However, stranger things have happened. This is nursing school, after all.

Barring an unexpected midterm exam in early January, I think we are f-i-n-i-s-h-e-d with midterms!!!

Now to go and finish my last paper of this semester. The paper itself is done, but there is still the dreaded reference list to write, as per APA 6 norms and standards.  Ugh. Once school is done, I'll be so happy to never have to write up anything in APA format again...until NP school starts, but I'll worry about that later!


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Time Warp!

You've probably already read my vents about this semester's nursing shifts being ALL day shifts...meaning I need to wake up with the birds (or before the birds), at around 5 am. No beloved evening shifts for me this term.

And it has caught up with me.  It seems that my internal body clock has shifted.

Yesterday, I checked the bloodwork results on a few patients, and their potassium levels came back with numbers that mean I had to give them extra potassium, as per the sliding scale on the unit. I mentioned this to my buddy nurse, and she said we'd just give them the pills with their lunches.

I stared at her, not comprehending. Clearly, I must have looked like an idiot, but I thought they'd already had lunch. I'd seen the trays go by. I saw them eating.  I could have sworn that it was already mid afternoon.

I looked at my watch and it said 10:30. AM. (My first thought was that my watch must have stopped!)

I simply could not believe it was only 10h30 in the morning. But then I realized I'd had my breakfast at 5 am, when I woke up. I'd gone for break at 9h30 am, and eaten that was technically my lunch, with the shifted time. So by 10h30, it felt like early mid afternoon, so clearly the patients had already had their lunches, right???  Those were just their breakfast trays I'd seen them eating.

We laughed when I re-oriented myself to the current time, and laughed some more. I guess this is a real welcome to the realities of nursing life. 

And yes, my patients got their potassium at the right time.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dream Big

I just found the post below in my "drafts" folder. I just vaguely remember writing it. All I can say is we are now half way through our cardiac surgery rotation, and I am thriving. I have learned so much about something as fascinating as the heart. It is simply incredible.

I think it is great to have big dreams and goals that scare us a bit.


I admit, my upcoming 4 month cardiac surgery/CCU rotation scares me.

I asked to be placed there, knowing it would be very tough and that I would learn tons.

And I got the placement I requested. Now I'm a bit scared.

I guess I'm dreaming big enough.

(Image below posted from this amazingly-inspirational site:

Never Been This Busy Before

Half the semester is now done, and mercifully we are having a week off classes this week. That is NOT to say that we can actually kick back and relax and recover some stamina. No, there was a paper to write, a quiz to take, a big med calculation test to prepare for when we return to class next week, and another quiz we have to take on Monday, that we need to achieve 100% on (no pressure). So yeah, it was our week "off'.

At least it was a week off classes. I have absolutely the worst schedule this semester, of all my semesters of nursing school. Every term, I've had at least a half day a week, or a bit more, during the week day, that I had free. That was "my" time -- to study, to get groceries, to clean the house a bit, etc.

But this semester, I got placed in lab slots that are the earliest possible start times. Couple that with my clinical rotation having only day shifts, meaning 5 am wake ups for me for every single shift. Every other rotation we've had there has been an more/less equal number of day and evening shifts (I adore evening shifts, being a night owl!!!)

So what that means, practically, is that my schedule has me waking up between 5-6 am every single day of the week, my days are completely full, and that leaves my only study time between 6 pm and 10 pm, but that also coincides with kids' homework, activities and making/eating dinner. Then I simply cannot study after the kids are in bed into the wee hours of the night (like I would love to), because I need to get up so freaking early every single morning.

Had I been assigned at least one lab session a week that started later, like many of my classmates have, that would have been a huge blessing. But, its not meant to be this term. And it is almost killing me. Combine this crazy schedule with a virus-infected student since the second week of school, and it makes the whole experience almost unbearable. The one think keeping me going right now is that the end is in sight, and I absolutely cannot fathom even the thought of delaying graduating in April 2015 and doing yet another year of school. I am tired and I feel old...and I don't like feeling either feeling.

Yep, for someone who truly loves school as much as I do, this is really saying something significant.

But on the bright side, as I look to try to look at, this semester is half finished, my paper is written, although it still needs editing, and I have slept so much this week I'm almost worried that I'm sleeping so much.

20 more weeks of school. 26 more weeks total.

I can do this.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Change vs. Regret

Yes, this is very true. I didn't want to be nearing retirement age from my first career and always wondering what I could have done as a registered nurse, and regretting I didn't even try.

Mind you, the past few weeks of exhaustion and illness have also raised the thought of regretting leaving my first career, with no 4:45 am wake up times and no heavy lifting...but those thoughts were fleeing when I thought about the overall reality then vs the overall reality now. The career change regret thoughts involved mainly missing my paycheque and not having to wake up at crazy early hours.

The present reality is so much better is more ways that I can adequately explain. The present reality will be made even better, though, in six months, when I actually get paid for the work I do. It will be very nice to have a paycheque again.  Lol.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Still Alive...but barely...

I can honestly say that the past few weeks have been among the toughest of my academic life (and this is not my first degree, there's been a few of those already).

There is a plague going around our nursing class. Our first exam last week seemed to have its own soundtrack -- coughing and sniffing. I haven't been this sick in years, and not be able to take any time off to recover.

Even today, after feeling exponentially better in the past few days, I still come home and need to lie down and sleep for a bit, before I can continue with my evening.

And my last complaint (for now), is that this semester is extremely morning-heavy. I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. However, I can certainly get up and do morning stuff. But the fact that the days are all completely busy are killing me. In the past years, I would have at least a half day or two, to myself, to study and get work done. My only free time this term is in the evenings, and that time is not at all free as I am a mom to three busy kids. So I try to study with lots of chaos in the house, and I cannot even stay up later to study, as I have to get up way too early every morning.  It is very unfortunate that I didn't get assigned to lab times later in the day. That would have made a world of difference to this student mom.  It is seriously awful this semester, and I am feeling at the end of my rope, with fatigue and stress.

Thank God this is the last year of this. That is my only motivation right now to keep at it. I cannot imagine another year of this -- I must finish now. Six more months. 28 more weeks, and of those 21 are school weeks (yes, I'm counting.) I simply cannot wait to graduate in April, and leave the school craziness behind me (at least for a few years, if that NP goal is to be realized...).

Enough of a vent. Must get back to my studies and I still have a quiz to do.  Oh, and then I get to wake up for the next two days at 4:45. I can hardly wait.

I have so much more to write. Hopefully things will settle down soon and I'll start getting my energy back and feeling more human again. I can but hope.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Medication Reference Cards

Today, I am f-i-n-a-l-l-y getting around to making some quick reference medication cards. This was supposed to be my summer project, that I did over the past four months.  Well, that simply did not happen.

I have a lot of med cards already made, but they're all done by hand. It is really time consuming to write them out, and even more time consuming to re-do them when I manage to lose some.  So my genius idea was to do them all electronically and put them onto the cue cards, and if I ever need another copy of a particular med card, I can simply print it off. Pure genius.

Except for the fact that they didn't create themselves over the summer. And the one I just created, took the better part of an hour.

I should mention that I recently got confirmation of my complex care placement, in an ICU type setting for cardiac surgery. (Yipee!!!) So that means that I've researched the most common types of cardiac-related drugs I'll probably need to know as of next week, and between all the anticoagulants, antiplatelet agents, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, vasodilators, digitalis preparations and statins, I need to know approximately 68-70 drugs.

That means making 68-70 drug cards. Luckily, I have one done now...

Yes, school feels like its already back in full swing, and it doesn't even start until next week.

But on the bright side, only 24 more weeks of school to go!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back at the Keyboard!

I hope summer was great for everyone. It certainly has been for me, and two more glorious weeks are left before fourth, and FINAL year of nursing school rolls around.  I will be found at the keyboard more often in the coming weeks, after that extended summer break from blogging.

I am in equal parts dreading and looking forward to the resumption of classes. Dreading because now that I've survived third year, I know exactly how tough and busy the next eight months are going to be. And looking forward to it, because this is it. Only eight more months, 24 weeks of classes, to go.

We can do this.

We can really do this. The end is almost in sight.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

4th Year Registration!

Tomorrow morning, I can sign up for my fourth (and final!!!) year classes.  I can hardly believe it.

We will take community health, complex care, and a couple courses dealing with political/economic aspects of health care and interprofessional practice. And, of course, do our consolidation rotation.

The biggest decision will be what specialty to choose to consolidate/specialize in. Emergency is the primary contender, and has been for awhile now. But I must also admit, I'm really interested in community and public health, too.  The plan is that all the clinical practice will lead to a Nurse Practitioner degree in a couple years...but I need to focus on finishing one degree before moving on to the next.  :-)

So for the moment, I see myself landing a job in an emergency room next year. If I could have my dream job, I'd work at that job part-time, and get a second job, also part-time, in a primary care community clinic, where I could work in the perinatal area.

That combination, would be heaven on earth.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Happy Nursing Week!!!

National Nursing Week 2014

Hello, I'm still around...

I started into an awesome new full-time job three weeks ago, and have been trying ever since then to get into a new routine.

I must say, I do NOT miss working f/t, Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30 (plus an hour commute each way!). I look forward to my future nursing shifts that are nicely spread out all during the seven day week. I may change my tune on that in a few years, but for the time being, I'm looking forward to getting out of the M-F routine that I've known for way too long!

I wanted to wish everyone a "Happy Nursing Week"!  Thank you, CNA, for a great nursing week publicity campaign! Check out this year's products:

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cardiac Arrest

During my last rotation, I realized I have somewhat of a passion for learning more about the mysterious tracings that I see on heart monitors.  Apparently there is an entire post RN course dedicated specifically to this topic, but being me, I want to know it all now. I can now identify an elevated S-T segment and a few other significant tracings, but that's where it stands for now! It's a start.

In the interim, the video clip below is a representation of the different waves that occur during cardiac arrest. Its my understanding that this is a simulation, and not an actual tracing of a patient death.

I love this stuff!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Big "R", Little "n"

According to my son's classification, I am now an "Rn".

When I finished my first year of nursing school, he piped up, "You're a little "r" now!". In his 9-year old classification system, completion of first year gave me the designation "r", second year was "rn", third year, "Rn" and fourth year will (finally!) be "RN".

So yeah, here I am, an "Rn". 

I have four days off, completely free to do as I please, and then I start my full-time job on Monday, as a researcher/writer for a national nursing association (really, could there be a better job for me that links my two careers?!?!?)  Back to wearing corporate clothes -- I honestly thought I was finished with them forever, having traded them in for scrubs and comfy shoes!

It is still sinking in that I truly am finished third year. The past eight months were incredibly busy and intense, unlike any other eight month period I can think of. Having newborns was probably more intense, given the total lack of sleep and trying to have my torn and stretched body heal at the same time (so those were probably much tougher times, yes.)

However, third year is now finished. I managed to maintain my A average, be an involved Mom, still do the house-hold stuff I always do to keep people fed and clothed, volunteer with Girl Guides and in my daughter's classroom, and even go on the occasional date-night with my hubby. Busy, but very good.

I'm almost feeling a bit lost today, with truly nothing on my schedule that I "must" do. I'll go for a run and then figure out what to do next (i.e. figure out which part of the house I will focus on de-cluttering first!)

What a good feeling!!!  I feel I've really accomplished lots this school year, and I'm so glad it is over. If I could, I'd take a few weeks off, and then jump into fourth year, to get the last 24 weeks of school done.  But that will just have to wait until September to get started...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Almost Done Third Year Nursing School!

Thank you, NCLEX Mastery site for posting the image below. 

Just two more days until my final, final exam of third year nursing school.  So close, yet seemingly so far... 

Luckily, I'm not in tears or in seeming desperation, like the woman in the image; I just so want to get this exam over with!!! Just one more exam to go!

Its been a great year, and now I simply want it finished. :-)

Friday, April 18, 2014

My First NCLEX Practice Test

I just finished my first-ever NCLEX-RN practice exam...and I PASSED!!! 

What an increase in confidence that gave me. Here in Canada, we only have three chances to pass the NCLEX. If you fail three times, you're looking at an alternate career choice, because you won't be able to be a registered nurse.

I believe in the US, there are unlimited tries to pass the NCLEX, but I could be wrong. But here in Canada, there definitely is great pressure to do well on that exam, and soon. I simply cannot image putting all this effort, time and stress into nursing school for four years, just to not pass that exam at the end. Ouch.

Anyhow, back to my practice test results. What an awesome feeling!  Now if only I could just go write it for real now, instead of next year, that would be great.  Actually no, not yet. I still have too much to learn in nursing school before I want to be released out into the public to go nurse.

OK, now back to regularly scheduled studying...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Day in the Life - Laurie (ER Nurse)

I find the video below extremely inspiring. The second-career ER nurse profiled here has an energy and interest in her chosen profession that is contagious.

I know I needed real-life role-model examples when I was trying to make that extremely difficult decision to leave my secure, well-paying, established career, and jump into the unknown, where I'd be starting from scratch again. I knew with every fibre of my being that I belonged in the medical field, but it was so scary to make a mid-life transition. That is why I found it so important to see examples of other people who had done it. And not only had they made the change, but were so clearly loving their new lives.

That is where I am currently at. I am so close to finishing, it is almost tangible. After all I've learned these past eight months, I feel exponentially more like a nurse. Eight more months to go, and I think I'll be ready to start braving the world of nursing on my own. I'll still have a mountain of stuff to learn, in fact I'll never stop learning in this career, but the learning curve in those first years will be the steepest ever. I cannot wait to start.

In the interim, enjoy the profile below. I look forward to the day I may be profiled in such a video. I've got a story to tell, and I'm doing my best right now to tell it. The message is simple: find your dreams and find a way to realize them...then take action.  It doesn't have to be nursing, clearly. Find your personal passion and find a way to do it. The rewards of doing so are incredible.

Anyhow, I'm going off on a tangent now, but I just feel so passionate about encouraging others to do what they love. I had some awesome support along my path, and now I want to give that back to others.


P.S. Thank you Johnson & Johnson for making this series of inspirational videos! There are many in this series, and I've enjoyed watching many of them. I saw my first one as I sat in my corporate office, the one where the pediatric nurse is singing a song with his little patient to help distract her from the needle procedure he's doing. I would sit there in my office with tears streaming down my face, wishing so hard that I could somehow be a nurse too. That was career-fulfilment and job satisfaction, in my books. To make a difference in someone's life is the ultimate satisfaction for me.

P.P.S. And I rocked the nursing theory class and got my A-.....wahoo, and whew....that was one of the toughest classes in this program, and its o-v-e-r!!!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Words of Inspiration

This is a good one!!!  I'm posting this inspirational message for those in the contemplation stage of making a career change.

This is the type of sentence that would have helped me along the difficult path of decision making. Making a change is very difficult, and it is conversely very easy to rationalize why it can be put off, or not made. Sometimes there is only a certain window of opportunity to make a change.

Consider regret: both of making a change and of NOT making a change.

P.S. Two posts in one day....that must most definitely mean I am in full "study" mode... Lol!

One Exam Done, One to Go

Yesterday was the long-awaited nursing theories final exam. I studied so much for it, despite the topic being so dry. I got to the exam, and suddenly everything was a jumble in my brain, as I looked over the first questions on the exam paper, desperately hoping to find one that had a clear answer. What a horrible feeling.

Then I calmed down, focused and kept going. I did eventually find one I easily recognized an answer to! Overall, I think it went OK, but just like on the midterm, I left there with a feeling of uncertainty. I had already passed the course when I went into the exam, with the 60% we had already been tested on thanks to the midterm and the research paper, and the final was worth the remaining 40%. But I'm not a student who just 'passes'. I'm an A student, and I'd like to keep that average up there. So we shall see what this course brings.  Overall, I'm just so glad its over and done with.

Now I re-focus and concentrate on "medical-surgical nursing". At least that's a much more interesting topic to me, as I can see the immediate relevance to it, and even have already done some of the procedures in clinical shifts.

One more week to go and this year is officially finished!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Article: Perks of Nursing as a Second Career

Here is an interesting article I came across, written from the perspective of a second career nurse. Much of what she describes I can really relate to (although I'm younger and don't have teenagers, yet!), particularly about my ease and comfort with communicating with patients.

It is a bit odd at times being an older student in the class. Part of me totally feels like I'm still in my 20s. I have lots of energy and enthusiasm. I haven't done any 12 hour shifts yet, mind you, only 8 hours, so that perspective may change in September when the 12 hours shifts start.  I also definitely do NOT feel like I'm 13 steps behind my peers, like she describes. I've always enjoyed learning and using new technology, so its not a bit of a stretch to use it in the hospital setting. Besides, it is new to all of us, regardless of age, as it is equipment we haven't used previously.

What I completely DO agree with her, are priorities and limit setting. I've climbed the corporate ladder, I've worked the insane hours to get stuff done in order to make a good impression and advance my career. I've learned how easy it is to potentially burn out and damage your health. That is where I'll be placing reasonable limits on in my nursing career.

Don't get me wrong. I will work hard, be meticulous and definitely pull my share and help out elsewhere when I can. But at the same time, I will not feel terrible about turning down lots of extra shifts, if I'm offered them. At this stage in my life, it is not about climbing the corporate ladder. I've been in management, and it holds zero appeal to me. I simply want to enjoy the work I do, with patients, and work hard and do a good job when I'm working. If that means working part-time while taking on a few casual shifts, that's fine too. At this stage of life, in my opinion, its about balance. And nursing is a career that most definitely offers that option.

And I totally encourage anyone to pursue a second career, if that is where your heart and interest and passion is. Change is very scary, but also very rewarding.

Enjoy the article.  I've included the link to the original website at the end. If you're interested, click on the link, as there are about 67 comments related to it, that are also very interesting to read!


"The Perks of Nursing as a Second Career
Yes, you’ve got what it takes!

What would prompt a 45-year-old mother of teenagers to pursue a career in nursing?

Delusional thinking, some might say. At times I thought I was mad. How could I keep up with those tireless, technology-savvy twenty-somethings? Still I couldn’t ignore my inner rumbling. I wanted to do something significant with my life.

When I was younger, nursing was my dream. But I wasn’t the student I needed to be to make that a reality. Instead, I got a degree in social work. But like many women my age, I got married, had my first child, and traded in my dry-clean-only wardrobe for playdate attire.

The children grew up. At about 40, I started thinking about nursing again. Since I wasn’t getting any younger, I realized if I wanted to do it, I had to do it now. Five years later, I’m ready to take my State Board Exam and work at a rehabilitation hospital in the brain injury unit.

Being a second career nurse isn’t easy—and it probably never will be. I often feel like I’m 13 steps behind the young new nurses. Nursing is physical, and with a body that’s already slowing down, the eight- and twelve-hour shifts are draining.

I also find myself worrying about adjusting to the technology—which younger students are proficient at. Once you get used to one pump, it’s gone and the next one comes in. I’ve spoken with other second-career nurses, and all share that feeling of not being able to keep up.

But through the discouragement, I’ve learned what second career nurses have to offer.

Your Unique Experience
Second career nurses bring to the nursing profession something younger nurses don’t have: life experience. My fellow students—most who were about 20 years younger than I—often said to me, “You’re just so comfortable and confident.” They mentioned how nervous they felt when talking to a patient. I’ve never really stressed about that. I chalk that up to my background in social work and because I’ve had my own children and been through lots of family health situations. I bring more empathy and knowledge to the nursing environment.

I also think I’ve gained confidence as I’ve gotten older; I am not afraid to say to myself, I am still smart. I can still do it…and I’m going to do it. Seasoned nurses might snidely question the way I do things, but I don’t take it personally. Instead, I deal with it. I’ve encountered enough catty people in my life—from my previous work as a social worker to the PTO--to know that usually these people have insecurities of their own.

As a second career nurse, I’m also sure of my priorities. Often, hospitals want younger students who want to climb the corporate ladder—and, hence, are willing to take the tough shifts. At this stage in my life, accelerating in my career isn’t my first priority; my family is. So, I’ve chosen to be pickier about my shifts.

I encourage others to pursue a nursing career, even if you feel over-the-hill. Health care professionals are hugely in demand, and good, caring ones are going to be the difference in solving the problems we face. Each of us has something different to offer—whatever our life stage—and working together we can make a difference."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Today My Patient Told Me...

...that she was so grateful for the care I am giving her, that I'm a tender and compassionate nurse, and that I should go tell my Mother that I am such an angel-nurse and that she (my Mom) should do something special for me for being so kind! She said she prays for all the nurses caring for her, because that is all she is able to do these days. That, and say "thank you" to us.

She was an elderly patient, very frail, and very, very ill.  She had an upper GI bleed, and I saw what melena looks like. It had just been something I'd learned and read about before. Now I saw copious volumes of melena in her bed, several times. It was horrific -- I will never forget what melena looks like. Luckily, she had no pain. She was transferred to a unit that a step up from our med-surg floor, and below ICU.

What a sweet little old lady.  May she be blessed as she continues her journey.

Yes, I am so grateful to have made the career switch and do meaningful-to-me work.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

One year from today

One year from today we will be finished. It honestly feels like it was just a few months ago that I was writing about how it was the morning before my first-ever class of nursing school, and how terrifying and exciting that felt! Time sure flies....

I just submitted my last assignment. This afternoon I have my last lecture for year three. And tomorrow and Friday I have my last two med-surg shifts.  Then I study for two final exams, and voilĂ , finished 75% of nursing school.

I cannot wait to be done. So many things have been put 'on-hold' in the past eight months, but in particular, these last six weeks. These six weeks have been among the most intense weeks of my life. I am so relieved this phase is almost over.

And the most surreal, yet terrifying, part is that just after 24 more weeks of classes, starting in September, we will be graduating and expected to function as full-fledged RN/BScN. I know we will learn so much in those 24 weeks (just look at how far we've come in this year alone!), but sitting here typing those words right now really scares me.

I've decided that I want to consolidate in the ER. I want to be a trauma nurse more than anything. I also dream of doing pediatrics/NICU and Labour & Delivery and getting my Nurse Practitioner degree, but those pieces of the puzzle will be figured out later. I clearly cannot do everything at once (as much as I'd like to!), so starting out as a trauma nurse is the path I'm choosing to follow right now. And that decision feels beyond awesome.

Off to my last class of third year nursing school now!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Comic Relief: Brian Regan Emergency Room

Need a laugh today?
I needed some laughter today, as I focus on the homestretch of the med-surg rotation and third year nursing school.

Here's a short clip I stumbled across: Brian Regan's take on the ER.

I l-o-v-e this guy's take on rating pain according to the pain scale!!!  And he's certainly got a valid point on the need for valet parking in Emerg. I've thought about that being very useful before, too.

Enjoy! ("say eight, say eight!!!")

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Yes, even though I am losing all hope in spring ever arriving this year, I can see then end of third year nursing school.  We have just over a week left to go. That is truly surreal.

I was recently talking with my mom, and she way saying how she couldn't believe how quickly this program is flying by (and she thought I was off my rocker leaving my first career). I chose to do the regular 4 year BScN program (as opposed to the accelerated program) for several reasons, mostly because doing the extended program allowed me to be mostly part-time for the first two years. At the time I started, my youngest was in half-day kindergarten, so it allowed me to spend precious time with her, and to volunteer in the kids' school. That was a gift to me (and them!) beyond measure -- something that I'm so grateful to have been able to do, and something that I can never go back to as time only goes forward.

So what I started this adventure, I was faced with four solid years until I graduated. The days have been full, there have certainly been stressful times and other times when I had to study and couldn't join my family/friends on certain activities, but its not forever. And honestly, even though some days and weeks are very long, in hindsight, it has flown by.

We just have 25 full weeks of classes/shifts left, and then they'll send us out into the real world, to be real nurses! (gulp!!!). I think I've mentioned this before (if I haven't written it, I've certainly thought of writing it down - lol), is how easily I could have STILL found myself sitting in my office, dreaming about going to nursing to school.

Time really does go by quickly. Something that may seem eternal and daunting initially, can easily go by faster than people realize. I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to gather up my courage and make that career change, even if went against the grain and seemed illogical at my current stage in life and career. I would be devastated if I were to look back now and realize, "If only I'd started nursing school when I wanted to, I'd be almost done by now."

But instead, here I really am, just 7 school/shift days short of finishing third year. I've just landed a dream contract with a leading national nurses association, where I'll have the opportunity to beautifully bring my first career and my future career together in a way I didn't envisage possible earlier, and basically, truly living the life of my dreams.

Take steps towards meeting some of your dreams and passions. It is so worth the effort and the initial doubt (and terror!)  I can attest that I'm closer than I've ever been before to living the most authentic life and being most my true self, than I've ever been before. 

I've never been more content and at peace with myself and my life.

That is a gift beyond measure, and something that I'm most grateful for.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Today My Patient Told Me...

I had cared for this patient for two days, and today was my last shift with her.  I was saying my goodbyes as I left the floor, and my clinical instructor was with me, just asking her how my nursing care had been for her.  She said it was lovely.

As we were leaving, she added, "If I'm ever in the hospital again, I truly hope Kate is my nurse again."


Now, THAT's job satisfaction in my books.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Need Inspiration to be a Second Career Nurse?

Here's some genuine inspiration about second-career nursing...she became a nurse at age 54, and at 89, is still working 4 times a week.

Now that's inspiration to me.  And as a bonus, this makes me feel positively young!!! :-)

Thank you, ScrubsMag, for telling the world about this amazing nurse!

89 years old and still going strong…our inspiring nurse of the week!

 + Scrubs + Scrubs

Ever feel like you’re 90 years old at the end of a long shift? So does Ruth Hepler.

Here’s the difference, though: Hepler actually is 90! Well, 89 to be exact.

Four days a week you’ll find Hepler at Nella’s Nursing Home in Randolph County, W.V, according to She will have driven herself there and will likely be overseeing and comforting patients in addition to performing nursing treatments.

Interestingly, Hepler didn’t even become a nurse until she was 54. She joined the Davis and Elkins College RN Program after her husband died. Before that she was a homemaker, and before that she worked in a factory making plexus glass for B29 bombers for World War II.

She doesn’t restrict her work to West Virginia, either. She has also volunteered as a nurse in Haiti and has traveled around the world. All of this sits well with her reason why she’s still a nurse after all these years.

“If you are going to retire to something, that’s different. Just don’t retire and sit down,” she told WBOY.

Well said, Mrs. Helper.

Here's the link to the source of this article, at

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Marathon continues....

Whew. Two exams in two days have just been completed. 

Now I get to work on my nursing care plan that is due on Friday, to be presented complete with Power Point slides. I don't mind one bit. Yes, its extra work, but I've truly hit the jackpot with the best clinical instructor ever.

Last Thursday was our med-surg buddy shift, which meant I didn't really get to do anything except watch and learn how the unit works. By the end of the shift, my instructor told me I'd have not one, but two patients on Friday, and pass meds to both of them.  That's about 25 different medications between the two patient!  And she makes sure we know not only the medications' key info, but also details like mechanism of action (i.e. this one blocks cellular calcium channels which raises the voltage for an action potential to trigger...)  I did it.  I knew them, and now after being verbally grilled on them, I'll remember them forever.

At post-conference on Friday, after I'd managed to look after both patients and get my documentation done (no small feat!), we were talking.  I told the group that honestly, if you'd told me a week ago I'd be looking after two patients, solo, on the med surg floor today, I'd have looked at you like you have two heads.  But I did it, it went well, and my confidence and organization levels are growing exponentially.  Its incredible.  Busy, but incredible nonetheless.

And you know what, my mind is starting to change about the importance of working on a med-surg floor as a first job.  I can now really see the value of doing such nursing at the beginning, as you truly do learn so much about so many conditions.  What a valuable learning experience.  And with my long-term goal of being a Nurse Practitioner, I just might consider that type of nursing initially, even if its just for six months or a year.  I really do want to specialize in the NICU or LD or even Emerg, but I think I'd have such a strong foundation if I did med-surg first.  I think I'll still consolidate in one of the high-acuity areas (probably NICU), but won't be devastated if I don't get in there as a nurse right away.  I think I'd be a better NP if I worked med-surg for awhile.

Anyhow, time will tell.  Its just interesting to see how my thoughts and priorities are changing as we go through nursing school.  I went in thinking LD all the way, but now its truly one of several options.  And I love having options!!!  Lol! 

I just love nursing so much, I want to do a bit of everything!!!

Back to reality, back to face my care plan now.

And here's a cartoon that brought a smile to my face, from my beloved website:

Here's the link to the entire cartoon series on

Monday, March 3, 2014

30 Stages of Nursing School

I came across this gem of a list a few days ago.  I don't know who it belongs to, so I'm just sharing the link and giving full credit to the fun people who took the time to compile it.

It's awesome.  It is also a bit sad that it rings so true.

Only 9 more months of school, and 13 months total until we graduate...we can do this....

Just a few more nursing diagnoses....must push through....

ENJOY!!!  Here's the link:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The True Importance of Assessment

I'm still thinking about my experience during my first medsurg shift, with the patient I described yesterday. I cannot help but wonder how the situation could have been very different, had I not gone it at the time I did, to assess him. That's part of the nature of the job, I guess. 

And just from entering into his room, I could already tell by looking and listening to him, that things were not right. That's a pretty good feeling, I must admit, for an inexperienced, novice student nurse ("snurse"!). I'm doing some "critical thinking" here, folks! Its all a question of building up confidence over time and experience.

I keep thinking back to my pediatrics rotation, where it seemed all we did was do vitals q4h or q2h, depending on the patient. I even had one pediatric patient with a head injury, that I was doing neurovitals on every q15 mins, I believe.

I remember expressing a bit of frustration to my nursing prof, saying that it seems that all we do is take vitals. Luckily, my pediatric patients were all stable, and we were clearly doing all those assessments just to practice doing assessments. She tried to explain to me how important doing those VS assessments were, as part of the ongoing care for our patients. It just seemed very routine to do, and we had to go through the motions of taking those assessments. It felt tedious at times.
Now I know better.

Now I can really see the importance behind doing those assessments. They provide so much information about the patient, that I didn't realize back then.

Our clinical instructor told us that she's never had a patient unexpectedly crash on her. She does a complete head to toe assessment on every single patient at the start of each shift. Any deviation from that baseline assessment is noted, and potential predictive trajectories of decline can be spotted on follow up checks. That's not to say she's never had a patient crash on her, she has, clearly, its just that its never blindsided her.

And speaking of clinical instructors, my teacher this term could not be better. She is very tough and very demanding, yet very approachable and enthusiastic about teaching us as much as she can. We are going to learn to much -- actually, in just two shifts (one on the floor, one in a classroom) with her, I've already been able to apply so much theory I've learned since year one, to practice.  She's making the theoretical portion of nursing school come to life.

And she's only been a nurse for 7 years.  That is maybe the part that amazes me the most. If she can be that awesome, intelligent, efficient and capable a nurse in that amount of time, you can be sure I'll be right up there with her, in seven years.  She's shown me it is 'do-able' to be such a great nurse, in a relatively short period of time. 

If she can do it, so can I.
Oh, and how could I forget to mention...glory be, the nursing theory paper is d-o-n-e!!!!!! Whew.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Medsurg Can Be Exciting

I'm just home now for a short while, after my first medsurg shift. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, except that it would be busy for me. I guess I was expecting busy but doing more or less routine things.

It wasn't quite that way.  For the most part, yes, but I'm currently coming down from an adrenaline rush -- I'm realizing I'm perhaps more of an adrenaline junkie than I realized.

I met all kinds of patients today, some very nice, some not so much. The nice ones were truly lovely.

Then there was my patient who I went to take a set of vitals on, who congestion was audible when you entered the room and was breathing quickly, using the accessory muscles/retractions and the tracheal tug that I'd read about in textbooks (it's really something to see in real life -- I didn't realize it would look quite that dramatic!). I couldn't get his O2 sats - I tried and tried, then got a different machine and tried again on his toes, and finally got a reading -- 68% and his legs were cool and mottling.

I got help quickly.  They were still working on him when I finally left the hospital tonight, but he seemed to be breathing a bit easier.
I was breathing a bit easier too.

I did something good and useful in my work today. What an awesome feeling.
I can see how one would learn so much working on a medsurg floor. But I also love the idea of specializing where you're working on a 1:1 ratio and being an expert in your particular field.
So many options, so many choices.  Again, what an awesome feeling.

I'm loving this!!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Nursing School Honeymoon Phase is Most Definitely Over

I know I just have the mid-winter "blahs".

Having finished psychiatry, I can say with relative confidence that this is most probably not an actual case of SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder, as it doesn't quite impair my ability function. So I think its a lesser case of SAD, just called the "blahs" and "I'm really sick of winter -- an unseasonably cold winter that just won't let up".  Yes, I'm quite sure that's the technical/mental health terminology for what I have.  That being said, regardless of the actual diagnosis, I know for certain that a trip down south to visit some palm trees and sit on the beach would be *the* perfect antidote!  I promise myself that as soon as I graduate this degree, that will be an annual ritual to combat the February "blahs". :-)

On a brighter note, my first week of classes is finished. My final exam went OK and I finished overall with a mark that maintains my A average (whew!). My "dark cloud hanging over my head" nursing theory paper is now half written, and the second half is well mapped out.  That fact in itself is already lifting my spirits greatly.

My dear husband is only away for two more nights, and then I can go back to my role as full-time student and part-time mom, instead of full-time both roles. Ever since I became a mom and realized just how difficult it was for two of us to cope with a newborn, have I had a special place in my soul for single parents. I wish I could be of more help to my friends who are currently going through this nightmare experience that third year nursing school is, yet I'm barely keeping my own head above water these months. I will somehow make this up in the future when I graduate, as it really is a section of the population that I have a very tender and empathetic spot for. I'm a big believer in that "it takes a village to raise a child" philosophy, and I plan to put that belief into action as soon as I possibly can.

I have my first med-surg shift early tomorrow morning. We are to show up wearing "professional" clothes, not scrubs, so it remains to be seen just how long the day will be, or what exactly it will entail. But I do know that starting on our Friday shift, it will be all work and learning.  Our clinical instructor is an ER/trauma nurse, and she seems absolutely fantastic. I can see that this rotation will be probably the most difficult thus far, but with the instructor we have, I can also see this rotation being the one where I learn the most, and maybe, just maybe, will finally start to feel a wee bit like a nurse. I can but hope.

Off to make lunches for everyone for tomorrow, and then try to get some sleep before the 5:20 am alarm goes off.  And they're calling for more snow overnight.  It might make for yet another interesting (aka white knuckle on the highway!) drive to the hospital....

Future-nurse Kate

Friday, February 21, 2014

Worst Spring "break" ever

I'm almost beside myself with frustration, stress and worry. This was supposed to be our spring break -- reading week. We have a final exam in psychiatry at 9 am upon our return on Monday morning. And we have a huge research paper looming in nursing research. So those were my two goals for this and research/write a paper.

Instead, we're faced with 9 chapters of reading, innumerable Youtube videos to watch outlining various procedures and countless websites to read up on. All this for a lab quiz, that is due at noon on the Monday we get back to school.

This has truly been one of the most stressful "breaks" ever. Add to that, we're having some major issues with our oldest child, going through the agonies that are the start of the teenage years. The stress of that factor alone is almost unbearable to me. I'm not sure how that's going to play out in the coming weeks. But I will reach out for professional help if we need it, as this issue may be bigger than I can currently handle with my child (see, I've learned something from my mental health class!)

It's 4:15 am, and I've been up since 1:30 am, studying, simply because I can't sleep.

I'm really not sure, honestly, how I'm going to get through the next 6 weeks, without blowing my GPA that I've worked so hard to maintain at the A level, and keeping sane.  I truly just don't know.

The GPA is really important to me, for several reasons. One, it feels good to have marks reflect what I think I'm learning. And perhaps more importantly, it helps me get the consolidation placement of my choice -- certain areas of nursing, such as the NICU, L&D and Emerg (which happen to be my top three choices!), are only open to students with a good GPA.

In the big picture, if a student/new grad truly wants to get into one of those areas, they can eventually get there. However, being an older student, I'm well aware that my career time is much more limited that the new grad straight out of high school.  It's really important to me to get into an area that I love, as soon as possible, instead of wasting time getting there.  I've wasted enough time already getting into this field...I don't want to waste any more.

I'm going to try to go get some sleep now.  I've seen what serious sleep deprivation can do to the mind, during my psychiatric clinical rotation, and it ain't pretty.  And I'm not talking about "beauty sleep"!!!  I'm talking about the visual and auditory hallucinations.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Spring Break 2014!!!

The title of this post makes it sound like a fun week.  Alas, reality is quite different...

Yes indeed, Spring Break/Reading Week is upon us. Sadly, it resembles nothing like the media or pop culture portrays Spring Break. No wild parties, no bikinis, no drinking (well, maybe a bit!), no sand, no palm trees. Just snow, cold, textbooks and research papers. Wahoo -- we sure can party!!!  And this doesn't just apply to us "mature" students.  There may be a few gone South for the break, but I haven't heard of anyone going anywhere else than home.

Yep, that's the reality of third year, I guess. We have a final psychiatry exam waiting for us at 9 am on Monday morning, after our break. Most of us are taking this week to write our horrible nursing theories research paper. And our lab team for the remainder of the semester was kind enough to email us yesterday, to tell us that all the lab readings are posted, and that the first lab quiz is due at noon on Monday -- the same Monday we have our final exam.  I guess I'll add lab readings and lab quiz to my activities for this week.

So its not much of a break, but it is a break nonetheless.  At least there's a break from classes/shifts and the usual routine.  I'll take it, even if it doesn't involve palm trees, white beaches and fancy drinks! 

I'll just have to make up the trips/vacations I lost during nursing school, starting next year, when I graduate (next year!!!!!). 

Off to tackle my "to do" pile. I really want to make the most of this week off, and accomplish lots.

Happy reading during Reading Week!

On a different note, I've added another countdown element to my many countdowns (yes, I do love counting down to certain big events, like finishing nursing school!!!)

Only 150 more days of classes/shifts remain in our nursing school adventure...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nursing Care Plan

I'm finishing up my care plan for my current rotation - psychiatry. I'm quite pleased to be able to say that writing these plans is becoming much easier. Maybe it helps that my first career involved much writing, but knowing which nursing diagnoses to choose for my patients is also coming much easier. It's actually fun to write these (I know, I'm weird).

It'll be interesting to see what the difference is between nursing school and real nursing, next year. These care plans are a great idea in principle, but are they really used across the board in nursing practice?  I somehow doubt that greatly. I can see them being developed and used in certain areas of nursing, such as maybe home nursing or rehab, but on a medical floor or even in psychiatry, I must say I rather doubt it.

Probably much of what we're currently learning will be nice to know, but not applicable to the realities of the work day. I love the ideas of giving "culturally competent care" and writing down goals that are "patient driven" so as to have maximum participation on the patient's part. Ideally, I sincerely hope to be able to include elements of such ideas in my daily practice, and I will really try, as I do see the benefits, but it remains to be seen to what extent such ideas can really be incorporated into practice.

And don't even get me started on nursing theories -- especially the grand theories!  I can hypothetically see the usefulness and how I could apply middle range theories and lower theories in my work. However, that being said, I do appreciate the work and thought and effort that the early nursing theorists, back in the 1960s and 1970s did, which helped advance nursing into a true profession, and not just a non-thinking role as "handmaiden to the physician".

I give the early theorists full credit and gratitude for that, because if nursing was today like it was 50 years ago, I most certainly would have stuck it out in my first career, guaranteed!  Nursing has come a long way in the past few decades, and I look forward to seeing how much further it will advance in my lifetime.

But I will still reserve the right to snicker at Roger's prediction that nurses will become "astraunettes" in the future, doing nursing practice in outer space.  But again, I give her full credit for her many ideas and thoughts -- think big or go home. She definitely thought big.

Back to my care plan and hopefully I can manage a short run this morning, before my afternoon class.

Life is good.  And Spring Break is next week, which is great.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Inspirational Words for Today

"The odds may be one-hundred to one against you, but a determined person can do anything."
                                                                                        source: my 12 year old son

He just said that to me, as I'm sitting here with my head hurting from trying to understand and memorize so many nursing theories for Monday's exam.

Learning nursing theories is still a nightmare course. I'll most definitely, without any shadow of any doubt, leave evolving nursing theories to other nurses, in my future career.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Another Shift - Another Code White

OK, to be completely honest, today was one of the scariest, must unnerving days I've ever spent on the job. Yes, there was another Code White called on a patient.

I didn't witness this one, but the build-up to it was almost surreal.

I'd often heard the expression, "the tension was palpable in the air", today I completely understood what that means, and how that feels.

Not only were all my fellow nursing students and I on edge, and feeling the tension, but so were many of the patients. I could see how distressing it was for them, who are dealing with severe problems of their own.

The patient in question was not doing anything outright that would raise red flags to prompt a de-escalation or medication. It was just a quiet building of tension that continued to grow.  It was a feeling unlike anything I'd ever felt before. I was so relieved that I wasn't there when he did blow.

Everyone was jittery and on-edge today it seemed - staff, students, patients.

I was so relieved to walk out of there this afternoon. 

And now I find I'm still having a tough time concentrating on my work assignments and to try to focus on the nursing theories exam that's coming up early next week.

One more shift tomorrow morning. Hopefully it'll be a new day, and a better shift.

Psych nursing is most, most definitely NOT for this future nurse.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dreaming about Nursing

That's not the dreaming in the sense of, "I'd really love to go to nursing school and change careers" type of dreaming.  I had plenty of years of that.

Rather, its the "wake up in a cold sweat and gratefully gasp as waves of relief flood your body because you realized it was just a dream/nightmare" type of dream.

Yep, that's what I awoke to this morning. And forget trying to get back to sleep after that!

I had a nightmare about administering medications. 

One of my worst fears as a nurse, perhaps even "the" worst fear I have, is making medication errors.  They say its inevitable that every nurse makes med errors, and to be wary of those nurses who claim they've never made one, as they're the scariest ones, as they most likely don't realize their errors. But I digress.

In my nightmare, I was being a completely careless nurse. It was a busy nursing station, and the patients were coming up to it go get their meds (as happens in the psych ward at times, with certain patients). I was filling in or something, but it was definitely a new unit to me in the dream. I was chatting with one guy as I prepared his meds. Then I gave him his meds and that was that.


Except shortly thereafter, another guy came to the window and asked for his meds. I asked him his name, and then realized that those were the meds I'd just administered to the first guy -- whom I hadn't even asked his name, let alone checked his wrist band AND asked him his birthday.  Oh. My. God. (This was when the panic welled up in me, even in real life as this dream unfolded).

Then, to make matters even worse, when I told the nursing manager about my error, she asked me what meds I'd given the guy, and I didn't know!!!  I mean, I knew what the names of the pills were, and how much I'd given, but I had no idea if they were heart medication pills, or blood thinners, or antibiotics, or what - you get the idea.  This is how nursing jobs and licences are lost, and even worse, possibly lives.

I woke up around this point.  Heart pounding. I told hubby about it, still breathing gasps of relief that it wasn't real.  His comment was, "At least you've gotten this mistake out of the way, and learned from it."  Lol!

I still cringe when I think back to that nightmare.

The rights of medication administration have been drilled into our heads for awhile now.

The nurse must ensure he/she's got/giving the RIGHT:

route (of administration)
reason (for giving that particular medication)
documentation (after the medication is given).

I will definitely ensure that such a mistake ONLY happens in my dreams -- or rather, my nightmares.

My first career definitely did not come with this type of stress and responsibility...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Code White!

Yes, I witnessed my first "code white" on the psych floor -- meaning "violent patient". Orderlies and security came running.

What a strange and horrible feeling to witness something like that.

Only 4 more shifts to go.

Its been a good rotation so far. I've learned a lot. My clinical instructor couldn't be better. My group is awesome. I've met some really nice people, who suffer greatly in their lives, even if their problems aren't visible. But, this is not the specialty I see myself in.

Nope. Psychiatric nursing is definitely not for this future nurse.  Most definitely not.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

On the psychiatric ward - first thoughts

We've had two shifts so far in this mental health rotation. The first was the obligatory orientation to the unit and the hospital (a new one for me). We had minimal patient interaction that day.

The second day was a nurse buddy shift. However, my patient was leaving that morning for an extended pass, so I got to at least prepare the patient's medication, go through all the meds and when they're to be taken, and to do the paperwork/documentation required for the temporary home pass.

Other than that, I had minimal patient interaction again. I sat in on a few patient sessions that were given by other members of the interdisciplinary team.  Those were interesting. I hadn't quite realized, mostly because I hadn't really thought about it before, just how intertwined mental health nursing is with other health and social disciplines. The cases can be so complex on so many levels, that go beyond "just" mental health...adequate housing, social support, nutrition, etc.

It really is a very interesting field.  I still love pediatrics more than anything, but am now starting to think I may have to (one day, when NS is over), do some mental health-related volunteering, on a crisis line or something like that.

The communications skills we're learning are fantastic, and applicable to so many situations. The crisis line position would certainly put those new skills to good use, and keep them sharp.

I've got evening shifts coming up tonight and tomorrow. 

Life is good.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mental Health Rotation

It was a course and clinical rotation that I've long thought of as "meh...something to get through as part of nursing school."

Guess what?

I think I'm going to l-o-v-e this one....

Will write more after my first two rotations, in the next two days.  I can't wait to try this!!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

Wishing everyone a happy 2014, and may we all work towards our dreams and wishes come true!

And the best part -- now I can say -- I GRADUATE NEXT YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!