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!!!