It was a big day for our family. Everyone headed down to campus to watch me graduate. I am a graduate nurse! More to follow.
It’s time to write. I mean, really it is. I have two papers coming up (one is due this Sunday at 2259), and I have been experiencing a bit of writer’s block. Truth is, I really have no idea what the heck these papers are… I have only received partial instructions on the farther due dated paper, and I am still trying to formulate what the teacher is asking me to say on the one due Sunday.
I figured that time is getting desperate, so it’s time to use my first line of attack for writer’s block which is posting on this blog. I would love to tell you all about the amazing experiences I have been having in my clinical immersion this semester, but I can’t. It’s between me, my preceptor, and my patients. I CAN say that I have finally started to feel that I am gaining clinical skills. I have removed staples from C-section incisions, removed catheters (have yet to place one..), removed many saline locked IVs (have yet to place one…), and my assessment skills are improving every day. Best of all, my preceptor is an amazing resource for helping me to teach mothers to breastfeed. She is a breastfeeding resource nurse, and we spend a good portion of the shift supporting mothers in their efforts to breastfeed and hopefully send them home feeling confident and empowered. Well, I am pretty passionate about it. Enough about that.
In the home front we are hitting the phase in our children’s lives of being very busy. My daughter has started to attend gymnastics lessons once a week at a fabulous gym. She is excelling and thriving there. I love to see her glow from her sense of accomplishment and grow stronger every week. She needed this, something to be good at. She has also started swimming lessons once a week. She loves it when she gets in the water, but fights me the whole way out the door. Ugh, kids. I waited this long to put her in swimming for two main reasons. 1) I am a former swim instructor. No way I am paying for baby classes because they are mostly for teaching parents how to play safely with their baby in the water. I already know how, because I taught the class. 2) I can teach my kids just fine how to acclimate the water and float, kick, and blow bubbles. When they are young they still will listen to mom and dad. I did teach my girl to kick and float and dive under the surface, but now she is reaching the age where I try to teach her till I am blue in the face, but she will hear it clearly the first time from a stranger. Most kids learn stroke development from a teacher better than mom and dad. (yep, I observed this with my students as a swim teacher too) It seems I suddenly have very little time with my Little One, and it makes me sad. I spend many of my weekend days at clinical and now two of our week nights are busy. I knew this day would come, but I don’t have to like it.
As for my Little Man, he took two sessions of indoor soccer for 4-6 year olds through the YMCA this winter. My ever loving husband coached for him and I enjoyed seeing them have that time together. Little Man is no super star, but he does have a heap of natural talent for sports in general. It will be fun to watch him decide what he enjoys and develop that talent as the years go by. I can’t get over how much he has grown this year. I can’t believe he starts Kindergarten this fall!!!
Where has the time gone? Well not to writing my paper, but maybe I have knocked loose some of my mental blockage. It’s back to work time. To all of you in blogger land, remember to cherish the day. It will soon be gone.
I had my first clinical with my preceptor, and I couldn’t be happier with where I am! I am actually on the same unit that I spent 6 weeks on in my Junior year for my OB clinical. The result means that I feel like I have an idea about the way things are run and how to find what I need already. Better than the floor it’s self is the nurse who is mentoring me on the home stretch of my education. My favorite part is that it’s so obvious that she loves what she does. Not the money, the hours, or the location. (yes, those are good too…) but she loves her WORK. I see a person nearing retirement who still has the same passion for maternal newborn nursing that I feel, and it makes me hopeful, excited, and self assured.
I hope for myself, that I can navigate my career with the same dignity and grace, and with the same love of the job that this person has managed. I have so much to learn from her, and I am excited to be starting our work together. She will be helping me master my assessments of C-section incisions, newborn vitals, and computer charting. But, she is also mentoring me on frame of mind, involvement in professional organizations, and work/life balance.
Right now, I love what I do. I know if I am mindful of my family and my career, I will still be loving it in decades to come. Happiness is seeing a glimpse of your future and being excited for it.
January began with a flush of excitement. The fun was being home to walk my daughter to school, have time to make a nice dinner, and even learn a new hobby. I have been teaching myself to crochet as part of my master year-long plan to make small positive improvements and changes in my life. However, with all the hustle and bustle of finishing up the holiday season and starting my little girl back to school, and finding time and resources to start her in gymnastics, and also keeping my little man in soccer, the start of my own final semester has brought reality crashing back down.
I have left my perch in the clouds where I could daydream of the year(s) ahead and now I am trying to narrow my focus so I can accomplish the daily tasks at hand. It turns out my 2 credit course is going to be more work than the university definition of a 2 credit class load. My 6 credit clinical focus class is going to be just that, 6 credits of work with 180 hours of immersion style clinical. I am not done yet, my work is laid out for me, and I am working to fill in my planner with all the due dates and work plans to fit it in and keep my sanity in tack.
I am chugging along at the end of the track, but if I want to walk the stage and accept the diploma I have worked so hard to get, I have GOT to come back to earth and focus, focus, focus. Day dreaming time is over. It’s time to go to work.
I haven’t written is quite some time. It’s been so busy! I took a big break from any activities that took time from either my school work of my family this fall. As a result, I had the highest semester GPA of my entire time back to school! 3.6 never felt so good. I was extremely excited, but man, I have never worked that hard for class in my life.
I only had one writing intensive course, but I did more writing for all my classes than I had done to date. I know that this semester will bring it’s own unique challenges and stresses, but I hope that the majority of my undergrad writing is behind me now. I wrote a large final paper for my anthropology class which was worth 70% of my grade (how was this NOT a writing intensive class?), I created my senior thesis, and I wrote extensively for my 6 credit clinical course as well. Those 13 credits felt a lot more like 18.
Next week, I begin my final semester of my BSN program, and I couldn’t happier. I will be taking a leadership course, as well as my second 6 credit clinical. The nursing department was able to place me in my dream clinical, a birth center in a large hospital that has both Midwives, and high risk antapartum. I should get the chance to be exposed to the full gamete of birth experiences from very healthy and totally natural, to emergencies, special circumstances.
I feel that if I apply myself and put my best foot forward, I will be well prepared for the work that lies ahead. I am hoping that come May (yikes!) I will be a attractive potential employee candidate for any labor and delivery department in the state. Along with working my butt off on my classes this semester, the terrifying job search will begin. By the end of February, I plan to have my resume edited to my satisfaction, and a handful of references to be proud of. Then, it’s application time!
It’s a big year ahead. Graduation, employment (hopefully!), baby???? (God willing), new house???? (new to us anyhow). The future has never looked brighter, or foggier. It’s exciting, terrifying, unpredictable. Happy 2013 everyone. Thanks for coming on my journey thus far!
Here it is March already! My birthday has come and gone, the breath of winter is still upon us, and the current weather is typical of a “in like a lion” spring. Here in the land of 10,000 lakes it can be a blizzard one day, and 60 degrees and sunny the next. A quick look over my schedule assures me that this month is going to fly by at full speed. Next week is my spring break (what, already!), then my husband is absent for 4 days the following week for work, and then it’s spring break for my daughter. Then, march is pretty much over!
In that time I also have a mountain of work to wade through. I am knee-deep in my research paper, but making steady progress, and my adults class keeps me on my toes. My other course work jumps up to complicate my life, but I have become accustom to balancing multiple projects at this point. School is crazy, home life is busy, but I am so happy to be where I am. March will come, it will go, and I will be nearly finished with my Junior year of nursing.
where the hell did the time go.
I have my figurative hunting gear on, as I hunt down the scary loins that pursue me this month: dead lines, commitments, sick children. I will succeed. I hope that you are tackling the transitions in your life alright. Here we are from winter to spring, and all the other changes that we deal with month to month.
As I learn more about the art of nursing care, and then relate that knowledge to the people in my life, I have seen a significant deficit in their overall knowledge of nursing titles and education. I was definitely part of that group until I began researching in earnest how to become a nurse midwife. In an effort to clear up a bit of the confusion, I am writing this post. The list below is not exhaustive, but a good introduction. If you come across additional tiles that you want to know more about, or feel are needed on this list, feel free to write me a message and I will edit the post as needed. So, without further adieu, here is an introduction to nursing titles.
Nurses Aide or CNA (certified nursing assistant): no formal class room education is necessary, though some people take a course. Many organizations offer these courses, including the Red Cross. A test for certification is required to carry the title. This person is in charge of many of the simple and physical tasks that encompass patient care. These include turning patients in bed to avoid pressure ulcers, changing linens, taking vitals and daily weights, and feeding. Nurses aids are not responsible for decision-making, and require a level of supervision.
LPN (licensed practical nurse): A LPN has approximately one year of nursing education. They represent the next step above a nurses aide, and can supervise a nurses aide. An LPN can do most of the cares for a patient, but is not trained, or authorized to perform assessments. More education means more pay, and more opportunities for employment. A LPN always works under the supervision of an RN, physician, or both. Their work tends to be physical, and stays focused on bedside cares.
Registered Nurse (RN): An RN has a minimum of a 2 year degree. They have a combination of lecture and clinical preparation, and have authority over both nurse aides and LPNs. RNs can focus their practice to specialize, and earn certificates in areas of specialty. There is currently a push to reduce the number of associate prepared RNs and increase the number of bachelor prepared RNs. RNs do everything from bedside cares to supervisory roles. An RN takes the NCLEX exam (it’s the same test nation wide) to get licensed by the state that they practice in.
BSN RN: This is the level of education I am currently working on. A BSN (bachelors of science in nursing) RN has four years of education, and typically three of those are heavily focused on nursing curriculum. The clinical hours are longer and more diverse than the two-year RNs, and more focused on theory, research, and leadership than the two-year as well. BSNs take the same NCLEX exam and the Associates prepared RNs. Holding a bachelors puts a nurse in position for graduate school, management positions, and higher pay. One reason that the push for more BSNs exists is to try to cultivate more nursing educators. To educate nurses, you must be a minimum of a BSN, but graduate level is prefered. Therefore, if most of our nurses continue to be associate RNs, we will have no one to teach the next generation. It is common for a two-year RN to complete a BSN part-time, as four-year programs are highly competitive, expensive, and time-consuming.
MSN (masters of science in nursing): A master level prepared nurse is becoming more rare. Many nursing specialties are transitioning to doctoral level programs, leaving fewer MSN graduates. However, as this switch is happening right now, nurses who specialized up until the past few years hold this level of education. Many people who are currently earning this degree are obtaining it as a “pre-licensure” student. They already held a bachelor’s degree in science, and decided to change careers. These students are often in fast paced and intense nursing program, and are groomed for nurse supervisory positions. They are competent in bedside cares, but generally have a different focus. In the case of a few nurses I know, they tried repeatedly to enter a four-year undergrad degree, but could not get in due to the limited admission. They finished a biology focused undergrad, and continued straight on to the pre-licensure MSN program. These nurses are highly educated.
DNP (doctor of nursing practice): This is a newer classification of education for nurses. As I said in the MSN, specialty of focused education is being elevated to this level. DNPs are focused on patient care, and the title is often followed by an additional letters for the specialty they have earned, such as NP (nurse practitioner) CNM (certified nurse midwife) and so on. It can take three to four years to earn this degree and is accompanied by a focused and intensive practicum in addition to the classroom credits. As time goes on, you will see more DNPs and fewer MSNs. MSN nurses and DNPs are able to work as faculty on a nursing staff to train the next generation of nurses.
PhD: Yes, nurses can hold a PhD! These nurses focus on research instead of patient care. Some practice, but many focus on teaching, research, and advancement of both the nursing profession as well as health care knowledge. It takes several steps to obtain this degree.
PHN: This is a public health nurse, a specialty that requires additional education. There is very little “bedside” nursing in this field. PHNs focus on the needs of the population as a whole, and find ways to improve the overall health by preventing illness in the first place. I am very interested in this field.
CNM (certified nurse midwife): This is my ultimate goal. I will earn a DNP to become a certified nurse midwife. To learn more about them, see my resources page and check the links. In my opinion, every healthy woman should see a CNM over an OB, but I do have some pretty strong opinions on this subject…
There are so many more classifications and specialties, but I am going to list only one more. I chose this one because I didn’t know what it was until recently, and I see the letters listed by my professors’ names all the time. In case you were wondering too, here you go.
FAAN: You should be excited if your instructor or care providing nurse have these letters following their title! It stands for “Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing”. This person has been recognized to have made “significant contributions to the nursing profession”. FAAN was established by the ANA (american nursing association) in 1966 by its house of delegates.
In conclusion, there are many different levels of education that accompany the title of “nurse”. Along with those are very diverse skill sets, and responsibilities. We need good people to be filling this title at all levels of education, and I am excited to be entering such a diverse and dedicated group of people.
These next two weeks are utter chaos for me. It’s officially midterm which means, I’ve basically gone under ground and wont really resurface until my pile of work is finished. When I look at the heap of work that was laid out for me when the week began, I find a little comfort in knowing that some of it is completed. By the time next friday comes, I will have completed 4 papers, averaging 4 pages minimum, taken a test I can’t find time to study for, finished a statistics project that was supposed to be an in class group project (that I missed due to both little man and I being to sick to leave the house), and given Little Man his fourth birthday party. Oh, and prepped the hours of work needed to get ready for my OB clinical. I know it will get done. I just hope and pray that the end result is what I am truly capable of. I don’t really like to have so much piled on at once, but I hope what comes out of this all is at least a small reflection of the quality work I am fully capable of doing. Worst comes to worst? I can know for sure that the sun will rise and set against my will until next friday arrives, and midterms will finally be over.
Well, that is the update for now… back to the under ground for more…Happy Birthday sweet little man.
Nursing education seems unique to all other medical educations to me. At least in my program, they really take time to focus on how all people have differing and complicated thoughts and beliefs which are based on years of life experience, religious training, and cultural norms, and the best way to use this to our advantage in a clincal and community based setting. We are trained to not only be aware of the thoughts and needs of others, but to be conscious of our own beliefs, opinions, and convictions that drive our decision-making process. It helps to make us more compassionate and socially aware care givers, and to focus on patient centered care for any person who falls under our care, not just those who are like us. This heightened awareness shows me time and time again something I have been acutely aware of since the birth of my daughter: I am opinionated. I am just am. But I also know how to frame my thinking to incorporate the fact that most people are going to disagree with me to at least some degree, on anything I have a strong conviction about. I know how to separate my opinions from the situation at hand and be present, and digest what I have learned anew later. I believe that having convictions and opinions is good and healthy, as long as you don’t expect that everyone around you operates with the same set of values, and that you don’t expect to enforce those beliefs on others who have their own rich history behind what they belive to be right as well. I can have my opinions, and you can have yours, and we can all usually co-exist in our interactions just fine with respect and positive outcomes. Especially in a care giving situation, it’s not ever about me at all, period.
I have also been reminded lately, that I can talk too much. I can forget in a very relaxed (as in, non-professional) environment, that my thoughts and convictions are my own, and not always shared. So, I need to work a little harder to frame my speech in a more open and inclusive way. To remember that, more times than not, I just don’t know as much about the people around me as I might assume. (that the word assume, almost always ends with something bad…) That, people also, don’t know me, or my background. Therefore, I have a new assignment for myself. To me more aware of my own thoughts, actions, and speech in all settings. Also in how my words may affect others, or be interpreted in ways other than my intention by someone who really doesn’t know me at all.
hmm, food for thought any how.
The road to be the best nurse I can be will be a life long one, but so far, I am enjoying the challenge.
I have not posted for some time, but I do have a reason. I try to keep the activities of my life organized by their priorities. My days have been so full of late, that writing in my blog has fallen to the bottom of the list. Already I have had an eventful semester, and it’s heavily tipped to the side of the positive. My little man and I have started to get used to our morning and afternoon bus commutes. He is a tiny expert on the mass transit system, and has started to have favorite areas to sit on each type of bus. My husband and I have started to find ways to stream line our morning routine to lessen the drama of getting two small children out the door with us. It’s not perfect, but we are slowly getting better. I love my son’s Montessori school, and I believe that finding it has possibly used up my available luck for the remainder of the year. He is thriving under their direction, and learning to forge relationships on his own. One happening that can be seen as neither good nor bad, is the resignation of my scheduled hours at the job I have held for the last year. Working in the kitchen at the nursing home has had so many positive influences on my life, but the time I have gained back with my family is invaluable. The main reason for having to step back from work was money. I brought very little money home, and it cost us more than I made by keeping us a few dollars on the wrong side of an income bracket. Complicated, messy, and well, annoying.
I find myself overly stressed this week only because of the date. I am in my fourth week of school. In my two previous semesters, something has gone terribly wrong for me in this week, so I feel like I have been holding my breath since last Friday. I do what I can to stay on top of my work, but paranoia creeps in. I just have to focus on controlling the controllables, and forge ahead.
I find myself constantly worried that I am playing a pity game with myself, and therefore I am working extra hard to keep a positive attitude when ever I can. I worry that I complain too much, or don’t appreciate all that I have enough. We lead a pretty good life, even if it’s currently supplemented by federal loans, and totally absent of many “wants”. What is important is that most of our “needs” are actually met. We have a home, nutrition, each other, and lots of love. Most importantly, there is a light at the end of the tunnel; we are working on a future for all of us. Really, we have an awful lot after all.