First Impressions, Part 2

On Wednesday of last week, we had a child health skills lab day. It was an entire DAY (0800-1600) dedicated to learning child health skills before we get into clinical in two weeks. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go…especially because we were given 12 pages of “fill in the blanks” to use during our skills lab that we need to know before our first test.

In order to prepare for our skills lab we had a couple of questions on assessment to answer as pre-work. As far as pre-work goes for a skills lab, I’d have to say it was the easiest I’ve ever been given. I’m assuming that’s because they knew we’d be filling in 12 pages of paperwork during the actual day.

We also had to watch a video that showed an NG tube insertion for a young (probably about 2 yrs) boy as pre-work. And that made me bawl. Yet another reason I don’t want to be a pediatric nurse.

So the day started with a 90 minute lecture that REALLY captured my interest and made me excited about child health nursing. What??? Yes, I said excited about child health nursing. It really helps when you have faculty and an instructor who are just SO SO passionate about being pediatric nurses! The lecture went into different skills we should know/brush up on before we get to clinical (tracheostomies, NG tubes, G-buttons, how to collect a urine specimen on a child, etc.) and then we were dismissed to begin our day rotating through the different skills labs stations that had set up throughout the building.

A treasured classmate and I rotated through them together. First we had to go to the computer lab and complete case studies that reflected different cultural situations in pediatric health. Then we went to the math station and completed a TON of different pediatric math calculations in order to prepare us for our math test and for clinical. After we ate lunch we then finished the last two stations: administering meds through a G-button and NG tube, setting up a syringe pump, and then pediatric assessment for children of different ages (including measuring the head/length of infants and weighing diapers).

All-in-all it turned out to be a VERY fun day and I feel like I am much more prepared to go into the hospital now for our child health clinicals. The 12 page paperwork wasn’t at all hard, either. And now I have it to use for study purposes for our first test!

On Thursday we had our adult health orientation. Some parts of the orientation were overwhelming, some were fun, and some were just tiring. The day started off at 0800, where we (and by “we” I mean just the two clinical groups that have the same clinical instructor) gathered to go over the paperwork that our clinical instructor expects from us every week after clinical. That was a 3 hour long process! That was the part that was overwhelming. Thankfully she went into GREAT detail about what she wants, however I gathered the sense that it will probably take around 4-5 hours to complete paperwork every week after clinical because it’s just so intense.

Then we all were released to go to UTSW (St. Paul) and meet the shuttle to Zale Lipshy (the other UTSW hospital). Once we got to Zale our instructor took us to their renowned neuro ICU and we were given a tour. I know and have known several AMAZING nurses who work(ed) at Zale’s neuro ICU and love(d) it, so I was thrilled to learn that we are given a clinical day there! The tour was amazing, all the nurses were met were SUPER friendly, and it REALLY pumped me up for adult clinicals. I’m so thankful that I was put in the UTSW clinical group!

After we got the tour through the neuro ICU, we caught the shuttle back to St. Paul Hospital to eat lunch and then go over the UTSW orientation paperwork and PYXIS training. Both were boring (and tiring). But we got it done (in about 4 hours!), and then we were given a tour of all the floors we’ll be on at St. Paul during our rotations. All of us will be on different floors, some overlapping…I’m on 4 different floors for my rotations at St. Paul: the CVICU, the MSICU, a med-surg floor, and an imaging/GI unit. I’m super excited about the ICU floors, of course, especially the CVICU since I’m such a huge fan of cardiology. πŸ™‚

And that completed our day! After our tours finished, we were released to go home. At that time it was already 1745 and I was just so ready to get home, eat dinner, and go to bed, unfortunately. I got up so early every day last week that I was pretty tired early on in the evening, even though I still had so much to do.

I have a feeling that I’m going to be playing “catch-up” ALL semester! I had a whole list of things to do over the weekend especially because it was a 3-day weekend for MLK day…but alas I probably only got through 1/3rd of the list, if that.

So that wrapped up my first week! It was overwhelming, tiring, and fun. As I said before, I am very excited about what I’m learning this semester, however I’m nervous about the work load of S1. It’s going to be heavy…and I’m already starting to wonder WHEN I’m going to have time to actually STUDY. Hopefully I can pull it off – and PASS this semester!


First Impressions, Part 1

My husband told me this morning: “I think you had a breakdown once per semester for J1 and J2. And in just one week of being an S1, you’ve had three.”

I think that sums up what this semester is going to be like for me. Although after surviving week one I’d have to say that I am truly VERY excited about what I’m going to get to learn and do this semester; I just hope I can make it to the end of these 16 weeks and PASS.

The week began rough. We had a child health lecture first and it covered how to communicate with children and then a lecture on the basic assessment of children. I say it began rough because first of all…I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to be a pediatric nurse, so the information in child health just doesn’t GRIP me the way that adult health does.

Second, I felt very “lost” in the lecture on how to communicate with children – almost as though the lecture had begun three weeks ago and I was just now getting into it. We discussed Erickson and Piaget, which I do remember from taking developmental psychology in pre-reqs, but hadn’t refreshed since then. Well this lecture literally had us “hit the ground running.” We were expected to know the different stages of development through Erickson and Piaget and we were expected to interact with that lecture by answering questions according to those developmental theories. Surprisingly I did remember quite a bit from my class two years ago…but I still felt like I’d just stumbled into this class after it’d been in progress for awhile. Not a comforting feeling when it’s your very first lecture of your senior year.

Third, the child assessment lecture really scared me. Children are NOT like adults. You don’t communicate with them the same way, and you don’t care for them the same way. And, although assessment is pretty universal, the way you assess a child feels different than the way you would assess an adult. Our instructor really stressed the importance of a VERY thorough assessment for children – not a focused assessment – because they could be fine one minute and in complete pulmonary arrest the next. That lecture scared me because as out instructor was teaching us how to assess a child, all I kept thinking was that I was going to forget something important and the child would end up in danger because I didn’t check their pulses or something like that! (I don’t think I’ll forget to check pulses, but you get what I’m saying.)

So that was Monday…and on Tuesday we had our first adult 2 lecture and mental health lecture. Adult began with a subject I love: the heart. However, we were given so much information in that lecture that I felt like we’d been given two weeks of information in only 3 hours. I’m wondering how I’m going to study for all that information and remember it all! And this information was just so different from previous material in Adult 1; it was more INTENSE and dealt with high-acuity diseases of the heart rather than the normal CHF, such as endocarditis, cardiomyopathy, pericarditis, cardiac tamponade, heart transplants, valve stenosis & regurgitation, valve replacements, and aortic aneurysms & dissections (yes, ALL of that in only 3 hours!).

I wasn’t sure what to expect in our mental health lecture but I’d like to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been dreading mental health since the first day of J1, however after just the one lecture on Tuesday and the follow-up lecture on Friday, I’m already convinced of how IMPORTANT it is for nursing students to take a mental health course and for nurses to understand mental health in EVERY aspect of nursing practice. And here’s why: no matter what kind of nurse you are, you will always need the skills of being able to communicate therapeutically with your patients and their family members.

Our lecture on Tuesday was a basic introductory lecture: why mental health is important, the different theories of psychology and why we study them, and an introduction to managed mental health care. On Friday (our mental health orientation, as it was called), we watched a video on mental health nurses – what they do and why it’s so important to them. That video made me cry for sure. Then we discussed the “therapeutic nurse-patient relationship”, the differences between sympathy and empathy, and how to recognize anxiety in ourselves and what to do about it.

So my first impressions from the lecture portions of this week: I think child health will be important but not really interesting for me (we’ll see how that changes once we start clinical). Adult health will be AWESOME but possibly quite overwhelming. And mental health will be something that I’ll look forward to every week (how unexpected!).

And why the breakdowns this week? I’m still not even quite sure. I think I’m just super stressed right now and every little thing makes me want to cry. There is a point at which, as a nursing student, you may be trying to do to much, and I think I might be there. But then again maybe I’m just trying to adjust to the different intensity of this semester and I’ll be fine once I get my feet on solid ground and can run with the rest of them.

We’ll see…



Happy New Year!!!

I’m SO EXCITED for this year!! Because this year, God willing (and fingers crossed!) I will GRADUATE from nursing school!!!

By this time next year, I will be Amber, BSN!

Happy New Year from us to you!

Happy New Year from us to you!