3 More Tests!!

A week from today, I will be DONE DONE DONE with this crazy, hellish semester! I’m so excited right now…I don’t think I’ve been in this great of a mood since the first day back. I’M ALMOST DONE!!

Of course I have to study for finals…I’m three days away from the first one (Mental Health on Saturday) and I haven’t studied yet. But alas, such is my normal habit. Honestly I really will try my best with the three remaining days I have but I’m not expecting much. At this point (sadly) I will be happy with accepting my Bs and moving on.

Just so ready for it to be over.

 

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April Showers

April showers bring May flowers? Is that how that saying goes? Regardless of the saying, I think it can be well understood that all I have to do is get through April and May will bring beauty and rest to my soul.

I’ve actually been doing quite well since spring break. Surprisingly, I’ve had more motivation to just sit down and “do it” and I’ve been able to stay on top of my assignments and studying without feeling the immense pressure that I did before spring break. And I say that it’s “surprising” because usually after spring break I’m all done in!

Last week marked the end of my mental health clinical (yay!!) and yesterday (Thursday) marked the end of my adult health 2 clinical!! I only have one more child health clinical – next Friday – and then I’ll be done aside from a simulation later in the month on campus. That simulation will be awesome, I think, because it’s the same one I did as a J1 with the S1’s, except now I’m the S1 and I’m sure I’ll be criticized by the J1’s…all in good fun. It’ll be neat to see the other side of the same coin. At least I know what I didn’t like about the S1’s that I was with that semester and hopefully won’t do the same things as an S1 myself.

This semester I’ve had some really great patients, some super sick patients, and have discovered that although I could’ve sworn I would never want to work in peds that it’s definitely a fun place to be. (I still want to do adult ICU – but I’m not opposed to applying for peds ICU). I’ve also learned that med-surg nurses are not “less competent” or any less/worse of a nurse just because they work in med-surg. They are SUPER busy and definitely just as smart and they really do make a difference for their patients.

Since spring break, I’ve taken three tests – child health was bright and early the Monday morning we got back to school – and I’ve done pretty well in each. In child health I made an 88%, which is great considered how very little I studied (it was spring break!!). In mental health I made a 93.75% (the highest grade this semester!), and in adult health, which I just took this past week, I made an 88%. Those grades have me sitting so far with an A in mental health, a B in child health, and a B in adult health. YAY! I’m just hoping I can keep it up, especially in adult health, because I don’t want any Cs!

What’s left for me in these last 4 weeks (how’d I get to this point?!):

  • We find out next Tuesday what next semester will be like, and will get to apply for preceptorship. YAY.
  • My adult health 2 HESI is next Tuesday as well. Hopefully I can study some this weekend before taking it!
  • Next Friday is my last child health clinical, and because it’s on Good Friday we will be getting out at 1230 instead of 1530. Score!
  • Child health exam 3
  • Poster project presentation (will give me 2 points toward my overall final adult health 2 grade!)
  • Adult health simulation with the J1’s
  • New student orientation for incoming J1 nursing students
  • FINALS! My first final is on a Saturday, boo…and then I finish them off on Monday and Tuesday, May 5th & 6th – and then I will be DONE!

You know you’re close when you can put everything you have left to do in a bullet point list! YEE-HAW. I’m ready.

 

About Grades…

Well let me start off by saying that my first test of my senior year was a flop. A huge one. And I was devastated.

Last Tuesday (a week ago today) I had my first test and it happened to be in Adult 2. And it happened to cover only cardiac material, which I LOVE. I also happen to love adult nursing more than psych and child health right now so I was feeling pretty confident about this test.

Well I took the test and walked out feeling…meh. Not horrible but not great. There were quite a few questions that I circled (circling means I don’t have a confident feeling about my answer, or I don’t have a freaking clue about the content material at all). But we had test review immediately after the exam (we go over the most commonly missed questions on the exam), so I focused on that and tried not to get my hopes either up or down.

Well the test review was pretty horrible. We reviewed about 10 commonly missed questions and only 2 of those questions did I answer correctly! My hope was sinking. I was already at an 84% and knew that I had probably missed even more. But there was still hope that I could keep my grade a B…

Until I got my actual grade while sitting in Mental Health lecture and my heart nearly dropped out of my chest right there.

76%!!

I didn’t want to be (and still don’t want to be) a crybaby about this grade, but it hurt so bad. I’ve never in my college career made a grade this bad. The lowest grade I’ve EVER made has been an 80%. And I really thought I was prepared for that test…had studied for that test well and LOVED the material so thought I knew it inside and out.

So, I had my first public meltdown in the middle of campus after our Mental Health exam and before our CH tutoring session. So thankful for good friends and classmates who were able to understand and to give me greatly needed hugs and words of encouragement. And remind me that grades DO NOT MAKE A GOOD NURSE. (It’s really hard to remember that when you’re a type A personality, however).

And then the week redeemed itself when I was able to observe the ongoings in a psych ICU, take care of patients in the CVICU for adult health – and watch a thoracentesis procedure while I was at it (LOVE THE ICU!!!) – and go cocktail attire shopping for a nursing gala that I have been invited to this week at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Also, due to Texas’ crazy weather, Thursday afternoon the Dallas campus closed due to icy conditions on the road (which meant we got out of clinical 2 hours early), and then our CH clinical was canceled for the next morning! Which gave me time to go shopping and study for the CH test that we had yesterday (Monday).

Our CH class is rumored to be one of the worst classes to get good grades in by those who have taken it and survived it. And I was crossing my fingers to just get a B – especially after my horrible Adult 2 grade and knowing what has been said about CH in the past. The test covered a lot of growth and development (NOT my strong suite; I learned this in developmental psychology when I took it!), respiratory, and assessment of a child. I had 13 questions circled when I walked out of that test, although I will say I felt better walking out of the test then I did the Adult 2 test.

I ended up with a 90%!!

I am just as shocked about that grade as I was about my Adult 2 grade. To tell you the truth I wasn’t even striving for an A in CH because I was just convinced it wasn’t possible (not many get As).

And I was supposed to take my first Mental Health exam today but the Dallas campus is once again closed due to icy conditions on the road. Our exam has been rescheduled to next Tuesday, which is awesome because I hadn’t had ANY time to study for this test due to having to study for child health! I’m pretty thrilled to have a day off, to tell you the truth. Of course I’ll be getting a lot done school-wise today but it was nice to sleep in and not have to go anywhere.

So there you have it…a whole post about grades. Not very exciting I know but it’s sadly amazing how much grades seem to affect how we feel about ourselves throughout the semester. I know I shouldn’t be THIS concerned about my grades but I do want to get into graduate school in the future and I want to have the GPA to do that…

Also, I was looking at new graduate nurse internships for critical care areas and they want at least a 3.5 GPA in the DFW area. WHAT??? I guess because those positions are so competitive they have to have applicants that stand out somehow. Makes me sad. So therefore, I am concerned about my grades.

So far S1 has been hard but I feel like I’m finally getting to that point in the semester where everything calms down and smooths out into a regular rhythm and routine. I don’t feel as stressed and my life doesn’t feel quite as chaotic now. And I’m already a 1/4 of the way done! I’ll be saying goodbye to this semester before I know it!

 

 

 

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…

 

Countdown Begins

2 weeks to go until the start of my S1 semester! As much as part of me is terrified of the upcoming semester, I am also feeling the first quivers of excitement and eagerness. A new start of the semester has always been one of my favorite events. It’s always fun for me to learn what the upcoming semester holds and to know that I will come out on the other side more knowledgeable and that much closer to being done.

Everyone at work keeps asking me how much longer I have before I’m graduated. I guess it’s an awesome feeling, but then again at the same time I don’t know if they’re asking because they’re tired of my haphazard schedule (due to school) or if they think I’d be a great addition to their nursing family. I often wonder if they are trying to imagine me as a nurse on their team and how I’m standing up to their expectations. And then I often wonder myself whether or not I would accept a job on my unit if I was offered one. I enjoy my unit and the nurses I work with, and I feel a deep loyalty to my boss and my supervisor (who are so willing to work around my school schedule) that I think it’d be hard to turn down an offer (should I get one). But at the same time I have to make sure it is something I want to do and will be happy with, especially because I really feel that I’d enjoy the ED. But I really need to get some more ED experience first!!

And speaking of haphazard schedule, here’s my schedule for the upcoming semester. It’s a doozy!

  • Mondays: Children’s Health Lecture from 0800-1100. Then volunteering at Children’s Medical Center from 1300-1700.
  • Tuesdays: Adult Health 2 Lecture from 0900-1200. And then Mental Health lecture from 1300-1600.
  • Wednesdays: Mental Health Clinical from 0800-1430.
  • Thursdays: Adult Health 2 Clinical from 0645-1400.
  • Fridays: Child Health Clinical from 0600-1600. Then work (as a desk secretary) from 1900-2300.
  • Saturdays: work from 1900-2300.
  • Sundays: My day off!! (And I’m sure it’ll be a hardcore study day!)

And somewhere in that schedule I will be tutoring the Concepts class for a two-hour period in the evening…I just haven’t worked that out with the peer tutor coordinator yet so I’m not sure when that will be. I’m assuming it’ll occur on either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday evenings.

So that’s my upcoming semester. It sounds pretty cut and dry on paper but I’m afraid it won’t be once we’re in the thick of things!

This week in the countdown I will be attempting to become as organized as possible for my next semester. I need to clean out my office, organize my documents for the nursing student association, make sure my home documents are all filed, and yada yada yada…and then next week I will be teaching CPR classes Monday-Thursday, working from 1900-2300 those same nights, and then hopefully enjoying my Friday-Sunday with friends and family. And then S1 SEMESTER BEGINS!

Only two more weeks!