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.

 

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Day

Yesterday was super duper rough.

I’m not saying I haven’t had other terrible days, and I’m not even saying that this was anywhere near the worst day I’ve ever had (or even have had this semester of nursing school!), however I feel the need to vent about yesterday, so I shall.

The day started off with a three-hour last-minute study session with my partner in crime before our second Adult 2 test. And I walked out of that test feeling like I’d been pummeled by a professional boxer who had a vendetta against me. While I was definitely hoping for a B, I wanted at least a mid-to-high B that way my average (the 76% I had from the first test) could have been brought up some. Well, I made an 82%. Better, for sure, but still not a decent grade compared to the effort that I put into this test and the confidence that I had walking in. And still not enough to pull my grade out of the “C” range.  I shouldn’t be disappointed, especially when I’m not failing and I’m barely on the line between a C and a B and can easily pull myself up with the next three tests (3rd exam, HESI, and final). However, I just don’t understand how a course that I love the material SO MUCH can be the one that I’m doing the worst in. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I seriously have never taken a test that hard before. And I almost stayed until the last possible minute finishing up, when I’m usually out with PLENTY of time to spare!

So that was a bummer. But an even bigger bummer and one that really puts my issues in perspective (the perspective that I don’t have it that bad at all) is the fact that one of my closest nursing school buddies is currently failing Adult 2. Both of her tests now have been below the passing grade of a 72% which means that if she definitely doesn’t pull her grade up then she’ll have to re-take the class and she’ll no longer be graduating with us. That’s such a hard concept to think about because we have been friends since day one and there was never a thought in our mind that we wouldn’t be graduating together. And there’s no reason (that we see) that she’s not getting better grades – she’s always done well in classes and she DEFINITELY knows the material. So the fact that she’s failing is just mind boggling, for both of us. I swear this class is so so so much harder than any we’ve ever taken before, even in nursing school. We’ve decided that we’re going to get together the weekend before the tests now and go over TONS of practice questions. We have to do better!

Then to top everything off, our mental health lecture yesterday covered addictions – alcoholism in particular. And because of my family issues with alcoholism, it was a tough lecture to stomach and I actually had to leave at some point because I felt like if I didn’t then I’d just start bawling right there in class and make a fool of myself. This was the lecture that I’d been dreading all semester, and it certainly came at the wrong time. I eventually went back into the classroom but I have to admit that I’m not sure I really heard much of the lecture at all. As soon as we were released I realized that all I wanted to do was go home and curl up in bed, wishing the day away and in fact this entire semester.

How much longer until I’m done, again? Will I ever be done??

 

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 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!