CCI Clinical Placement

I’m sitting here at work…obviously blogging because it’s extremely “Q”-word around here. I’m afraid that if I don’t do something I’m going to start dozing off!!

I finally learned where my clinical placement for my CCI –  “critical competency integration” – class is. I recieved an email on Tuesday with a list of preceptors to pick from with the message of “first come first served” included. There are five of us students precepting at the VA next semester and there were five preceptors listed, so that meant that whoever I wanted I would have to act fast to pick in order to “claim” them!

2 of the preceptors were in the MICU/CCU, one was in the PACU, one was in the TICU, and the last one was in the ED.

And for whatever reason, my first reaction was to go with the preceptor in the ED. WHAT?!?!

I happened to be the first student to respond to that email, and then I got a confirmation email yesterday that made my decision to go with the preceptor in the ED “official.”

So I’m in the ED this next semester for 120 clinical hours!! I’m actually SUPER excited about it. 🙂

But I’m SOOOOO not excited about the fact that school starts in a little over a week. 😦

I’ve been working on my cover letters for the application process – I’m almost done with one of them! I just learned that two of the healthcare systems in Dallas are opening the application process in early September. HOLY COW! That’s just under 3 weeks away!!

 I’m actually realizing more and more that I’d prefer to stay right here on the unit that I work on now. It’s a progressive cardiac care unit (PCCU) which is basically a step-down/telemetry unit for cardiac patients. I’ve talked to my boss about my desires, as I’ve mentioned before, and she said she would do her best to create a position here for me. Now that doesn’t mean that I’m guaranteed the job but it’s certainly a step in the right direction!!

However I will still be applying to other positions at other hospitals. Can’t put all your eggs in one basket! Surprisingly, I know I will be applying for these positions at most of the hospitals: ICU, ED, and NICU.

Random, right?

Random just like my crazy random thoughts are right now. Alrighty…guess I should get back to “work” – about to start reading about stock markets to keep my mind awake! 😉

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Office Space

Cleaned up my office yesterday…filed and everything. (I absolutely hate filing. Seriously…worst chore EVER.) I still have a bunch of stuff to shred, but I’ll get to that one lazy afternoon when I have nothing better to do than to watch ER. 😉

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I ordered my books for my Community Health class, but I still don’t have a book list for the rest of the classes. 😦 I also still have no idea what my schedule will be for the first few weeks of school…which is crazy considering the fact that the beginning of the semester is only a little over 3 weeks away. EEK.

I also do not know yet where I will be precepting within the VA Hospital. My instructor asked if I had a preference for critical care, ER, or med-surg; I of course answered that I’d prefer to work in critical care but I haven’t heard back about that and I’m not sure when I’ll know. It’s frustrating when I don’t have any answers because it’s harder to prepare myself…but such is the way of things.

I seem to be consumed lately with the thought of applying to jobs and I’m trying to imagine myself getting call backs for interviews. The nerves are building and it feels much the same way as it did before I was able to apply to nursing school. The ANTICIPATION!! I’m not quite ready to apply because I don’t have any cover letters made yet (need to do that SOON!) but I’m mentally ready to get this show on the road.

And that about sums up my thoughts for now! I think I’m still in denial that this semester starts so soon…

 

DR Trip Recap!

As mentioned in my previous posts, this summer I was fortunate enough to go on a medical mission trip with a bunch of my classmates and some of my professors to the Dominican Republic. It was SUCH an amazing trip and definitely not an experience I’ll ever forget. For anyone who’s ever thought about doing medical mission work – I’d HIGHLY suggest it. I’m hoping to be able to go again either next year or the year after that if possible!

Our whole goal for the trip was to be able to set up and provide “clinics” for the poorer communities in and around Piedra Blanca. After months of fundraising and gathering/buying supplies, we were finally ready! We left early in the morning on Sunday, June 1st (when I say early – it was a 5:45am flight!) and arrived in Santo Domingo after a layover to Atlanta at around 1pm. We were there for 10 days; somehow those 10 days were simultaneously the longest and shortest days ever!

We had five clinic days in which we, the nursing students, got to act as nurses with the supervision of the nursing team leaders. We assessed patients, diagnosed them, and then prescribed them medicine to hopefully help their ailments. We did a lot of teaching as well, especially on cleanliness and hygiene. I’d say the ailments we saw the most were “flu-like symptoms” – or gripe, as known to them – which were cough and runny nose (essentially a cold), and parasites. A couple of patients had staph infections, there were plenty of patients with decaying teeth, patients with sore and achy muscles, those who needed glasses (we set them up with readers), fungal infections, yeast infections, and many who came just because they wanted to stock up on vitamins for themselves and their families. One of my patients we actually advised to go to a hospital right away because she had tachycardia ranging from 140 bpm and up with a fever of 102.

We also had an opportunity while there to visit a local hospital, talk to local nursing students (they were so young!! The youngest was 16), visit an orphanage/childcare center for neurologically disabled children, go shopping, experience a local church service, visit the Colonial City, and suntan on the beach (twice!).

I really think that being able to be in control of assessing the patients and diagnosing them was extremely beneficial to my learning and my confidence as a soon-to-be nurse. I’m really hoping that this experience will be invaluable once I begin my preceptorship in the fall and especially once I graduate and begin a nurse residency.

I could go on and on and on about being in the DR and the various experiences I had…but somehow there aren’t even words for it. So I shall conclude this post with pictures – after all, who doesn’t love pictures? 😉

Stacy and I after we took off from DFW!

Our first sight of the caribbean ocean!

Our first sight of the caribbean ocean!

First meal in the Dominican Republic; CORN pizza! I'd never heard of such a thing.

First meal in the Dominican Republic; CORN pizza! I’d never heard of such a thing.

The mountain river basically right in the "backyard" of the location we stayed at.

The mountain river basically right in the “backyard” of the location we stayed at.

Partnering up to help take care of patients! :)

Partnering up to help take care of patients! 🙂

How our "pharmacy" was set up one of our clinic days.

How our “pharmacy” was set up one of our clinic days.

Our "clinic" area.

Our “clinic” area.

He was so adorable!! The most serious baby ever.

He was so adorable!! The most serious baby ever.

The group.

The group.

One of our clinic days we went door-to-door in the local community...it was the best clinic!

One of our clinic days we went door-to-door in the local community…it was the best clinic!

A rather large family we saw when going door-to-door.

A rather large family we saw when going door-to-door.

Such cuties!

Such cuties!

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Those are cocoa beans in that bucket! So awesome!

Those are cocoa beans in that bucket! So awesome!

Visiting the local hospital.

Visiting the local hospital.

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In Spanish.

In Spanish.

The hospital's medicine pyxis.

The hospital’s ONE medicine pyxis.

Labor and Delivery Room!

Labor and Delivery Room!

Relaxing in the pool after a long clinic day.

Relaxing in the pool after a long clinic day.

group photo of us!

Out on the town and look what I find!

Out on the town and look what I find!

Columbus' House in the Colonial City!

Columbus’ House in the Colonial City!

Our last group picture in the DR, the morning we left. It was such a great experience!

Our last group picture in the DR, the morning we left. It was such a great experience!

Summer Updates

Well I can’t believe my summer is almost over!! As of yesterday, only 5 more weeks until my “last first day of school” – at least for my undergrad! 😉

My summer has simultaneously been busy (aka it’s gone by super fast) and very relaxing. I went to the Dominican Republic for a 10 day medical mission trip almost right at the beginning of my summer – which I’ll post about later this week – and then to Alabama for a week-long family vacation only 3 weeks after getting back from the DR. In the meantime I’ve been working working working (I’ve gone part-time over the summer!) and hanging out with friends as often as I can before school starts up again. I’ve also read an insane amount of books that aren’t school-related. 🙂

I must say I am SO thankful that my last summer while in school came after my S1 semester! I really, truly needed this break after that craziness. I can’t imagine if I’d only gotten winter break after S1 before diving right in to S2. Even though I thought I would’ve rather started nursing school a semester earlier than I did and graduated this past May…I have to say that all things work out just the way they’re supposed to.

So, ready for a couple of exciting updates?

First, June 26th I APPLIED FOR GRADUATION!!!

It’s just so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that after being in school for 5 years – I’m almost DONE! I have actually reached the point where I can apply for graduation…and I can plan for my graduation party in December. INSANE!

Second, I asked my manager at work if she could give me any advice/tips on how to apply for the residency program that my hospital has for graduate nurses and if there was any way that I would end up on the floor that I’m already working on (a progressive cardiac care unit – basically a telemetry step-down from ICU). She told me that I just need to let her know when the residency program started releasing jobs to apply for and she would create a position for me on the floor. WHAT?!?! My jaw literally dropped right there in her office and I was speechless for a moment. She would really do that?! She said that she doesn’t hire nursing students as PCTs without the possibility that they stay on the floor as graduate nurses – as long as she feels like they do a good job, will be a great nurse, and fit in well.

Of course there’s still a possibility that I won’t get it…I think that even if she created the position with me in mind she still has to interview about 10-15 people for the job and she might think that someone will work out better. And I’m still going to be applying for ICU and ER positions at other hospitals as well. But it makes my heart glow to know that she values me to the point that she would create a residency position for me when I graduate.

Speaking of applying to other positions, that brings me to my third update: I finished my resume a couple of weeks ago and I think it looks FANTASTIC. Now I haven’t had anyone professional look at it yet (I’ll do that when school starts back up and there’s a workshop on campus), but I really love the look of it and the fact that I said EVERYTHING I wanted to say on two pages without it looking cluttered and “busy.” Now I just need to write cover letters for each of the hospitals I’ll be applying to (another thing to finish before school begins again) and I’ll be ready to apply as soon as positions start opening up!

Well I think that’s about it for now…things are going to start heating up within the next few weeks as I start to get ready for this last semester!! For now, I’m going to go get a workout in and then hang out with my brother for the day. 🙂 Audios!

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.

 

HESI For the Win

I really should not be advocating not studying as much as I have in my blog. But I am trying to paint an honest picture of my journey through nursing school, and as it stands right now I am SUCH a slacker when it comes to studying. Typically I cram two days before the test and hope for the best. Definitely not the best method but somehow it’s working – and since this semester I really don’t have much time to study during the week it’s really my only option.

Took my HESI a couple of days ago (Tuesday). Too bad it is only worth 5% of my Adult 2 grade because I KILLED IT. And I did NO studying for it whatsoever. In fact, I read an entire novel this past weekend before the test. Oops. But, something can be said about how thoroughly TWU teaches us because I felt like I really knew all the information the HESI presented to me, even without studying and “brushing up.”

I ended up making an 1146, which is higher than both my J1 (1116) and my J2 (925) HESI. Converted, I made a 99.99% and was in the 93rd percentile.

I told my best friend that I wish we were in S2 and that had been my grade for HESI – because in S2 the HESI is worth 30% of your grade!

Speaking of S2, we received our “preference sheet” on Tuesday before our HESI. It had a ton of options on it for instructor led clinicals, preceptor led clinicals, and then of course our community health clinicals. For our Critical Competency Integration class (CCI) I chose preceptor-led clinicals and my #1 spot was the VA, followed by Parkland and Methodist Dallas. We shall see what happens, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get the VA this time. I already turned my preference sheet in; because the VA has to start a background check so early on those who will be “working” there then I should hear back pretty soon.

So what classes do I have next semester? I have CCI, community health, and leadership and management. CCI is the “big” one. This is where we have either instructor-led or preceptor-led (if you’re lucky) clinicals, and have to complete 120 hrs of clinical. We will be reviewing everything we have learned the past 3 semesters in the CCI lectures in order to prepare us for the exit HESI and then NCLEX. This class is worth 6 credit hours but I hear it’s tons of fun.

Community health is just what it sounds like – community health. We will be doing a couple rounds of school nursing, homeless shelters, possibly home health and hospice nursing, etc. I’ve heard that the projects in community health are a beat-down but I’m actually quite excited about this class. Especially because at one time in my college career I was contemplating getting my Masters in Public Health (MPH). We’ll see if this class revives that desire or not. (More school?? Don’t know if I can right away).

Leadership and Management is an online class mostly, with a couple of class days and I believe tests are on campus as well. I’ve heard this class is difficult but doable.

I’ve heard from several S2 classmates that this next semester is SO much better than S1. As a general rule you have a LOT more time on your hands and the content isn’t as overwhelming. I’m so ready for that! Especially because I know we’ll all be trying to apply for jobs and handles any interviews that come our way (hopefully – crossing fingers!). I also know that dealing with senioritis is going to be a huge hurdle – because I’m already feeling it! It’s really going to be hard to come back from an awesome summer off and then go into our last semester. But I’m sure it’s also much easier knowing that it’s the last semester and graduation is literally right around the corner. The thought is mind-blowing!

Well I guess I’ve rambled on quite enough now. I have a test this upcoming Monday that I’m supposed to be studying for and obviously I’m procrastinating by writing a blog post. 😉 This test – child health – is the last one before finals! Tomorrow I have my last child health clinical (last clinical for this semester, period), and next Friday I have my last simulation for this semester. Then finals. AHHH it’s all wrapping up so nicely with a neat little bow. Can’t wait!!

J2.7

Well I’ve made it through the seventh week of J2! Which means I’m approximately 43% finished with this semester. Whoop!

I’m going to bullet point this update so that it doesn’t end up being too long:

  • I made an 86 on my first Women’s Health test last week. Not bad, especially considering I studied maybe one full day.
  • I was in the Women’s ER at Parkland this week for OB clinical. It was such an awesome experience. According to the nurses it’s not quite as crazy as Parkland’s main ER, but it did open my eyes up to the possibility of working in the ER and I have to say I can truly see myself enjoying it.
  • In the above-mentioned Women’s ER, I got to start my first IV!! It wasn’t a complete IV start since I hit a valve and the nurse had to re-start the IV in the wrist (the woman was severely dehydrated) – however I did get blood return and was actually able to draw blood from the vein for labs so I still consider it an IV start. It is just really difficult for me to coordinate my hand movements as I put in an IV…I never thought it would be so hard! It definitely requires hand dexterity.
  • I know I haven’t written anything about it yet, but my Adult 1 clinicals are going well. I am taking care of two patients this semester every week, and while it’s a bit more of a challenge as far as time management, I’m still not able to practice within the full scope of a nurse so I find myself with a lot of down time on my hands. I end up talking to my patients quite a bit which is awesome, but I’m really wanting to get some more skills experiences! Next week though I shadow in the OR so I’m pretty excited about that.
  • I am running for the presidential position of my nursing student association at TWU, and because I am running uncontested, I have unofficially gotten the position! It will be official on the 21st; I’m super thrilled about it. 😀
  • The Mayo Clinic Summer III summer externship applications open on the 15th and I will definitely be applying! I’m afraid to get my hopes up for the job but at the same time I’m REALLY REALLY hoping that I’m one of the 100 chosen. I will have to write a couple of really great essays!!
  • I will also be applying for the UTSW summer externship and the VA Residency externship for next summer as well. If you couldn’t tell, I really want a summer nursing externship! I know they are great opportunities to get much more experience and I want to do everything possible to have an edge up before I graduate as a new nurse.
  • I have my second Adult 1 test on Wednesday…so I guess it’s time to start studying. Especially since I work on Monday so there’s one less day that I have. We’re covering Diabetes, Respiratory, and Neuro though so I’m not feeling tooooo worried. Hopefully that doesn’t come back to bite me!

Summer’s End

Wow! It’s been awhile since I’ve written…a month has gone by and a lot has happened in that period of time!

First of all let me just start this by saying: does my J2 semester REALLY start in just two short weeks?!?!

My job as a tech is going very well. I’m feeling VERY comfortable in my job now and am so thankful for the opportunities that I have with my job for patient and nurse interaction. Whenever the nurses and I have time we will sit down and talk about nursing and I am learning a lot just from the conversations I have with them. I’m thankful that they are willing to give me the time of day during their busy shifts (the nurses on my unit stay extremely busy!) and encourage me in this field that I’m stepping into. Also, I love the fact that with this job I am much more confident with patient care and communication. I remember back to my first clinical last semester and remember how nervous and fumbling I was all day, and I know that if I’d had this job before I ever started nursing school I would NOT have felt that way about being in a patient’s room and caring for that patient!

I am working a mixture of night shifts and day shifts…and I would have to say that between the two I feel like I am enjoying day shift better. I didn’t think that would be the case, as I am a night person and I figured I would enjoy the slower environment of night shift more. However I think night shift is actually TOO slow for me…and I really hate having to wake the patients up every few hours just to take vital signs or weigh them and what-not. I prefer the day shift where the unit is much busier, everyone is awake, and I literally don’t sit down until I’m in the car driving home for the day! Maybe as a nurse I will feel differently.

Some of the interesting things I’ve seen/done while working as a tech on the surgical telemetry floor: I got to watch a doctor remove a chest drain, I empty JP drains, I clean chest incisions, I have seen pretty bad pressure ulcers (not through the fault of the nurses on my unit!), I’ve learned how to apply EKG leads on a patient and re-position them if they’re not working properly, I’ve seen open, oozing cancerous masses on a patient, I watched a patient end up hypoglycemic and helped the nurses bring his blood sugar back up (in a near-emergency state), and I’m sure there’s more but that’s all I’m remembering right now.

And, of course, I watch the telemetry monitors often and try to diagnose different rhythms. A few times I’ve asked the nurses to confirm what I was thinking and I was right! Although I must say, diagnosing a moving rhythm is so much harder than looking at a 6 second strip!

And in other news, I have finished my summer EKG elective! It was a fascinating class and I’m SO glad I had the opportunity to take it. It really supporting my theory that I’m a heart lover and I think I really want to work on a cardiac floor or in cardiac intensive care when I’ve graduated. In the elective, we learned how to read basic EKG rhythms but I’ve realized that I want to know even more!! When I have the time (which probably won’t be this semester) I am going to try and delve deeper into learning about the heart and more advanced EKG rhythms. Love it!

I’ve bought all my books and all my supplies for the J2 semester, and yesterday I got on blackboard and read through the “welcome letter” for both Adult 1 and Women’s Health. And I felt the stress immediately tighten up my neck and give me a headache; there are already SO many chapters that I need to read before the first day of classes and so much to check off the list before the semester begins! We have a lot of clinical paperwork and hospital modules to complete, as well as watching through skills videos before the skills labs so that we are already familiar with what we’ll be learning through the first 2 weeks of class.

Here’s what the first few weeks of this semester look like (for only Adult 1 and Women’s Health – I’m leaving the other classes off of the calendar for now because I don’t have those syllabi yet):

Tuesday August 27th: Meeting with Women’s Health clinical groups and faculty to be introduced to course expectations, take care of any necessary paperwork for the hospitals, and become familiar with clinical expectations and paperwork. This is basically clinical orientation – and we have to have our clinical paperwork already done and filled about before this class day. This will be an all day event, from 0800-1600.

Wednesday August 28th: For Adult 1 (from 0800-1200) we will have our first lecture. For Women’s Health (1300-1600), we will be going through labor support skills lab and clinical preparation. In between those two classes (during the lunch break) I will be helping out with an SGA event.

Thursday August 29th: From 0800-1600 we’re in a clinical skills lab to review old skills (those we learned last semester) and new skills for Adult 1.

Friday August 30th: We’ll be going to our hospital for hospital orientation (tentatively).

Tuesday, September 3rd: For Women’s Health, we are in a skills lab again all day from 0800-1600. We will be completing a foley catheter check-off, and practicing IVs, breastfeeding, immediate care of the newborn, and a postpartum assessment.

Friday September 6th: For Adult 1, from 0800-1600 we will have clinical skills lab and our medical dosage calculations exam.

This is all on top of having Adult 1 lecture on Wednesday mornings, Women’s Health lecture Wednesday afternoons, and my 3 online classes (Group Processes, Research, and Aging!) which will all have their own set of homework and activities to be completed.

It’s going to be a busy semester, that’s for sure, with the first few weeks being the hardest! It’s just hard to believe that my summer is already at an end and I have to buckle up and continue with this crazy whirlwind called nursing school!

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My J2 textbooks!

Supplemental books for the semester!

Supplemental books for the semester!

My EMPTY binders for the semester...they won't remain that way for long!

My EMPTY binders for the semester…they won’t remain that way for long!

 

 

All-nighter…

It’s midnight and although I’m tired and my eyes are burning, I am awake on the couch watching TV and hoping to stay awake all night. My first shift at the hospital off of orientation as a PCT is tonight (Monday) from 7pm-7am. And it will be my first night shift ever! I’m attempting to stay awake until around 0700 or 0800 and then sleep from that point until 1600 this afternoon. Hopefully it works out.

So far I am absolutely loving my job as a tech. I’m on an awesome floor, with (mostly) awesome patients, surrounded by awesome nurses and other PCTs. Is that enough awesome for one sentence? Lol. The past two weeks I have been orienting with a PCT who has been at this hospital on this unit for almost 20 years. Isn’t that crazy?! But they were a great preceptor and although I know I still have more to learn with my job, I feel fully prepared to step out on my own two feet tonight and rock it. 😉

I also am going to be working intermittently as a unit secretary from 1900-2300 a couple of nights every week. I don’t quite have THAT job down yet (I was somewhat cross-trained during orientation) but I feel like I’ll pick it up pretty quickly. And mostly I’ll just be answering phones and call lights and that’s pretty no-brainer-ish.

I’ve been trying to watch the telemetry monitors on the unit when I have down time, but it’s pretty hard because I don’t know yet what I’m looking at. But that all changes beginning this week! My EKG elective starts on Wednesday. Now THAT’S weird to think about because I feel like I’ve put school completely out of my mind so far this summer. It’s hard to think of going back to school so soon…I feel like summer has only just begun.

I was going over the syllabus for the class and it looks like it will be a great class. I’m thinking that tonight while I’m attempting to stay awake I’ll try and read the assigned reading so that I’m not starting the class already behind. It’s only a 5 week class so I’m sure we’ll be moving quickly and I don’t want to feel like I’m starting off on the wrong foot!

I’ll write about how my first night shift goes after I’ve experienced it! 🙂

Untitled Nonsense

It’s weird not being in school. I think I just realized this morning, upon waking up, how much more productive my life is when I have a routine and something to get out of bed for! 😉

As much as I am thoroughly enjoying the fact that it’s summer, and I can wake up and do anything with my day without feeling guilty or pressure from assignments looming over me, there is also a sense of boredom. This past semester was so very, very busy and chaotic at times that now I feel completely unproductive and useless. I have already read tons of books, re-organized my kitchen, hung out with friends and family, gotten a job…

I guess now I just really need to get started on the stuff that I’ve been putting off for forever – like painting the interior of the house. :-/

See, even this post was useless and unproductive! I think this summer will get a lot better when my job starts (only 1 more week!) and when my EKG elective begins (in July). Then I think I’ll feel a little less like I’m just wandering around trying to conjure up things to do.

I should find another place to volunteer at. 🙂