Amber, BSN, RN

I took the NCLEX on Monday! And I PASSED!!! Using the quick results option (you can pay Pearson Vue $7.95 48 hours after the test in order to get your test results) I found out this morning that I passed.

I passed the NCLEX in 45 minutes with 75 questions. I contribute this to the great education I received at TWU, and the amazing Kaplan class I took after graduation to help prep me for the licensing exam.

I’m so freaking excited right now!!! After 5 years of laboring in school, I have finally accomplished what I set out to achieve!!! I AM A NURSE!!!

 

Amber, BSN

Oh yes it’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged, and obviously a TON has happened! I have FINALLY graduated nursing school with my BSN!!!!!

AND I managed to get ALL As this last, final semester. What a way to end things!! My final GPA for my undergrad is 3.823. I’m super, super pleased. My two goals for nursing school were to make no Cs (I didn’t) and for my final GPA to be above a 3.75. Score on both accounts!

I just received my Authorization to Test (ATT) this morning and I have officially scheduled my NCLEX exam. It’s all wrapping up and it’s becoming all too real that I am no longer a nursing student but about to be a nurse (God-willing I pass my NCLEX!). My last shift as a PCT will be on February 5th, and my first shift as a Graduate RN will be on February 23rd – can’t wait!!!

I am in the midst of taking the Kaplan NCLEX Prep Course. I am loving it and highly recommend it – I’ll write a separate post on that later this week. So far I think it’s been beneficial; of course it helps that one of my favorite professors happens to be teaching it and she is just amazing when it comes to explaining ANYTHING.

I’ll leave you with some pictures now to highlight the whirlwind that was pinning, graduation, and graduation parties. 🙂

We didn't want to jinx ourselves by saying 100% RN until we passed the NCLEX! This was our celebratory cookie cake after our last final. :)

We didn’t want to jinx ourselves by saying 100% RN until we passed the NCLEX! This was our celebratory cookie cake after our last final. 🙂

Received my college ring during finals week! I'm so happy to wear it!

Received my college ring during finals week! I’m so happy to wear it!

Got my hair and makeup done before my pinning ceremony...

Got my hair and makeup done before my pinning ceremony…

All dressed up!

All dressed up!

So proud to have him by my side during this journey. So happy he pinned me. :)

So proud to have him by my side during this journey. So happy he pinned me. 🙂

There it is!!! The long-coveted pin!!!

There it is!!! The long-coveted pin!!!

Cardiac cookies for my graduation party the morning of graduation.

Cardiac cookies for my graduation party the morning of graduation.

Nurse-themed cupcakes! And they were GOOD.

Nurse-themed cupcakes! And they were GOOD.

The four amigas...they have been with me from the very beginning and I couldn't have made it through without them.

The four amigas…they have been with me from the very beginning and I couldn’t have made it through without them.

More sweet nursing school friends at my graduation party.

More sweet nursing school friends at my graduation party.

Graduation Cap!! It certainly wasn't the most creative but I thought it was cute!!

Graduation Cap!! It certainly wasn’t the most creative but I thought it was cute!!

Walking down the aisle during graduation!!

Walking down the aisle during graduation!!

We're DONE!!!

We’re DONE!!!

IMG_3399

Smiling with the Chancellor of TWU :)

Smiling with the Chancellor of TWU 🙂

Officially a graduate!!!

Officially a graduate!!!

Emergency Department Thoughts

My clinicals in the ED for CCI have been AWESOME. So far I’ve completed 5, and will have the other five completed before November 1st. Whoop! That’ll open up even more time for me to work on projects and prepare myself for finishing up this last semester of nursing school.

My preceptor in the ED is a former TWU grad herself and she has been so amazing with me. She has a lot of patience but she tells me exactly as it is and I so I don’t have to wonder what she’s thinking or if I’m doing something that will ultimately hurt my patient. She allows me to be independent but she’s right there if I need her. Even when she’s super busy (as happens often in the ED) if I have a question or am nervous about doing something then she will patiently guide me through it.

I’m to the point now that I’m taking one patient completely on my own (well as much as I’m able to…I can’t get into the pyxis so she still has to get the meds for me) and then helping her out wherever I can with her patients. This means that I’m doing the initial assessment on the patient, getting them hooked up to monitors to take vitals, documenting in their medical record, and then carrying out the doctor’s orders on my patient while they are in the ED. It’s SO fun but it’s also quite exhausting. The ED moves at a weird pace…you’ll have moments where you are not busy at all and sometimes that can last for a couple of hours. For example, we have patients in each one of our beds, we’ve done all orders, and now we’re just waiting on what the doctor wants to do – are the patients going to be admitted or discharged from the ED? And then we’ll have hours that are SWAMPED. We’ll receive one patient just as we discharge another, and then receive another in his place…and you feel like you’ll never get caught up with the initial assessment & documentation as well as carrying out orders for each of your patients. I’ve never had 12 hours go by in such a manner…it’s a long 12 hours but at least I’m having fun while I’m there!

I’m really glad I’ve had the opportunity to be in the ED while in nursing school, for several reasons. First, it’s been great to know exactly how emergency departments work and the flow of how they run. I have the perspective of nursing from an emergency nurse’s eyes now. Second, I’m glad to have had this experience so that I can rule out ever wanting to work in the ED in my nursing career. I thought that it’d be a great place to work as a nurse but I’m discovering that it’s REALLY not for me. Not in a bad way – I think that all nurses have a “niche” and the ED just isn’t mine. Why don’t I like it? Well there’s a much more limited contact with the patients in ED. Even if they are with you for hours, they are generally NOT in a mood to be talked to. Most of them try to sleep their day away, in actuality. But most patients aren’t even with you that long. Either they get admitted up to the floor pretty quickly or they are released back to the street pretty quickly. There’s just no satisfaction of seeing a patient coming in really sick and then watching them get better over time, because once they are admitted you never get to know how they’re doing later. And then, and I’m sure I’m NOT correct in my assumptions, I feel like when we “treat” a patient in the ED they really aren’t getting better. We have  patients come in for a pain in their back, and we can’t find anything wrong with them, so we give them pain meds and street them and I’m left to wonder “well what happens when their pain comes back??” (And no I don’t think they’re just drug seekers.) And so on and so forth. A lot of patients that we see are “treated” and then sent right back out but I’m wondering if they were really helped at all. And so with that I get very little satisfaction.

That’s not to say that all the patients we see are that way. We have had some truly emergent cases come through our doors that have been admitted to ICU, all the while we were crossing our fingers that they wouldn’t crash and burn right there in the ED. Those types of patients are definitely rare though.

But I have had a great experience in the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to practice a TON of skills and see some really cool things as well. I’ve:

  • Inserted more IVs than I can count
  • Inserted two male foley catheters and one female foley catheter
  • Inserted an NG tube
  • Drawn blood cultures (my least favorite skill, I think; it’s extremely tedious)
  • Done several butterfly sticks into the veins to draw blood
  • Hung IV meds, IV fluids, given IVP meds, PO meds, IM tetanus vaccine
  • Drawn, labeled, and sent blood to the lab
  • Performed EKGs
  • Seen a STEMI on an EKG of a patient going through a heart attack at that moment
  • Watched a urologist irrigate a foley catheter for almost an hour to pull out clots so that the urine could drain
  • Watched a plastic surgeon sew up a DEEP hand laceration
  • Listed as a mentally altered patient screamed obscenities for about an hour before his meds kicked in and he fell asleep
  • Seen a BAD case of ascites
  • Had a patient that we nearly had to intubate due to a COPD exacerbation and resulting respiratory acidosis
  • Seen a hypochondriac throw themselves on the ground in an attempt to get someone to pay attention before they stormed out of the ED and were brought back in by police
  • Watched as the VA had a medical disaster drill and taught their staff how to respond in that type of situation (they had tents set up and were wearing HAZMAT suits and everything!)

Another awesome thing about being there for clinicals is the fact that there’s one doctor in the ED who LOVES to teach. Whenever he has the opportunity, he will teach you about what’s going on with his patient even if it’s not your patient. I’ve learned a lot just from listening to him!

All in all I’m SUPER SUPER thankful that I have had this opportunity. I can’t believe I’m already half-way done though! Clinicals go by SOOOO fast when you’re in charge of scheduling them when you want!

Vent Status

Yesterday (Monday) was rough. For the first time in nursing school (I’m not including pre-reqs here) my class had two tests in one day. And those tests were absolutely, purely brutal. The kind of test that makes your head throb halfway through and makes you walk out of there thinking that you’re a failure. I can’t tell you how many times I heard those words yesterday…and after our grades went up for CCI one of the most calm people in our class literally flipped out, cussing up a storm and declaring that she doesn’t know why she’s in nursing school since her test grade shows she’s a failure. Of course all of this was in the heat of the moment and of course we all know that we’re not failures (at least I hope we do!) but it’s really hard to know that the test you had just taken was supposed to be REVIEW material for HESI/NCLEX preparation and then discover that the class average was a 79 and that the grades posted online were final grades after “extensive” adjustment to our scores. All this makes it sound like I did really bad but I didn’t…somehow I got a 90! But I feel really bad for my classmates and I’d have to agree with them that it was a crazy hard test and something needs to be done to correct the situation. Because I’m pretty sure I didn’t earn that 90 since I guessed on a lot of my answers and a TON of the questions didn’t even make sense!

And then I thought I had COMPLETELY bombed the communities test. I’m pretty sure they tested in a different language altogether because most of what was on that test was completely foreign to me. I definitely did not prepare well for that test AT ALL. I was told over and over that you have to read the textbooks in communities in order to succeed but since I never read the textbooks and I always do ok (I know I know, not great at all) then I figured that wouldn’t apply to me. WELL I WAS WRONG. I definitely should’ve read the textbooks. I’ve learned my lesson! Thankfully I pulled off a B (HOW?!) and now I know that I HAVE to read if I want to make good grades on the tests. MAN. Thankfully we have three projects in communities that will help even out my test grades by the end of the semester. I think I can maintain a B and MAYBE get an A if I work hard enough. But do I really want to work hard enough? Just being honest here…I’m SO DONE. I’m SOOOOOO ready to graduate and move on.

But looking on the brighter side…I’m almost DONE with CCI! All I have left are 5 clinicals (My last one will be on Halloween if all goes well!), the HESI, and an EBP Presentation. We don’t even have a final in that class. YES!

My Leadership and Management class is going well so far…the first test was a couple of weeks ago and I made a 97. Amazing. We only have two more tests (one during the semester and then one final) and that’s it for that class. I’m hoping for an easy A. We’ll see. 😉

And communities so far has been my nemesis. I am NOT cut out for community health, as much as I thought that I would love to get my Master’s in Public Health once I graduated. Unfortunately it just doesn’t hold my interest…not at this point in my life, anyway. And the fact that the tests are ridiculous on top of all the crazy projects we have to do makes it even worse. I’m sorry I’m whining so much but this is exactly how I feel right about now in the semester. I just want to be done.

Ok moving on to more exciting talk…graduation!! I ordered my cap, gown, and class ring last week! AHHH!!! And we finally found out when our official graduation date is: December 13, 2014. I LOVE IT! I’m going to graduate on 12/13/14! 😀 I also signed up for an NCLEX prep class with Kaplan after Christmas. I’ve heard that it’s super beneficial to take an NCLEX prep class and this one just happens to be taught by one of our S1 instructors and she has an AMAZING way of teaching. I’m so excited about it.

I think that’s all I needed to get off my chest for now. I promise a post is coming about my experiences so far in my CCI clinical ED placement! It’s been a great time so far!

2 Down, 14 To Go

Well my S2 semester has begun and I’m slowly starting to wrap my head around the fact that I am, in fact, in school AGAIN and that this is, in fact, my LAST semester.

The first thing that has been hard for me, right off the bat, is of course the early morning wake up calls again and the fact that I know I can’t just come home at night after school and sit and watch TV. Man how I wish I could.

The second thing that’s been hard has been the fact that I’m still continuing to try and exercise and eat right everyday but all I want right now is CHOCOLATE. Hello, stress. Nice of you to show up again. (I will not let this semester de-rail my weight-loss progress!!)

The first couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of information overload and assignments and orientations. We even had a simulation already! Our LAST simulation of nursing school!! It was actually super helpful – more so than any other simulation I’ve completed – and I feel like I REALLY learned a lot from it. We covered topics like IV therapy, oxygen therapy (which masks to use and when/why), as well as giving insulin. Then our simulations covered DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) and PE (pulmonary embolism).

I met my preceptor last week for my CCI clinical at the VA Emergency Department. She’s awesome and also a former TWU nursing student! I am going to love having clinicals with her…we start next Friday.

I also met my school nurse at the school that I will be attending community clinicals in this semester and she seems super amazing as well. I’m blessed by having great leaders this semester! I start those clinicals next week on Thursdays. My weeks are going to go by SOOOOO fast!

I started applying to hospitals last week and have so far applied to 20 different positions at different hospitals. And then yesterday when I checked my email after finishing up at school I saw that I had an email to schedule an INTERVIEW for this upcoming TUESDAY!!! Already?! I’m so not prepared for this…I’m so not prepared for this…I’m so not prepared for this…

But ready or not I have an interview on Tuesday! It’s for the Emergency Department. I have to put together my portfolios today to have them all ready to go…good thing I already have my references and my letters of recommendation all prepared already! I’ll upload a blog post with my portfolio details a bit later next week.

AND I have a test on Monday in CCI. It’s hard to believe we have a test already and we’ve only completed two weeks of school. 😦 Our instructor assured us that we know the material and that it’s all review for us but it’s still nerve-wracking since the test is worth 25% and I really haven’t even begun to study.

Well that’s all I’ve got for now! Time to go study for my test (with Stars-Wars on in the background…this is serious stuff y’all). Happy weekend!

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!!

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.

 

J2.15

I always know when finals are right around the corner because my stress level is THROUGH THE ROOF. This week has been stressful…there’s been some school drama that I’ve had to deal with (in regards to my transitioning as the 2014 president of the nursing student association) and plus we had two tests this past week that I barely had any time to study for. In fact, the HESI that I took yesterday I had zero time to study for.

So on Wednesday we had our third women’s health exam. I studied for a day – on Tuesday – due to wrapping up other assignments on Monday (but now my aging and groups classes are FINISHED!) and finishing up my research paper over the entire Thanksgiving break. It wasn’t really a hard test, and considering  I studied for less than 24 hours, I’m proud to say I made an 86. But that almost guarantees me a B in my women’s health class due to the fact that I need a 100 on my final to get an A. HA! Not happening.

So that was Wednesday afternoon, and then I went to work after that test, so I was unable to study for the HESI that we took Thursday morning (yesterday). I managed to do some practice tests/case studies on the Elsevier website at work, but not much. So Thursday morning I literally went in not knowing what to expect and just praying to God I didn’t let my professors down by failing the HESI. It was a bizarre test, in my opinion, but I didn’t do to bad. Not as great as last semester (when I ended up with an 1116)…but I got enough to pass the “recommended” threshold for HESI scores – a 925. With a conversion score, that equals an 88. It was enough to get me two extra points applied toward my adult health final, so I’m pleased. 🙂

And now I’m sitting at home writing this post with the fireplace going and christmas music on in the background because we had an ice storm in north Texas last night, so therefore TWU (the Denton and Dallas campuses) was closed this morning. Which means that the orientation for the new J1 students that I was supposed to be at was re-scheduled for next week, and this means an extra study day for me! My adult health final is on Monday, my women’s health final is on Wednesday, I have to complete my last research quiz by Wednesday, and then…I’LL BE DONE WITH THIS SEMESTER!!!

  • I’m done with my Groups class completely; finished with an A!
  • I’m completely done with my Aging class; just waiting on our group presentation and my last discussion board post to be graded in order to know what my final grade is. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be an A though.
  • I’m almost done with my Research class; just need to finish the last quiz. I currently have an A in the class, but considering the research paper is worth 50% of the entire class grade and my instructor is a HARD grader, I can easily see that A turning into a B. Maybe even a C. Here’s to crossing my fingers that she loves it!
  • I’m almost done with Women’s Health. One last final! I need a 100 on the final for an A, and a 60 on the final to keep my B. I’m thinking that B is much more doable! 😉
  • And I’m also almost done with Adult Health. Again, only the final remains…and I need an 82 on it to keep my A. I will be studying hard! I don’t want a repeat of last semester, when I only needed an 82 on my Assessment final to keep my A, yet made an 80. :-/

So this weekend I’m going into hardcore studying mode! Ready to knock these two finals out and finish the semester. I can’t believe in just under a week I will be a SENIOR!!!

To end this post on a happy note: I did find out this week that I’m going to be the new Concepts/Fundamentals Peer Tutor for the next two semesters! WHOOP!!

J2.9

I’m getting very un-creative with my post titles. But yay for the fact that I’m done with my 9th week! I now have only 6 more weeks of actual coursework left. Crazy.

This week I actually get quite a few days off in a row where  don’t have to be anywhere school related!! Yesterday (Thursday) I ended up getting all my homework done for the weekend, and then completed ALL quizzes for another one of my online classes (groups). Now I’m done with all the quizzes for aging and for groups. I would’ve done all my research quizzes also, but we aren’t allowed to complete those early.

Today I’m going to try and finish all the case studies and pre-clinical paperwork for the remaining two women’s health clinicals…and maybe, for once, I’ll be able to completely enjoy my Saturday tomorrow without ANY schoolwork to do. That’ll be heavenly.

This past Wednesday the Senior 1 faculty came into our women’s health class to give us a “preview” of our Senior 1 schedule. And next Wednesday they’ll come in and give us the paperwork to fill our our clinical preferences for next semester. Which is all cool and exciting, it is, but what I’m really stunned by is the fact that I’M GOING TO BE A SENIOR NEXT SEMESTER. Whaaa??? I mean, I knew it was coming, but to actually get paperwork with the header “Senior 1” on it is just SO UNREAL.

senior