First Year…and now

one year ago…

“I made it! I’m halfway to becoming Felicia Harrold RN. Boy, was that crazy! I’ve never faced a more difficult challenge in my life. I’ve never felt so many highs and lows in such a small time frame. It’s crazy the amount you learn in just ONE YEAR. When they tell you nursing school is no joke they mean NO JOKE. It’s time-consuming, it’s difficult information, it’s difficult responsibilities, it’s a lot to get used to. I feel like it was just yesterday I was freaking out about giving another person a bed bath and now it’s no big deal. I remember thinking I was going to fail injections because I just couldn’t imagine myself stabbing another human with a needle and now I can do that with no problem. I still question my ability and I’m always wondering “Can I actually do this?” “Am I capable of becoming a good nurse?” Which is normal. It’s a new journey, it’s normal to feel that way when you are just starting out, that’s why we have instructors to guide us through the process.

I struggled with this latest semester. It was 3 five-week rotations plus a pharmacology class. I found myself struggling to balance the time to study for both classes and to work and to have a social life. I decided to give up the social life and just work and study…because well, that’s just the way it worked best for me. But, at the end of the semester I passed all 3 rotations and my pharmacology class and I’m now considered a 2nd year nursing student! In the Nursing school realm, that’s a pretty big deal. That means you adapted to the nursing student lifestyle and survived the transition. And that’s big. Plus, it means you only have one more year or two semesters (which is actually substantially less than a year)

I can’t wait to graduate! I know, I know, I JUST completed my first year. But I see all the current 2nd years getting ready for graduation and it just makes me so excited! I’ve been told that it’s going to be the fastest 2 years of my life and if my 2nd year goes as fast as this year went, I can believe it!

If anybody reading this is considering nursing school, here is a snippet of advice from this nursing student:

Study. Study. Study.-if you think you don’t have to study you’re wrong and you will learn that very quickly.

Don’t piss off the instructors-they control your grades…self explanatory. But seriously, they are there to help you, but only if you put in the effort…and they don’t take too kindly to those who don’t.

Don’t compare yourself to others-you will find that people on test days will be huddled in the halls asking, “what did you get?” “How did you do?” People will post on Facebook how amazing they did and how good they feel, which is fine. But if you didn’t do as good, don’t beat yourself up. You aren’t going to get an A on everything. You are going to do poorly on some quizzes. You need to reevaluate your studying habits and aim to do better. But don’t ever think you are going to be less of a nurse because someone got an A on their quiz and you got a C. You are going to be fine. You are going to be a great nurse.

Record lectures-so far all of my instructors allow this. You will have to check your technology policies and ask your specific instructors but it helps A LOT! When you have 2 hour lectures, 4 HOUR lectures, you tend to tune out, or the instructor starts talking so fast your handwriting looks like a 4-year-old is taking notes. (✋🏻 guilty) Recording lectures allows you to go back and listen for things you missed. I would listen to them just to hear them again.( I was the crazy one that listened to them 4 times just to pound them into my brain)

Don’t be scared of clinical, clinical is fun-okay, yes some clinical is difficult, but for the most part, clinical is the exciting part of nursing school. It’s time to practice skills, seek help from instructors and other nurses when needed, and 99.9% they will be ready and willing to help you with everything. Patients aren’t going to bite you, most of the time they like to learn things with you. (A lot of my patients found things we were doing interesting.)

Now,

My plans for the summer are quite simple: Work. Read. House projects. Get healthy. Vacation. Relax.

Oh, and prep for next semester!”

and NOW,

I wrote everything above (almost) a year ago, I never posted it because I wanted to reflect on it and write something for where I am now…

A year later.
2 weeks away from graduating.

I’m overcome with emotions when reading it, I’m not sure that’s how I planned I’d feel, but it is. A year ago I was looking up at the second year nursing students thinking,

“I can’t wait to be there, graduating.”

Now I’m there. I am that 2nd year nursing student. In 1 week and 6 days I am done. I will graduate from Lake Michigan College with my Associate in Applied Science focus in Nursing and that excited, giddy, cloud 9, “I can’t believe I’m finally here” feeling is everything I thought it would be. I felt like I had learned a lot in that first year, and I did. However, this second year has taught me more about myself. I’ve refined certain skills and I’ve begun some new. I could feel myself transitioning to that “Nursing Role”. I stopped questioning “do you really think you’re going to be a good nurse?” and I worked my ass of to make sure I would be instead. I am able to critically think,

“What is going on with my patient, and what am I going to do about it?”

First year, I’d run some vitals and tell my nurse anything critical to see what she would do. This year, I stopped to think “what would I do with these vitals?” because at the end of all of this I won’t have that nurse to report to and let deal with it. I will BE THE NURSE.

I remember several times throughout this last year where I would make a call and it would be the right one and I would sit back and think “Wow, I might actually be getting the hang of this.” It was such a good feeling to apply what you learn in lecture to clinical and be doing it RIGHT! I don’t even know how to explain it other than, “hard work pays off.” But, dont worry, there is still plenty to learn and plenty to master. Which excites me, I love to learn new things.

I’ve also met some amazing people along the way. We have worked so hard for this and my classmates have been a huge support system since day one. I could not have made it through this without their encouragement. I am excited to see where this journey will take them.

And my instructors, I have been BLESSED with amazing instructors! The knowledge that all of my class instructors to my clinical instructor shared with me will forever be the foundation that I build my career on. They taught me how to be a good nurse by being good nurses themselves.

In the end, nursing is so much more than what I thought it was a year ago. It has changed me. It has humbled me. There are people going through far worse things than me and I get the opportunity to meet and treat these people everyday of my life and for that I will forever be grateful. Nursing is what I am meant to do, it is who I am.

 

Halfway There!

Last time I updated my blog I was only a week into the program

Now,

I’M HALFWAY!

Holy moly, its been C-R-A-Z-Y! I’ve learned so much! It’s amazing what you’ll go through in this program and you still come out of a crazy day feeling accomplished. There are days when I throw my hands up and say,

“Forget it, Im done”
“I can’t do this”
“I need a beer”
“What the hell am I doing right now?”
“Why did I do this to myself?”
“Am I trying to die? like…wtf self?”
“Yep, I’m dying.”

Yeah, it can get kinda dramatic, but still.

My life has changed so much. A lot of time is dedicated to passing my classes. Free time is hard to come by which means a social life is hard to maintain. A family life is hard to maintain. A home is hard to maintain. For instance, my boyfriend and I weren’t spending any time together and it was starting to take a toll so I had to develop a way we could spend time together and I could study too. So, I devised a new way of playing monopoly with nursing questions.

Here’s the run down:

You start out playing normal, buying properties…whatever.
When I land on one of Michael’s properties he asks me a question from the review section of my assigned readings.
If I get it right, no moolah for him
If I get it wrong, I pay up.
So when he lands on my properties its kinda the same thing
If I get it right, he pays up
If I get it wrong, I don’t get paid.

I used it to study the night before one of my quizzes and I got a 9/10 on that quiz, so it helped a lot. And, I got to spend time with my boo thang. (shucks)

It’s also the only way I can win monopoly against him. I can’t beat him in a normal game. Don’t play monopoly with bankers. They’re assholes.

I made it through my first clinical rotation which was long term care at a local facility. What I can say about that…not for me. Not a long term care kinda gal. I really admire nurses and other healthcare professionals that enjoy it, but it makes me uncomfortable. I feel like there is no “getting better” in a nursing home…that sounds terrible, I know. In acute care, I’ve seen patients go from extremely ill to 100% healthy and that is a very rewarding feeling. You go through the healing process with the patients and their excitement for their met goals become your excitement for their met goals. It’s a rewarding journey. I didn’t experience that in long term care.

I am happy to say that I am in acute care now and I’m loving it! We only have two clinical rotations this semester so this is the last rotation.

I’ve learned how to do a full assessment. We were taught system by system assessment. However, my experience with floor nurses on post-surg is head-to-toe assessments. I think it’s better for time management and easier for the patient. We’ve also begun medication administration. On Thursday, our skill in administering PO medications will be validated or “checked off” as we call it. Then we will begin parenteral medications starting with injections which we will also be validated on. Yes, we will be stabbing each other with needles. Not looking forward to it. But, hey gotta do whatcha gotta do. We don’t start IV’s until later in the program. However, we will be learning how to hang a bag and all the basics of IV’s this semester. That shouldn’t be too hard. (knocks on wood). Since I haven’t written a “nursing school update” post since the fist week, here is a list of skills that we have been validated on:

  • Bed bath
  • Bed making (occupied, not occupied)
  • Vitals
  • Transferring, Ambulating
  • Assessment

The only thing I hadn’t done from those things as an NA is an assessment so it wasn’t too bad. Im excited that we are actually getting into the nursing activities that, as nurses, we will be doing everyday. Like, an assessment, administering medications and injections. It’s quite exciting.

In Pharmacology, we spent the first seven weeks learning how to calculate dosages and read labels and all that fun stressful stuff that comes along with the RN title. This is the eighth week so we took our Math Competency exam TODAY (dun Dun DUN) and that was a nightmare, not the test taking part, but the studying part. I won’t get into why. So I will be patiently (not patiently) waiting for the results to be posted. The thing about this test is you have to score an 88% or above to PASS THE CLASS, regardless of your quiz grades. Seriously, you could get 100% on every quiz and if you can’t get 88% or above on the test…you fail the class. You do get two attempts at the exam though So, it’s only slightly intimidating.

Okay, so I think thats about all the update I can handle right now. Im reliving stressful moments as I dive deeper and deeper into the memories of the most stressful times of these first eight weeks and I can feel my heart rate and blood pressure go up.
(Not really…but I told you this can get dramatic.) ; )

The countdown begins
Thanksgiving break: 4 weeks

Sincerely,
Feli

What I’ve Learned After One Week of Nursing School

Today is FRIDAY! I survived my first week of nursing school!

This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions. Before you start the week you’re excited and ready to dive into it and start learning skills to become a nurse. Your first day you’re still pretty excited but then you dive in, and you realize, “Holy crap, this is A LOT of information.” Then the worried overwhelming feeling settles in because you seriously have no idea where you are going to find time to study all of this stuff. Oh, and did I mention this is just one class and you’ll be quizzed on Monday? Then, its off to your other class where they lay just as much information out on the table but it’s MATH and conversions and pretty much review of what you had to learn to get into the program but still, it’s 10 chapters long and you are going to be quizzed on ALL OF IT on Tuesday. So you have several, SEVERAL chapters to read and study and become fluent in for one class before it’s quiz on Monday and then you have 10 chapters to read and become fluent in for another class before you are quizzed on it on Tuesday. Oh, and Thursday you have an hour and a half long skills check off for clinical that is worth like 222 points.

That was literally JUST the FIRST DAY of nursing school. Yesterday, I had class again and learned even more information that will be on the Monday quiz and another skill to be checked off the week after the next.

There is no general education class that prepares you for this. You will have never experienced this in any other class. I know I didn’t. My tip to anyone going into it, before class starts, be as organized as you possibly can be! Set your binders up, have empty spaces for new handouts and notes because you will need them! Read as much as the chapters as you can before classes start. And, work as little hours as you possibly can, instructors will tell you this at orientation before classes start. I know a lot of people get upset about that because they can’t NOT work. I know, I feel ya! I can’t NOT work too. But, I worked Monday, had class Tuesday, worked Wednesday, had class Thursday, and Im working today, tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday. It’s too MUCH! Im sitting on my couch waiting for 9:00am to roll around because thats my scheduled study time and this is the first time I’ve actually had time to just sit. If I’m not in class, I’m in skills lab or the computer lab with my partner. If I’m not there, I’m at work. Actually, Wednesday I had to work at 3 but before, I was at the school studying even though I didn’t have class. My work schedule doesn’t allow for optimal study time. Which is important. DID YOU SEE THE FIRST PARAGRAPH? My fear is to fail and with a work schedule like this…I feel it would be inevitable.

On a positive note, it WILL be worth it. There’s already been moments in (THE FIRST WEEK) where my partner and I have admitted to each other of crying and saying to ourselves, “What the hell did we get ourselves into?” But, you just keep going. You study, you do your best. The instructors are actually there to help you and they don’t hate you, contrary to what you hear. I’ve talked to several second year students and they all say, just keep going. They admit to struggling their first year too, but they made it and at the end of this school year, they will graduate.

It’s scary and overwhelming. Im scared and overwhelmed as I type this! But, knowing what I know from second year students and new nurses on my floor, it can be done and they were all once here, where I am now.

I gotta go study, bye!
; )

So Much Change

For the months that I’ve been away from WordPress, so much has changed in Michael’s and my life. For the better. First, I was accepted into the nursing program at Lake Michigan College and Ive been spending my Summer preparing for that. Along with that, I have began working as a Nurse Assistant at Lakeland Health on the post-surgical floor. I have LOVED it so far. Yes, there are the typical workplace struggles and yes there has been challenges but I have learned so much and really believe it will only do good for my upcoming challenges in the nursing program. Michael has moved branches. He is no longer working at the Berrien Springs office but now at the big, fancy, downtown branch in St. Joseph. He has really enjoyed that adjustment. We continue to progress on our house and change it into something we really enjoy. It has taken somewhat of a back seat to everything else only because everything else is so time consuming and important.

OH, and, I have a Facebook once again. I completed the semester social media free and to end my experiment with a bang, I figured I’d sign up for a Facebook that I hadn’t had in about a year. All of my family is on it plus it’s nice to reconnect with old friends. I really enjoyed being social media free. It was eye opening. I still don’t use my Facebook very often. At least not like I used to use it when I originally had one. Anyway, feel free to add me on it if you’d like. I typically don’t add people I don’t know personally but I’ve found some pretty awesome people in the WordPress community and I can make an exception there ;p

In three days Michael and I leave for a family vacation to Tennessee. We are looking forward to that. It’s been awhile since we’ve been on a vacation so we’re very ready for one now. We will be staying at the Great Smoky’s Lodge through Wyndham. (I believe thats what it is.) I LOVE the Smoky mountains and can not wait to be venturing through them once again. Last year in July we took a trip to Tennessee but we were much further from the mountains than we will be this time. Michael and I are really excited for the road trip to Tennessee. Windows down, breeze in our hair, road trip music in the background. Those are the kind of things we live for. We will be going with Michael’s parents, brother, and our nephew.

A week after we get back from our vacation, school starts and Im ready, excited, scared, and nervous. It’s okay to feel all of those at once, right? I have all my books, tuition is paid, physicals are done, immunizations are done. Now it’s just a waiting game. I have a clinical course my very first day at 7:30 in the morning! The reason why that is scary is mainly because 1. I usually don’t wake up that early and 2. I work until 11:30 the night before. I just keep telling myself, “You can do this.” I’ve had a lot of support and advice given to me from nurses that I work with at Lakeland and it has helped me understand what I need to do to succeed. They all say the same thing, “STUDY!” Which I totally understand. Some have told me that half of the people in their classes had to drop because they thought they could get by without studying. That’s just crazy to me. How can you work so hard to get to this point and then NOT STUDY? You have to study to get to this point, why would anybody believe the studying would stop after the acceptance letter is received? Ugh. Anyway, this semester is light compared to the others in terms of classes, according to advisors. Light in class load, Heavy in material. Im only enrolled in two classes, Nursing Fundamentals and Pharmacology I. Plus, I have clinicals. But there is so much to learn that there is also a Pharm. supplemental class on Mondays and study groups throughout the week. Which I will be attending FOR SURE.

Im just rambling about nursing school. I guess that shows how excited I am. I think I could probably talk about it all day. Im just so ready to begin this next chapter. So so ready.

Sincerely,
Feli

The Moment I Have Been Waiting For

Today, my moment of relief came. A moment I have been waiting for, for at least two years.

With the completion of all my prerequisites and required proficiency exams, I was ready to complete the form for candidacy placement for the Fall 2015 Nursing Program offered at Lake Michigan College.

Today, I handed in that form.

I left my morning history class and headed straight for the records office. When I reached the office I saw that perfect, little, wire box where everybody places any forms needing to be examined by the records office. There it was, completely empty, just waiting for the most important form of my life to be placed in it. I delicately removed that form from my folder, desperately trying not to put the slightest wrinkle in the paper and then, it was in the box, and I left the office.

Looking around, everybody is just going about their day-to-day business and I’m walking down the front corridor of the campus with fireworks going off in my head. It felt too simple. It took me four years to realize, that form is what I wanted and NEEDED to change my life. For the past year, I have been working fiercely to correct mistakes I made, academically, in those first three years. Shouldn’t handing in the most important form in my academic career feel more complicated? Shouldn’t there be more hoops to jump through?

On top of it feeling too simple, now I sit and worry that I missed something. I’m praying that all the information they need to make the biggest decision of MY life, and that would completely change the way I live forever, is there.

May 7, 2015 is the day all of these candidacy applications are due. I will not know until after that time, well after that time, if I’m even on the candidacy list. After the candidacy list, is the ranking of GPA’s and THAT is how you get your seat in the program.

I’m nervous, anxious, excited, scared. I’m hoping that with whatever happens, I’m led to do what I need to do in this life and, right now, I’m praying that is to get into the 2015 LMC Nursing Program.

Thanks for reading!

Sincerely,
Feli