About Me

undergrad RN
I'm a twenty-something Canadian student. After stumbling through a few years of college, I finally managed to get into the nursing school of my dreams, where I hope to graduate in 2012 with a nursing baccalaureate degree. I want to offer an honest look into how a modern nurse is educated, both good and bad. Eventually I hope to compare my education to my day-to-day career and see how it holds up. Whatever happens, it should be somewhat entertaining. Find me on allnurses.com!
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Hey, You! Spam Guy!

I (and every other blogger I know) have been getting a lot of email requests asking me advertise or repost things I do not care about or wish to endorse. I do not make any money off this blog - any endorsements I may make are strictly because I am personally pleased with the results.

I DO NOT and WILL NOT repost anything someone emails me. If I want to link to something, I will find it myself.

If you want to spread the word about something, make your own blog!

All spam received at my blog email is deleted without reading.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Here's the plan.

I like to blog and read blogs. I've been sorely tempted to blog random stories about my current state of affairs, if for no other reason than to keep myself entertained for the next 6.5 months. However, keeping the higher purpose of my blog in mind, I have decided to STFU about things unrelated to my eventual nursing student career. Hopefully this makes The Blog somewhat more sensical to those who may find it.

Until September, or random points in between, I bid you adieu. In the meantime, I'm hoping to work in Banff for a horseback mountain guide position. Should be good!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why I can't wait to get out of low-wage jobs.

An open letter to those who use any chance they get to be socially inept (and more than a little creepy).

Dear Freak:

I am happy that you finally reached a technical support rep who speaks - how did you put it? - "American". I'm even happier that I was able to fix your ancient computer's innernet connection and get you back onto your AOLs. I know that missing out on a long night of internet poker games would have been really detrimental to your customer experience. You might even have asked to speak to my manager had I not come to a quick resolution with the teeny bits of fragmented troubleshooting you let me do! Lucky me.

Lucky you, my company has recently instated a policy which allows you the benefit of contacting me directly via my company e-mail at any time you should so desire. Even better, this e-mail contains both my first and last names so that you know exactly who I am.

However, this is not an opportunity for you to use my name to harrass me on Facebook or Myspace in hopes of developing a relationship (or whatever it is you are trying to accomplish!). In what dimension is it socially acceptable for you to e-mail me a picture of me and my dad? My involvement in your life ended when you hung up the phone. That is all.

*looks wistfully at calendar*

Only 6 months and 18 days until I can get a non-responsible, school-supplemental, menial job at a grocery store or something.

I hope I can make it.
Friday, February 8, 2008


Is it worth it to consider getting a Master's degree in Nursing? Post-grad, I could have it in two years. That's 6 years of nursing school, making me 29 by the time I finish. I want to have babies sometime this decade... lucky me, darling boyfriend is 4 years younger. Sometimes I just pretend I'm the same age as him, so I don't feel quite so much like I've wasted these post-high school years.
Thursday, February 7, 2008

Props to you, Katie!

While at work, I got reprimanded for being completely absorbed in the Confessions of a Student Nurse instead of serving American customers like a good little monkey. This girl has got the gift of great blogging, and it is almost all very relevant to nursing students. I think I have found my idol for the next 4 years <3

She provided lots of cool tidbits about how to cope with nursing school. Later I will groom through it and pick out some the highlights.

Yeah Katie! You made my day.

Note: The work reprimand was nothing major. They decided to close my entire job site last week so we are all soon to be laid off. It's funny to get reprimanded by someone who is just as screwed a month from now as I am. Funny in a passive-aggressive, sad kind of way...
Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Today I got a phone call from an old friend. She and I are still pretty tight, although we don't talk much. She's been going through some depression for a while now. She called, very upset, to talk about her recent visit to the psychiatrist. As she talked, I couldn't help but wonder if she was actually trying to get better. Seems to me that maybe she is buying into her own hype and believing she is a lost cause. I have never been severely depressed so I hesitate to pass judgement. In my opinion, I think being forcibly removed from her safe shell will "shake her up" a bit and she can see what she is going through from a new perspective. Got me thinking though, about how people need to take some ownership in the treatment of their own problems. You take an alcohol abuser, a smoker, someone overweight. No one is going to get magically cured in spite of themselves. You can't put down the bottle or melt the pounds off with absolutely no effort on your part. I was reading a fitness mag earlier and every other page was an advertisement for some new miracle pill, promising to shrink your body while you ate chocolate cake or were sleeping. I think (I hope) that we can see those ads for what they are, but I also think that the same attitude applies to other points in life. Why work for something when you can get something/someone to do it for you? I worry for her, but mostly I'm sad for her. It's heartbreaking to see someone lose their sense of self and lose the will to take it back.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008


While at work today (I work for a big computer corporation), I was reading Emergency Room Nurse's archived posts and came across quite a few addressing the ethics of blogging. At one point, a nurse she was working with stumbled across her blog while at work!

It got me thinking. I want to provide honest opinions and feedback - isn't that the point of blogging? So I went through my last 2 posts to remove any identifying details. I'd hate to provide feedback on my instructors and then have that bite me in the GPA. I now attend Generic School, in Anywhere, Canada.
Monday, February 4, 2008

The Application Process

I have spent all day reading nurse blogs. I have so much anticipation for September that I'm trying to find other things to occupy myself for the next 7 months. I figured I would outline how the application process went for me - I figure I have a pretty good grasp on that, since it's been three different times, lol

Pick your school

I don't have a lot of insight for you on this one. Some provinces are smart, like BC, where you have only one admissions portal for all the different schools. Alberta is not. Most students looking to get into a difficult program simply apply to all of them - but that can be expensive. The universities both charged me $100 to apply, and all the other colleges were in the $50 range. I ended up applying to both universities and three different colleges. There are a lot more places to go in this province, but I ran out of application money. University transfers also don't appeal to me, as I'd prefer to stay in one spot for the full 4 years. In general, smaller class sizes and getting bedside experience as soon as possible were what influenced my picks. Practical experience is what appealed to me most, and I'm really happy that I got an early acceptance there. I probably won't bother finishing my applications to the other schools, since that will cost me approximately $100 in transcripts alone. This, dear reader, is the fatal flaw in having every school for itself. One student puts out 5 applications, 4 of which are never completed. I really hope the CNA's position regarding coordination of nationwide nursing school applications eventually comes into reality.

The application process

First step: apply early. By early, I mean that if your school opens applications 11 months before the program begins, have your application completed and submitted by 10. It can play an important role in determining whether you get accepted or not.

Not all schools run the same admissions strategy - some admit students as soon as they reach the minimum competitive average set for the year (this year, 80%). If there's a tie for a seat, priority goes to the student who applied earlier. In effect, this means that if there's me with an 83% average, and a brainiac with a 98% average who applied later than I did, and we are both being considered for the same spot in the program, preference goes to me because I applied first. Too bad, brainiac. I like this model because it makes the program more accessible. Academics aren't everything.

The other model is how most universities operate - based solely on GPA. So, if you put my score against the 98% score, regardless of when we applied, the higher score gets in.

Get your marks in, the sooner the better. The sooner you become admissible (in the first scenario, anyway) the better your chances of securing a seat.

Depending on your high school marks, you may be eligible for early conditional acceptance. Generally, they are looking to see how your marks are trending. If you get great marks in your junior-level courses or on half-completed senior-levels, you might be considered for early acceptance. Apply while you are still in high school, if you can. It all hinges on your continued performance though, so don't slack off just because you might be in.

Sit and wait

Ahh, the waiting game. Most post-secondary institutions have a web portal where you can track the status of your application. I checked mine obsessively for 2 months. I then somehow forgot about it until, I shit you not, a prophetic dream prompted me to sign in after Christmas. That's when I found out I was accepted.

The letters

I've never gotten as much mail as I do as a student applicant. I get forms, documents, updates, and spam from all the different schools I applied to. I'll focus on the one I got accepted into. I first got an application package about a week or two after I applied. It had a lot of information about the application process and what to expect. I've read it about 5,000 times so far. I'm pretty sure I can quote it verbatim. Probably you won't read it as many times as I have, but definitely become familiar with it, as I found the information was not perfectly organized and found some "due dates" I otherwise wouldn't have known about.

My next letter was one notifying me that I was ineligible for Early Conditional Acceptance. That was no surprise to me as I was still in the process of upgrading my marks at the time. Even still, it was a bummer to see it all spelled out like that. Again.

My final grades for my first semester of upgrading were posted in mid-December. My acceptance letter came just after New Years, indicating the terms of my conditional acceptance. It goes like this (edited for repetition):

Dear undergrad RN:

Congratulations! You have been early conditionally accepted to the first year of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program. Providing the requirements listed here are met by August 1, 2008, you will be attending classes at our campus.

  • Submit an official high school transcript.
  • An acceptable Immunization Record is to be submitted directly to the Nursing Program.
  • A completed Health Record that must be completed by a physician.
  • Current Health Care Provider Level C CPR certification and first aid; must be Heart and Stroke Foundation approved.
  • Submit a current security clearance.

Your acceptance will become final once all conditions are cleared. If the requirements above are not met by the specified dates, your conditional acceptance may be withdrawn. You will not receive a final acceptance letter, but you can track the status of your application by going to our website. To hold your space in the program, you must forward a $200 deposit to us no later than 21 days from the date of this letter.


Someone Important

That $200 was no joke, as the letter was dated December 22 and I didn't receive it until January 11th.

The other stuff

As you saw outlined in my letter, I have a pile of things to accomplish in the next few months. I made an appointment with the regional health authority, where I am going to get my immunizations looked after, for March 11th. The pamphlet says I can be no earlier than 6 months before the start of the program, so I have to wait until after March 1st. I thought I had patience, but... sigh.

I need to be immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hep B, and varicella. I also need to get a TB/Mantoux skin test done, whatever that is. Good thing I don't mind needles, but if I did, I expect I'd have to get over that in a hurry or reconsider my intended occupation!

I also had to go back to my hometown last week to get my doctor to fill in this bogus "fitness" test form. The form basically asks the doc whether they believe I am physically and mentally stable enough to participate in the program. I was in the office for 3 minutes and she hadn't seen me for years. Maybe the school wants to make sure I'm not wheelchair bound or on meds for multiple psychoses. I don't see what other purpose that form might have served.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

How it begins.

Here's my story:

I'm a 23 year-old Canadian student. I graduated high school almost 6 years ago and spent some time traveling the world before committing myself to that epic question: What am I going to do with my life?

Nursing has always been appealing to me. I've always seen medicine as an adventure and am fascinated by human physiology. My aunt was a small town RN for my entire life, and I am looking for a job that I can find anywhere - small towns are where I want to be. I've worked for several years in the rehabilitation field, filling nursing-type roles for people with handicaps (as well as all the other hats that support workers wear, such as counselor, therapist, friend, mother, conscience... you know). Rehab was great, but it wasn't enough. Enough money, for one. I loved the work, but I can't support a family on a maximum wage of $15 an hour. It also wasn't enough education or responsibility - I want to be challenged physically, mentally, and intellectually.

Anyway. As the story goes, I graduated high school and worked for a year in rehabilitation before deciding to move to the big city with my then-boyfriend. At 19, I decided to apply to a nursing college but found that my grades were way below the competitive average. I got my first taste of rejection, and it didn't go down easy.

I didn't take any Chemistry in high school. I actually didn't take much of anything, as I was way more interested in my car, partying, and hanging out with my friends than getting a pesky "education". Being under 21, I was able to upgrade to senior level Chemistry without paying tuition, so I signed on with an adult-learning "fast track" Chem course. Basically, you only need to go 3 times a week for 2 months, write the governmental exam, and you get high school credit for the course. Unfortunately, I hadn't left my half-assed study tactics behind when I signed on. So believe me when I tell you, a big part of success in school is actually showing up and doing your homework! I did neither, and got a dismal 60% on the exam. Shortly thereafter, I gave up on upgrading my marks - never blaming my own lack of contribution to my education, I assumed that The Man was going to keep me down. I just wasn't cut out for higher learning, plain and simple.

Well, after a few months, I got the opportunity of a lifetime to be a professional horse groom for a well-known Canadian showjumper. I worked there for a month when we both realized I wasn't ready for that calibre of competition. Another blessing in disguise, I was then offered a position overseas working at a pony trekking yard. Not many people get to try everything they ever wanted, and I know I'm richer for it.

After my visa expired, I returned to my family and the same rehabilitation job that I left when I was 19. My attitude was way different, though. I was determined to go to college, but changed my aspiration to a Police studies program. I was determined to graduate with a diploma, move to Calgary, and work my way into a K-9 or horse cop position. My dismal high school marks barely met the requirements for the program, and I was accepted.

September 2005, I started my college education. The program was amazing and I loved waking up every day with something to accomplish. I was driven, but I was almost too mature for the program. Most other students were 4-5 years younger than me, months out of high school, with apathetic attitudes to their education (wow, deja vu?). Police studies focused on building teamwork and camaraderie, which I struggled with. I felt too different from the other students.

Midway through the year, I realized my college marks might make the difference, and I decided to apply for nursing again. I finished the year with a 3.46 GPA (out of 4.0), which was just 0.04 away from the competitive average that year. So I was rejected again, and I also knew that the Police studies program wasn't for me. I spontaneously changed programs and went into Design Studies. I spent another (expensive) year plugging away at something that I found interesting, but again, it wasn't for me. The other students were fired up to come to class and tackle design problems, but I found it excruciating most days. The lack of structure was really hard for me, and I finished the first year with a low 2.8 GPA. This, again, ruled out a transfer to the Nursing program.

I was preparing to transfer to a private school and fast track my design education, but my family and boyfriend stepped in (thank God) and told me to do something I would actually love. The only thing I had experience with, and knew I would love, was nursing. But what to do about my grades?

I swore I would never go back, but last September I finally made myself sign up for College Preparation, a fast-track type upgrading program. I was focused and determined - I was NOT going to miss out again. I took a heavy course load (including the dreaded Chemistry) and went to class every-single-day-without-fail. Like I said, turns out the secret to school is to show up and do your work (gasp)! I finished the semester with a 95% average between all my courses.

Last Christmas I eagerly checked my admission status and I was accepted! I was able to skip upgrading the other 30-level courses this semester and instead can focus on making some $$$ before I attend a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program in September 2008.

So, why this blog?

I feel that the resources available to prospective nursing students, particularly from a Canadian perspective, are lacking. Nursing programs almost have an air of aristocracy, given the hype of being uber-marketable and the idea of getting rich beyond your wildest dreams. The competition involved in getting into a nursing school doesn't help. Given my experience in rehabilitation, I consider myself a student with realistic expectations, but I can foresee many of my classmates being there with the unfortunate attitude I referenced above. Nursing needs humility, compassion, and a strong back (!), more than it needs people who covet the material rewards. I hope this blog allows me to give accurate feedback on how I have experienced my education, and helps future nursing students (or alumni) get a feel for how a modern nurse gets educated. I have the benefit of being in only the third intake for this school's nursing degree, and I hope that this freshness is reflected in their program. Either way, I'll let you know.

Happy reading!

-undergrad RN
Friday, February 1, 2008

This post is irrelevant...

to my actual blog. It contains a variety of keywords to spice up my Google-ability. Please ignore it thus. 

If you found me through Google, please feel free to visit my other, sensical, posts.

Keywords commence:

canada canadian nursing student nurse weblog blog study studying medical journal scrub scrubs universal health documentary school university college alberta hospital rehabilitation rehab accept accepted acceptance text book books preceptor clinical undergrad registered nurse rn under grad crna crne bachelor science bscn degree healthcare