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.
Friday, August 29, 2008

A thicker skin.

The other day, Tuesday, I walked in to work loving my life. Everything seemed to be coming up roses. I loved my office, its proximity to school and my home, the pay, and the fact that my part-time request had been granted without hassle.

I left work that day in a crumpled ball of tears and tissues (um, Kleenex, not 'bodily tissues').

All because a frustrated person chose to vent at me! At the start, I was professional and empathetic, and all the other usual crap that they teach you in Customer Service class. Murmurs of assent, giving the audible equivalent of nodding my head in sympathy. What a horrible day this person must have had, and I am sorry it had to be him, etc etc. But then he started manipulating me, telling me that the call was being recorded for the media and thank you for giving us this sound byte on behalf of your organization, and the like. I KNEW he was manipulating me and bullying me, but I felt powerless to stop it.

The weird part was not that he was bullying me, but in how I responded. I was just looking around for help when one of my coworkers locked eyes with me and I fell into complete meltdown. Blubbering, tears, snotty nose, the works!

The scary part was, this is over the phone. If someone starts giving me shit face to face, I figure I'd last maybe half that before needing to 'exit the situation'. I read nurse blogs where the folks in charge rehash tales of giving it right back to the complainant. I just can't see myself being able to not only handle that kind of treatment, but let it roll right off me and get down to business.

Maybe my problem is that I'm just a big ole softie, who wants to do what's in the interest of my client (or what they feel is in their own best interest, which is probably a little dangerous). And when I feel like my hands are tied because of policy or hierarchy or whatever, I feel like I'm getting screwed from both ends... so to speak. Meltdowns may be quick to follow.

I hope they teach "Cojones 101" at school. I hate feeling so powerless over my emotional response to these types of interactions. Someone please tell me that it will somehow be different once I am a nurse... please??

In other news, this weekend my wonderful boyfriend is leaving to a college 5 hours away from me. We are moving him into residence on Sunday/Monday. For me, it will be 4 more lonely sleeps until orientation, and 5 more lonely sleeps until classes start! Mixed feelings abound.
Monday, August 25, 2008

First Aid, complete

I am now certified in HCP BLS and standard first aid! The second day, yesterday, was MIND NUMBLINGLY boring. There was a video doing all the instruction, complete with hilariously tacky acting:

Pert First Aider: Whew! What a day. I'm so glad we're all alone in this huge warehouse without appropriate safety gear on. Hurry up, so we can go for a siesta on company time!
Klutz: Just a minute, while I get this copper wire cut by jabbing towards my aorta with this utility knife.
PFA: Um, what ever. I'll busy myself with adjusting these knobs on the wall.

Precious seconds go by.

Klutz: Why won't you just- OW! Dammit!
PFA: [Calmness exaggerated for effect] Why, Klutz! Seems like you've nicked yourself! I know first aid, perhaps I can be of some assistance to you? [Radios for ambulance without waiting for response]
Klutz: Um, so it appears. [Red-colored water comes shooting out of his "arm"]
PFA: Here, why don't you put this clean towel I found in my back pocket on your arm to control the bleeding? Just apply pressure.
Klutz: Gee, thanks, PFA. I'd be f*cked without you.

Fade to black.

Yes, that about assesses the quality of instruction found. I've taken first aid several times with St. John's Ambulance, and in comparison, this course was dismal. We didn't splint, we didn't bandage, and we were briefly shown how to manage a sucking chest wound. Then we wrote a 50 question, true-false/MCQ exam on our 'knowledge'.

To be honest, I was more relying on what I'd learned in previous first aid courses than what I'd just been taught in order to answer the questions on the exam. It was completely ridiculous. I mean, I don't especially mind because going over the differences between diabetic coma and insulin shock (or what ever it's called) can be a little tedious, but come on. SOME education could be useful. I feel bad for the folks who hadn't taken first aid before and were just run through the very, very basics. Pressure to control bleeding. Taking histories. Memorizing a plethora of acronyms. The focus of the course was: are they hurting in any way? Call 9-1-1 and then keep them calm. Yes, this was for a healthcare provider-level course.

What we didn't cover that I would have appreciated going over again: backwoods first aid! Compound fractures! Evisceration! Full amputation! The cool shit that you learn BECAUSE you might not get an ammalance out for an hour or more.

That's my beef.

Regardless, I'm now certified to, um, call 9-1-1 at the drop of a hat. Awesome.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

First Aid begins!

Mid-way through the first day. I thought it started at 0900 and I was early; unfortunately it actually started at 0830 and I was late.

That guy at the bottom left has been my partner for a lot of activities. He's about 6'4-ish, and a good 220 pounds. So he's got over a foot and a hundred pounds on me. That was interesting, for the choking scenarios, hehe :)

Those little torsos are strewn all over the room and it looks like a creepy futuristic battlefield...
Friday, August 22, 2008


I booked in my respirator mask fit test for October 1. We had received a newsletter about a week ago outlining a variety of odds and ends in the weeks leading up to orientation. A lot of it was just repetition about getting our First Aid and immunization records in on time, et cetera. 

Honestly, if people can't take a hint the first 6 times someone has informed them of the deadline, I question their cognitive abilities. Although I am not expecting it to get any better. Every job I've done has had the "non-mandatory mandatory meeting" crowd, where the boss will say something HAS TO BE DONE BY X DATE, and when 40% of my co-workers haven't done it by a week after, HR extends the deadline again and again until they give up. I'm pretty sure it is a universal feature of working with humans. Might as well get used to it... :)

Anyhoo, I had skimmed the newsletter the day I got it and then it got lost in a pile of to-be-filed bills on the table. I found it again yesterday and read it for real. Good thing, too, cuz I need to be fitted before clinicals in January but they only do the testing on 5 days between now and then! I called right away and picked one of the last days to do the testing. There is just too much going on right now, and if I lose more than 10 pounds I'd have to be tested again. I am planning on losing that much by October 1... 3 years of call-centre-goodness has padded my behind more than I'd like. Good old school gym will whip me back into shape.

First Aid is tomorrow! I'm going to go all stealth and try to take some pictures without people noticing or getting weirded out.

11 days until classes start!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


To those who find me from http://twitter.com/ugrn, hi! I found you through Pixel RN's post and I'm still feeling on the fence about using Twitter, but I'd like to give it a shot. So here goes. :)
Thursday, August 14, 2008

Books, books, books

Today I went to the bookstore and picked up most of the books for this semester. 9 so far, and that doesn't include English or one of my classes (Foundations in Health)!

The total for the books in the picture? $743.12.

Ugghhhh... and of course there aren't any used books available. My school encourages all the students to hang onto their books for the full program.

Anyway, in case you want to have a peek at what I had to buy today, I linked them all below. So much to read!! I'm going to get a head start on some of them because new books are completely irresistible to me. That big green one on the bottom left (Fundamentals of Nursing) has about 1700 pages, small type, liberally sprinkled with the APA sourcing that I hate SO MUCH because it interrupts the flow. I've calculated that if I start now and read 20 pages every day, I should be done by mid-November. Since exams are in December, I think I'll do my best to adhere to that schedule!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New look

I changed my header and montaged together a somewhat more, uh, "modern" Florence.
Monday, August 11, 2008


12 days until my First Aid training, 3 weeks until orientation, and 22 days until the first day of classes.

The excitement just keeps building, and building! I'm sure in 3 months I will look back on this entry and wonder why I was so impatient... :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

UNA: Alberta Still Lagging in Nurse Education

Behold, from the news page of the United Nurses of Alberta:

Alberta still lagging in nurse education
Summit on health workforce shows new emphasis on efficiency

Although recently released numbers on nursing show
the shortage is still worsening, the Alberta government has not announced significant new efforts to deal with the growing problem.

Several projects under the Health Workforce Action Plan are continuing according to Linda Mattern, the Executive Director at Health and Wellness for Workforce Policy and Planning Branch. Mattern said that expanding health training programs continues to be the largest strategy in the Plan, but it still is only targeting 2,000 RN grads by 2012. That’s the increase Premier Ed Stelmach made as his first promise going in to the provincial election earlier this year.

Mattern also said the Action Plan is funding projects to increase clinical training capacity because “it’s very difficult to free up preceptor time.”

Mattern was speaking at the second “Health Workforce Summit” meeting held in Edmonton June 19. Much of the focus of the summit was NOT on expanding the workforce but on making it more “efficient” and doing more with less, both messages that are not encouraging for nurses. The “new focus” Mattern noted is “optimizing the utilization of Alberta’s health workforce, using technology and “high performing work environments”.

In the same vein, keynote speaker Chip Caldwell promoted manufacturing industry efficiency programs “Lean” and “Six Sigma” partly developed by Toyota. Caldwell was promoting “healthcarizing” these efficiency plans and noted how many millions of dollars were being saved in U.S. hospitals.

Mattern also reported on government support for international recruitment of nurses and health workers, and on their plans to increase the province’s capacity to assess and register “IENs”, that is, internationally educated nurses. The government has also added another $27.5 million toward purchasing lift and transfer devices and Employment and Immigration is launching a “No Unsafe Lifts” campaign. The campaign target is to reduce injuries by 25% and keep as many as 1,000 nurses healthy and on the job each year.

Canadian nurse education
numbers discouraging

Numbers released June 17 by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing show that
RN education is NOT rapidly expanding across the country. Their national survey showed only 9,447 new RNs graduated in 2007, only a small increase from previous years and still below the levels of the 1970s. Even more concerning was the slow growth in enrolment. The report showed 12,877 new nursing students admitted in 2007, an increase from 2006, but below the 2001 level.

“Research suggests that 12,000 graduates per year are needed to address the projected nursing shortage,” concludes the survey. That’s 27% more graduates than Canada had in 2007.

Alberta projections far short of
2,000 new RN grads in 2012

The Stelmach government’s principle election promise on the nursing shortage was to graduate 2,000 new RNs a year by 2012, but UNA has recently obtained Advanced Education documents that project only 1,657 new grads by then. [I'll be one of them!]

The Advanced Education Department supplied a report on RN and LPN enrolment and graduate projections through to 2011-2012 in response to a Freedom of Information request from UNA. The 2007 report showed 1,239 RN grads in 2006, but only 1,367 in 2010 and then a slight rise to 1,657 in 2012. LPN graduate numbers only rise from 635 in 2006 to 781 in 2012.

Nursing programs turn away
hundreds of qualified applicants

A new report from Alberta Advanced Education shows that nursing programs in Alberta had to refuse admission to hundreds of qualified applicants last year. Nursing had by far the largest number of “turn-aways” at 438, accounting had 298 and medicine only 120.

Evidently, there are far more Albertans interested in a nursing career than our nursing programs can handle. UNA’s successful collective bargaining is making nursing a top career choice in the province and greatly helps attract new nurses.

High demand, high interest, and the bottleneck is in getting us all through school. I'm sure this is not news to most of us, but still damned frustrating for those who want to get in but aren't being accepted.

In other news, while researching RN salaries I came across my future pay, and I'm mentally tabulating how many horses I can keep. I LOVE unions. My aunt told me a story the other day about how her nurse manager was pinning the blame on her for a doctor's mistake, and my aunt went to her union rep and they went to battle for her. The manager ended up getting some serious heat, and my aunt didn't really have to do a thing. Not sure what happened to the doctor!
Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Huh! Who knew?

This quiz was linked from Can't Spell, DVM. It appears that a couple of years of providing tech support to Americans hasn't changed my accent any. And it is clearly very accurate. Interesting!

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: North Central

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

The West
The Midland
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz