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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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Addiction Presentation, done

Ahhh, at last.

I had another nutty day today. I worked until 2200 last night and came home and died for 8 hours. Then I had to get up earlier than I normally do on a Thursday because my job was sponsoring flu shots that I almost forgot making an appointment for (whoops). So I was at school about 4 hours early.

My nurse was really nice. She asked what I do, and I told her where I worked. I also told her that I'm in nursing school and she started explaining all the information about what she was doing, what kind of wipes she was using, how the WHO comes up with the flu shot (I think that's what she said), and all kinds of interesting info. I told her my school, and she said that was the best choice I could have made. So that's encouraging! She gave me the jab and was like, "Wow! you didn't even flinch!" and I LOL'd and said that after tats and 4-gauge needles, that little syringe was practically soothing.

From 1000 - 1200, I worked on our references. There were 5 pages. Of references. Total project, including printed slides, notes, and references: 25 pages. I am killing the rainforest.

From 1200 - 1400, I tweaked my presentation and read it aloud.

From 1400-1430, I willed my churning stomach and heartbeat to STFU.

At 1430, we gave the presentation. We blew minds with the videos, as I knew we would. I was praised as a computer genius, which is inaccurate but nice. And then we got endlessly critiqued on the presentation and then went home (but we didn't get applause.. boo-urns).

Then I worked until 2200 tonight.

And here I am.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm a slack blogger

Sorry about that. This past week has been back in the pressure cooker. 2 big assignments and a quiz were simultaneously due this week. One was a paper for Disc due this morning, the other is a presentation in Foundations due tomorrow morning, and last night after the paper I tackled the quiz. I was up until 0100 doing that, then up again at 0600 for class, and I'm working here until 2200. I hate Wednesdays, FYI.

My paper (my first nursing paper!) was on the topic of Nursing Education. The assignment was sweet. We had to go in the wayback machine and blow the dust off the historical Canadian Nurse periodicals, and pick one to write the paper. My article was rockin': "The Tragedy of Nursing Education" (Badgley, 1963).

I wish I had an at-home blood testing kit so that I could see just how much cortisol I've been producing over the last 8 weeks (holy shit, has it been that long already?! ...but on the flip side it already feels like forever)

Nursing school would all be about 1/3 as stressful if I didn't have to work 22.5 hours on top of everything. Damn you, rich kids with your no-rent-parent's-basement-homecooked-meals!

The presentation (Addiction) due tomorrow is pretty nice now that I've beat the hell out of it. I put in some shock videos like those found on methproject.org and Faces of Meth. IMO, sometimes having cool videos and transitions and doing fancy shit with my computer can make my project seem better than it is. Not my fault if the teacher gets caught up in the shinyness and doesn't notice that there might be content missing :)

No, no, I jest. I think we did a pretty comprehensive job. I might look into volunteering at a inner city health centre/needle exchange program... I really do need to volunteer on top of everything else. Scholarships are nigh unavailable unless you "show an interest".

Please, please, do not take any of my mumblecore too seriously. Yes, I am stressed. Yes, there are a lot of intense assignments, and very theoretical... but yes, I love every second of it!! Some of the instructors aren't that great, but some of them are amazing, and my classmates are just. like. me. It's definitely where I belong.
Monday, October 27, 2008


2 of my cousins are autistic and I did a lot of work with the mentally handicapped... this woman's video blew my mind. Completely and utterly. http://www.cbc.ca/national/blog/special_feature/positively_autistic/

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Working on our addiction presentation

and watching "17 Kids And Counting" in a state of morbid fascination.

Went partying last night for the first time in ages. A friend of ours bought his first house, so we had to have a housewarming! Started on the spiced rum at 2100 and sleeping by 0100... yes, my hard core party days are well behind me :)

I like the presentation I'm making. methproject.org has got some incredible resources. The only obstacle I'm facing is that our prof is making the weirdest requests... the presenter's notes area of Keynote is supposed to be filled up with a "mini paper" of what we want to present, in APA format. As if putting the presentation together isn't enough work... sigh.
Thursday, October 23, 2008

Grouchy mood

Instructor takes basic concept and spends 10 minutes elaborating on it, saying the same thing in about 7 different ways.

Receives blank stares of boredom from class.

Interprets blank stares as not understanding the basic concept, continues to fumble with trying to explain it, muddying the point further.

Receives even blanker stares of boredom.

Interprets this, not as class-wide apathy, but as a personal mission for her to pound this basic concept into our heads with a half-hour explication complete with web searches.

Listen, lady, if you're going to just change all of the requisites for the group presentation a week before we present, I'm not going to be very sparing with the criticism.

Heading to class early

To break free of my procrastination. Seriously, when I sit on the couch, I could sit for hours in a state of contemplation. It's comfort-induced paralysis.

We are presenting our second group project next Thursday. It's on the impacts of addiction (specifically, crystal meth) on public health. I think the topic is interesting but I am so burned out from all the other projects that I just kind of say "meh" every time I think about it. Can you tell how inspired I am by the thought of another presentation?

I must say, though, our group has gotten fantastic support from other sectors. One girl sat down a few times with a drug inspector for the city police, and I played phone tag for a few days with AADAC and now we have a ton of information.

Next process is actually compiling all of this data. Hence, I am going to school early to try and get a start on the project. Even if I just throw something together in Keynote, it will feel a lot less nebulous.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Second thoughts

On the whole military thing. I'm not going to get into it too much right now as I need to go to class, but suffice it to say that I'm not especially interested in going through nursing school and then losing all of my nursing skills in the army. Apparently they let those atrophy pretty bad. 

From one post, 
"NOs [Nursing Officers] in the military do more administration and other military activities then actual patient care nursing. We (medics) tended to joke that if you hate taking care of patients as a (civilian) nurse, join the military".

This is all supposed to change in 2020, but I don't see that affecting me.

If you're interested, here's the link for the forum post that I was reading.

Maybe it's just me, but I want to be a nurse who cares for patients. Administration is fine maybe 15 years down the road... but right out of the gate? How will I integrate back into a civilian setting if the last time I used clinical skills was in 4th year university?

No, I don't think I want to go back to school to re-learn nursing after I have repaid my debt to the CF.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Foundations in Health midterm result!


Better than I expected - I'll take it!
Monday, October 20, 2008

Cautiously optimistic

I am confused by how my prof put the marks up on Blackboard, but I think I got 90% on the Discipline of Nursing midterm! Class average was high, 75% I think.

Edit: 88%, which is pretty much my mark across the board so far.

Now, you poor curved people may feel that my marks are, well, mediocre, but so long as I'm ahead of the class average, that's all the encouragement I need. Wow, 5 commas in one sentence!

Today I embarked on my bootcamp regime. Many moons ago when I was in Police Studies, I had buns of steel and could run on the treadmill for over an hour. 2 years of call centre jobs later, I am seriously muffin-topping out of my fat jeans. This will not do for the whole army thing!

I joined a drop-in step class to see what my fitness level was like - yikes is the word.

  • 17:00: step class began. Huh, no one else is covering their midriff. WTF?
  • 17:15: I ran out of steam. 
  • 17:17: My feet would just not move fast enough to keep up with the steps and this girl in front of me was actually smiling the whole time. Not smiling at my crappyness, but like she thought it was fun or something! Sadistic harpy
  • 17:23: I might have audibly farted, but I was way too tired to care.  
  • 17:25: I got my second wind which died at 35 minutes when I thought the class was over. No such luck. 
  • 17:40: I mimed along with some of the less complicated steps and felt like grim death. 
  • 17:50 was some strength training, which was a Godsend 'cuz I sure couldn't take too much more of the cardio part. 
  • 18:00: I staggered down to the changeroom and wept at my inadequacy.

An hour and change later and here I am, feeling actually pretty good now that my pulse has returned to its normal speed and location (i.e. not in my fingertips).

So after embarrassing myself with all the pert, happy shiny, size-XS-Lululemon-wearing, boobs-still-in-the-original place, I do yoga and pilates doesn't everybody hard bodied ladies...

...Competitive streak, engaged. Oh, it's on!
Saturday, October 18, 2008


I will never, ever, forget how fast to do chest compressions again:

The Bee Gees' disco anthem "Stayin' Alive" from 1977 has 103 beats a
minute, close to the number of chest compressions needed for cardiopulmonary
resuscitation to work, according to a study at the University of Illinois
College of Medicine at Peoria.

Video here
Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lord help me, I applied for the military.

Yes, it's true.

Here's the scoop: if I get selected, the Canadian Forces will pay for my tuition and books, and pay me a salary to go to school. During school, I don't have to do anything except school. During the summer they will fly me out to Quebec for military training. I can finish my education at my wonderful college and I will graduate with no debt.

The catch? 5 years mandatory service. That, my friends, is all.

Let's weigh the options here.

Civilian: Graduate in 4 years with approximately $50,000 in debt, before interest. Work 22.5 hours a week while juggling school and those f'ing "extracurricular activities" that might make me worth a scholarship. Work for 5 years to simultaneously pay down said debt, put money to RRSP, put money to first house and car, and cross my fingers that I don't get knocked up in the process - 'cuz wouldn't that just be ducky!

Military: Graduate in 4 years with perhaps $25,000 in savings. Be in awesome shape from Basic. Be an f'ing Nursing Officer. Be deployed to various awesome places to administer medical aid to those who need it. Work for 5 years getting experience in floor nursing, and then either love it or leave it.

Now, some of you may be thinking yeah, ugrn, the perks are because you might, uh, die.

A valid point.

However, I might also die in a tragic car accident next week and/or get a stingray to the heart when I next go snorkelling. You just never know!

But really, Canada's bloodlust isn't exactly roaring these days and the Tories say we're supposedly pulling out of Afghanistan by 2012. Even still, I would be second-line and pretty unlikely, by military standards, to bite it.

So that's my news for today.

Finished at last

Midterms, that is. I technically have one more on Monday, but it's English and therefore impossible to study for.

On Tuesday evening, I ended up writing that damn essay for hours. The words just would not come. I finished at 21:00 and then hammered out a few hours of Discipline of Nursing studying, which worried me.

There's a lot to know, like all of the founding women of nursing... Florence of course, Jeanne Mance, Snively, d'Youville, Gunn, Shaw, Mussallem, et al. Also many theories of nursing - we are expected to use the McGill model in our practice.

I left for school at 0640 and arrived at school way early to print off my notes and study for my test, except that the computer lab was not open until 0730! So I grabbed a coffee and waited for about 20 precious minutes. The lab opened, I grabbed a computer (which, of course, had to run its little updates and took about 7 minutes for me just to log in), and hit print... out of toner. Asked the girl to change it, all the while looking at my watch, and she didn't have the key. So I didn't get too much studying done yesterday morning.

But it was ok, because I kind of winged the test (I mean, I did study all weekend and the night before, but I didn't feel like I knew the content cold) and hey! This test was really easy! It was just the kind of test I was expecting on my last midterm. "Which is an example of a theory?"


And as for the essay, I showed it to my prof 4 hours before class and she said it was crap. She told me what to rewrite, so I basically spent another 3 hours on it, and I handed it back in. Here's hoping it works! I have learned to DO MY ASSIGNMENTS as soon as they are assigned because if I put it off, it tends to get in the way later.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008


...While watching 101 More Things Removed From The Human Body.

Today, I:
  • Voted in the Federal Election (NDP, woo!)
  • Wrote a brief essay on why unions kicks ass, as part of my submission for a $750 bursary
  • Skipped Foundations in Health to write the union essay

Today, I still need to:
  • Write a crappy English essay
  • Study my ass off for Discipline of Nursing midterm

You may remember my angst regarding my English professor. I have determined that the only solution to this issue is to write my paper, and then bring it to her for inspection. Whatever changes she makes, I will submit. Standing up for myself and my opinion? Nah. Kissing ass? Probably. Better mark? Better be!
Monday, October 13, 2008

Still in Midterm Madness

Studying hard this weekend for my next midterm on Wednesday, the Discipline of Nursing. I got my marks back in Anatomy - 89% and Physiology - 88%! (Class average was 68%!) I earned those, and I'm very happy. Foundations I'm a little concerned about because it was a whole lot less 'fluffy' than I was thinking... instead of questions like, "Which is an example of epidemiology?" it's more like, "The LaLonde report identified the need for what?" and gave 4 very-plausible-almost-identical answers. So yeah, it was tough; and no, I didn't study nearly as hard as I needed to.

Yesterday was spent going over half of the readings that I didn't do for class, making notes on them, and sharing them with another girl who is doing the other half. Whilst doing the readings, I was thinking huh, that abstract concept makes a lot more sense now that I've read this about it.

I have learned important lessons from this set of midterms:

  • I need to be doing my readings before class, ergo, I should do the next one on the day of the previous class, and then they are done. Saying Sweet! No anatomy for another week! does not facilitate reading the night before the next class.
  • Some concepts were not explained in class because they were so obviously written out in the text. Going into the class on those days was like going in blind, and leaving bewildered. Reading = important.
  • Making notes on what I read. I've never done it before, but even just capturing the gist of the chapter will make it a lot easier to review for a test.
  • Highlighting is good. Going back to read over a solid block of text is intimidating; a highlighted block of text is not nearly as scary!

Anyway, here's hoping this week turns out better. 

I just got back from my grandparents' place where we had a supergood non-turkey Thanksgiving dinner. There was oodles of pie and yummy things and so. much. food. I got lots of leftovers! :)
Friday, October 10, 2008

To your left,

you will see me, wearing a mask and snorkel. 

I figured that my nouveau-Florence above is getting a little worn and isn't all that personal. So I changed it on Twitter and then I put it here too. Please don't be a creeper and stalk me like that one guy did. I'd put up a more, uh, normal picture except that I'm planning on being honest on this blog and don't want to deal with any instructor drama if I'm ever 'outed'. After all, Not Nurse Ratched, whom I have a huge Apple crush on, has already been down that very unpleasant road... I'd rather not go there too.

The snorkelling was in some Cuban waters... my first time in the sea! God, diving is hard when you are buoyant. I'm holding a shell in the pic, which you can't see, and I was very proud of actually getting to the bottom to grab it.
Thursday, October 9, 2008

Today's incredibly epic run-on sentence...

...is brought to you by Foundations in Health:

"Primary health care is essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain at every stage of development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination."

Didja get all that?

Midterm #3 fast approaches

So this week has been craaazy. I completely burned myself out after studying for anatomy, so that I didn't even want to pick up my notes for physiology until the morning of the test. A lot of the information from anatomy also corresponded to physiology though so I didn't feel too bad about it. One of the questions was identical: Which order do body structures go in? Cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, organism. That was an easy one. The rest of it was kind of challenging because it wasn't just regurgitated information, it was applied to different scenarios. I was reasonably sure of my answers on 49/60, and had to rethink the rest before I turned it in.

Today is my Foundations in Health midterm. I've been a little (a lot) bored in that class because it is just so much fluff... I go twice a week for 1.5 hours, there's about 10 slides of actual content, and then a whole lot of discussion. I could care less what my classmates have to say about the topic, because they're coming from the same point of reference I am, mostly. So when the instructor asks if anyone knows something, and a few people take stabs at it and she's like, "Well, not really. It's actually this," it's not really serving to enhance my cognition.

So I've been rewriting all the useful slides into my notebook and it's actually pretty interesting stuff when you strip away all the froofy-let's-talk-about-it excess. It's about different models of thinking about society, i.e. capitalism or colonialism and how that applies to the healthcare provider's care.

And I got my first paper back from English. You may recall the tension between the prof and me. WORST SCORE EVER. Okay, I'm not trying to say that I'm the Canadian literary protege out to set records in the marks department. You read this blog, I'm sure a bazillion grammatical errors jump out at you (not that I write this casually in a paper, mind you). No, I've taken several English courses at the college level, and this one is supposed to be ENGL 108 - first year. I know what my writing's like, and how I'm likely to score. I got a 7.8 out of 10. First of all, wtf, .8? That seems, um, arbitrary. Secondly, 7.8? What do I have to do to write a '10' paper? All of the people in the class that I saw got 7.something. So out of the class I did above average. But still, scholarships don't give a rat's ass what the class average was. Either you make a 3.5+ or you miss out. I'm a little concerned.

Anyway, enough griping, I need to go and master this test.
Monday, October 6, 2008

One midterm down and another out of the way

Wrote Anatomy midterm #1 this morning at 1100. I had been studying feverishly for it for the past week. Wayyy overstudied - we had 1h 20 minutes to complete the test, and it took me (and most of the class) 30 minutes. On almost every question, I was high-fiving my brain. I don't feel annoyed though at over-studying, because I really learned a lot this week and even if it's useless to me now that I can name the carpals, at some point the information will be useful.

I'd say that I got at least 85%, including two diagrams to label (nail/distal phalanx and scapula). Of course, I may have to extract foot from mouth later on when we find the marks. But I am feeling positive overall.

Things that I studied that I needed to know:
Anterior structures of the scapula
Layers of the epidermis - Can Lucy Give Some Blood?
Organs of the nine abdominal regions
Structures of osteons
Arterial flow to the upper limb

Things I should have studied more:
Hyaline versus fibrocartilage
Holocrine glands (I know merocrine and apocrine, but they weren't on the test! rrr)

Things I probably didn't need to study as much as I did:
Features of the bones of the upper limb. Did not need to know at all, sigh...
Anything to do with muscle contraction & microscopic muscle anatomy
What epithelial cells were located at different structures in the body

So while there was some information I probably could have glossed over or read more on, our class did way better than the other section of first years. They have a different instructor who wrote purposely ambiguous questions to try and trick them! I guess (and this is just one person's feedback) that the instructor told the class what to study for the test, and then tested on entirely different material. Yikes

Regarding the midterm out of the way - it's not really out of the way. It's just that I thought it was this week when it actually isn't until Wednesday of next week! Sweet!
Sunday, October 5, 2008

Quite possibly, my new best friend...

...Is this book. Yesterday I spent 6 hours around town at various quiet locations studying anatomy. I was mostly studying the bones of the pectoral girdle and the upper limb. My eyes started blurring around the coronoid fossa, but I whipped out my handy Analogy Guide To Anatomy, that then took what I was trying to learn by forced memorization and spelled it all out so nicely:

So as you can see, it quite resembles a workbook from Grade 2. But I could care less, because practically all of the stuff I read last night, I can still remember this morning! I can name most of the major structural features of the clavicle, scapula, humerus, radius, and ulna, I've got a handle on the articulations, and I can name/identify the carpals, metacarpals, and phalanges. It's like a flippin' miracle.

If you're struggling with anatomy, go now. Run. Purchase this book and then love every second of reading it. It's just one Ohhhh, that's how that works moment after another. Anatomy midterm, I shall conquer you yet! (Midterm begins in 27 hours)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nursing & Information Literacy

Yesterday we had an interesting workshop on researching information and how to find what you want. Since I've been a student for a few years now, I've already attended similar workshops and I thought it would be boring to go again. My prof, however, told us: Even if you've already been to an information literacy workshop, I highly suggest you attend this one.

Part of the attraction was that it's integrated with a research paper for my Discipline of Nursing class. The assignment is to pick a historical article from the year you were born or earlier, addressing some facet of the nursing discipline. Then research what's going on with that issue today. The nice part is I don't have to write a full paper - just the introduction and first paragraph, and include the reference list.

So the night before last, I attempted to get into the databases provided by my school library. I particularly wanted the Canadian Nurse journal, seeing as that would be probably the most relevant source. To my dismay, almost all of the databases only have full text from 1999 to present. Not very handy for my historical article! I spent a few hours digging around and found an article dated 1984. Not what I'd call "historical" (that means I'm historical!) but it just barely met the year qualifications. The title is "Do Nursing Educators Promote Burnout?" and it addresses nursing instructors setting impossible standards for students in the workplace. I figure there should be plenty of research on burnout!

We brought our articles into the workshop and we learned about using boolean operators to expand and narrow searches. I knew about most of them, i.e. '"Canadian nurs*" NOT Ontario AND "licensed practical"', but some were new. Did you know you can use parentheses? Cool! You can pretty much do your whole search in one go:

Nurs* AND (student OR undergrad) AND (instructor OR teacher OR professor OR educator) AND (burnout OR "compassion fatigue" OR exhaust*)

Plug that in to a search engine and, theoretically, you should come up with a subject that combines nurses, students, teachers, and burnout. Theoretically. It's pretty specific and it might exclude some otherwise-relevant information. But still! Parentheses!

We also saw a video with some scary statistics:

So, yeah. I like researching. I think the big obstacle for working nurses is probably finding the time to actually research! You can easily blow a few hours absorbed in the depths of Google or some article database, sidetracked from your original topic of interest. I don't know how likely it is that you say "Ok, I'll be back in half an hour, I just want to look up the latest evidence-based research regarding care of pressure ulcers".


Anyway, information literacy, I has it. Now to actually use it... can't I do that after midterms? *whines*

Anatomy, Physiology, Discipline of Nursing, and Foundations in Health - midterms next week, in that order. I guess they wanted to squeeze them in before Thanksgiving, awesome! I'm up to my eyeballs in reading and studying. I'm focusing on Anatomy and Physiology because those ones are rote memorization, where Discipline and Foundations are a little more, shall we say, fluffy. 

If you haven't checked out my sidebar, www.studystack.com is completely fantastic for making speedy flash cards and exporting them. I have them on my iPod Touch and whenever I'm standing around, I look through a few. Also, and this is flippin' sweet for Mac users, this link provides a small AppleScript file that allows you to highlight text, go to Services, and choose to have the text converted into speech (using "Alex", if you have Leopard), and then it gets imported into your iTunes Audiobooks. Since I have some books with online text, I have converted my readings into "speakings" - makes it a lot easier to get the readings done when you just have to lay down and stare at the ceiling!

That's my spiel for today. Happy studying, fellow students!