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, January 29, 2009

What a week!

Alright, so I'll pull out the wayback machine and start at last Friday, in the lab.

We had our infection control lab where we got to practice putting on isolation gowns, hairnets, booties, a variety of masks, and of course gloves in every shape and size. We also got to do that signature experiment where we slathered some UV-responsive cream on our hands, washed it off, and checked it under the black light. Surprisingly, the way I normally wash my hands is pretty effective, except for my cuticles, my wrists, and a circle the size of a loonie on the back of my left hand. Then my "nurse hand-hygiene routine" went very well. Those cuticles, I tell you! Germ trappers!

Sunday was fun. Mumsy and I got all excited over the scrubs we found a couple of weeks ago so we went to Mark's again. Now that I know that I'm magically two times smaller in a uniform than I am in any other style of clothing, the shopping wasn't so bad. We pulled some more solid colors (God, I HATE PRINTS as you may recall) and I came home with two more shiny outfits in forest green and light blue. They gave me this little Scrub Club (hehe) punch card and if I buy five I get a top or bottom free. So I need one more and then I'll have a free one. Sweet! It's like I'm in a coffee club for scrubs :)

My aunt was listening to me bemoan the fit of the uniforms that I had tried on that fateful day and she mentioned: "You know, UgRN, you do have to move in these clothes. Be careful with the sizing lest you stoop to do a transfer and your butt seam goes rrrrrrip. Happened to me before - no fun! And don't go commando!"

Pearls of wisdom.

So that brings us to Monday, the day of my second clinical! We met up on the unit at 1500 and we got to look through charts for the first time. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting by charts.... a chart, perhaps. Instead, I find huge heavy binders filled with pages of wonderfully illegible MedSchoolWriting™. Each person had an assigned patient for the day and we looked through their charts to find how the determinants of health may have impacted their lives. My patient (OMG that's fun to say) was an elderly guy who'd been on the unit for quite a while, awaiting a transfer to LTC. Unfortunately before I was really able to get into the health determinants, his real nurse whizzed into the room and stole his chart away. Bummer.

Anyway the big thing that was just so mind-bogglingly-terrifying, and that we all had sweaty palms over, was actually meeting the patients.

What if they want something?

What if they cry or yell at me?

What if they've got 3 heads like a chimaera and eat student nurses for snack?

We all stood around looking like a gaggle of wimps until my clinical instructor was like sooo.... either you meet them now and get it over with, or you sweat all through your dinner break. Oy, it's no fun when someone makes so much sense! So finally I took a deeeep breath, and crept into my patient's room:


Patient: (Looking up from his dinner) Uh, hello...?

Me: (Blushing like I might catch fire) Er, hi.

The conversation went fairly smoothly after that. Heart rate soon returned to normal. First patient contact? Success! So the clinical group went for supper break, hung out for a while, and then came back up the floor when we were fairly certain all of the patients would be done their meals.

I strode back on to the floor, grabbed my clipboard, and confidently headed into my victim's room, all ready to get The Best Health History Ever Gotten On A Human Being.

Except... he was asleep! Snoring away all curled up in fetal position. Temptation flared briefly to poke him until he awoke so that I could still get said TBHHEGOAHB. Haha kidding! Ooookay, so much for that.

Another girl ran into the same problem where her pt was also indulging in a post-meal pre-bedtime nap. So our CI took us around the unit trying to find some unclaimed pts who would (hopefully) appreciate a little noobie nurse company.

We happened upon a very teeny tiny LOL (that's short for little old lady, for those of you new to medbloggery) who was staring off into space and looked lonely. The CI, all pro, swooped in there and started talking to her and it was clear that this lady had dementia to some high degree. CI waved us in and introduced us: me and this other girl standing side by side.

Well that LOL looked from me to the other girl and back to me again, and said NOOOO GOOD, pointing at me and then pointing at her glasses. Apparently she didn't like my specs? She then looked back and forth between us again, looked back at me, and said EEEEYUCK and made the face to match!

Allow me to reiterate: the second patient I ever met said EEEEYUCK and made a face at me.


CI waved me over and said "Oh, UgRN will come and look over a photo album with you, won't that be nice?" (This just after she made the face. I was mortified.)

No. Please, no. Please.

Yes indeedy. CI told me to sit on the side of her bed*.

*For the record, I'm not totally down with sitting on someone's bed unless I'm expressly invited to. Especially when they say EEEEYUCK when offered the opportunity to meet me.

So I sort of perched precariously on the side of her bed and the LOL lets out a YELP!

I jump up like a shot!

And yes, you heard it here first, the very first time I've ever gotten near a patient's bed with the intention of using therapeutic communication, I sat on her catheter tube.

On her catheter tube.

Fricken FANTASTIC! She's gonna love me now!

Thank God she didn't seem to blame me for her sudden acute cooter pain.

Anyway, her fam had brought in a photo album so I cracked that open and she was able to start pointing out people and stuff. She had trouble picking the right word for what she wanted to say, so it was obviously really frustrating for her to tell the stories she wanted to. She was also highly suggestible (I could have pointed to anyone and been like, oh, is that great-uncle Lenin? and she probably would have agreed) and I sure didn't want to screw with what remaining memories she did have so the conversation was stunted and forced at best. The conversation ran a bit like that one House episode where the dude kept saying words that were kind of like what he wanted to say but the whole conversation was totally random.

Anyway, that 45 minutes passed in a flash and the only regret I have (except for the EEEYUCK and catheter parts of course) is that because talking with her was kind of spontaneous, I never had a chance to find out her name or look at her chart. Next Monday that's the first thing I'm going to do!

Shortly after that we were dismissed for another week. I have 2 midterms next week, one in Micro and one in Physio, so that's what I've been up to this week.

And, in regards to my post below, I did indeed win the first place prize for an essay contest and will be awarded $1000! (Thanks for the encouragement Lou!) It's going straight into my beloved ING Direct tax-free savings account where I will cherish it, and all of its compounding tax contributions, forever... or at least until my student loans come due!
New post coming, I promise. Just as soon as I quit hyperventilating ><
Saturday, January 24, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

That's my goal for this weekend. I plan to go through all of my subjects and organize my lecture notes. So far all I did today was the NURS 175 readings for last week (whoops) and the first quiz of the semester in that class.

You know, Potter & Perry is just one of those books that I could be assigned, like, 20 pages to read and somehow it takes an hour or two. Not cool when I have 3 more chapters in this book and 50 pages in each of the other classes! I like to make notes on the content because it's very heavy and otherwise I tend to forget it as soon as I've read it. Add that with the highlighting... takes forever! At least my retention is pretty good this way.

This week we need to write a reflective journal on clinical, on an event that happened to us. I'm a little surprised. We haven't even really talked to the patients yet! I mean, there was my old lady experience, but I don't think that counts as I didn't really do anything!


I hope your weekend is more exciting than mine - right now I've got the table pulled up to the couch, surrounded by books and highlighters, and some really awful chick flick on TV. And I'm wearing a housecoat and pajama bottoms and furry slippers... that I've been wearing since I woke up this morning. Classy!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My First Clinical!

'Twas the night before Monday
And at the back of the house
On iChat I chatted
With my absentee spouse

My uniforms were laid 
On the bedside with care
Crazy print, teal, and navy
They were all three of them there

The bathroom was ready
For the next morning's rush
My specs, hair stuff, and towels
And of course my toothbrush

In the kitchen, my lunch
Was prepped and ready to go
With snacks of all shapes and calories
And my tea mug in tow

By the door, ready, waiting
My shining white shoes
My backpack, my ID badge
(Which I must try not to lose)

Then, finally, it was time
To get snug in my bed
And the prospect of being a real nurse
Danced around in my head

(I hope you enjoy that little ditty. It took me a while :)

Ah, yes, Monday. The BIG DAY!

Ok, here's how it went. I woke up at my usual time - 0630ish - and meandered around the house for a bit while I woke up. I wrote my blog post on my scrubsperience and then got all of my papers together. My clinical buddy gave me a call around 0730 and showed up soon after. I gathered the rest of my stuff and we left the house. We caught the bus around 0750 and headed to the hospital.

Happily we didn't have too long of a bus ride because I looked at my watch and we were right on time! So we went to meet everyone in the lobby. There were about 15 students there, which were 2 clinical groups combined together for the first day's orientation. We were supposed to be ready in our uniforms but several of us didn't get a chance to change. No problem, however, as our clinical instructors moved us out en masse, in search of our lockers.

Ok - let me just say this: This hospital is CRAZY in regards to the floor plan. We were going upstairs, downstairs, across pedways, and upstairs again. Our instructor asked us, once we arrived at the HR office, 

'Okay, does everyone remember how to get back?' 

Uh, no. 

I hope I figure it out sooner than later. There didn't appear to rhyme or reason, or even good signage! At least one of the girls in my clinical group works at that hospital as a porter. She knows how to get everywhere!

So we got all cleared at the HR office and went off in search of locker rooms. We spent forever looking. And looking. We walked down stairs and up stairs and farther down again. We were in, I shit you not, the underbelly of the hospital. There were pipes and steam and things smelled like oil, and there were maintenance guys and old broken beds and everything. And we schlepped on, back and forth, up and down. We were wandering for an hour at least. And our clinical instructors were in the lead! Not even Porter Girl knew where we were.

Finally our instructor was like, uh, ok. How about you guys go back to the main restaurant and grab a coffee, and we'll try and figure this out.

Apparently there were in fact lockers available for all of us female students but there was one male student and they couldn't figure out where the male lockers were!

So we hung out by Timmy's and chatted nervously for a while. Some orientation so far :) Finally they returned with actual real directions on where to go, so we managed to get our lockers sorted and we then met up on the unit.

1000 hrs: 15 sweaty-palmed first year students huddle in a tight group at the edge of the unit, peeking nervously onto the floor.

Finally, it was time. Our instructors walked out onto the unit and began to show us around!

It's a sub-acute ward with a fairly geriatric population. No one's in life or death (thank God) and mostly it's just old folks who are too sick to live at home and are waiting for a transfer to a nursing home. There was a younger guy on the ward on suicide watch as well so it was a bit varied.

First impressions: the unit is tiny. It's a cramped hallway with perhaps 15 rooms with 2 beds in each. The hallway is even more cramped by all the equipment and (what looks like) junk all over the place. The nursing station is manned by two harried clerks (who we are on strict orders to not bother) and there is a teeny-tiny office at the back with a sort-of break area. There's a patient kitchen which is just composed of a sink and some cupboards, a fairly lux-looking bath room (I want to take a bath in it - soooo deep), and a utility/linen room.

The unit was made even more cramped by the fact that there were FIFTEEN OF US wandering around. I felt so awful, all the nurses were trying to get around us and get their jobs done but it's like we were coming out of the goddamn woodwork!

So we were introduced to a few of the nurses when they had a minute. The first one advised us to 'get out while we still could'. Why, oh why would you say that to first year students on their first day? Thanks, nurse-preceptor-lady, that's great encouragement. It was so cliche that I was annoyed but not angry.

After the brief intro we were split into teams of 4 and given scavenger hunt lists of equipment to find. It took a while and it was pretty fun. I've never really been in a hospital before (certainly never as a patient) so getting to rummage through all of the drawers and cupboards and go in the 'Staff Only' doors was great! We left no drawer unopened, no lid unturned. 

The only beef I really had was with how many of us there were. We were all over the effin place. I felt kind of bad. Especially because, from the patient's perspective, there were like a million nurses on the floor and not one of them would stop to help. I smiled at one old lady and she said....

 'I've been waiting for help for a while now'.

Stop. Freeze.

Did she just ask me for help?

Does she not see the flashing INCOMPETENT sign over my head?

Does she not realize that I am USELESS in terms of patient care?


*insert hyperventilation*

And then I realized:

Because, silly, you are wearing a uniform. You have an ID badge. You look like a nurse. And from where she's standing, you are a nurse, first-year useless student or not.

As my instructor later said: You have just as much a right to be here as any of the paid employees. This is a teaching hospital, and you are doing the job of learning. Ergo, while you are here, you are staff.

This was my shining moment in clinical: Even though I feel like an extraneous toe in terms of competency and utility, I have a purpose in clinical and that is to learn

Perhaps you are thinking, uh, yeah, ugrn, that's... pretty obvious. 

Well, maybe it was so obvious that I missed it entirely. :)

Clinical was dismissed quite early on Monday so that experience and the scavenger hunt pretty well wraps up my first day. I hope yours is, was, or will be as good to you as mine was to me.
Monday, January 19, 2009

Ok, the scrubs saga

I know I said I'd post it yesterday, but a good friend called me up and wanted some her-time. "Yes, for an hour," said I, knowing that it would probably end up going until night time. Which it did. 

Weekend? Shot!

Anyway, about the scrubs. So I had been making huge hints to my mom for the last 6 months that I would need scrubs to wear for clinicals but I have so very little (insert tear) disposable income and wouldn't she please help me?

Of course she agreed so we went out Saturday on a medical shopping spree of sorts. I only bought a few pairs of scrubs and shoes. The stethoscope and other gear will have to wait until after March break.

So we went to the store that everyone was talking about because we get a student discount there. I'm normally a large so I pulled a few different colors that I liked of various brands. There were all KINDS of colors - acid green, bubble gum pink, code brown... not so many that were attractive.

The first pair I tried on were Mobb, the ones that I thought I'd like the best. First - the material was crap. It was scratchy polyester, very thin. I put on the top first and it was like I'd just eaten ten bowls of lard. I looked fat. Like for real. Self confidence puddled somewhere around my feet. OMG! My mom and I looked at each other - were they supposed to fit this way? Maybe they were meant to make me look like a whale. I pulled on the pants and had a delightful new FUPA. Yay. I could not get those off fast enough!

The next pair were Koi pants (the Lindsey ones). The fabric was really comfortable, they seemed sturdy enough, and the rise was normal. I wasn't entirely stoked about the slightly tapered leg. Altogether though they looked ok and had a ton of pockets, so I got a pair of those in navy.

Let me just add - WTF is with these designers? Stacy and Clinton would be ashamed. Tapered legs, elastic waistband that goes up to my bra, built-in FUPA pouch, every top looking like it's designed for maternity wear? The only tops that fit good were covered in a barf-inducing dizzying floral pattern? Truly. I might just have to pull apart a pair and make my own scrubs.

So, dejected, I bought the Koi pants (which were OK... not the best, but wearable) and a Cherokee top that fit my top but was sadly patterned with flowers and boxes. $78 for the two.

We then swung by Mark's Work Wearhouse, which, if I remember correctly, is a Canadian phenomenon along with Can Tire and Tim Hortons. I had heard they carried scrubs, so we thought what the hell, let's go see what they have there. My hopes were not especially high.

I tried on a few pairs and other than the fact that they fit HUGE (as in, I am normally a large but I fit a small), they actually were flattering! I looked like I wasn't a box and there was no excess pouches of fabric in sight. So I got two more pairs there. And they were, like, a third the price of the Koi/Cherokee combo. HealthPro is the brand, I think, and I'm definitely a believer of Mark's.

As for shoes, we stopped by a local store that came highly recommended by my dad because they make his orthotics. I think the really great service I was expecting was helping someone else, because I got a girl about my age who appeared to know sweet dick all about shoes. I asked her what the nearby hospital staff wore and she just pointed at all the white shoes on the wall. Big help...

I did eventually settle on a pair of New Balance walking shoes, but it was tough to tell as they didn't have my size in stock and will order it in for me. So in the meantime we got a cheapass $10 pair of white shoes that will have to do for a couple of weeks.

Anyway, it looks like I spent way longer writing this post than I planned, and I had better get moving.

The next time you hear from me, I will be a for real nursing student with actual hospital experience!!
Saturday, January 17, 2009

I bought scrubs today!

Rather, my mom bought me some.

These are the first sets I have ever owned!!

The shopping experience was just awful. So awful that I will describe at length tomorrow.

Good night world <3

'Cuz Artillerywife did it, so... :)


You surround yourself with art and music and are constantly driven to express yourself. You often daydream. You prefer honesty in your relationships and believe strongly in your personal morals.

Find out your color at QuizMeme.com!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ever wondered what a code was like?

Nurse Sean has described his first code blue on the Code Team in wonderful detail:

Congrats Sean, it sounds surreal!
Thursday, January 15, 2009

P.S. Eww

I've been getting a creepy amount of traffic from various Asian countries inquiring about how to go about 'break ing the hy men al ri ng' (spelled properly, but I don't want to generate even more traffic) and also pictures of said breaking.

This is in the last few days.

Is there a note stuck to my back or something?

A little honesty is the best policy, or so I hear

It's official. I've been avoiding all of you.

I'm not sure why, and it's not because I don't love you (because I definitely do, even you lurkers who never say anything!), but I have been in a serious funk these first couple of weeks of 2009.

A big part of it is, as some of you long-time readers may recall, that I'm not the most socially gregarious person in the world. I tend to avoid meeting new people when at all possible and prefer to hang out with myself for company (especially for studying, which I do 16/7 these days). Just about the only people that I actually want to hang out with are my parents and my boyfriend. I'm just terrible at meeting new people! 

Most of my friends from last term are in entirely different classes than me... and I really need to work up the courage to say hello to someone. Anyone. Logically I know that people aren't all looking at me going oh, her, the creepy loner girl. Yet paranoia kicks in and that's just what I think. How messed up am I?!

Does anyone have advice for me? I know I'm being ridiculous but I can't seem to help it. My self-esteem is ankle-high. 

Anyway, on to bigger and better: 

Monday is my first clinical EVER!!

I am going shopping this weekend for scrubs and shoes. Rules: no pastels, no prints. Those aren't school rules, but they are definitely mine :) I'm thinking navy, or maybe Kim-tinky-winky-purple*
That's a reference to Kim, of As The Pump Turns, whom I adore and will sorely miss reading her blogs

The first day is from 0700 to 1500 and we are going to play scavenger hunt for our first time on the unit, to help us locate all the goodies. In lab tomorrow we are learning to take histories so we might get to do that too, although I think I just might soil myself when I am looking my first patient in the eyes. Extra scrubs? Yes, I believe that would be a splendid idea.

Ye Gods, I could have gotten The Awful One for clinical. I would have switched out, I'm pretty sure. My actual clinical instructor seems normal, yet very manager-esque, so hopefully that doesn't hinder honesty. 

Side note: I freakin' hate listening to HRspeak, with such gems as:
  • Let's take this offline, hmm?
  • I'd like to see you really bring it 360 for the presentation (huh?)
  • This really appears to be a great learning opportunity for both of us!
  • Some of you outliers have a greater opportunity than others!

Anyhoo, since you're all dying to know, I scored 90% on my first quiz of the semester (yay!) and have so far been very good about keeping up with the readings... although I have several chapters to plow through before tomorrow.

That said, I bid you adieu until Monday at the latest because I will be recapping my VERYFIRSTCLINICALEVEROMG

P.S. Thanks to everyone who comments on my posts. I know they aren't the most interesting or hilarious fodder around but it's very kind of you to say something anyway :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Semester 2 begins

Well, began. 

I had my first classes yesterday. It was the longest I've been at school possibly ever - my first class was at 0800 and my last class went to 1700. Yuck, a full workday! The morning started with Psych and the prof seems exactly like a psych prof should. Kind of offbeat, a little crazy, kind of distracted. She started the class by challenging us to memorize everyone's name by the time she did and she said anybody who could would get a 1% bonus mark. Then she went through the class of 60ish (maybe more) students and tried to memorize all our names. She'd stare intently at each person and say their name 5 or 6 times. It was intimidating at best. I lost track of people after the first row - I don't remember names very well! This went on for about 25 minutes, and then I got bored and went for coffee.

The second class seems a bit (a lot) fluffy. It's Professional Communication. The prof asked if anyone had taken a communications class before - I put my hand up. She then asked if anyone actually liked it - I put my hand down. I hated Comm, probably because a lot of it comes easily to me. I'm not one of those conversational freight trains that yammers on and on and cuts people off, and it's pretty obvious what someone's feeling when I talk to them. Anyway. She promised it would be an improvement on what I was expecting from Comm. I think it'll be a lot of sharing and kumbaya, but a good GPA boost and the prof seems normal so we'll see.

The third class - omg! It's micro and I'm terrified/in love with the prof. What a weird combo. I was sitting with a girl and we were discussing how you could often tell what a prof would be like by what they wore to lecture. The prof walked in wearing a suit jacket, tie, and knee-length skirt, black hose and sensible shoes. She had her hair pulled back in a tight bun. Yikes! And she was just like you'd expect. A total drill sergeant. What a far cry from last semester's Anatomy prof! She doesn't really use PowerPoint (gasp) - she actually uses the whiteboards. All 3! With different colored pens! And neat writing! What is this freak of nature?! It was a 3 hour lecture and I was totally alert the whole time - partly because she kind of yelled the notes at us. What a unique concept, for a science instructor to teach the material instead of just read off the ppt! I'm so impressed. And terrified, as I've mentioned.

I was looking forward to coming back this semester after the Christmas break. I feel rejuvenated and ready to go. I'm SO looking forward to clinical, and my first lab is on Friday. Yay actual nursing class!

I've been a good girl and caught up on my readings so far this week. Operation Keepmyshittogether is in full swing!
Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's 2009 and I have 2 days left!

Mixed feelings abound.

I'm really excited to get back to school and 'do it right' this semester by keeping on top of the readings and study guides instead of pounding it all into my skull the week before a big exam, and by actually making an attempt to review each class every day (or at least every other day) instead of just one day a week.

On the other hand, my honey is going back to his college dorm in Farawayville and I just got used to having him home.

On the other other hand, my WoW character is level 79 so clearly my Christmas break wasn't wasted. C'mon, 80 before school starts! Can I do it? We shall see. I'm tempted to keep my account active for a few weeks into school to see if I can be reasonable about playing. It's just such a great stress reliever (certainly better than vegging out in front of the TV) and I usually feel pumped after playing, instead of like a couch zombie.

I logged into Blackboard today to see if they had me updated for my new term. I wanted to get the readings done this weekend so that way I could be a step ahead. I'm not the New Year's Resolution type but I guess my new strategy kind of fits into the category. I'm determined!

Of course they don't have it updated. I doubt if anyone was even in the office yesterday. However my Nursing Practice Foundations class (the one with clinicals) released the placement assignments! Out of 8 possible assignments (some in other counties) I got the one I wanted - sweet! The extra-lucky part is that they never asked for our preferences or even if we drive or not. I'm in a good spot because my house is en route to several hospitals via public transit, and as I've mentioned before, I am in no financial position to purchase a car. Besides, dad, borrowing yours is free! Still, if I had been stuck with driving 20 minutes on the freeway to get to clinical, that would have been a problem.

So this particular hospital is the best of the lot for me to get to by transit, as the bus is on 15 minute frequency, the stop is right outside my house, it runs super early and super late, and it takes just over 15 minutes to get to the hospital. Could this be any better? I think not!