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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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy new year, nurses!

I hope you all had/are having a great holiday! I got to spend some time with my fella's family over Christmas and that was wonderful. They have grandkids so they did the whole Christmas Is Magical thing. I absolutely love Christmas. I'm not really into gifts, exactly - the best part for me is hanging out, enjoying family, and listening to carols.... really! I've decided that next year I will, in lieu of gifts, sponsor a needy family.

I did buy myself something a special something yesterday. I've been wanting one for a long time, now, and I wasn't ready to make the plunge..... until I saw they were on sale for 60% off, and I almost-simultaneously got an email from Skyscape giving me a $50 gift certificate for participating in their scholarship contest. I guess some good came from it after all :)

So, when the planets aligned - I bought a BlackBerry. It's a Curve 8530 - last year's model, I think - hence the sale (see below... like my Link wallpaper? ;)

I know, I know, you can all pick your jaws up off the floor - it's not an iPhone.

Reasons I did not buy an iPhone:

-They are ungodly expensive
-They are slightly less expensive if you choose sell your soul to a carrier on a 3 year contract......and I don't do contracts, anymore
-iPhones will be a nice upgrade from this one when I am ready/employed, unless Android makes me happier with less money
-I still love QWERTY!

So far I am quite pleased with it, except for falling prey to the dreaded Disappearing App World Icon. Luckily, there is a metric TON of BB resources around the interwebs and I was able to get it resolved with a few Googlin's and some wasted time setting up the settings I'd lost.

I'm impressed with the integration with just about everything. I had a Palm about 7 years ago, and I spent ages getting it all set up. Then I let the battery die one day.... losing everything. The BB software sets my mind at ease with the Desktop Manager (for Mac, hooray!) and the syncing and the backups. Lesson learned in syncing more frequently AKA before major un/installs or after extensive setting changes.

This model has WiFi and whatever wireless network Koodo offers. It's not 3G, I don't think, and not superfast, but I am new to the idea of mobile browsing so it works for me.

So far, I've installed apps for both of my banks, Dropbox, KeePass, Facebook, Google Mobile,  and Skyscape. I am also SO PLEASED that I can handle my email without being on WiFi or within range of a public computer. It made me twitchy staying over at my boyfriend's house and not being able to instantly access my email. I think I am an email junkie.

I spent quite a bit of time browsing Skyscape trying to decide how to maximize my gift certificate. They also had a deal going that, if I purchased by Dec 31, I would get an additional 25% off. They also suggested I share the link, so here you go: www.skyscape.com/share25off.... offer expires March 31, 2011.

I ended up purchasing a few titles:
They threw in a med calculator and the International Classification of Disease as well.

So far, I am happy with Skyscape. I emailed them a problem with my order last night and they had it resolved by noon. I was NOT thrilled with the installation process, which could use an App World update, because it was hunt-and-peck 24 digit serial numbers to install each title. I'm also not thrilled with the setup of the Skyscape app. For something that I paid for, it sure does spend a lot of time trying to convince me to download other free software.

Anyhow, I am pretty excited to use my BB in clinicals! There is a TON of information in my pocket. The drug guide seems a lot handier than my hard copy - search for drug names and the info is there, no holding books open required. RNotes also has a good mix of L&D resources in it. The med calculator is pretty good too, it has everything from IV infusions to Apgar scoring.

More reviews and from-the-trenches stories of using my BB in clinicals to follow in the new year :)

Best wishes for 2011, everyone!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Ten Year Rule

I don't know if I have previously shared one of my guiding life philosophies, but I will now.

(Am I the only person out there with actually-in-words life philosophies? lol)

One of my favorite principles that I use when making tough decisions is my "Ten Year Rule" - hence known as TYR. Meaning, ten years from now, what will I wish I had done?

I've put this guiding principle to use many times in my life, usually to justify spending or saving money, or taking risks on new opportunities, but sometimes to remember the Bigger Picture. I used it when I abruptly left my life in Alberta for the opportunity to live in Ontario, grooming at Millar Brooke. TYR when I had the choice of moving back to Alberta or to Scotland. When I had to decide between pursuing graphic design or upgrading my high school on the off chance I could get into Nursing - TYR.

More recently - using some of my student loan money to go to Thailand? TYR. Scuba certification, bungee jumping, facing my biggest fears. TYR.

Today I faced a dilemma. I have been emailing like a madwoman trying to get clearance from my school to attend the conference in January; trouble being, of course, that it's super close to Christmas break and no one seems to be in the office, and CNSA wants me to book my flight ASAP.

I got a reply from the faculty stating that basically 
a) they supported me going, but 
b) it was going to screw me in terms of clinical hours and could ultimately affect my grade.

So that's pretty disappointing. It's not like I'm OCD about maxing out my GPA. I'm really not. As long as I get a pleasant 3.3-3.5, I'm a happy girl. Enough for grad school is enough for me. But just the idea of KNOWING that I could be throwing away marks in exchange for the opportunity to attend the conference is pretty tough. I've been thinking hard about it since I found out the news.

Then, today, we had our first teleconference and talked about the presentation. I recognized one of the voices on the line - it was one of the coordinators at the conference I went to in October! He was on the team as well. I was even more excited than before. He is the kind of person who speaks and people listen. I just know he's going great places in Nursing and I'm excited to be on the team with him. Then I realized that if this was the calibre of people on the team, I am even more honored to be a part of it.

Thus, the Ten Year Rule.

Ten years from now, will I be lamenting the loss of a few tenths of a grade point in one class?

Or will I be disappointed that I missed out on an opportunity to present to hundreds of peers and respected leaders of my profession?

With TYR, as always, the choice is obvious.

I am, however, hoping to kiss sufficient ass to make up for my 4 days of clinical absence....

Oh! I found out that I will be going to an inner-city hospital for my L&D rotation with two of my best friends. Orientation on Jan 5!!
Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas came a little early

After a FANTASTIC decompression in the sun (and a pretty fantastic sunburn, might I add), a red eye flight, and return to the snowy northern wastes, I checked my email to find the following -


You have been chosen to be a part of the 2011 CNSA national conference's national team! 

Aaaaannnnnnnd cue heart palpitations. There are only 5 of us on the team. For the WHOLE COUNTRY. zomg. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one from Alberta.

So now I realized that I actually will have to roll up my sleeves and make this trip happen, aka booking even more time off work, sending my regrets to the STTI induction, and pleading my case with the school faculty as I would be missing 4 days of L&D clinical*.

And practice, practice, practice what I am going to say, so that awful presentation Will. Not. Be. Repeated.

In front of the likes of 600+ CNSA members, Tilda Shalof, and Jean Watson, no less!!

* I think I sent a pretty compelling argument to the faculty. I may have indicated that the academic nature of the conference should be valid course credit. I also may have indicated that it would be a pretty sweet name drop to my fairly-recently-accredited university.

** I also checked all of my final course grades and found that I kicked ass on my finals. Especially my Nursing/Acutely Ill course, which was the one I really cared about. Booya!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm melting...

Into a puddle of joyful, feel-it-in-ma-bones, weightless BLISS. I am DONE! 3rd year is half over! Partying tonight with some of my ladies and then I am flying out to Puerto Vallarta tomorrow.

Interesting substory - as I was exiting my L&D exam yesterday, I checked my Facebook messages on my phone. Picture my surprise when it read "5 friends have commented on your changed relationship status". Um, wot?

So I investigate further and I see "undergradRN is no longer in a relationship" with a bunch of people commenting WTF... which crosses my mind as well... and at the bottom there is a comment from my boyfriend, with a sadface, asking if he was still going to meet me at the airport tomorrow afternoon in PVR! Luckily he also had an email from me from a few days ago that set that record straight, lol! Seriously, what girlfriend would break up with her guy BEFORE the wonderful holiday anyway ;)

Best I can figure is I got sidejacked via FireSheep. My password is 20 characters of upper, lower, numbers, and symbols, so I'd pay money to whoever managed to crack it.

See you kids next week!!
Monday, December 13, 2010

Picking your specialty...

As seen on an AllNurses.com post, and apparently poached from a new (to me) blog - Those Emergency Blues:

A) I enjoyed this tremendously and I apparently am best suited as a Wal-Mart greeter

B) Anyone who lists At Your CervixNurseXY, and Rob Fraser as a must-read is okay by me

C subsect. 1A) YES, I *do* think children are mostly trolls

C subsect. 1B) I resent studying L&D SOOOOOOooo much that I am blogging instead of cramming for my final in 3 hours and feeling no pain whatsoever

C subsect. 2) Fine, I'm getting back to work, I swears!
Sunday, December 12, 2010


My term paper for Healthy Populations went, as you can see, swimmingly. I am sooooo surprised and pleased! This takes the edge off my final for that class, for sure. I haven't done that well on a paper since first year. Yay!

The paper topic was interesting, too. I wrote about the fairly recent decision to do away with the Canadian Long Form Census, performed in the past by Statistics Canada.

I am feeling perked up for my last 2 finals tomorrow and Tuesday. Then, MEXICO!!!!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I've been studying too long today

I realized it while I was writing out notes for compartment syndrome.

I got the giggles... which was bad, because I was in the silent study room (and it was actually silent for a change, even with 5 people in there)

And then it got worse. I started crying tears of lol from holding in my giggles to a gentle semi-silent nose laugh, which resulted in me choking on it and making a huge reverberating SNORRRRK sound. I felt the eye daggers fly at me and figured I'd better leave the room to get straightened out. It was just as well because my coffee needed a refill.

For some reason I found my notation of compartment syndrome absolutely and ridiculously hilarious as I transcribed it - using the very same descriptors as the text--

"COMPARTMENT SYNDROME: Occurs when the muscle is swollen and hard on palpation and the pain is deep... throbbing... unrelenting... inside the tight fascia. "

OMG, I might as well be writing some torrid ladyporn romance novel.

I am officially going nuts. Thank you and good night.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Death, taxes, and finals week

3 things the average student can count on.

I am stressed, major stressed, about these finals because this is the first year there aren't any cut and dry answers. Science is cut and dry. Nursing answers are about priorities, and I am never sure if my priorities are the same as my instructor's.

In that vein I borrowed a bunch of practical knowledge books from the library. You know the ones. Not blue-skying theorizing about pathophysiological processes, but real-world nursing interventions for real-world situations, like RNotes and Medical-Surgical Nursing Made Incredibly Easy. I am hoping these will help me... if not for the test than at least for clinicals which are starting in < one month!!

Rnotes: Nurse's Clinical Pocket Guide [RNOTES 2/E]Medical-Surgical Nursing Made Incredibly Easy! (Incredibly Easy! Series)My first rotation for clinicals is L&D. Yup, I am going to catch a baby. Just kidding. I am actually planning to be that wallflower student who presses up against the door looking terrified. I actually think childbirth might be scarier than my OR follow-through. Some people know they were born for L&D (nyuk)... I can say, with certainty, that I was not. Pleased to meet you, moms of Alberta!

In other news, and because my brain needs a break from school, I was in my jumping lesson yesterday and rode a (low) crossrail and bounce jump** for the first time. The geriatric schoolmaster I am on, Breezy, is absolutely wonderful at flat work. He is light and responsive and forward, and I get a pretty good feel with him on aids, which is good for me because I am pretty new to formal lessons and proper aids. Anyway, I've been lol-riding him over jumps for about 5 or 6 weeks now and he's been very patient with me, until yesterday. When he decided he ABSOLUTELY LOVES JUMPING ZOMG.

Dear sweet Breezy, while I understand you loooooove jumping because it's fking cold outside and you are fresh as all-get-out, rearing and crowhopping and crazy random rollbacks while I'm trying to set up for the fence is REALLY FRUSTRATING. What's even more frustrating is how my instructor (who really doesn't think much of my riding ability) praised me endlessly for sitting that crazy rollback without getting turfed, and putting you in a tight circle and firm WHOA, without losing my head. It's frustrating because I am not that confident in my riding ability to start with and, while I am not afraid of falling off (lord knows it's happened plenty-o-times), the dirt is frozen and my back does NOT want to be laid up for a month again like last time.

It's also frustrating because sitting a naughty horse is the first/only time my instructor had anything decent to say about my riding ability. Well, there's something to be said for being a country girl riding greenbroke horses out in open fields, I guess.

Still, dealing with another horseback-related back injury is sooooo not on my To Do List.

Here's hoping that next week they give me the most bored, I-only-canter-for-food geriatric equine they have next week.

If any of you nurse-types are also horse-types, I would LOVE some advice on Mr. Poppin-Fresh.

**This is a bounce, for the uninitiated - the horse does not stride between jumps, instead it lands and immediately jumps again:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Well, that was fun.

Diaphoresis++, blurred vision, tachycardia, fearful affect, agitation, alogia....

What are these symptoms related to?



Public speaking....

Yes, in an entirely safe environment filled with people I know, I completely flipped shit on my part of the presentation.

I don't even know what happened but I couldn't WAIT to get out of there.

Oh, I hope the end of the semester comes soon.

In other news, and except for my performance, the presentation was pretty good. It was for our topic "Poverty and Pregnancy" I bought $5 of McDonald's and $5 of a healthier lunch food. It was a cool comparison. The healthy lunch was a small salmon filet and a side of low fat pasta salad. At McD's I was able to buy a small coffee, a muffin, 2 blueberry pies, and a McDouble burger. Then I highlighted the nutritional and (ginormous) caloric differences between the two lunch options and the importance of patient teaching.

I also found this video which was a total gold mine. Thank you, Google. Again.

13 days until the end of finals and a few days' stay in sunny Mexico... *stares wistfully at calendar*

World News: Stranger than fiction

Well OBVIOUSLY we have a WHISTLEBLOWER up in Sweden. He's raidin' ya government documents, he's snatchin' yo internal emails, try'na post 'em on WikiLeaks so y'all need to hide ya government officials, hide ya diplomats, and hide ya state secrets, cuz they're releasin' info on errbody up in here.

You don't have to come and confess, cuz Interpol's lookin for you on unrelated sexual assault charges and we gon' find you. Sarah Palin says we will hunt you like Al Qaeda and we gon' FIND you. So you can run and tell THAT, Julian Assange.
Friday, November 26, 2010

Your children strike fear into my very soul...

I'm pretty sure I will be a terribad peds nurse.

Today our lab focused on the immunizations clinics we will be running during our Community Health rotation in the coming term. We will be giving Hep B series to Grade 5 students.

I quiver in fear - bloodcurdling FEAR - at the thought of being THAT nurse, the one who makes your kid deathly afraid of needles and healthcare providers for the rest of his or her life, or screws them up forever, and they go on to become political leaders with personal vendettas against nurses like me.

As part of lab today we had to come up with some pre-vax teaching for the wee 10 year olds. My group of 4 had some Official Pamphlets on Hep B that was not designed for kids, and we had to present it in a kid-friendly format.

Harder than I thought.

Every time I wondered aloud as to how we could modify the content, my group said "Don't you remember what it was like when you were 10?"

The answer is no, actually, I don't. I don't have a friggin clue how actual informative speeches should be presented to children. Puppets? Skits? Fred Penner? The one thing I do remember about information presented to me at the ripe old age of 10 was that I definitely noticed, and was filled with righteous indignation, if the speaker was treating me like I was younger than 10.

But how to actually achieve that balance? Urrrgh.

The worst part was trying to explain the means of transmission. I looked at the pamphlet and it was the usual. Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, son. I would be comfortable presenting these straight facts to people that I am reasonably confident actually KNOW what sex is about. Grade 12, sure. But Grade 5?

It's so weird too because those who know me know I am not a prude by any stretch. I am a sexually comfortable person and very open minded. But just the thought of telling these kids that they should wrap their tools put my stomach in knots. For NO reason! SO weird! I truly have no idea when these kids move from "when two people love each other very much..." to "hey, sex is fun, but watch the Rohypnol!".

Maybe it's one of those things that will make sense one day if/when I have a Grade 5 child of my very own.

Until then, they scare me. Really. Make them stop looking at me.
Thursday, November 25, 2010

Oncology - maybe this is it?

First off - thanks for all of your positive comments on my QQ post. I really just needed to vent about it. I'm still annoyed about it but I'm still alive, so that's a plus. I am suffering a severe case of end-of-semester-itis. This was a long haul - third year is kind of a 'blah' year, IMO. I'm not really close to graduating, and I'm not doing anything for the first time. Still, semester is over in less than 2 weeks and then I am GTFO to Mexico.

Secondly, big shout out to Rob Fraser (RN! congrats!) who probably gave me the best quote ever about STTI:
My philosophy about any professional association, is that it is like a gym membership. You get out what you put in. So take advantage of their resources and the different opportunities for getting involved!

Touche, sir! I just got my STTI pin in the mail today. I can't believe it cost $40. It does, however, give me a certain amount of pride to pin it to my nametag. I haven't heard back yet from my CNSA application. Assuming I am not accepted to that, I will be attending my STTI induction at the end of January.

ANYWAY, to the point of my post. I have spent hours - HOURS - trying to decide what kinda nurse I wanna be when I grow up. I have been strongly leaning towards ICU (even joined CACCN to suss it out)........

....until the last couple of days, in which we have focused on Oncology.

And let me tell you, it's the strangest tug at my heart strings.

I do find it somewhat tragic, of course, but so incredibly filled with hope, and such an amazing release from all the (IMO) pithy doings of functional day-to-day society.

Even when my dad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, I didn't get really emotionally overwhelmed about it beyond the day I found out. I thought the oncology atmosphere was quite powerful and charged with positive energy. I didn't break down and cry all the time. I was pretty up-front about my feelings and reflected on them a lot with my Dad.

I wonder if that would make me a good Oncology Nurse.

More musings are required. In the meantime, I am going to watch these.

Any oncology nurses out there, or people touched by cancer, who care to share their experiences with patients or nurses?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happiness Is...

Hearing nothing but falling snow and crunching hay.

Pity Party For One

The 10-page paper received a 10/10 on "matters of style" and did mediocre on everything else.

The instructor's comments included such things as "excellent writing style but missed the point".

The post that went up yesterday about the CNSA conference was typed up last week, while I was still blissfully unaware that my paper earned (?) a B-. I am glad I applied for the national team already because there is no way I'd apply for it now... self-confidence is in a puddle somewhere around my shoes.

I held a pity party for one last night, thankfully distracted by yoga and a dance class.

Amazing how one tiny hitch in the road can bring back all those memories of being the dismal underachiever in high school... Kinda had the rug pulled out from under me, there.

After some self-reflection, I have come to terms with this disappointing mark (it's more that I am disappointed that the mark doesn't reflect the enormous amount of research I did) and have resolved to bust my ass on the final exam.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CNSA National Team? Mebbe

From my experience at the conference a couple of weeks ago, I discovered there was so much more going on at the student level than I had ever thought. It really is my nature to get involved with everything (one of my clinical instructors described me as a juggler, tossing around so many responsibilities, and turned it into a moral cautionary tale, but I digress). It was only natural, then, for me to want to get involved with CNSA.

I am interested in running for a position as regional director or maybe higher (!) next year, so I was clicking around the CNSA website trying to suss out some kind of information for the next election period. In my hunt, I discovered information pertaining to the National Conference taking place in Hamilton ON next year. Check out those keynote speakers! Tilda Shalof! Jean Watson! Man, I spent the entire summer before nursing school reading Shalof books and being excited about nursing. Not to mention the 5 page essay I wrote on Watson's Theory of Caring a few weeks ago. A-mazing.

Then I realized that there was (yay!) another opportunity for me to attend a conference for free (yay!) if I applied to participate on the CNSA National Team.

From the briefing:
It will be the goal of the 2011 CNSA National Team to explore and debate contemporary issues in nursing and how diversity affects, and may affect, the next generation of nurses.

As nursing students it is never too early to advocate for change and challenge the present and future state of healthcare in Canada – the 2011 CNSA National Team will address the challenges of the contemporary nursing student, how they may be effective in the promotion of change, integration into an “old school” health care culture, and how to effectively manage these diversities.

It is our personal challenge this year to hold a debate on the changing healthcare system and to provide insight into the issue of public versus private healthcare in Canada and the affect it will play on the role of the nurse.
They have assigned a few interesting topics for discussion, and there are some other ones on the table.
  • Public versus private healthcare in Canada, and what it means to us 
  • How we are different or the same as generations past; i.e. technology, traditions 
  • Some of the barriers we face as nursing students, i.e. stereotypes 
  • How can we maintain or improve the quality of health care and advocate for change as needed
  • Our diverse opportunities for work and how can we use them to make a difference in the health of our society 
  • Globalization in nursing

I've never met an essay question I didn't like, so this was a fun and interesting spin on my comfort zone. I can write persuasive position statements without too much effort but the very idea of PRESENTING and DEBATING and DEFENDING those - now that's exciting! And a little nervewracking terrifying!

Those of you who have been longtime readers may remember my philosophy on life - if it scares the shit out of you, DO IT. I try to tackle my fears head on. It's the only way to know exactly what you're capable of. This is the philosophy that got me through solo skydiving, scuba diving, BUNGEE JUMPING (my all time greatest fear - the video isn't mine but it's where I jumped), and the various other questionably-risky behaviour I have engaged in with the intention of figuring out just what I'm made of.

I guess what I'm getting at is this is something that I am, yes, passionate and curious about. I want to discover more about the professionalization of nursing and see how I can be involved. However, and I think most would agree, it's a big jump from idly pondering the future of nursing to defending your ideology in a debate in front of hundreds of peers and nursing leaders.

It freaks me out.

Therefore I applied.

The only real downsides to this opportunity being the giant potential for failure, the fact that I will miss some clinical time, and I will also miss my STTI induction ceremony, qq.

Wish me luck... and feel free to pass on your views!
Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cranial Nerves

Ah, Cranial Nerves. Beyond amusing mnemonics, I have trouble remembering which does what, and I found this link while clicking around AN today.

This was probably the most helpful way to remember them that I've run across so far. I wish I had seen this picture while I was still in my assessment class... so I shall post it here for you :)

Full article is here, from americannursetoday.com

Useful videos:

Full-size cranial nerve assessment (we were taught to have the pt smell coffee grounds through each nare to confirm olfactory nerve intact)

Or a shorthand version, probably more useful in the clinical setting:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sigma Theta Tau

I got an invite.

After some consideration, I accepted.

There aren't many people from my school who have joined, so far anyway. My thought process ranged from "That seems like kind of an elitist thing to do, especially as an undergrad" to "What harm would it do me to join?".

I decided to join based on the idea of supporting nursing research, the membership/networking perks, and the fact that almost all the faculty at the university are also members. If my desire is to improve nursing through leadership, then it would benefit me to rub shoulders with nursing leaders. But it still feels like Ivy League elitism, or like some spooky cult, what with the whole "Induction Ceremony". In fact it was this post at Allnurses.com which encouraged me to accept. It's a few bucks, for sure, but the opportunity may not be there again until I pursue and qualify through my Master's education.

Wow, 5 years ago, nursing was a pipe dream for me. I thought I was going to work for a computer corporation for the rest of my life.

Now I could be a member of the Nursing Honor Society.

Do you know any STTI members?
Sunday, November 7, 2010

What do we want?

This made me giggle, especially in light of the paper I'm writing this week.

Thanks for the awesome feedback on my conference summary, you guys made me feel like I was heading in the right direction. In fact, last Friday I had a faculty meeting about setting up a big pilot project for our school. I don't want to speak to it too much just yet but it would be very exciting. I met with some 4th year instructors and they gave it a huge thumbs up.

Re: L&D.... thanks to availability heuristics, I now fear for every couple in their reproductive years. If you see a crazed third year nursing student running down the street yelling about folic acid, teratogens, abruptio placentae, or the importance of colostrum... rest assured that the police already know about me and have likely sent the squad car to take me home again.

Sociological Images is a really interesting blog that I found purely by accident and now enjoy regularly. The discourse is particularly engaging and thoughtful. Actually, that's not really something I'm used to - most of the medbloggers out there have a steady supply of Angry Layperson Commenteurs who rage unintelligibly against any post they might make. So it's nice to see comments that are as educational as the post itself.

In other Interesting Things Found While Googling Research Topics, a fun diversion to learn about all kinds of different biases can be found here. Be prepared to win any argument by saying, "Well, sure, but your logic is flawed, due to the ________ fallacy."

You're welcome. ;)

Have a great week everybody!

Also - you're looking at a Couch to 5K graduate! Over the course of my C25K experience, I have run more than 19 hours, totalling 73 miles, and burned approximately 8100 calories (yep, I track every run!). I can run for over 30 minutes without stopping. I don't run very fast, but I run. I do get bored as hell, and I'm looking forward to running out on the trails next spring. BIG thanks to NurseXY for inspiring me to start :) When I looked at the C25K training plan in those first weeks I could never have imagined running (and enjoying it!) like I do now.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Punched in the box

Another L&D lecture, another class full of wide-eyed stares and quiet gagging.

Dear L&D nurses, I admire your fortitude.

I'm going to point out that "uterus massage" is such a nice, happy, relaxing, soothing term....


Or how about this? A little manual extraction?
I am praying for my own L&D nurse to have tiny, tiny hands...
Saturday, October 30, 2010


So, the conference just finished up and I am back in the airport. There was an incredible amount of information, discussion, debate, and theorizing about what it means to Be A Nurse in this coming decade and beyond.

I am inspired and grateful for my sponsorship to this event. If they hadn't sent me, I may never have realized the importance and relevance of the Canadian Nursing Students' Association. In fact I am seriously considering running for a position with the Association for my 4th and final year of undergraduate studies.

You know those experiences where your worldview is completely shifted and refocused? That was me today. It was like a camera, which has been zoomed in on my idea of nursing, suddenly zoomed way out to a much larger perspective and made my head spin. I know I'm waxing a little poetic here but there were so many interesting and inspiring topics today. I am SO GLAD I got to participate in it. I really do feel like my nursing potential has been magnified and refocused.

Without going into too much detail just now, because I want to do them justice, I am planning to do a little writeup on each of the sessions as an additional resource for you all to share.

I will say this: I am so influenced by what I read and hear that I don't even realize I'm being influenced. As you all know, I'm really passionate and excited about my chosen field and I have been since the very start. A big part of that passion is filled by my voracious appetite for nursing topics, lectures, stories, and discussion, which I usually fill by checking out allnurses.com. Of course a lot of the discussion revolves around frustrations and dissatisfaction, be it with life or scope of practice or employers or clients or families or other disciplines. These discussions have been subtly negatively impacting my perspective on the reality of nursing. Be warned, people, that your in-the-moment opinions may be a reflection of the content you're exposed to. Consider whether they accurately reflect what you believe to be true.

A LOT of discussion on AN involves debate between whether nursing is a trade or a profession.

Is nursing defined by its skills?

It seems to me that most (and I use this term cautiously, I haven't been psychoanalyzing the threads or anything) of those nurses who feel undervalued and crapped on and not like a real profession believe that nursing is essentially a skilled trade, and that BSN students like myself are subpar clinicians and (I quote) "stand around theorizing instead of working".

To which I challenge - isn't theorizing a HUGE PART of working to my full scope of practice? As a Registered Nurse, working with Licenced Practical Nurses who nearly duplicate my scope, isn't my defining feature SUPPOSED to be that I address patient care from a wide holistic focus which would include taking the time to conceptualize appropriate care?

I've heard this said before and I always dismissed it, but it's true, and it's very much in line with my previous musings - anyone can give a bed bath. Any monkey can pass meds, change linens, insert a catheter, change a dressing aseptically, or do any number of the tasks that I used to think were the defining features of a nurse and ultimately the purpose of my education. My graduating without knowing these things cold will only slow me down until I learn them.

The point of this degree, and I now see this developing in my thought process, is to get me to think. This makes me smile because I remember on one of the very first days in first year, I asked my instructor what the difference was between an RN and an LPN - she said that I would learn how to think. It's important to recognize that LPNs also know how to think, but every single course I've taken in school has developed and engaged my worldview, and it is so much broader than it was even a year ago. So yeah, those extra 2 years actually will make a difference and I say that from my own experience.

Another idea that jumped out at me today was for all of those who say "sure, wait till you get into the real world", while in the same breath acknowledging that nursing today isn't what it was 25 years ago. They rail against the system; the role of the nurse being defined by the physician, the lack of respect, the lack of collaboration, and warn all of us bright eyed naive students that we're going to get eaten alive -

Well, thanks to today's intercollaborative panel, comprised of Medicine, Pharmacy, Social Work, Physiotherapy, Registered Nursing, and Practical Nursing, it hit me that it's not just nursing that is graduating new students. Every single discipline is evolving and acknowledging the scopes of other professions, and those changes are reflected in new grads. The physicians I graduate with today I will be working with tomorrow (theoretically) and it's going to be our ball game. Collaboration is alive and well in our student population and will be alive and well in practice. Eventually, of course.

What I'm trying to say, in a long-winded kind of way, that today I remembered and reinforced that I will be changing tomorrow by my actions, attitudes, advocacy, and values.

I would also like to give a shout-out to Saskatchewan's attitude towards Registered Nurses. For those who don't know, Saskatchewan is the birthplace of single-payer, accessible, universal health care enjoyed by all Canadians. It has a long history of strong nurses and seems to have a lot more respect for healthcare than my home province of Alberta. In fact, Saskatchewan passed the Registered Nurses Act. They have their own act! It protects the title of 'nurse' for RNs only! By comparison, the nurses of Alberta and several other provinces fall under the Healthcare Professions Act. Saskatchewan's nursing speakers prided their profession as compassionate caring and conveyors of change - NOT as skillmonkeys, handmaidens, or tradespeople. When that many people are speaking that passionately about their profession, it's time to listen.

I was also introduced to the unfamiliar practice of Saskatchewan nurses identifying themselves by name and title at every opportunity. For instance, the president of SNSS was introduced as Braden, Nursing Student. One of the speakers was introduced as Barb, Registered Nurse. Everyone did this, every time they introduced themselves to anyone.

A simple act but it highlighted the pride in their title, whatever stage of nursing they were in, every single time they said it.

A fine tradition and one I will be taking with me to the clinical setting. Hello, I'm Undergrad RN, Nursing Student - to whomever may ask.

Anyway I've rambled on and on and if you made it to now I will personally send you a chocolate bar. Look for detailed session synopses coming within the next week or so. Have a great Halloween everyone! I am flying back home within an hour!
Friday, October 29, 2010

In Transit

I'm now sitting in the airport waiting for my flight out to Saskatoon. I'm SUPER EXCITED! First conference ever! There is so much I want to know:

- ideal career pathing for critical care nurses
- CRNE information
- what the hell nurses should be putting on a resume
- what other student nurses think about

I'm also excited about staying in a hotel tonight. I love hotels. Big wonderful beds with big wonderful pillows and small wonderful sample things and coffee pots and all that jazz. And when you're done you just throw the towels in the tub.

That's actually kind of how I roll at home, but anyway...

Hey, boarding call. Will update soon :)
Thursday, October 21, 2010


Guess who's going on an all-expenses-paid conference trip to sunny Saskatoon?

This girl, right here!

Oh, I have horseshoes up my ass.

I am SO excited about this. I've never been to a conference before. It's next weekend and I will share all.

There are several workshops but the two I am most interested in are Family Centered Care and Nursing the Future. Looks like there are also some perks like a job fair and stuff - not that it will help me much as a 3rd Year but it will help me pick the recruiter's brains and find out some things that could help me land a job in a year and change.

Thank you everyone for your positive vibes. I was reading back through some of my old posts and I am so glad I started this blog. It's really helped to remind me how far I've come.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Overheard in class:

"Why can't I do IV pushes as an RN?"

"You can, you just need the certification. It's a short inservice."

"Well, what's the point of being an RN if I have to get certified after?"


This was one of the students who was profoundly baffled by the concept of IV infusion.

I hate to break it to her but if she resists ANY competency training beyond the basic BScN she's going to find her career path pretty, uh, nonexistent.

I find it interesting how I've moved beyond focusing on specific skills of care and started "big picturing" a LOT more. Is that by design? Is this a Third Year goal? Or am I just so annoyed with how small-minded some of my classmates seem that I am focused on the overall concept of nursing to give myself strength to make it through another round of microcosmical questions?

Or maybe I'm just going about this all wrong.
Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fingers Crossed

Last week was nuts and I got a lot of things done.

I applied for 2 student nurse conferences that my school was sponsoring a student for - one is at the end of the month in Saskatchewan and the other is next June in Texas. The application to the Human Caring conference was tough, I had to write a 5 page academic paper on 'caring' the day after I finished that monstrous paper for my N370 class. I was tired and braindead but hopefully it is a success. Luckily, a lot of the books I had already borrowed for my class paper were also useful for the submission.

I also applied for scholarships from Skyscape and from my school.

Come on, student money! *crosses fingers* I also mentioned on my conference application that I would be interested in sharing the experience "on my blog".... *gasp* I have considered outing myself slightly in the interest of growing my nursing career.

New week, new opportunities? :)

Midterms next week!
Thursday, October 14, 2010

*Wipes sweat from brow*

24++ hour marathon to complete the most complex term paper I have ever written


I was up till 1 AM last night, and awoke at 6 AM to complete Week 7 Day 2 of the C25K program, and then headed to work where I was able to finish proofing it.

It took a total of 4 hours to write the paper and a mere 20 hours to format it.

Nay, I jest, but still! Whew. *grumble* stupid APA 6th edition *grumble*

In case you were wondering, I went with Option A for my topic.

To celebrate? Sushi!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Up here in the Northern Wastelands, we celebrated Turkey Day by eating steak and ham.

In keeping with post-secondary tradition, this holiday has been spent hunched over a pile of books trying to come up with a term paper for my N370 class.

The topics were assigned, and fairly uninteresting to me. So far, I have it narrowed down to 2 topics, which are very similar but *slightly* different:

A) According to King’s theory of Goal Attainment, the nurse and the client interact purposefully to set mutually agreed upon goals (King, 1992). Discuss pertinent barriers and potential strengths to mutual goal setting when a patient/family is coping with an acute alteration in health (of your choosing) and develop appropriate therapeutic nursing measures. Your paper should provide specific examples of nursing care to support your discussion as well as demonstrate a clear understanding of King’s concept of mutual goal setting.

B) Present an argument supporting two (2) strengths and two (2) limitations of the registered nurse utilizing King’s theory of Goal Attainment to guide nursing care in the acute care setting. Support your argument utilizing specific examples of patient/family experiences and nursing care/interventions related to a specific acute health alteration (of your choice).

The health alteration I am choosing is Acute Renal Failure, more recently known as Acute Kidney Injury. Even though there isn't a whole lot of nursing-specific information on it (compared to, say, burns), I have some interest in the topic for a couple of reasons. My g-ma has Type 1 DM and has recently been diagnosed with <30% renal function. Even though hers is more of a chronic renal failure, I need to do an acute illness and I figure there will probably be some similarities that I can draw on for those (ever more frequent) times that my family presses me for medical information. My second reason is that ARF/AKI is seen in about 30% of CCU patients and it has a 50% mortality. If my interest in CCRN continues, it will be a good knowledge resource in the future.

Imogene King was a pretty interesting lady. Never married, she spent her nursing career developing her conceptual theories and she defended them pretty much until she died in 2007. I think.

I'm still not sure what the practical point IS for a nursing theory. It still really, really seems like these Nursing Theorists took some common sense, put it into words, slapped a label on it, and called it a theory. And then it was passed through the ages in nursing school for snurses to cry themselves to sleep over. And then they graduated and made a theory so that they, too, could live on in academia.

Maybe I'm just missing the point. Is there anyone out there who has experience applying models to practice?

Last Friday we had labs again. Yup, still terrified for my eventual L&D rotation. N370 lab was fun, as usual. We were reconstituting meds and piggybacking them onto IV.

My battles with the Alaris pump rage on. I'm sure it's the easiest technology in the world once you get it. I still don't get it, and I blame that on the ABSOLUTELY USELESS simulation that we learned on, and the fact that we 'learned' it in 2008. Before I knew anything about meds or infusions.

So we were learning how to reconstitute powder medications. My lab buddy and I got a handle on that right away. There is a label *ON THE BOTTLE* that says if you add [this much] saline, then you will end up with [this] concentration. Pretty straightforward, no?

Then my lab instructor threw the whole class, save one dyad, for a loop. If you have [this] concentration, how much do you need to draw up to get [dosage in question]?

I.e. if I add 5.6 mL of NS to the bottle, the label tells me that will get me a total of 6 mL at a concentration of 500 mg/mL. How many mL must I draw up to get 2g of the drug?

Derp, 4 mL?

My ENTIRE CLASS was stumped. No really, *stumped*. Then we spent the entire lab going over this (zomg straightforward) concept over and over. I can only facepalm.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm smart enough to be a CCRN. Other times, like this, I feel surprisingly optimistic. ;)

Have a great week all!
Thursday, October 7, 2010


I just returned from filling out a stack of paperwork to begin volunteering at a nearby ED! I need to prove I don't have TB or communicable chronic diseases or a history of robbing banks, and then orientation's on October 21.

As I was leaving, the triage nurse was assessing someone for syncope.

Excited? This girl right here.

Of course, using any real medical skills or providing advice is verboten on pain of lawsuit - the whole point of this endeavour, for me, is to keep my eyes and ears open and to network myself into a UNE position next summer. I'm also planning on being my charming self and being soooooo helpful and curious that the staff nurses can't help but invite me into the room to observe cool stuff.

The plus side of doing all of this paperwork, I'm told, is that once (if?) I'm hired with AHS, I won't have to do it again! Huzzah, starting sooner!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To Ride Zenyatta

This video would be breathtaking on any horse's back - but Zenyatta? *melt*
Monday, October 4, 2010

Third Year!!

Yes, it's official! I have made it past the halfway point of my degree. So far it's been a great start; I have been keeping (mostly) on top of my (incredibly massively huge amount of) readings.

My schedule is kind of light this year due to my attempt to do one class by correspondence, which means a no-group-work win, and my advance credit for the elective.

Don't even get me started on the ethics of elective requirements. I don't see why I should be REQUIRED to take Greek Mythology or its ilk. It's a thousand bucks that I'd sooner keep to pay rent with. Post-secondary cash grab, anyone? Is that even a surprise anymore?

Anyhoo, I am taking a mere 3 (!) courses this term:
  • HLST 354: Healthy Populations
    • This class is, more or less, HLST 152 all over again! The book is OUTRAGEOUSLY mind numbing. I thought I had a handle on reading dry material. This book is so dry it's practically incendiary. Once you slog through all of the verbosity, though, the content is kind of interesting. Chapter 1, the History of Public Health, will make for some entertaining drunken rambles, I'm sure :)
  • NURS 370: Nursing Care of the Acutely Ill Across the Lifespan
    • aka "When Bad Things Happen To Basically Good (if you're a humanist) People"
    • Unlike 270, this instructor is fun and engaging, and, well, interested in the material
  • NURS 372: Nursing Care of Families With Young Children
    • I don't think there's ever been a more potent contraceptive than an Obstetrics/L&D class. EVERY SINGLE DAY I am cringing about Something That Could Happen To A Vagina Near Me.
    • I don't have any desire to ever be an L&D nurse.**
**This may totally and ironically backfire when I am on my clinical rotation and decide that I have found my calling as an L&D nurse.
    I have a paper due immediately following Thanksgiving (this weekend! boo) and another paper, and a group project. No big. I really feel in control this semester, and it's almost midterms! That's a first...

    I applied for The Persons Case scholarship on September 30th. I hope to hear good news in December. The scholarship is up to $5000!

    N370 & N372 both have 2 hour lab components. The labs are scary fun. N370 is awesome to me because it's getting into the really interesting kinds of care. So far this term we've covered complex wound care including irrigation and packing, chest tube management, and tracheostomy care. 

    Packing a wound. I thought it looked
    uncomfortably vag-like... lol
    Needs Moar Suction!

    Placenta pillow anybody? It even comes
    with some amnion....
    N372 scares the shit out of me because I know absolutely NOTHING about kidlets or pregnancy or anything. I am the baby in our family and I don't hang out with moms much/ever. In fact the majority of my exposure to children involves them screaming and me hating their parents. So it's totally and completely new material and that's kind of fun, actually!

    So far this term we have learned CFAM and CFIM, genogram mapping, and very basic prenatal care. Last Friday I attempted some Leopold's maneuvers. We had these (epically hilarious) fabric abdomens with a little dolly inside that could be flip-flopped all around to approximate various fetal presentations. I had one I was palpating and was pretty sure it was RSA (right-sacral-anterior). We opened that thing up and I was sooooo wrong. Babies everywhere, be afraid!

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    C25K, legitimately!

    Hi everybody :) 
    a) Yes, still here
    b) Yes, still in nursing school! 
    c) Yes, still busy as hell. 

    I did however have time today to run my very first 5K.

    Drofen aka NurseXY inspired me some months ago to try the Couch to 5K program, with great success! I am only on Week 7 of the program; I was able to run most of the 5K with 3(ish?) walking breaks to bring my HR back down from the mid-170s.

    Total time: 0:36:15, with an approximate 12:00/mile pace, which would be at least a minute off of my fastest training time and running on the road to boot! (I have an unhealthy attachment to my treadmill at 2% incline)

    I miss everyone! I miss blogging! I shall return with some excellent nursing school stories... (or pictures, and those are worth at least 1.5 stories each ;)

    Also, I am soon-to-be volunteering in Emerg! Oh, thank goodness. I feel like real nursing skills are missing from my day to day.

    I have, however, been creeping all of your blogs. Thanks for the nursing fix. I can't BELIEVE that so many of you are already RNs or nearly there! I have 2 years to go! 


    No, seriously, congratulations. Now hurry up and pick a specialty and write about it so I can make up my mind!

    As an aside, I have discovered several unmoderated comments which will be moderated within minutes. Sorry about that... I don't delete any comments except spam ones, but I don't check the older posts as often as I ought.
    Monday, June 21, 2010

    iTunes U and Podcasting: So much nursing potential!

    While at work over the last few days, I have spent a few hours browsing iTunes U for various Nursing vodcasts. It's really, really fascinating to see how other schools teach their students. For those who don't know, iTunes U provides a medium for educational institutions to post video or audio feeds of their lectures, and they are free to view for anyone who has iTunes (also free). There are lectures on every subject you can think of. I love to just browse different topics and learn. The other day I watched a vodcast about Relativity. For no real reason, just because I could. [Photo Credit]

    My school, new as it is, was built as a 'smart' institution with microphone hookups and live feed capabilities in pretty well every classroom. It doesn't currently participate in iTunes U, however. I think my school is concerned over privacy issues and intellectual property. I have this dream that instead of burying their heads in the sand and choosing not to address the promise of global education, our nursing faculty would embrace the accessibility of information and begin to publish some of our classes. (Check out the iTunes U how-to guide!)

    I find it very exciting to think of how this technology could be utilized by the nursing community at large. For curious students (or would-be students!) like me, it is an easily accessible look at various aspects of nursing and it can introduce us to all kinds of specialties that we may not have known about. How awesome would it be to browse to a central organization website like the CNA, and be able to find and view lecture classes for specialties that you might be interested in? I am thinking specifically of the CCU certification I am interested in, or other advanced Post-RN coursework available at my university like Advanced Wound Care. You could utilize other schools' lectures to supplement your own - maybe to get a different point of view on difficult concepts, or to expand on something that you found interesting. You could even see how other student nurses in the world are learning.

    On a larger scale, this could be utilized as refresher courses for distance learning or a video log of the entire class you took. I, for one, would LOVE a v-library of my lectures. I would pay extra to have a permanent record of the classes I take. I feel like I only ever take away about 30% of the information from any given lecture, because really, there's just way too much information assaulting my neurons at once. And how great would a v-library be for studying??

    Imagine being an outpost nurse who is planning a community-scale intervention in diabetes management. Sure, you can spend hours and hours digging up relevant research (and you probably will), but imagine if you could visit the site for The Diabetes Nursing Interest Group and find podcasts for the most up-to-date EBP based on current research.

    In short, you could find out how other nurses are nursing, straight from the specialty's organization. They could put out quarterly updates with new information or the latest in EBP.

    How is this different from the newsletters or PDF publications that are already sent out, you ask?

    The big differences would be accessibility - anyone could view this information, not just the organization and not just nurses (!) - and method of delivery.

    Reading through a 37-page PDF is a lot more tedious and abstract than viewing a 10-minute video showing the latest in nursing interventions. How much easier is it to learn when you can actually watch a video of a nurse interacting with a patient, instead of just reading about it? Things that are best shown visually with an accompanying explanation, like new methods for IM injections or crisis interventions.

    The possibilities are massive. This could theoretically be on a huge scale, with global involvement. Ideally, having this kind of information available from such reputable sources (CNA, PHAC, and NIH, to name a few) in such an incredibly accessible format - over 200 million iPods sold, worldwide! - could even be utilized to educate and influence public health. Inexpensively... AND "upstream" in that nebulous idea of primary health care.

    I believe people are becoming increasingly open to being involved in their own preventive health maintenance (anyone notice how popular the Doctors have become? I laugh every time I see them in their pristine TV scrubs). I think that good, reliable information is hard to come by. Google any medical question and you're going to get 2,000 results from Yahoo! Answers or wrongdiagnosis.com. The world is ripe for reliable information at our fingertips. This kind of health information is mostly an untapped market, IMO. I find this all very very exciting.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that post secondary education and research isn't off in some ivory tower (or imposing brick-and-ivy academia) anymore. You don't have to get periodicals from the library to keep up with the current knowledge base. Any layperson can experience the post-secondary environment for free via one of the most accessible mediums to have ever been invented, short of the Internet itself. The information found there is (presumably) based on the most up-to-date resources available.

    While I am waiting for the world to catch up to my ramblings, here are a few nursing-related lecture podcasts on iTunes U that I have subscribed to. I haven't watched them all, yet, but they're pretty much everything that I could find that was published from a School of Nursing. Please leave links to your favorite nursing podcasts in the comments and I'll update them here! Happy watching/listening :)

    Acute Adult Nursing
    Adult Health III
    Clinical Skills for Student Child Health Nurses
    College of Nursing Lectures - Video
    Diabetes Care
    NURS 083A: Pediatric Nursing
    Nursing Informatics Program
    Nursing Skills: Techniques for Sub Cutaneous and Intra Muscular Injections
    Penn Nursing: Care to Change the World
    Pharmacology for Future Nurses
    Nursing-Psychology 342
    The School of Nursing - Art of Bedside Care
    The School of Nursing - NCLEX Review
    Surgery ICU Rounds Podcast
    Yale Health & Medicine
    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Half a day in the life of an ICU nurse

    A great post brought to you by Raspberry Stethoscope! I have been reading her blog for over 2 years now. She has a zillion great resources for nursing students but she is a staff ICU nurse now in Florida!


    0612 Begin head to toe assessment: listen to lungs, heart, bowels, check pulses—radial and pedal. If pt alert, ask if they have pain, how they slept, follow-up with concerns. If ventilated and sedated, make note of ventilator settings, suction the patient if needed, tidy up the room (!!), check pupils. Zero any alines, cvp’s, ScVO2 monitors, check alarms on monitor, adjust to personal setting. Check room, make sure ambu bag, enough flushes in the drawers/make sure room is stocked for a code! 

    0620 if patient or family does not need anything, such as blanket, ice, bed pan, water, etc. then begin   to chart assessment on flow sheet (approx 3 pages). Go through chart and if not already done, update special treatment pages, education, graphics for IV access, treatment/plan of care, remove 234234 extra papers that do not belong in the nurse’s chart, reprint patient id stickers.

    0630 Onto patient #2… chart 0600 vital signs, including: blood pressure, HR, Rhythm, sats and O2 %, temperature, RASS scale, dump urine for the hour and note milliliters.

    0632 Begin head to toe assessment: listen to lungs, heart, bowels, check pulses—radial and pedal. If pt alert, ask if they have pain, how they slept, follow-up with concerns. If ventilated and sedated, make note of ventilator settings, suction the patient if needed, tidy up the room (!!), check pupils. Zero any alines, cvp’s, ScVO2 monitors, check alarms on monitor, adjust to personal setting. Check room, make sure ambu bag, enough flushes in the drawers/make sure room is stocked for a code!


    I got a callback today from the UNE position that I applied for two months ago!! They left me a voicemail acknowledging that it was already well into the summer months for college students and asked if I was still interested. They wanted to shortlist me.


    I called back and told her that I was going away for 3 weeks during the summer but otherwise YES I was still interested, especially in an ongoing basis.

    Here's hoping!!!!!

    Re: ACCN Certificate

    I fired off an email to the department for the ACCN certificate, asking when I could theoretically begin some of the coursework.

    Their reply: "You would need to be in your final Year (4th year) of your Degree program to take the ACCN courses. You would be able to take some of the theory course prior to graduating."

    Okay, so I have a year to consider my options. This is good. I have an ICU theory term and clinical rotation in the coming year, so I can make a more informed decision at that point.

    Canadian Essentials of Nursing ResearchA lady at work yesterday saw me reading my latest textbook for my correspondence class. It's dry stuff, but at the same time interesting. The current chapter is examining paradigms and methods of scientific inquiry. It is making me wonder how on earth I'll ever get to the point that I can identify a knowledge deficit and choose to research something real and relevant. This is something I'm going to have to tackle in a Master's program. I guess that's why they want me to have a year's experience in my specialty before applying. But I digress...

    She asked me how much longer I had to go in my program. "2 years!" I cheerfully replied, and then we were both a little surprised at how fast the previous 2 years have gone by. A lot of the ladies at my work are very old-school (I am one of the youngest people there, by like 20 years) and they seem to have a real reverence for my being a student nurse. It's a little unnerving. No matter how much I tell them that I actually don't know anything, they want me to shed light on various medical concerns they have - my office has a LOT of medical concerns. In fact I have been clamouring for them to get an AED there specifically because I work with a lot of overweight older adults.

    However I was actually able to provide some good information to a co-worker whose dad was in end-stage cancer, receiving palliative care. He lived in another province. She was pretty distressed and didn't want him to die alone in a hospital bed. I told her to inquire about home care nurses in that area.  A few months later she told me that home care allowed him to die peacefully in his own home with his own family present, and she was very pleased with the supportive environment. I was glad that I had managed to pick up SOME little tidbits from Med-Surg, lol :)
    Monday, June 14, 2010

    I'm pleased to report...

    That all of my whining and crying about Stats paid off - I got a B. I have never been so happy to get a B before. I just as easily could have failed that course. I crunched some numbers before I went into the final, in regards to my weighted average. Conservatively, I expected a C. Even ambitious estimates predicted I would get a C+ or B-. I must have ROCKED that final to pull off a B. I am SO THRILLED!

    Do you know what this B means?? It's an entrance requirement to the Master's degree. "Must have B in Statistics". So I will NEVER have to take stats AGAIN!!! *promptly forgets about z-scores and regression lines*

    I also got a fancy letter in the mail in calligraphy type from the Faculty of Nursing (very professional, thanks) congratulating me on First Class Standing for this past year. Not much to brag about considering all my peers' Facebook statii reading "So-and-so made Dean's List!"...

    Oh well. It is a small victory, and mine own.

    Now that Stats is over, I am taking a correspondence class (starting July 1, web-based) to cut down some of my lecture time next fall. However summer is officially a break for us and I technically don't HAVE to do any more school work. I just want to. That class appears to be all papers and I'm quite excited to just go at my own pace for a change, however fast or slow that may be. And follow my own schedule. Big party this weekend? Cool, I'll just schedule my final for another time.

    Lord help me, I'm a little excited to be cooped up in a musty library surrounded by nursing research, with no deadlines to keep.

    I have a big summer planned. It technically already started. I spent a gorgeous sun-soaked weekend with my boyfriend. We went on a beautiful long bike ride through the park trails and splashed in the fountain to cool off. We then headed out to my friend's lake house and had a great party and lots of time with beers in hand, just loving life.

    I am leaving on a 3-week trip to Thailand on July 13. We are going to see and do all kinds of things. I just got my updated passport a few weeks ago. Then, when I come back from Thailand, I'm going to be all ready to move into my fabulous new condo. No, I didn't buy a house. I'm renting this one too. But it's at least a million times nicer and better than the one I've been living in since last September. This current one is mousey (REALLY mousey), moldy, gang-infested, and rife with electrical problems. Not to mention the sketchtastic neighborhood. I can hardly wait to move. In fact I just bought a ton of boxes from U-Haul to get started. So on that note... have a great week everybody!

    [Photo Credit]
    Friday, June 11, 2010

    postgrad RN, BScN, MN, CNCC (C)

    I don't know if you guys have looked. I'm SURE you have. I'm sure you're all just as concerned as I am about where the hell you're going to work once you've got that shiny degree on your wall. I'm only halfway done and I'm already panicking!

    My *ideal* career path would be a year or two in Med-Surg, while building foundational skills, and then to grow into a CCU nurse. I'm not 100% sure if CCU is ultimately the kind of nurse I'd like to be (who can be that sure, anyway?) but a lot of things about it are appealing to me.

    Certainly, one of the best days I've had in clinical was when one of my patients had higher acuity and I had to manage him, his family, and my interactions with the rest of the care team very diplomatically and with as much knowledge as I had. Everything that came up with his care made me ask myself questions. I spent my breaks researching. I loved every second of it, even though it was a very difficult time for him and his family. One of the weird things about nursing, I guess - some of your best days are some of your patients' worst.

    My career path has always seemed pretty workable. Get a job in something basic, then specialize, while continuing my education. Ever since I realized that I liked learning, I haven't wanted to stop. Sure, some days I wish I was done school so I could have time to myself and actually have a life, but on the whole I've loved every second of it. Stop at my BScN? Hell no.

    Unfortunately, with job prospects dwindling and having heard nothing back from the internship I applied for, I'm starting to actually get a little spooked. Our schools keep churning out new grads and I haven't found a SINGLE RN job posting that didn't require at 1 year experience. In fact I haven't found a single RN posting that was in anything other than a specialty.

    The job market tanked in the last two years. One hopes it will float again in the next two.

    However, in case it doesn't (or in case any market improvement is only temporary) I am considering pursuing this certification on a part-time basis next year as a senior student. I am hoping it will give me a leg up over the ~150 nurses also graduating with me. There are some theory components but most importantly, there is a 210-hour clinical component.

    AKA networking opportunities.

    Eventually I want to obtain my Critical Care Nursing certification through the CNA.

    Alphabet soup? As long as it brings job security and a paycheck, I don't mind one bit :)

    [photo credit]
    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Oh, Blogger

    I had some things I wanted to talk about today but Blogger was down all afternoon. I flirted with the idea of exporting to Wordpress like so many others did. Then it looked like I would have to pay to host my own domain in order to upload my page design.... not to mention all the other headaches involved with changing blog hosts.

    Then I thought some more about the future of undergradRN. This blog's purpose has always been to follow my journey through nursing school and allow me to share resources and connect with you like-minded people. Often it has been a therapeutic diary for me. Sometimes I cobble together some resources that people seem to utilize.

    After dreaming a little bigger and then weighing the idea of keeping up a higher-traffic site along with the quasi-terror I have about being outed and no longer anonymous, I decided that I am happy with my little slice of the blogosphere. UndergradRN will continue to be hosted right here at undergradrn.blogspot.com.

    That said - shape up, Blogger, or I am shopping elsewhere ;)
    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    *deep breath* *exhale*

    This past 6 months (wow...6 months!) since the whirlwind of back-to-back clinical, nonstop patient research, papers, drug profiles, and my actual paid work has made me exhausted (see right!), crazy, happy, angry, frustrated beyond belief, and very nearly completely burned out. I didn't have much left to give to work, or to clinical, to my instructors, or most importantly to my patients from my inner self. I had no time to reflect on lessons I'd learned or to prepare adequately for the next 16 hour day. It was just a feeling of sinking... sinking... sinking... and I'd gasp for breath and paddle harder.

    Now that it's over I feel practically weightless. You mean... I can just GO HOME after a full shift at work? GO HOME and NOT research things, not unless I actually want to? I can read for PLEASURE? I can reactivate my Warcraft subscription?

    What is this "free time" you speak of? I literally can't remember the last time I just sat around and kept the couch warm.

    But it's so profound to take a step back and see the whole picture. To get OFF of the myopic hamster wheel called "How To Fit Everything Into 24 Hours".... to get out of that mindset and actually take a good look at who I am becoming, where I've been, and where I'm going.

    This is exactly why I blog.

    It's been 8 years since I left high school. 8 years ago, I felt like getting married and having babies was who I was meant to be. I'd earned my diploma, but barely (which was my own fault) and college just seemed out of reach. I toyed with the idea of Nursing but my grades were nowhere close. Still, I checked out a few options including an information night at the University (then-college) which I now attend. I can still remember the feeling of awe and privilege I had, being in that classroom, meeting the Nursing faculty. My heart leapt out of my chest as my sneakers squeaked down the polished halls on that seemingly huge campus. Registrar? Student Services? A bookstore? A cafeteria with actual franchises? Wow! But it was not to be... I dared hope that night about the person I could be, but then firmly squashed that dream by saying "school is not for me".

    I went into fulltime/casual home care for 5 years. The more I did it, the more I loved it. I was privileged to meet caring families who were strong advocates for their profoundly disabled relatives. My town was relatively forward-thinking, for small-town agricultural Alberta, and taught me a lot (a LOT) about patient rights and respect, and seeing the patient through the family context (a la McGill Model). Home care challenged me and inspired me to think bigger. To consider new options.

    I took some time for myself and travelled, on my own, like Lesley from Glitter Scrubs recently did (welcome back, btw!). I found out SO MUCH about myself and who I am. I worked closely with horses every day. I am not much of a 'New Age'-er but if there is such a thing as a spirit animal, mine has 4 hooves and a big heart. Horses are such sensitive creatures. They respond intuitively to minute changes in your own body language. They mirror your actions (some might say your attitude), and if you learn to be sensitive too, the resulting partnership can blow your mind. They taught me so much about being gentle, deliberate, and conscious of my actions.

    In fact, I found that the sensitivity of horses paralleled the sensitivity of the developmentally disabled people I'd come to love in home care. Both were reflections of myself, in a certain way. Both required a careful balance of guidance, understanding, and flexibility from me for a harmonious, growth-focused relationship.

    Realizing this, as I spent each evening unwinding by the sea with no one to talk to but the fresh coastal wind and old stone cairns, I knew that in my heart of hearts I was led to care about people and to care for them.

    I had this attitude when I was accepted into my first college program - a police officer accreditation diploma. I know who I was and what I wanted. When my favorite professor, a working Staff Sergeant with the municipal police force, said that the Force needed less brawns and more compassion, I jumped for joy inside. Looking around me, however, I saw a batch of barely-graduated-high-school small town attitudes like the one I worked so hard to escape. I was drowning in that toxic environment.

    After the whole art school debacle and making the conscious decision to throw caution to the wind and pursue Nursing - my actual heart's desire, all along - it just felt SO RIGHT. Even busting my ass upgrading my marks with would-be nurses failing and dropping out all around me, and the Upgrading Advisor telling me I had a snowball's chance in hell of getting accepted, I relished the odds because it was a struggle for something that was absolutely where I was meant to be.

    Two years ago last May, I went to the Spring orientation seminar and crossed the inspiring halls of my newly-built campus for the first time. I can't tell you how that felt. I was excited and terrified and most of all profoundly amazed that I could be so lucky. Privileged - there's that word again.

    Well, those of you who have stuck with me since that first blog post in February of 2008 know that nursing school has been a whirlwind with its ups and downs. Most of the time I feel like I can't even catch my breath. Nursing school has pushed my perceived limits of exhaustion, motivation, and passion for learning. Every day that I was made to think harder and more abstractly than I thought I could, I wondered how much more my poor brain could think.

    But not once, never once have I doubted my reasons for being there.

    I am still, 24 blood-sweat-tears months later, in love with my chosen profession.

    Of course, not doubting my reasons for being there isn't quite the same as actively APPRECIATING where I am today. I think my sense of appreciation took a back seat to all-night study sessions and 3 AM paper marathons and 1,000 page textbooks.

    So today I give thanks for those times of struggle and bouts of madness as well as the profound moments of patient care that I have been, yes, privileged to experience in the lives of those I have pledged in my heart to care for.

    Did that sound sappy? It was honest.