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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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.


Glitter Scrubs - Lesley said...

This post has me excited and anxious all at once! I've thought about after the BScN, but I'll try and conquer this degree first and then plan the next ha. And then there's the travel part... do I want to go to the states? Do I want to do nurses beyond borders style thing? Lots to think about!
There are times when I read your posts and I feel like I'm reading my own thoughts. Except yours are way more articulate and organized haha. I look forward to the next two years of your blog thoughts and beyond!!

I'm currently prepping for my summer clinical session in surgery and maternity.. do you guys have to go in the summer time as well? We do clinical twice a week throughout the semester but for summer it's just 6 weeks and it's straight hospital work, no classroom stuff. Hope your summer 'break' is going well. I'm sure, like mine, it'll be full of preparing for Fall and working to save for school and maybe even trying to have a life somewhere in there :) Hope you enjoy it!

undergrad RN said...

Oh you poor soul! :P No, we had a Spring lecture (stats) and then the rest of the summer is (theoretically) completely off. I really miss clinical time though. I mean, it's ridiculously busy and all, but there's just something about getting to spend all that time actually DOING what it is we're working towards.

I don't get a clinical rotation again until next January. Let me know how L&D goes. I am skeered.... lol :)

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