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, 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!


Glitter Scrubs said...

I just had this debate last night with a seasoned RN and she says, well, Lesley what is Nursing to you? Obviously this isn't a one word response for me or something I can really even sum up in a small sentence, but I tried to explain how it isn't just skills. And she argued that YES the skills were very important! (I should've known, she's head of med-surg lol). So I say, no I'm not saying disregard the skills, but it's so much more than that.. OTHERWISE I would have had my degree at the end of last summer, because we've completed all of our skills now and we don't set foot in the lab again for our last two years. It's all Bioethics, Research, Teaching and Learning courses, etc from here on out. So, no it's not just solely skills, and you're right, anyone can be trained on aseptic dressing techniques. I've heard many people who come to Canada as trained RNs in their home country who complain that it's difficult for them get hired as an RN without having to take refresher courses. Perhaps their countries are more skill-based focus (I'm not sure I haven't studied anywhere else) where we focus on the whole picture, upstream thinking style. I LIKE that Canada has high standards. I hope it reflects in our ability to care, advocate and educate. And a big High-five to Tommy Douglas! If someone's family member unfortunately falls ill (grandparent, parent, child, baby), I want them to feel safe, confident, empowered and able to ask questions or access any resources they need from us. I'm missing a lot here, but I have chocolate bars on the brain ;)

I'm so excited you got to go to a conference! I had no idea that was even an option for students. I'm gonna have to write some letters to my school ;) lol

Happy Halloween to you! Now put down the books and the notes and go eat chocolate!! :)

lou said...

I've always loved reading your blog and today that love grew - i didnt think it was possible :) Your passion and devotion to nursing are so apparent and I adore that. Can't wait to hear more about your conference. You've got me thinking that I should organize a conference trip with my nursing buddies (if we ever have a breathier) - sounds like it could be a very enlightening and motivating experience.

Thanks again for all the blogging!!


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