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!
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.