mammac5 6,893 Views
Joined Nov 10, '09.
Posts: 735 (30% Liked)
As someone who has 66 days until graduation (but who's counting, right?) I can say that the single best piece of advice I can give you is this:
Don't get behind!!!!
Sounds simple, I know, but it can happen very quickly and before you know it you're trying to claw your way out a big old hole you've dug for yourself. Don't let it happen.
Have your calendar ready (one big enough to write lots of things down) and sit down with every syllabus each semester and enter the dates when assignments are due. Then use a highlighter to mark those that are biggies (tests, scholarly papers, etc.) so you can't possibly miss them. Personally I like to make a little square to the left of each calendar entry because I feel strangely satisfied by putting a check in the box for each item I accomplish!
Budget and guard your time. If you're going to work full-time (which no one I know can actually accomplish while also doing 30-hr wk of clinicals) you absolutely must be realistic with your time and expectations. Family & friends must know that you won't have much recreational time during the program and that you will strategically ignore/neglect them when deadlines dictate. Some of them will stick with you and some may fall away, but you just can't attend every single baby shower, birthday party, bridal lunch, church activity, or sports event that you did before you got started.
Boundaries are important and if you live with others they need to know that just because you're home, doesn't mean you're "off."
This whole deal has been a GREAT adventure! I've learned so many things that didn't have anything to do with nursing or medicine - and I hope the same for you, too.
I have social anxiety and am naturally quite introverted - nothing recharges me like having a full day where I don't have to talk to anyone. I am an Adult NP x 4 years now and very good at my job. Whether in clinic or at the hospital, when I see patients I am in control of the situation. I steer the conversation and I basically determine how long the encounter will last. I have found that when I am in my element, I have little to no anxiety. And I am a great listener, although doing so for hours on end drains me and then I come home to peace and quiet. I have a great husband who understands that I want to be in the same room with him in the evenings, but I may not want to talk much all night.
Now a work-related social event (cocktail party, holiday dinner, etc.) or a meeting will definitely make me anxious and I do all I can to avoid these situations. Hate small talk! When they cannot be avoided, I rely on pharmaceuticals to keep it together.
The short answer is, it depends. Each site and preceptor is going to be different. Some preceptors are great and will allow you to advance in autonomy, while always being close enough for help when needed. Some preceptors are control freaks who will never allow you to see a patient on your own, no matter how simple the reason for the visit.
At a good site you can expect:
Review of the schedule prior to beginning patient care. Who is on the "guest list" so to speak, what problems are they coming in for today, which ones are likely to be student-appropriate (depending on your level of experience at a given point), and a tentative idea of which pts you will see during the day with support from the preceptor. Having said all that, in primary care the schedule is only a starting point and very quickly can go straight to H@ll as soon as they phones start ringing at 0800.
Once you have an idea of which pts you may see, you can poke around in their charts, see what meds they are taking, problems list, etc. At the beginning you may go in with your preceptor and see the patient together; he or she should observe your interactions with patients, exam skills, comfort level, etc. prior to sending you into rooms by yourself.
Once you're ready for more independence, you may go in and introduce yourself to the pt and ask if they will allow you to see them and then your preceptor will see them and approve your care as well. You will come out of the room after history & exam and speak with your preceptor. At this point you will give report on the patient, your exam findings, and (in my case) 3 differentials. Then describe what tests or further exam techniques or history questions may be needed to eliminate 2 of the differentials and hone in on the most likely diagnosis. Then describe what treatment you would recommend (meds, physical therapy, OTC comfort care, call 911, etc.) and wait for your preceptor to make suggestions, share observations, give further direction, etc.
Granted, it does not always work that way. But it would be nice if it did!
Appropriate to hold the insulin in an elderly patient with CBG of 75 but if your institutional policy says you must notify the prescriber when you judge that the insulin should be held, then you should follow that policy.
Giving the insulin and then offering the patient a milkshake would frustrate the CRAP out of me, as a prescriber! What is the point of that? Why would anyone give a milkshake to a diabetic patient? Sheesh.
I can see all y'alls points about nursing theory and whether or not it is necessary in today's nursing education. The powers that be certainly are hanging onto it as required curriculum for accredited programs!
In some regards I feel that theory could be offered as a sort of elective course...Theories of Thought in Professional Nursing, that would also include nursing history and the major players there. Of course it would be updated periodically since theory development is alive and well in nursing today.
I would almost rather make way for a course introducing us to alternate medicine/healing techniques since this is something that our patients consider part of "holistic" care and also speaks to cultural competency.
For me the value was in knowing how to find legitimate, high-quality research in any area where I need more information to provide up-to-date, evidence-based practice to my patients. Frankly, I could have lived without theory, but the research side of it is very important to me and I did not get that education anywhere else.
If you want to practice in the most beneficial way for your patients, you must know what constitutes good, solid, research that is applicable to your patient population. You must have the tools to dig and search for information on topics ranging from cultural issues (Why is my Native American patient non-compliant with the medications I've prescribed?) to pharmacotherapeutics (What is the best first-line medication for my African American male patient with HTN?) or your patients cannot benefit from all the research that is being done.
Incidentally, there is some really bad, invalid "science" going on and you have to know how to identify that, too. Otherwise you might be swayed into changing your practice by some "scientific study" done by a pharmaceutical company that really had a very low level of evidence.
P.S. I had 2 semesters of T/R as an undergrad and another 3 semesters during my NP program!
What you're feeling is entirely normal and expected. NP programs should be tough. Working full-time while taking a challenging course such as Pathophysiology might not be the best choice for you; I couldn't have worked full-time during my NP program. I know a few of my colleagues DID work throughout the program but the only ones I personally knew who succeeded had employers who were very supportive and committed to being flexible with working hours and scheduling.
At some point in the very near future, every NP instructor will hold either a DNP or PhD. Please do not be intimidated by your instructor's degree. He or she either knows the information and is able to relate it to students or not. The degree itself is not so important.
Take an informal poll of your cohort at school - how many of them are working full time during school? Perhaps you could share this information with your family and help them see that working full time may not be compatible with success in your NP program. You could really use their emotional support at this time. If they are not able to emotionally support you, find an alternate support system (extended family, friends, other students, church family, etc.) for yourself and make your own determination of your goals and priorities.
If you stop short of your goal just because it's harder than you thought it would be, because you have to work out alternate financial arrangements now that you realize working full time is not compatible with the time you need to study, because your family does not understand your struggles, or because being a NP involves hard work and exposes you to legal liabilities...I think you're going to miss out on something great.
Jumping in here, but I actually read all the posts...
I've worked in outpt settings for 17+ years as a Certified Med Assistant prior to going back to school. Being a CMA was great while raising my kids and I love working primary care so I can really get to know patients and their family members.
When I went back to school, either PA or NP seemed like the logical choices since I loved what I did, just wanted to do more of it and be better paid. I ended up going the NP route (in school now) even though I knew I never wanted to work as a staff RN in either a hospital or LTC. So I'm specializing in primary care and prevention of chronic disease.
Now the kids are grown but I want my evenings and wkends to spend with the Hubs. I want to hang out with my grandkids on the holidays. My husband is older than I am and, frankly, I hope to make plenty of money to take care of us both after he retires. I also hope to have good benefits to help with my own healthcare and to supplement his Medicare...if it's still around by then!
Nursing school is SO much better than prereqs! I had a very difficult time memorizing everything for chemistry...formulas made me miserable. The great thing with nursing school is that there is very little memorization (not my strong suit) and lots of application and communications-type questions on tests (definitely my strong suit).
It's your FIRST quarter of school! If he can't be supportive of you and your goals for ONE QUARTER...how's he going to deal with actual hard things that may happen in your lives if you stay together? SHEESH!
Thank your lucky stars that you are seeing this now, rather than years down the line after you have kids, a mortgage, a car that needs repairs, family members that need your help, or gravity takes a toll on your body parts.
When a person shows you his/her true colors and character, believe it the first time. You don't need to drag someone into adulthood.
Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders and you're on the right track.
Incidentally, my husband & I lived apart for one year while I was in NS -- we had been married for many years at the time -- and it was really hard on both of us. Had we been dating rather than married to each other, I'm not sure the relationship would have survived. People who aren't in nursing school with you have a difficult time understanding what you're going through, the time involved, the amount of work, and the weirdness that is nursing! But we were committed to each other and also committed to the difference nursing would make to our future together. We had a long shared history together to draw from when the whole deal seemed impossible.
Since you seem to be pretty emphatic that he's your boyfriend and not someone you consider a "significant other" at this point, here's some advice from an old married lady:
Guys come and go, but you have only one shot at completing nursing school and earning that RN. (according to your post) You can always work on your "MRS" after you finish that RN! Keep your priorities straight and everything else will either fall into place or fall off your radar screen as nonimportant.
I have nothing against anyone who attempts to further their education. However, I don't understand why anyone would go through all the headache of becoming a NP without EVER being a RN. A Physician Assistant can go from nothing to a PA with no problem. Someone who goes from nothing to NP raises flags in my mind. The FIRST question that ALWAYS pops in my head was why didn't you go to a PA program instead? The SECOND question that pops in my head is were you TOO GOOD to work as a nurse?
With that said, this past Friday at our practice, we had a "roundtable" interview for a potential candidate (NP) to join our practice. I can honestly tell you if that person had ZERO experience as a RN they would NEVER have received an invitation for an interview.
Just to be 100% clear, this is NOT my intent to start a FLAME war. This is NOT a personal attack. Its just MY honest 2 cents. I graduated from a bridge program myself and went from nothing to NP. However, I was ADAMANT about being able to put on my resume that i had 4 years of FULL TIME ICU experience on my resume. I paid my "dues" as a RN and in my opinion, my resume shows this.
If you spend any time perusing the discussion boards on Allnurses.com you will see numerous posts of NP's experiencing difficulty obtaining employment. In the city where I live the University is churning out class after class of BOTH Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners PLUS there are 4 other NP/PA programs within a 3 hour drive churning them out also. UNLESS you networked your way into a job. UNLESS you know a physician who is ready to hire you already. You would not be able to find a top-tier employer willing to hire you in my area. (Even if you have a 4.0 GPA)
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