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  • Dec 11 '12

    I started out this semester with a lot of confidence. After all, I was pretty much a straight A student up until now. I had heard how nursing school is totally different from other classes but I don't think that really sunk in until I started. The first exam really rocked my confidence. I had seen those kind of questions before, but they had not really "mattered" until the grade mattered. Lab was also a brand new experience for me. I had to get over the feeling of "It's only a dummy" and see the dummy as a potential real person.

    I have found that I struggle in particular with being nervous prior to a check-off. My first one was on completing a head to toe, which went fine, but my second one I failed the first time around due to many factors, and that really shook my self-confidence to the point where I came within a hair of failing my second attempt. I realized after that I was psyching myself out by concentrating too much on the importance of being successful rather than being confident in my own ability to succeed. Also, knowing that my every move was being judged and critiqued unnerved me. As the semester progressed, I changed thing up as I went along and I discovered some ways of studyin that worked for me and others that didn't.

    I think the best purchase I made is my voice recorder. I have heard a lot of people say that they don't feel like going back to listen to x amount of hours of lecture, but for my part I found that if I can combine listening to the lecture with something that I enjoy then it's not so boring and redundant. My husband and I play World of Warcraft, and as crazy as it may sound, I would listen while playing WoW. I wouldn't be paying attention to every word, but things would grab my attention and those things stuck in my head better. Other people might find that listening while they are exercising or driving might work for them.

    Another thing that worked well for me is to skim the chapters before class and then highlight the important material in the book during the lecture. My professors would teach on material that was almost always guaranteed to be on the exam, so by highlighting in class it was easier to go back through the chapter and identify those important parts. Although lab and the practical aspect of things was a bit harder for me than the strictly academic part, I did better when I was able to spend a lot of time practicing in the lab. Repetition really does help and just because I got it right the first time, did not mean that I would have it down pat a few days later, therefore practice.. practice.. practice.

    Careplans are time consuming and not easy to do. I have a bad habit of procrastinating and I think I could have done much better on my careplans, had I not put it off till the last minute. They all passed, but I think that was more due to my clinical instructor. The further I got in the semester the more I learned to pay attention to details in my patients, and to ask questions both to my patient and their family, and to the nurses that were caring for them. I know that it was much easier to get my careplan done with a complete assessment and also that it was important to make sure that I would input all my data as soon as possible before I would forget anything. Another time consuming task of doing the careplan is the lists of lab data and medications. I would input all the medication information that we are required to have, and if another patient is on the same medication, such as Lovenox, I can copy paste the information into the new careplan and change the details to fit the patient I am doing the careplan on, such as dose. The same is true for lab values. A lot of the normal ranges are the same for both male and female, so I just copy pasted that information into the new careplan as well.

    I must say that clinicals are my favorite part about nursing school. It's where you get to put knowledge and skills to use and actually work with a living, breathing patient or patients. To me, every patient in the hospital that I came into contact with in the hospital, became my patient too for the short duration I was there. Granted, my assigned patient I would spend more time with, but anytime that I was asked to help with any other patient, I treated that person like he/she was my only patient. Call me idealistic, but I feel that as a nursing student I have the luxury of being able to that. Every aspect of what I experienced, I treated as an opportunity to learn. If there was down-time, I asked questions.

    As previously stated, nursing exams ARE hard. I found that cramming is not good. It works better to bring knowledge forward. What I mean is, if I could set aside just one hour at the end of each week to look through notes and skim the text (here is where the highlighting comes in handy)for the entire unit, the better off I was when time came to study for the exam. I didn't do this consistently, but when I did, I noticed that it helped and it was reflected in a higher exam grade. I would wait to listen to the lectures until the weekend before the exams. Our exams always fell on a Tuesday. In my head I would also try to identify potential questions that could be asked. I paid attention to the parts of the text that spoke directly to nursing interventions and priorities. I also looked at the potential nursing diagnoses associated with whatever topic that was discussed. During the exam, I would take small breaks every so often; put my pencil down, take a few deep breaths, move around a little bit on my chair, or go to the bathroom. It refreshes me, and clears my head.

    All in all, this has been a successful first semester for me. I have discovered things about myself and the way I study, and what works and doesn't work for me. I think that it's important for every student, regardless of what they are studying, to identify early how best to study. People can give all the best-intentioned advice in the world, but ultimately the student is the one doing it, and there are no right or wrong ways as long as one is achieving the goal one has set. For me, my foundational goal is to pass every test, and my ultimate goal is to get the best grade possible. I reached my foundational goal, and didn't always reach my ultimate goal but now I know what works and what doesn't and with that knowledge I can move forward with a renewed determination, and I hope that maybe seeing what helped me might help another student as well.

  • Dec 11 '12

    Warning: The following post is rife with brutal honesty and frustration. Read at your own risk.

    Memorandum from the desk of Your Friendly Neighborhood Sociopath~~


    Dear Nursing Student/Orientee:

    Allow me to start my letter with a brief aside. Yes, I know there are things you are not taught at nursing school. I know that this may not apply exactly to your set of circumstances. I know that there are evil, vindictive individuals out there that will purposefully set you up, hold you down, and delight in making your every morning something to dread and your every evening a nightmare.

    But I am not one of those individuals. I do not, under any circumstances, condone their conduct.

    Nor am I some fluffy feel-good nurse that will hold your hand, coddle your mistakes and spout sayings freshly garnered from those horrid encouragement posters seen in every middle management office. You know the ones...they normally feature a humpback whale tale flipped above the water, inked on black with the word "Perseverance" splayed in white type beneath it. No. I am not that nurse.

    Normally this is where I would insert some words of acknowledgement and a word, dare I say, an apology for who I am.

    No.

    Wrong.

    I am not sorry.

    I am not sorry for who I am. And more importantly, I am not sorry for who I am trying to help you become.

    And if that makes me the sharp toothed thing lurking under your bed, poisoning your dreams, then so be it.

    Let me be frank....well, more frank: It is not my job to be your friend. It is not my job to be your nanny, your partner, or your teacher.

    I am your preceptor.

    I am not paid to like you. I am not obligated to think you are amazing, or clever, or the greatest thing to grace the floor. You were admitted to nursing school. Maybe you've already passed the NCLEX. So did I as well as the rest of the nurses around you. Get over yourself.

    I am not here to swap stories of what we did over the weekend or invite you out to drinks after work. To be clear, you are but one more individual whom I must monitor throughout my shift and what a dangerous individual you are as you practice under my license and tutelage. I am not blown away that you remembered to put on gloves or to put the bed low and make sure the call light is in place. That is your job. By the time you round with me, that should be second nature.

    So let's pause for a second and smooth all the hackles I know I just raised.

    Allow us, for just a moment, to be honest together, yes? Nursing school often paints a pretty picture of perfect working environments frosted with therapeutic communication, dollops of hand holding, smiling, radiant preceptors for everyone and delightful nurse to patient ratios. Rainbows sold separately.

    It's not that I crush dreams so much as get the lovely job of escorting you out of Wonderland and into reality. And reality bites.

    I may not be your friend, but I will be professional with you and you have the right to expect nothing less. Perhaps in time we may develop an understanding which my lead to friendship. But that time is not now. Stop taking it so personally.

    If you have done your research, if you have made your phone calls, if you have come to me and we have agreed upon a solution that turned out to be wrong, I will never throw you under the bus. I will defend you even to the DON and the MD's if we followed protocol, proper skilled nursing practice and physician orders. You may take a fall, but it will not be alone.

    But I will not own your foolishness or your negligence. Expecting me to sacrifice my career, my rapport, my dignity for you is simply not realistic. Even in our little corner of the working jungle, natural selection, AKA survival of the fittest, still applies.

    On that note, I will do everything in my power to be damn sure you never, ever manage to make such a grievous error. Why? Not because of patient care (though it should be a no brainer that such a thing is part of it). Because I want you to succeed. I want you to be safe. Because I know those mistakes destroy futures.

    Not on my watch.

    I promise you that my knowledge is yours to access any time, day or night. Even when I've stolen a precious few seconds in the bathroom or are snarfing down a sandwich. If you have a question, for the love of all things sacred and delicious, ask. Yes, even the "stupid" questions.

    Though I firmly stand by the reasoning that the only stupid questions are the ones not asked.

    I also promise to tell you when I don't know. ::gasp:: What's this? A preceptor without an answer? Absolutely. Look, it's been...well...a while since nursing school and there is only so much room in the mental hard drive, alright? It's either remember the exact dosing of Colace or remember how to make a Denver Omelet. Sacrifices must be made for the greater good.

    But we'll relearn/learn it together.

    You worry about asking me questions as you fret over my answers and thus ask none. Pray tell, how shall I guide you if you do not ask?

    I may not have the answer, but I know someone who does. Pay attention to who I talk to in order to get that information. Guess what? I'm showing you my sources. They will become your sources too when you are out on your own. And don't forget, I'm around. It's not like after the orientation is over I'm going to vanish with a nod and a plume of purple smoke to a magic lamp.

    Silence means just as much as speech. Kindly note when I hold my tongue and when I talk and more importantly, who I talk to. (Yes, I know, ending a sentence with a preposition. - 10 points from Gryffindor) I'm giving you hints on who to trust and who to watch as well as your Reliables, those fine folks that always seem to be Johnny on the spot with whatever strange thing you need.

    Speaking of speech, communication is a two way street. If you need my attention, if you need something different, if you need me to back off because, trust me, it is harder than nothing else to sit on ones hands and watch someone struggle when it is just so much easier to do it oneself, say something! Just....not in front of a patient. Or my charge nurse. Let's talk privately, quietly, as two adults ought.

    Be sure that I am fully aware of the tone I use. You know. The. Tone. I have it in my arsenal for a reason. That is my "Some serious !@#% is about to go down and I need you to do exactly as I say" tone. Never argue with the tone. Pay attention and make mental notes. Ask me later what I saw that you didn't. I'll happily tell you.

    Should that tone ever come out while you are performing a task: freeze. I am trying to keep you from causing unwitting harm. More to the point, I am working to guard you from making the same mistakes either myself or others have made. And yes, I will tell you the story later.

    Again, don't take it personally. In those moments it's not about you. It's about the patient.

    However, there is nothing in this world more frustrating, more gut churningly irritating, than someone wrapped in indifference and swaddled in ego. Nothing makes me angrier, quicker, than an orientee that does not see their own potential and is more than happy to just settle. I see so much ability just lying dormant, waiting for the right chance to break free and yet when it is ignored, when you gloss over it in favor of the easy way out, I seriously just want to kick a squid. In the face. Hard.

    So I'm going to push you. Relentlessly. When you could do something better, I will tell you. I do not hand out compliments liberally for a reason. Your best today is simply not good enough tomorrow. It's not good enough for me and it definitely shouldn't be good enough for you. Your momentary failings are disappointing and just as you question what you are doing wrong, I am wondering the same thing about myself. When you ask questions, I'm going to ask you questions in return to make you think, not because I enjoy watching you squirm.

    Remember: a great nurse is a thinking nurse.

    And never be afraid to admit you don't know something. Ever. See points mentioned above about sources and help. I am going to push you. I am going to make you struggle and stumble. I will not let you fall.

    In honesty, there are going to be good days. And there are going to be bad. The bad may outweigh the good for a bit. Sometimes it can get to be a tad much and I know, heaven help me, I know there are some criers out there. As an aside, I bid you, with utmost sincerity, to please don't cry. Don't cry. Not over a doctor yelling, or another nurse be snarky, or because you are overwhelmed, or because you thought I was harsh to you. Don't cry. Not one of those things is devastating enough to have earned that much power over your emotions.

    But, as I realize that it is easier said than done for some, if you need to have it out, tell me. Tell me so I can find you a place to let it all hang out in private, even if it means covering your patients so you can go to your car. Because I want to protect you from committing what, for some, becomes a moment they cannot live down and stains their repertoire on the floor.

    Because medical personnel are predatory pack animals. When you cry, they scent blood and bay for their pack mates to take notice. They watch. Stalking. Lurking. Marking you as weak, ready to cast you aside to larger predators, or, more readily, pick the psychological meat from your bones themselves.

    When you have found your composure, we'll talk, brainstorm, and fix the situation. Even if it has something to do with me--scratch that--especially if it has something to do with me. But for that one moment, let me protect you.

    And lastly, keep in mind that I'm human. I have bad days. I have a life outside of work and sometimes there is a lot going on that you may not know about. And on top if it all, I have my own workload, work drama, etc, on top of what is going on with you. So before you start gossiping to other orientees about your "!@#% of a preceptor" remember two things: 1) I will find out. I have eyes and ears you don't know about. 2) One day, you will look back and realize that your crazy preceptor may have had a point and you are stronger for it.

    And you didn't even have to be coddled.

    Wishing you best of luck and kindest regards,

    ~~CheesePotato~~

    P.S.

    I owe everything I am, every moment of clarity, success, and moment of feeling capable to my preceptor of many years ago who just so happened to be a nightmare on two tennis toned legs. Without him, I would never have survived running my first trauma alone nor would I have found a home in nursing. Thank you, my friend, for breaking me down so I could be built stronger.

  • Sep 11 '12

    Alarm clocks are going off - it's back to school!!

    Many are entering unfamiliar territory and are nervous as heck.

    Will I like the teacher? Will the teacher like me? Will it be hard? How hard is nursing school? Are the rumors true about nursing school? Can I really be successful? Is this really for me?

    These are just some of the questions you will be thinking about.

    For those who have already gone through their first day...
    How do you feel now? How did you feel?

    Do you have any tips to share for those just starting school?



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  • Aug 20 '12

    Nursing school can be expensive. If you are not prepared financially you could get yourself in a lot of trouble.

    Community colleges are the least expensive but may not offer the best programs or the best opportunities in nursing. You need to decide the pros and cons. What's best for you?

    How did/do you manage to pay for nursing school? Were you prepared for the costs?



    If you have any tips or inside knowledge please share.

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  • Aug 20 '12

    HI all! I wanted to share my experience of how I finally became an RN after going through tough obstacles. It all started back in 2002. I did my CNA but never practiced as I wanted to go back to get a bachelors degree in pych.

    After I graduated with my BA, I applied to a BSN program in Chicago (1/2006). Got accepted and that was the first school I had applied to. I was so happy, excited, and felt this was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I didn't know at the time that the school was going on probation due to low NCLEX passing rates (85%).

    Nursing school was a whole different experience and MUCH MUCH harder than I ever thought it would be. I was constantly falling behind as I was in the accelerated BSN program, and just couldn't keep up with taking 4 classes, clinicals, care-plans, labs, and writing papers. Mind you learning all the nursing terms/concepts was completely new to me--I came from a university where you had to READ chapters in textbooks.

    I had picked up that bad habit of reading everything in my nursing books. Well, to make a long story short. I had failed out. I failed because I didn't pass two classes at the same time. The counselor for the school had told me,"I don't think nursing is for you, you should look into another career." Felt so incompetent after hearing those words. I didn't know HOW to study, what to study, and I sure as heck didn't know what I was doing in clinicals. Everyday was a question mark to me.

    When I failed, I was so depressed. Didn't know what I was going to do. Thought my life was officially over. All I had ever wanted to be was a nurse and felt so alone.

    I sat down and told myself maybe going at a fast pace wasn't for me..I should start slow. So I did. I enrolled in a LPN program and it was a great program. It was a private school so yes I did pay massive $$ but the quality of education was great. I graduated with high honors and learned MORE in the LPN program of 1.5 years (graduated 12/2009) than the 1 semester of BSN program. I didn't stop there. I applied to a LPN-RN bridge program at a Community College. Once again, very hard, very strenuous but not at an impossible pace. Teachers explained what they expected...and this time I DID NOT read everything single page of each chapter...I recorded lectures, wrote out my own notes, and studied what the teacher emphasized on and that made a huge difference. Went through the bridge program for 1.5 years and now graduated with my RN (5/2012). Just took my NCLEX-RN and passed with 75 questions.

    My point of posting this story is to inform others NOT TO GIVE UP...if this is your dream, you must go through it and you only live once. I love being a nurse as I love taking care of people. If this is your passion, keep going. Don't let one failure drag you down!

  • Aug 20 '12

    Let's face it; orientation makes nursing school just seem more "real" but it's also very daunting, and a lot of information to sift through. My orientation was not as bad as I had thought it was going to be, but I did sit with the thoughts of "what the heck have I gotten myself into" among other thoughts. I got a good impression of my instructors and they all seemed to have a passion for nursing and for teaching. Looking back at what I learned at orientation, there are some very important points that I believe we all should take into consideration.

    Nursing School is Hard, but it's not impossible.

    The general theme was to be prepared to spend a lot of time studying and that working would be very difficult. The material is very different from any other class, and that one should not expect to do as well, initially, as one did in pre-requisite courses. It takes a little bit to get into the "groove."

    Learning is Lifelong.

    Nursing education should not stop with the ADN degree, but continue on. It was highly encouraged that students continue to seek higher education and also realize that when one graduates one still only knows a fraction of what "needs" to know, and that the rest comes with time and experience.

    Get Organized!

    If there was one thing I heard every single speaker emphasize, it was the need for students to be organized. Organization will minimize the chance for missing assignments, keep needed materials at your fingertips etc. An organized study space limits stress and makes the time spent studying more effective. Keeping everything written down in a calendar was also highly recommended. Everyone has different things that work for them, but one should find a method of organization and stick to it.

    Get in a Study Group.

    It was highly recommended that students break into study groups. They said that the most successful students were the ones in an effective study group. By effective it means that the time the group spends studying is actually used for studying, not gossiping, talking about non-study related things etc. Everyone should study the material and then come together to discuss, help each other understand the material, and practice applying it.

    Read, Read, READ!

    We all know that there is a lot of reading in nursing school. However, it's important to come to class prepared AHEAD of time. In my program, we will be quizzed over the readings on a regular basis and that makes it even more important to make sure to read the assigned chapters. In my program, they told us that we will be expected to spend a lot of time discussing in groups about the material, and that having an idea of what the topic is about is imperative to success.

    The Standards are Higher!

    This goes back to organization a little bit, in the sense that one will be required to be on time, if not early, each and every time. There is very little tolerance for tardiness. In my program we can only miss ONE clinical. Absences are only tolerated with a VERY good reason. Personal conduct is very important as well, and one is expected to conduct oneself in a professional manner at all times. Tests are timed. I am already intimidated by the idea of having only 1.5 minutes to answer a question!!

    Use ALL your Resources!

    It was recommended that one purchase reference books for test questions, such as "Fundamentals Success," have more than one care planning book, make use of peers, your instructors, the lab, and even "Youtube" to help understand the material and practice skills. One should visit the professors in their office hours before a problem becomes too big. If one doesn't understand something, talk to the professor before test day! Don't be afraid to ask questions! Even allnurses.com is a great resource to use if things just don't make sense!

    Be Emotionally Invested!


    This means to care about what one is doing. Don't become a nurse just for the paycheck. The best nurses are the ones that care about what they do and are passionate about it. There are so many fields in nursing that if one becomes "bored" with one area, there are other opportunities to go for. Also, if one decides that nursing is not for them, it's best to not continue practicing because if one doesn't like nursing, then one is also likely to no longer be emotionally invested and the chance of burnout and errors increase.

    Be Courageous!

    Last but not least, be Courageous! This is where I truly saw the emotional investment of my own professor. It's a scary world out there for nurses, and also the client to some extent. The bottom line is that the nurse has a responsibility to the patient. If one sees something that is not right, speak up no matter what. Doctors can and will be mean, yell at you and we all have heard and read the stories, but the nurse has a responsibility to speak up for the patient an often that takes courage.

    Nursing school is a journey. It's exciting, terrifying, rewarding and the list goes on. Hopefully some of these tips can be of help along the way. Only one more week till my first day of class and I am like a horse at the starting gate; itching to get going!

  • Aug 6 '12
  • Aug 6 '12

    Word of encouragement: you can still have a life! School is hard, you will have to study hard, do practice tests, and live in a sea of busy work, but there will be time to enjoy life too.

  • Aug 6 '12

    I had that exact same thought this morning. Im going to miss dreaming about starting school because I'll actually be there. I'm going to miss going to bed late and waking up late, and all of the reality shows I have gotten use to watching although I will still try and make time for NY Med...love that show.

  • Jun 25 '12

    No it won't be impossible but just be prepared! I remember one night I was up late doing 2 care plans and had clinicals all that day and it was 1am and I had clinicals the next day and I was already up for almost a full 24 hr period so I just started to cry! All I wanted to do was sleep but I made it through first level and about to start second. Just don't forget why you decided to become a nurse and work hard to get it

  • Jun 11 '12

    for me, it's tape! i hate it when i reached out to my pocket and i can't find a piece of tape :angryfire . there will be something that needs to be taped, either the foley bag, or the iv lines, anything! oh yea...and also scrubs that have lots of pockets, it will make your clinical easy as you can store lots of stuff so that you don't have to run in and out the room!

    as for books? i am using the new hesi nclex rn review, it's the best nursing book that you can find because it highlights the major things that we need to know for the nclex or hesi.
    the taber medical dictionary was a great help for me when i was taking pathophysiology.
    the davis drug guide was also a big help for me in pharmacology.

    i can't think of anything else, everybody has basically said everything :uhoh21:

  • Jun 11 '12

    Ok, Marie, I'll put it back up here and if you can convince the powers that be to give us a sticky, I'm move it to that thread.



    Here are some of the supplies that I've found helpful:

    a.A 3 ring-binder
    b.loose leaf notebook paper
    c.one of those 3 hole punches that you can put in the 3 ring binder
    d.3 folders specifically for clinicals- one to keep your assessment sheets, extra blank careplans, any notes that help you in clinicals, extra paper to write on. One that holds your completed careplan, med cards, and textbook pictures to hand into your instructor, and one to put all the graded med cards and textbook pictures in.
    e. index cards-3x5 and 5x8 and index card boxes for each size
    f. black pens
    g.no. 2 pencils and sharpener
    h.a backpack (some people like the ones you have a handle and wheels. Those books can get heavy!)
    i. stapler, small
    j. lots of highlighters
    k. calculator

    That's all I can think of for now!

  • Jun 11 '12

    I know that it may seem as if they are being discouraging but this what you would call weeding out week. I have been in nursing school for a year now and my 1st year was hell. I didn't think my instructor was friendly but as I got in to my 3rd semester she took me to the side and explained her method. She could see in the students that were serious about being nurses and took the time in the lab and studying. she also said that the world of nursing is a shark frenzy and the instructor wants their students to perform under stressful situations. So in closing keep your head up and so no fear and keep going for what you want being strong makes a good nurse.

  • Jun 11 '12

    Don't let them get to you! Sometimes, it could just be plain jealously. I was the youngest out of my program as well and I got plenty of snide remarks. But I kept on going & I made it through You can too!

  • Jun 11 '12

    Don't let anyone discourage you.I am 46, never worked in the medical field before beginning this nursing program. Yes, of course it's difficult, life can be difficult. You will find negativity in all places, but don't let that throw you off of your personal course. you will encounter all types of people, you can not control others, but you can control your reaction to how you are treated. Ask yourself if it is really worth getting upset about, and it defintely is not. stay the course, Nursing school is tough, but you can get through it. Take negative comments, and toss them aside. Just take what you need and leave the rest. Next time a comment like that comes along, just smile and say, "great I love a challenge". Good luck!


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