BOLC Nurse Track: Yay Nurses!

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    Truly the home stretch! The last two weeks at Ft. Sam Houston, TX.

    We transitioned right into Nurse Track the day after graduation. Tuesday we all wore our ASUs (dress uniforms) because we were scheduled to have a video teleconference with Major General Patricia Horoho, our most excellent Corps Chief, first thing on Tuesday morning.

    I had the fortune to meet MG Horoho at the 110th Anniversary of the Army Nurse Corps event in February, and she is such a dynamic and charismatic individual. It was clearly evident why she has attained her rank and position; after hearing her speak in February, I was even more convinced that joining the Army was the best decision I ever made. I was excited for my classmates to get to have some interface with her as well, even in this limited capacity. She spoke with us briefly, then offered to answer any questions we had. Unfortunately no one really came prepared with questions.

    The rest of Nurse Track ... wow, can we just say ambitious schedule?

    We were guinea pigs in a revised Nurse Track, and I'm pretty sure future Nurse Tracks won't be quite as jam-packed. One thing that might disappoint some is that the Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) was dropped from Nurse Track.

    It was determined by the powers that be that it was kind of a waste for new nurses until they have some frame of reference, and I have to agree, though the fact that I have TNCC already might have resulted in a couple of free days for me! But probably not. LOL.

    We did a bunch of interesting things, though, such as a walking tour of Ft. Sam Houston (too hot, though) and a tour of the most awesome Center for the Intrepid -- that place was absolutely amazing. There was a tour of Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), but I missed that because three of us who are BLS instructors were "taking care of our own" with a couple of BLS renewal classes that day.

    One really fun event during Nurse Track was the skills lab. One of our ICU nurses who is in the nurse anesthetist program agreed to run it, and we took over the skills labs in the nursing building for an evening.

    He assigned the experienced nurses to various stations to teach the new grads various skills. I had the chest tube/pleurevac station, which was fun ... I walked up to see the weirdest pleurevac set-up that I have ever seen, it was totally unfamiliar! Thank goodness for my little beloved Android phone – I was able to find and download a PDF about this particular set-up so I didn't look like a complete idiot, haha.

    We had a great time in the skills lab, and everyone agreed that it was something that should be a bit longer in duration for future nurses. I think the people sticking each other in the phlebotomy station had the most fun – for a lot of the new grad RNs, IVs seem to be the most stressful skill for them due to lack of experience and opportunity.

    There were a ton of other assignments for Nurse Track. For example, each platoon was assigned a book to read, and we had to come up with a fun and interactive way to present it to the rest of Nurse Track (i.e., no death by PowerPoint allowed). Our book was "If Disney Ran Your Hospital" by Fred Lee. We had a fun time presenting the book in a series of scenarios, and we discovered a lot of latent acting ability in our platoon.

    Overall, I have to say Nurse Track was a lot of work ... there were several nights during which I wondered when I was supposed to sleep, between the homework assignments and continued PT at 0520 (yep, really ... some days were optional, others mandatory). However, in hindsight, BOLC was a lot of fun. I miss my BOLC peeps! Only one other person, a PA, was stationed where I am, and we've hung out a bit. It's nice to know at least one person in an unfamiliar place. So future BOLC-ers, if you have another person in your BOLC class going to the same duty station, cultivate that friendship! This particular person was also in my platoon, which makes it especially awesome.

    We had a final cookout on the last Friday with our whole platoon, plus a few extra guests. What a great bunch of people! We formed friendships that will last forever, no doubt, and the goodbyes were often tearful.

    Then next morning at zero-dark-thirty, I set out for the 1,500 mile drive back to Virginia, where I'd be for about 9 days before heading down to my first duty station. After all these weeks, I was excited at the prospect of going back to work in the ER as a nurse!
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 10, '15
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  3. by   Zombi RN
    Wow, it all reads like it was SUCH a whirlwind experience!!
  4. by   Pixie.RN
    It really was. Many of the lectures, etc., were geared more towards the new nurses, not those of us with experience already, but that's okay -- it was just the way it had to be.
  5. by   docteri
    I've been staying at Ft Sam when I am in Texas for my clinics. I love the energy and the 5 am Pt. I jogged from the hotel (bldg 592) to Brought for a swim. That broke up the heat! The pool is fabulous, 50 meters and all.
  6. by   Pixie.RN
    I stayed in Bldg. 1384, which is down Hardee past the AMEDD building. We (somewhat affectionately) referred to it as "the crackhouse." 592 was much nicer, I thought!
  7. by   docteri
    Oh gosh, thanks for the heads up about that building.
  8. by   Pixie.RN
    It's not that bad ... not great, but bearable for 9 weeks. It is where the majority of the students have to stay. When there is overlap with a previous BOLC class or no vacancies, some students have to stay off post, usually at a Holiday Inn. While this might sound nice, it is a pain to get on post in time for PT, etc., with the early times and the line-up at the gate. Plus those students had to shower at the gym after PT.