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  1. Taking anatomy and physiology and Microbiology was somewhat of a cardinal sin in my community college. Regardless of the warnings from professors and counselors, I enrolled in AP1 (which I retook) and Microbiology (entirely new to me at the time) during the fall! Here are the pros and cons of taking two science classes together and some advice on my experiences. Pros - Why You Should Take Classes Together #1 This is a test. Taking Anatomy and Physiology with Microbiology helped when understanding certain chapters of each science class When I took Microbiology, certain aspects of the course helped with anatomy, such as reviewing the anatomy of organs, the organs', Chemistry, and cytology! I finally understood desmosomes and gap junctions and got to check the functions of the renal medulla. #2 Multi-tasking skills Although I took two science courses in total, I actually some classes over again to achieve better grades. I took AP1, Microbiology, Human Development, and English (In total, with the lab, I had six courses). During this semester, it was CHAOTIC, but I learned how to multitask more efficiently! #3 A newfound appreciation for science While taking anatomy and Microbiology together, I had a newfound respect for science. I appreciated it more. As cheesy as it sounds, I enjoyed learning about the human body, viruses, and gram stains! #4 Increased Memorization skills Both courses are deeply rooted in memorization, so spending time studying and memorizing the material has helped my memorization skills tremendously! Cons - Why You Should Not Take Classes Together #1 The burnout I had quite a rigorous schedule. Sitting in a lecture from 3-4pm, a twenty-minute lunch, and I'd be back at campus an hour early to study. Again, I sat sitting through another lecture from 6 to 7pm and then a lab the next day from 6 to 10, only to live an hour away and study for the next anatomy exam and my other courses! I was going to bed at 3am most days, and by the end of the lecture, 5am. There were days to where I was burnt out and just didn't want to do it anymore, questions why the hell did I do this and tempted dropping! But in the end, I knew what my objective goals were. #2 Midterms and Finals will kick your butt I had more difficulty with the timing of big tests! Although Microbiology didn't have a midterm, my anatomy midterm's timing caused a lot of rushing and a lot of rescheduling, and so did the final. #3 The battle of studying Although I was familiar with anatomy, I spent more time studying for this course than Microbiology. In Microbiology, I only studied for 1 to 2 hours which proved successful, but usually, anatomy requires a bit more studying. Even my Microbiology professor had stated this during the end of the semester. #4 There isn't enough time for free time Sadly because both courses have a lot of material and require lots of studying there were no fun weekends for me! After studying, I usually just caught up on sleep Advice For Taking Anatomy and Microbiology Course Together #1 If you're retaking Anatomy, prep in advance Although I reviewed material, prepping a few weeks before the semester started helped me! #2 Low-Stress professors make a difference When retaking this, I actually took the most laid-back teachers I could find for the semester. Extra credit was given freely in Microbiology. Hence, it wasn't super rigorous for me while in AP1; no extra credit was given, but the teacher was incredible at the lecture. We actually used the textbook's PowerPoints which were actually the real test, so it helped tremendously. #3 Weigh the pros and cons along with the lifestyle you live If you are a rigorous student, this may seem like a walk in the park, and know that as much as you're gaining, you may lose some too. I'm not here to discourage you, but if you're working or have kids, you may want to take things into consideration. #4 Consider taking a class or two online This can go for the science class or if you're taking an easier class. I took my one of my science classes online along with Human Development and then I took English and Microbiology on campus. This can help a lot with the running around! #5 AP2 and Microbiology This combination can be done but at least 1/2 of the people I've known either dropped Micro or AP2. AP2 is more physiology based and requires learning in and out (because , you will see it again). There were people whom I've known that have passed as well but they literally lived at the library. References Is it a bad idea to take Microbiology and anatomy at the same time? 'How to get A'S in A&P and Microbiology' Youtube video...
  2. nikkulele77

    A Not-Love Letter for Nursing

    Dear Past Self, You don’t love nursing, and that’s okay. I recall the excitement when you made the decision to pursue nursing. It never occurred to you that you couldn’t do it. Some people might label that determination, and although you have a healthy dose of that as part of your personality, it may be that you were just inexperienced at life. In that context, it served you well. You didn’t think about what would happen if you couldn't step up or if you weren’t cut out for the job. You didn’t think twice about the requirements to get into the program or the fact that the deadline was two weeks away. You didn’t even blink an eye when you weren’t accepted that first go around. You were undaunted, but in a very simple, matter-of-fact way. You decided to become a nurse, and that’s what was going to happen, no matter what. Two reasons why knowing what you know now, you still would go into nursing. #1 You dare to potentially fail. And, you dare to keep learning. Nursing school is a bit of a blur. I know you loved learning and challenges. I know clinicals made you nervous, being a more reserved person that sometimes had a hard time knowing what questions to ask, or daring to ask them. But I guess your love of learning plus that mindset of just getting it done must have been enough to shake off your insecurities. You went on to preceptorship in the emergency department with the dream of one day working there. The start of your nursing career coincided with a move and a new baby, so it was a bit rocky. But you had just conquered nursing school and thus had that little jolt of confidence from earning a degree. You experienced that same feeling all new nurses experience—Whoa, did school really prepare me for this? It’s humbling and disheartening to feel incompetent. But you were a fast learner and had the energy and eagerness of a new nurse. You were wise to start out on med/surg, get some good critical thinking and time management skills, and observe seasoned nurses who could handle old school doctors. The mistakes you made were not the monumental, career-crushing mistakes you thought they were at the time. Three years in was the first big change when the crowded ED needed extra help. When the house supervisor asked for a volunteer, you didn’t even hesitate. Your first task was an IV and blood draw, and the delegating nurse was Queen Nurse Ratched of the department. Later, that battleaxe nurse said what impressed her was how you were bold in showing up and asking how you could help. Sometimes I marvel at that, because you are not that person. Not really. You hid your insecurities because you recognized the opportunity, tapped into that deep-down confidence, and bottom-line, you were there to help. If you had learned anything, it was that nurses had each other’s backs, and you were going to at least try. That started a 14 year career as an ED nurse. You had a great team of nurses and doctors, and for a long time, you thought that’s what you would do until you retired. I sometimes miss those days. During your time in the ED, when your youngest child entered kindergarten, you decided to go back to school and finally accomplish your goal of getting your bachelor’s degree. You had a few reservations about going back to school, especially online, but found that writing a paper wasn’t really a big deal, and you now had life experience to draw from. It led you to consider other areas of nursing with the cliche “broaden your horizons.” But that’s just what you did, and aren't you glad? You met wonderful public health nurses with amazing experience and advice. It led to a flex position at the health department where you learned about immunizations, women’s health, and even got to help out with a tuberculosis outbreak in the community. It felt so good to learn new things. And, admittedly, the ED was starting to wear on you. Then came the big move across the country, and subsequent life changes. That was rough. And you questioned your choice of career more than ever. You were tired, stressed, and life had become complicated. You told others to avoid going into nursing. It wasn’t worth it. The healthcare system was broken. You had five jobs in five years: travel ED nurse, free-standing ED nurse, community health nurse, neuro-trauma ICU nurse, and resource nurse. These were obviously your searching years. You were always excited to start the job, and then when the novelty wore off, well . . . you were like the kid a month after Christmas, the new toys shoved into the corner and looking for something else. Those were hard years, but looking back, I’m glad for the struggle. You gained invaluable insight. It was good to go outside your wheelhouse of the ED, venture into new areas. You are a stronger, better nurse for it. I mean, good for all the nurses who do that one thing for their entire careers, and do it exceedingly well, but that’s not you. Even though you had some growing pains, including feelings of incompetence all over again, I’m proud of the way you decided to try new things, keep searching, and continue discovering. Now you’re here in the pandemic. You’re doing the work of a nurse when the world needs you. Needs more like you. Because (gulp) you are a good nurse. You work hard, even on your off days. You still make mistakes, but you’re experienced and confident enough to ignore and let go of unhelpful criticisms (or say screw you with your eyes). You’re smart enough and caring enough to try to work with others, not blame them. And you’ve always done your best for your patients. You don’t need a new program or a survey to tell you that people are people and they deserve to be treated well, especially on their worst days. I think back to that day when you first floated to the ED, quick to volunteer, offering to help even though you weren’t sure you were equal to the task, jumping in with both feet not knowing how to swim. You surprised yourself that day. You weren’t that kind of a person. Bold and competent. But maybe now you are. Before, you had the benefit of not knowing how hard nursing is. You were blissfully unaware and youthfully enthusiastic. Perhaps your ignorance was mislabeled as bold. But now you know of the madness that is healthcare, how it functions, its many, many flaws and unfairness. You even have your share of jadedness. But you don’t let it get the better of you. You take that determination from your youth, that confidence from experience, and that perseverance from difficult times and you dare to try. You dare to potentially fail. And, you dare to keep learning. #2 You have fulfilled a calling in life. Nursing is not a career for everybody. Right now there are a lot of nurses, seasoned and newbies, questioning their choice of career. You’ve been in that boat too, more than once. It’s a boat that definitely rocks. And morale in many places is at an all time low. I’m a big believer that transient doubts are just that—transient. And it is much easier to entertain those doubts during times of crises, either personally or collectively. Sometimes all a person needs to do is ride out those doubts, make some changes, or rekindle a bit of passion or inspiration. But sometimes a person needs to be true to themselves about their level of doubt and burnout or about how nursing simply isn’t for them. It takes courage for a person to acknowledge that. It takes wisdom to know if and when to leave. You pretty much know you’re not in love with nursing. But I don’t regret your choice to become a nurse. Even though someday you may leave the profession, I feel strongly that you have fulfilled a calling in life. When it’s time to go, it doesn’t have to be a bitter departure or filled with regret or guilt. I’m glad for the years you spent learning and growing as a nurse. You helped a lot of people, including family and friends. Life allows for people to change their minds and close a chapter of their lives. If you need to close this chapter of your life, find a way to do it with as little resentment and as much positivity as you can, finding the good things. Because even if you don’t always love it, nursing teaches some great lessons. Especially the ones you didn’t want to learn. If you let it, nursing makes you a better person.
  3. PositiveEnergy

    Evolving As A Nurse

    “Hello, my name is Corey I’m your student nurse for the day.” Remember how unnerved you felt the first time uttering those words to a patient? Or, how you once peered longingly at the “floor nurses” who waltzed from room to room with such confidence, administering care that seemed so complex, mentally praying someday to be as poised, calm, and assured? For some, those days might seem a gazillion years ago if you are a seasoned nurse, or like yesterday if you are still a novice, just beginning your career; a nurse (or student) with yet many firsts ahead. First experiences will forever remain embedded in the nadirs of your mind, like how your hands trembled as you filled the syringe with pain medication to administer your FIRST intramuscular injection! Or, the mental image of this same experience with your clinical instructor peering over your shoulder, watching your every move as you drew up the medication and injected your patient. Scary times, but thank goodness the shot was a success, and the competency signed off. Absolutely, this was a career milestone worthy of a high-five and a happy dance! On that first day, despite quivering lips and the knot in your stomach you managed to articulate the introductory “hello”. An acknowledgment meant to break the ice and allow you to assume “patient care”. Surprisingly at the end of the day, despite your initial butterflies and feeling a bit overwhelmed, you felt victorious. Not because providing basic care was any grandiose accomplishment, but now you connected with the profession and knew this was where you belonged. You stood steadfast, keeping your shoes planted where they needed to be – ready to meet the challenges ahead. Recalling such first experiences triggers my own thoughts of the many uphill steps I have taken along my nursing path. Likewise, the reference of steps makes me think of my nursing shoes. For me and I believe for many, our nursing shoes could convey our stories. How as we stride along in our daily routines, we gain experience and new knowledge. Over time, and between good days and bad days we climb the stepladder from rookie to expert. Then, mostly without being consciously aware, we become those seasoned nurses who walk with confidence and possess the intuitive wisdom to immediately size up clinical situations. Mentioning nursing shoes moves me to share a piece I previously journaled, while recollecting the steps of my own journey. My account, Nursing Shoes, is an evolving tribute, reflecting my growth from a neophyte to a mature, veteran nurse. Today, I would not be the nurse and person I am if I had worn only one style of nursing shoes, or if I failed to change into new, more comfortable shoes when the fit no longer felt right. As you track my footsteps, I ask you to read between the lines. You will hear emotions reflecting insecurity and self-doubt typically experienced in the early stages of one’s career. However, with maturity, self-confidence, mindfulness, and real grit one’s career can evolve into a rewarding, profitable, and memorable experience. You too, will wear several different pairs of shoes along the way. Some will start out feeling comfortable and just right, but in time begin to feel flawed and misshaped. There will be times you marvel at the shine and newness of your shoes, and other days when you look down and wonder when your shoes started looking so blemished and gray. But hopefully, there will be loads of days when you celebrate the spry bounce and agile step your shoes allow you to take. I have been a nurse for many years, climbed many steps (and “yes” fallen backwards a time or two), held various roles, and worn a number of different style shoes. Before I tell you my Nursing Shoes story, I will answer the question commonly asked of seasoned nurses like myself. That being, “What wisdoms do you have to share with nurses just starting their careers, and for those nurses feeling overwhelmed with the demands of the profession (probable all nurses at some time or another)?” Here are some approaches I recommend to keep your shoes feeling balanced and to maintain a steady step. Advice Sometimes you will have to sidestep, take a deep cleansing breath, rest for a bit, and then propel forward with a fresh new stride. Avoid walking backwards. Always venture forward, but acknowledge those times when pausing is vital for spiritual refueling. Expect there will be smooth roads and bumpy roads. Mentally parrot the mantra And, This To, Shall Pass when in stressful situations that feel unending. Find a nursing friend at your workplace. This person will be your support, your buddy, your confidante, and “have your back” in difficult situations. Network with new professional colleagues. Meet others outside your own sphere of practice by partaking in nursing conferences. Attending is a great way to realize your concerns are not unique, provide you a forum for a professional voice, and offer spiritual renewal. If attending a conference is out of your budget, do not give up. Check with your employer for potential ways (e.g., presenting a nursing issue, doing a poster presentation) to receive reimbursement. Use your accrued vacation time to take those deserved sidesteps. Do not put off mental escapes until you feel exhausted or burned-out. Even stay-at-home vacations can be mentally rejuvenating. Take your entitled shift breaks (e.g. 15 minutes, lunch/dinner) and actually leave your unit. A short time away can help you recharge. Embrace the humorous moments. Laugh together whenever you can, because some days you will cry together. Learn something new each day, no matter how complex or simple. Always understand the “why” of what you are doing. Be curious about the “whys”. Never forget to ask for help. Beware of the symptoms of the burnout “virus”. Almost everyone eventually catches the bug. The weariness feeling, so typical of burnout will creep up and consume you if not recognized. Identify symptoms early, reach out for help, and individualize treatment to meet your needs. Realize sometimes the best option is to step away, or pronounce, “I’ve had enough”. If the latter is best, feel proud of all you achieved and move on to your life’s next adventures. Sometimes you may feel the field of nursing in which you are currently employed has become too tedious, or has caused you to feel disheartened with the profession. Remember, there is a plethora of nursing venues, which might offer you a healthy, new perspective. Try something different like moving onto a new specialty, a new department, or even an entirely different place of employment. Always treat one another with respect. All nurses learn respect and dignity are basic human rights, which should be part of every nurse-patient encounter. We do a great job of upholding these integrities with patients, but I believe we fall short of doing a stellar job treating our own colleagues with respect. You might think this accusation is a stretch, but I ask you: Why are terms like “bullying” or “lateral violence” still in our nursing vocabulary? Ask yourself, “when was the last time I complimented a peer on a job well done?” Or, have you ever thought to nominate a deserving colleague for a famed nursing award (e.g., The DAISY Award, The New York Times Job Market Nursing Award, Nurse of the Year (Lippincott Solutions), ANA National Awards Program, Nursing Excellence GEM Awards)? There are many occasions to nominate colleagues. However, such windows of opportunities typically are not acted on. Unfortunately, when not actualized, both the worthy recipient as well as the nominator lose out on chances to feel good about something positive. The tip I feel is key to survival is to vent your feelings; tell your stories. Use some art form or creative expression such as drawing, journaling, picture taking, singing, or sculpturing to release those stories you hold inside. If you can, verbally share your stories. There is nothing like a gathering of nurses to hear some wonderful, heartfelt stories. I believe an evening of storytelling is a meaningful and therapeutic gift which employers can give their nursing staff, or nurses to themselves, during Nurses Week each May. Remember this quote: “They may forget your name but they will never forget how you made them feel” (Maya Angelou). This is for those times when you ask your “buddy” friend, “Remind me again, why I signed up for this.” Now that I have offered some of my general survival recommendations, read on because within my Nursing Shoes musings you will find other embedded lessons and professional wisdoms. Nursing Shoes Ah, my dear nursing shoes. They have been with me every step of the way as I have grown from novice to expert. Just as I have changed so has the style and comfort of my shoes. My original shoes were the traditional snug fitting, highly polished white leather nursing shoes that hugged one’s foot. They kept my foot secure and in place. They prevented me from slipping and falling with their soft, almost flat, non-conductive copper-colored rubber soles. Their style truly mirrored me as the nurse I was at the time. I wore this style as a student and a new RN. At the time, I did little thinking outside the box, I adhered to the rules and regulations learned in nursing school, and intentionally conformed to the practices of the other nurses I observed. I backed up my actions by the book and did nothing out of the ordinary. The feel of my shoes mirrored my inner fear of making a mistake, or of being different. All my actions were housed in the novelty of being a new graduate. After going through several of these traditional shoes, I began to wear shoes of softer white leather that gave around the contour of my feet. My new style was more contemporary. Now I preferred loosely fitting, white leather clogs with closed heels (open heels were not permitted for safety reasons). The softer grip allowed my foot freedom, but the fit was not so loose that my step would wobble and cause me to fall. My shoes were me. They were relaxed, accurately reflecting a nurse with newfound confidence. As a maturing nurse, I felt less inhibited in sharing ideas with supervisors and colleagues. I was advancing, leaving the novice behind, and moving towards the more expert-thinking nurse, but I was not quite there yet. I still had a few more changes of shoes. My next and most preferred shoes would be chic ones. They offered me the ultimate support, contoured to my feet, and allowed me to move with grace. These were the white nursing shoes designed with the latest foot technology to provide ultimate comfort and a free-spirited step. For some, and even me, this was in the form of a white canvas or white leather sneaker fabricated specifically for the active nurse in mind. In this style, as I walked in my supremely soft and comfortable shoes (my white leather sneakers) my step was secure. I felt sure-footed and confident in how balanced I felt. As I progressed, I occasionally stopped, cleaned the scuffmarks off, and smiled as I continued down my nursing path. Later, in my career the clog style-nursing shoe became popular once again. Only this new shoe was vibrantly different. Now these clog shoes were a multitude of colors, rather than predominantly white. For me these shoes signified the essence of nursing. No longer did I see nursing solely through white lens, but now I saw whirls of different colors intermingled throughout. These new brushes of colors epitomized the aesthetic, multi-dimensional, and multi-cultural aspects of care. The hodge-podge of colors in the fabric of my shoes signified the diversity, deeper philosophical understanding, and phenomenology of human nature I came to appreciate. I saw my own newfound wisdoms reflected in these colors. In the palette of my shoes I saw: Tints of indigo that splendidly exemplified my now advanced level of nursing intuition and critical thinking. Spats of yellow intermingled with the luster of blue denoted the peace I felt in knowing I possessed a deeper understanding of my profession, and of who I was as a nurse. Splashes of orange symbolized optimism, which I learned was essential to bequeath. Gleams of red denoted my passion that all nurses tell their stories. The glimmer of purple, my most favorite shading, I believed represented imagination, a vital attribute. Collectively for me, these colors signify the hues of our profession as we adjust, redefine, and invent new and creative ways to handle healthcare challenges. Most recently as I contemplated retiring my colorful shoes and storing them amongst the dust bunnies in my closet, our world, and our profession turned upside down with the tsunami, COVID-19. Now some frontline nurses shield their shoes with standard hospital-grade, blue foot covers. Coverings clad by frontline nurses to complete their ensemble of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Protective layers worn from head to toe with the hopes of safeguarding others and themselves from corona hitchhikers. Sadly, despite these protective efforts, this horrific COVID wave has taken the lives of nurses. Because of this threat to nurses, and to all of mankind, this virus can be considered one of nursing’s most monumental challenges. With the mounting COVID stress there are times now, especially after a stent of caring for COVID patients when one’s feet ache, a mere extension of a heavy heart. Whether coming or going to work, one’s shoes feel lined with lead. A heaviness that changes the normal Spring in one’s step to a slow and weary pace. Our nurses are tired, but everyday continue to put on their shoes and maintain the pandemic march. I think about how our nurses need something special to come along (vaccine) so they can put aside those heavy, uncomfortable shoes and once again strut full-stride ahead. When I look down and see blue covered shoes, I think of the ocean and its glimmering waters. An intriguing mental image that gives me hope. In this sphere of nature, I see something never stagnant, always changing, and forever creating a new tapestry of life. This is why I have hope that change is ahead, just on the horizon as we ride the waves of this unprecedented pandemic. At times the waves feel like they are mounting, quite over our heads. But countless waves have risen before, and eventually folded into the sparkling waters of the shore. This predictable rhythm of the wading ocean is what gives me hope, that COVID too will recede like the ebbing ocean tide. Though we are experiencing rough waters at this time, a vaccine will be developed and the colossal waves will break. Then once again, nurses, their families, and mankind will advance forward with sure-footed steps. Step, Step…Breathe (SSB) Corey
  4. Do you remember when you decided and were excited to become a nurse? Or if it is something you’ve always known, do you remember times when just the thought of it filled you with a sense of purpose and eagerness? Maybe you looked up to another nurse in your family and knew that’s what you wanted to do. Maybe it was personal experiences of being a critical part of someone’s life as a caregiver. Or maybe it was just some sense of who you were deep inside, even if you couldn’t explain it. Whatever it was or is now, this feeling of a higher purpose and calling is inspiration. Inspiration is great, isn’t it? It feels good. It opens up possibilities and makes us dare to imagine great things we can be a part of. Sometimes, it even galvanizes us to action. Inspiration is a great motivator An internal motivator (now that we’re not school kids who need the promise of a treat for doing our homework) that helps us focus on the future and keep sight of our goals. Motivation with a capitol M. That’s all we need to keep us going, day in and day out, willing to sacrifice and work tirelessly for that end goal. Right? Okay, reality check. Who is motivated all the time? ALL the time. Answer - no one. Motivation is great, and when a person is feeling inspired they would be wise to take that inspiration, turn it to motivation, and work their dreamy, high expectation butts off. But let’s face it, motivation is a short-lived and fickle friend. That’s because motivation is based on emotion. It’s easy to work hard when we want to work hard. When we are in the right mood. Getting started on that project or studying for that big exam when we are properly motivated is called “tackling” it. It’s not a chore, it’s a game. A game we are primed and pumped up for. That’s what motivation does. But because motivation is based on emotion, it’s going to run out. It’s normal. It’s human. So the question becomes, what do we do when motivation has petered out? After all, homework doesn’t stop. Exams are still coming. Clinicals continue to be demanding. Educational rigor does not coincide with our internal moods and whims. When motivation is running low, the answer is the dreaded D word. That’s right. Discipline. Cue the eye rolls and groans. But hang in there. Keep reading. Discipline Discipline is doing something when we don’t want to. When we’re not in the mood. It sounds hard because it is. But what if discipline had less to do with the person, and more to do with the environment? Maybe then we could get on board to make some changes that actually produce desired outcomes. Distractions Most of us are easily distracted. When we talk about being undisciplined, that’s really a lot of what we mean. We get sidetracked into nonproductive, lazy, energy-sapping activities. (This is different than self-care, which we should engage in.) Distractions are, of course, huge time wasters. So how do we minimize them? Physical space It is helpful to conduct an audit of the physical space where we work. Many of our habits (which lead to distractions) have a visual prompt or trigger. For example, a good book sitting out, a pile of laundry, or a stack of mail all beg for our attention. A beautiful sunshiny day calls for us to go outside. The proximity of food is nearly impossible to ignore, and suddenly we’re starving. There are a multitude of visual cues that sabotage our efforts to stay on task. Our job is to identify what distracts us and remove or hide those things from the physical environment as much as we can. Clutter Clutter can be part of the visual cues. This doesn’t mean we have to Marie Kondo our whole living space in order to study better (unless that's what you want to do). But maybe just moving that clutter or covering it up is enough to do the trick; punt kick that best-selling novel into a different room. It may be worth it to finish up some chores or obligations, like laundry or mail, before studying to close those loops instead of having open-ended obligations running in the back of our heads while trying to concentrate. There’s not a lot we can do about a sunny day, but maybe we can invest in some curtains and open them a crack to let just the right amount of light in. In short, remove the prompt, make it hard access, and the distraction will follow suit. Cell phones Cell phones have got to be ranked number one on the offender’s list of distractions. Is there any way that sneaky little devil can live in a different room while we study? If not, how about silencing the darn thing, or at least turning off less important notifications? Just the ringtone or notification ping disrupts concentration and a good work flow. In fact, a University of California study concluded that when interrupted, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back to the original task at hand (source). That adds up to a lot of wasted time, and our little pocket buddy cell phones have much to do with that. Cyber space Other visual prompts that are extremely distracting come from our cyber space, not our physical space. Social media, for example, is famous for luring us down rabbit holes. The daily amount of social media use has grown steadily and now rests at over two hours per day (source). School requires students to access online information, but is there a way to avoid those time-wasting distractions? Who is disciplined enough to not watch the adorable kitten swatting at a ribbon? Turns out there are great apps and extensions that block ads, recommendations, comments, and more so that we can stay on track. Some notable ones include: Remove recommendations Youtube vk facebook Momentum Ad blocker Again, controlling the online screen environment can make it so that we don’t have to have the discipline to not click on or scroll through giant time-wasters. The goal is to use social media, not get used by social media. Desirable habits On the flip side, desirable habits and focused behaviors can be stimulated by introducing visual prompts into our environment. Discipline is largely constructed from our behaviors, so anything that encourages good behaviors needs to be accessible. Make those cues for work obvious, easy, and even fun and it becomes easier to play out good habits. A few suggestions: Study materials out and ready, including pencils, paper, calculator, etc. Water bottle Glasses Fan or heater—whatever is needed to keep temperature optimal Earbuds or headphones Playlist (if it helps focus) Tissues Garbage can Mug of coffee Good lighting There’s probably a hundred more items that could be added to the list. Maybe a stress ball. A picture of your kids or pet. Motivational cat poster. The point is, customize it so that whatever items or conditions are needed to keep focused are part of the work space that encourages high concentration and discipline. It need not be dank and dismal to encourage discipline. A bright, cozy work place can provide energy. Having the optimal environment, whatever that looks like for you, will go a long way in the discipline it takes to engage in work when motivation isn’t reliable. Our brains So, yes, environment can definitely aid discipline. But let’s touch on another part of discipline. Perhaps the hardest distraction to acknowledge and control is our own powerful brains. Wandering thoughts are wonderful, creative escapes—in the right setting. This topic could consume entire books, and probably does. The end point, however, is that we can train our brains to stay focused. It is a skill that can be practiced and honed. Our brains are awesome, and when they need a break, we should pay attention to that. But tapping into the flow of a focused state is well worth the effort. We get more done in less time. Sometimes it is just the thought of getting started on something, especially something daunting, that is enough to tempt us into blowing it off and giving into our lazy natures. The inner struggle we engage in to just begin is draining. It steals our energy and desire. The best thing to do? Make the battle short and sweet. We don’t have to be in the mood to do it. Usually just starting is enough to overcome the initial resistance. Co-founder and former CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, abided by a simple trick when he didn’t want to start something. “If you don’t want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do at least five minutes of it.” When our brains are being bogged down by random thoughts, we can’t get into that good, productive focus. Because our brains are as unique as our lives, the intervention for dealing with random, disruptive thoughts requires us to know ourselves and why our thoughts are sabotaging us. Is it sleep deprivation? Unhealthy eating? Do we cope well with stress, or could we use some help in that area? Maybe it’s as simple as training our brains to refocus and maybe it’s more along the lines of needing therapy and a highly structured routine. It’s as individualized as, well, individuals. But here a few tips that might help: Have a plan for studying—what, when, how long, etc. Do some physical activity before getting started. Brain dump before getting started. Write down things bothering you and when you will take care of them (if, indeed, you can). If a thought keeps popping up, write it down and when you will take care of it. Listen to your body and take breaks when needed. Try to make your breaks truly restful. Meditate, take a walk, take a nap, etc. Resist temptations to engage in mindless online content that drains energy. Set up morning and evening routines that include prepping your work environment. And here are some behavior and time management theories that might resonate with some: Pomodoro Technique for time management BJ Fogg Model grounded in behavioral psychology (note: it is meant for managers and change behavior, but can be applied to individuals) Ultradian Rhythm for energy and productivity Our own motivation Motivation is wonderful, and when we’re in it, we should squeeze every last drop of high energy focus and work we can. But motivation isn’t reliable. Discipline then becomes the answer. And really, it gets a bad rap. We sell ourselves short when we say or think we are not disciplined. We’re human, and so sure, we get distracted and waste time. We give in to laziness. And that’s fine! As long as it’s not all the time. Making some changes to our environment and mind set can make a big difference in our ability to stay on task. That looks an awful lot like discipline. When we get good at it, we can do anything. Discipline might not feel good in the moment, but at the end of the day it sure does. And who knows, maybe we can become our own motivation. Our own inspiring selves. Resources What Is the KonMari Method? The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress How Much Time Does The Average Person Spend On Social Media? The 5 minute trick that helps Instagram’s CEO crush procrastination Take it From Someone Who Hates Productivity Hacks—the Pomodoro Technique Actually Works BJ Fogg Model Explained Tapping Into Your Ultradian Rhythms For Max Productivity
  5. Lindsynicoler

    A Letter to Student Me

    Dear Me, Yes! You will survive this semester. And the next one, and the next one ... It’s okay, you don’t have to have straight As. Don’t let a B discourage you. That B and that C will still get you through school. It will get you that degree. Yes, do your best. But you will learn that straight A students don’t automatically make good nurses. And, some of the best nurses out there barely passed school. You will get so discouraged You will feel like there is no end in sight. You will cry literal tears when you look at your clinical schedule. How many exams you have this semester. How many textbooks you have to read through. It will be overwhelming. You will think that you can’t possibly do it all. But you can! And you will! And the end will come. I promise! Remind yourself of your why, every day Remember the reason you decided to go to nursing school? Write it down inside your planner. Look at it every day. And let that be your motivation to keep on going. Maybe it seemed like a simple reason. That’s okay! Write it down. Memorize it. Whisper it to yourself. It will keep you going. You don’t have to be the Pinterest nursing student with the trendy backpack, cute coffee mug and a cardiac Littman around your neck. Money is going to be tight. School is expensive. Textbooks are outrageous. You’re going to be looking at your bank account with $3.41 and hope you have enough gas in your car to get you to clinicals and back until pay day. Walmart deals on Black Friday will be just fine. A $25 stethoscope will get you through school. You can get that Littman with your first paycheck. Don’t put the pressure on your self to be an Instagram model. Going for “the look” will just cause anxiety that you definitely don’t need right now! Here’s some things to add to your backpack Tissues Your classmates are gonna see you cry and you’re gonna see them cry. And no one will judge you cause they all want to cry with you. A planner You have to write things down and plan things out. There’s just not enough room in your brain for all that will be required of you. Ibuprofen For or the headaches. Mints Chewing gum isn’t allowed at clinicals and onion breath will ruin your confidence. Learn how to study every spare second of every spare day You will figure out that index cards are perfect for taking notes on and keeping handy. You will pull them out in the waiting room, at a stop light, while you are folding laundry, during your lunch break. They are perfect for crashing through just before the test. Youtube videos on IV tricks, skills performance and understanding cardiac strips will come in handy. Experiment with different ways to study and retain. You’ve never done nursing school before. You don’t know how you study best. Try different ways, be open-minded, and see what works for you! Lean into your support group You don’t know how badly you will need them! Family, friends, new buddies at class. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to say that you are struggling. It’s okay to work in a group setting. It’s okay to call a friend that you can just unload on. When someone offers to help you, accept it. Now is not the time to be stubborn. Plug into the nursing student association that is at your school. (You will regret not doing this sooner.) You don’t have to do this alone. You can’t do this alone! You are not a bad mom ... Or wife. Or daughter. Or friend. Guilt will hit you. You will feel like you aren’t being 100 percent for your new baby. You will feel like your husband is getting the short end of the stick. You will realize that you haven’t talked to your sister in over a month. Remember that this is only for a season. Go for quality over quantity. You won’t be able to take a weekend trip with your husband (unless you pack along the textbooks which won’t be appreciated). But going out to dinner will be a great time to connect, and no dishes later! You can send a quick text saying you are thinking of someone, even if you can’t make a family dinner. You won’t be able to spend hours at the park with the baby. That’s okay. You can rock her to sleep each night and tell her how loved she is and that one day you will help her chase her dreams, just like mommy is doing. Yep. It’s sadly true. Nurses eat their young Not all of them, but some do. Don’t let that preceptor who huffs and puffs dampen your confidence. Don’t let that one nurse who rolls her eyes and takes the assignment from you because you’re “too slow” make you feel inadequate. Their seeming attack on you stems from personal issues, and is in no way a reflection on your ability to be a good nurse. You’ve got this! Who cares if that jaded inpatient nurse looks at you like you’re stupid? Or that ER nurse tells you to just stay out of her way? You will actually be a kinder nurse because you know what it’s like to be brushed aside. Don’t quit! When you walk across that stage and the nursing program dean who told you twice you aren’t going to make it places that RN pin on your shirt, you will be so proud of yourself. And you should be! You will be so thankful that you finished what you started. You will smile and you will cry. You will know what it’s like to dance in the clouds. It will be surreal. It will all be worth it. You’re going to make it. I promise! After all, you are writing this letter to you. You will be a nurse. An ER nurse like you wanted. You will have your number one choice in jobs, out of three offers. You will print RN after your name with pride. You will go on to add certifications to your name. You will save lives. You will help others get where you have gone. You will have that Littman stethoscope. Keep going! I’m proud of you!
  6. After five years at the bedside working in a Trauma ICU, I look back fondly on my time in nursing school. I recall walking into the Trauma Unit as a practicum student, listening to report on a young gunshot wound patient, and feeling terrified. Modeling myself after the strong nurses I came to know during those early days has shaped my entire career. Despite my positive experience, I could go back and give my student self a few pieces of advice. Here are four things I would want to know if I were a student today: TIP #1: Don’t Get Bent Out of Shape About That “B” Nurses working in an ICU often have a reputation for perfectionism. Many memes on social media cast the ICU nurse as “OCD”. This stereotype holds true for my experience as an ICU nurse but it was true of me in school as well. I remember agonizing over my grades. My classmates and I were competitive with each other over who made higher scores. Now I recognize there was no reason to lose a minute of sleep. Nursing school is not supposed to be easy and making a “B” shows you have a grasp on the concepts with a little room to grow. This is a great place to be as a student. No one should enter the nursing workforce feeling like school was easy and the job will be easy too. Furthermore, a “B” average will not stop you from advancing in your career. Graduate nursing programs will still welcome you. This is especially true if you have relevant experience on your resume. So rest easy students, you’re doing great. TIP #2: Prioritize Assessment Skills Assessing your patient is the most important aspect of your job. Your formal, head-to-toe assessment takes place at the beginning of your shift but you will assess for changes every time you walk into the patient’s room. Vital signs, neurological status, patient-reported feelings and demeanor, medication effects, IV patency, equipment function, and any other relevant information are all a part of assessing each patient. Experienced nurses make it look easy but it takes practice to recognize subtle changes. When you are a student, really focus on assessing your patient during your clinical time. Through practice and observing others, you will find a rhythm. There is no part of an assessment that is insignificant. When a patient experiences a decline, the medical team will look to the nurse for all the information regarding the change in condition. It is critical for you to be able to confidently speak to your patient’s clinical picture. TIP #3: It’s OK If You Don’t Know What You Want To Be When You Grow Up To say the field of nursing is broad would be an understatement. Nursing school teaches the basics of mostly hospital-based nursing care with small introductions into other areas. Your initial degree is only the beginning. As a nurse, you can work in multiple environments including adult med/surg, various ICU settings, pediatrics, hospice, dialysis, corrections, home health, special procedures, and many many more. The doors are open to becoming a Nurse Practitioner or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Maybe you’re interested in nursing administration, education, or informatics. You will learn so much wherever you go but take comfort knowing you can change the direction of your career at any point. As you approach graduation, you will submit applications and begin interviewing. Take a job that feels like a good fit and know that your career may take many turns through the years. TIP #4: Hold on to Nursing School Friendships Nursing school is a bubble. Everyone is wrapped up in the next assignment, NCLEX prep, and inside jokes with the people you now spend the most time with. It feels like this closeness will never break. Late night confessionals, motivation when feeling down, and lots of laughing characterize those nursing school bonds. Maybe your class has a social media group and maybe you and your closest allies have a text chain. This daily chatter will always be a part of your life that you look back on with a smile. As soon as you graduate, some of those bonds will break. There are classmates you will never see again. It’s a weird feeling. Work hard to bridge those gaps and hold onto your closest nursing school friends. Keep those calls and texts going because there will still be times when you need that late night motivation and those belly laughs over good memories. You will look back and recognize it truly was a treasure. Nursing is a wonderful career filled with many opportunities. As a nursing student, feeling anxious and excited about the career in front of you is part of growing into your role. It is a part of your life you will never forget. Make the most of your time in school and be confident that you have chosen a challenging yet valuable path.
  7. Ashley Hay, BSN, RN

    "What made you get into this field?"

    I grew up realizing life is not necessarily promised to all. My Dad was lucky to be alive - beating the odds for osteosarcoma in the early 80's was rare. Sure, I saw his struggle everyday. He was a right above the knee amputee. Not something I took lightly, but I'd also never known him any different. Even seeing pictures of him before his surgery still strikes me a bit strange. That didn't look like my Dad. My parents still keep in touch with his favorite nurse - over 30 years later. That stuck with me. What an impression she must have made. What could a bond like that feel like on the other end? What was it like, providing support to young newlyweds during such a difficult (and potentially bleak) time? I wanted to be that person. I wanted to know what that level of rapport felt like. I wanted to be there for people in their time of need and help them through their crisis - just like that nurse had done for my parents so many years ago. I wanted to connect with people. I worked many odd jobs over the years starting in my early teens. I was a cashier, waitress, worked in a laundromat, tanning salon, law office. But the two jobs I loved the most were babysitting and working in a day care center. I liked earning the parents trust and really enjoyed spending time with the kids. Going through high school I had big ambitions and knew I wanted to end up somehow in the realm of pediatrics. But there was more to that story. I had always been a sick kid. Struggling with frequent infections and illnesses. I frequently think back to a nurse I had during my first overnight stay on a pediatric ward at a New Jersey hospital. I remember her so clearly. Her name was Beatrix. With such a beautiful and unusual name, how could I forget it? Her care and kindness has stayed with me - nearly 20 years later. It was the small things she did that made an impression. She was on the day shift - when she came to do my morning assessment I told her I hadn't slept. She asked if the nurses station was too loud (my room was directly across the hall). I told her the noise was okay, I was...afraid of the dark. I thought she might laugh at me. She didn't bat an eye. Before her shift ended, she came by again - leaving my bathroom light on with the door slightly ajar. "Leave this on, it will help you sleep." This seems like such a small gesture, but it made quite the impression on my ten year old self. She remembered! My exposure to pediatric nurses continued throughout my young adult life. Because of a newly diagnosed illness in high school I had need for regular infusions (and nowhere else to receive them other than the Peds Onc unit). I was lucky enough to observe these nurses first hand. The patients, nurses and families all seemed to have quite the symbiotic relationship. I had found my calling. I was going to try my hardest to do it, despite a few setbacks. In high school I thought maybe I wanted to go pre-med and become a doctor. My guidance counselor quickly dismissed the idea and told me I would be wasting my time and should choose another path. I took a week to think about my options. I came back and said, "I'd actually really like to be a nurse". She told me there was "no way... just apply undecided". My grades were fine but I had missed a ton of my junior and senior year. High school can be hard enough to navigate but especially so when you're dealing with a chronic illness. In the end, that counselor shaped my future path. It was the best (and obviously, the worst) advice I ever got. Lucky for me, I'm stubborn. I'm the type of person that loves to prove you wrong. Off to nursing school I went. Well, that is after going to a large state school & dropping out after a semester. Longer path (and extra student loans) but my nursing journey had begun! I met countless patients through nursing school and many more once I started working as an RN. So many of them stick out in my mind on a regular basis. My first patient, my first death, all the big hugs from tiny patients and the thank you's from parents or spouses. Laughter, joy, sadness, comfort and so many more emotions come to mind thinking about all I've experienced with my patients over the years. Nursing is an incredible profession. It has taught me many life lessons I can't imagine learning elsewhere. We all have our own stories, setbacks and struggles. It's important to remember how far we have each come, both personally and professionally. Everyone has taken a journey to get here. We are now the nurses - not just those aspiring to be. Today or someday soon, you may be the one nursing students look up to, the one less experienced nurses ask for help, the one influencing a child's memory of healthcare. No matter how many years you have under your belt, our actions as nurses today can inspire our young patients to be our replacements tomorrow. Let's be sure to leave a lasting impression.
  8. You can easily find an article, book or tipsheet on how to succeed in nursing school. Most nursing programs offer an "orientation" to the program and dedicate time on the agenda to discuss student success. I would like to use my experience as a nursing instructor and take a different approach by exploring how students sabotage their own success. I have never met a nursing student that came to class thinking "what is the best way I can derail this train?". However, there are common pitfalls you can encounter on your nursing journey. Brush off the warnings Prior to entering the nursing program, you probably knew nurses or students who told you "nursing school is not like your other college courses". The first week of nursing school, the nurse faculty introduce students to the academic intensity of the program. Throughout the first few modules, students are encouraged to study everyday, participate in lab and stay current on assignments. Unfortunately, there will be students who decide to prepare for exams the same way as previously and carry on poor study habits. Don't leave room on your plate I have been a nurse for 23 years and I still admire nursing students. With increasing numbers of nontraditional students, juggling "life" with coursework is a challenge. It is not uncommon for students to work, raise children, care for family and fill many other roles along with the rigorous demands of nursing school. In order to be successful, there must be room on your plate of responsibilities for class, study time, clinicals and assignments. It is easy to become over-extended and overwhelmed trying to keep everything on your plate. There will come a time when something needs to be moved off your plate for nursing school. Play the blame game I made it a priority to meet with each student with a non-passing grade at midterm. This was a great opportunity for students to reflect on what has worked well for them and what areas need to be improved moving forward. There were students who took accountability and formulated a plan for improvement. There were also students who were stuck in the "blame game". The blame game is background noise that prevents students from taking personal responsibility for their learning. The blame game often resembles the following: "The instructor is trying to weed many of us out." "If I had just been given a study guide for the test." "I studied for so long but couldn't remember anything because the room was too cold." "I spent all my time preparing for clinical and had no time left to study." "How am I supposed to know all the material in 4 chapters of the textbook." Decide you don't need to go to class When you miss class in nursing school, you are missing hours of information. You cheat yourself from the opportunity to be exposed to the information and ask questions. It is very difficult in nursing school to depend on the "notes" taken by another student. Skipping classes is the fastest and most effective way to derail your success train. Get caught up in the drama It is impossible for a group to spend so much time together and not have pockets of drama. Drama in nursing school can play out in many ways. When I taught, examples of student drama included: Student romances Cliques Interpersonal problems between students Students providing unsolicited critiques of other students Rumors of students cheating Others Here is my advice on student drama...... it is very loud "noise" that will distract you if you let it. Focus on your success and leave all the drama noise in the distant background. Wait on bonus points You will not "pull out" a passing grade with bonus points. It is very rare bonus points are available in nursing programs and if they are... most likely not enough to significantly impact your overall grade. Beat yourself up with negative self-talk Be aware of your self dialogue and have a strategy to refocus. Examples of negative self-talk include: "I am never going to pass this class". "The instructor thinks I am an idiot". "I am not as smart as everyone else". A good strategy to counter negative thinking: don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. When a negative thought enters you mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with positive self-affirmations. Remember to focus on your personal success and keep background noise just that.....in the far background. What are pitfalls to success you have encountered in nursing school? For student tips for success, check this out.
  9. xxstarrynitesxx

    To The Man In The Green Jacket

    I am not sure if I ever had the chance to meet you or know your name, but around 6:30 this morning you made an impression on me that I will never forget. This morning started off like any other day for me, but today was my first day back to school for the Spring semester. I had a rather nice conversation with a friend on my commute and got breakfast this morning before making my way over to campus. I ate in my car, saw my fellow students arriving on campus, and then I saw the police. The first officer drove past my car and as I looked over to my right another officer was just pulling up. I was slightly puzzled about what was going on until I saw one of the officers walking with a young man down the stairs, escorting him to his car parked close to me. At first, I assumed that young man I had seen minutes before leaving his vehicle had been caught doing something inappropriate until I saw him grab his wallet out of his glove box and realized he was not handcuffed. They both walked back up the stairs before both officers came back down and left to block off other entrances. One officer making her way down was visibly agitated and I could not figure out why. In my rearview mirror, I saw the lights and heard the sirens. Looking in front of me I saw more officers coming from the other side. Was there an active threat on campus? Was I in danger just a floor below the top level? I saw the ambulance and fire truck roll up and knew something had happened. I thought perhaps you had been struck by a driver not paying attention and were fighting for your life. I hoped it was relatively minor. A new officer arrived and I saw the infamous yellow tape in hand. He started talking to the nursing students parked along the wall that had gotten out of their cars. Being just across the way, I could see him mouth something about moving their cars. Many started walking towards the back elevators. I assumed my car would be safe and started getting my things out. The officer made his way over to me and by the look on his face I could tell it was something serious. He asked me if I was planning on being on campus for awhile as he was going to be taping this floor off. I let him know I would be on campus until at least 4 this afternoon and he let me walk towards the far end. His eyes seemed to beg me not to ask what had happened and upon not saying anything further he slowly walked off. As I walked towards the elevators in the back, I happened to catch up with two nursing students in their white scrubs. I was hoping to take the stairs up and out but thought better to ask if either of them knew if we were allowed to do so. One woman said, "We are going to have to take the elevator down and walk around. A man committed suicide." Two more nursing students joined us as the elevator door opened and the five of us squeezed in together. A couple of them were pretty shaken up and kept reminding themselves that they would have to get used to not being able to save every patient. I almost wanted to say that something like that was not something you would ever get used to. That was the longest elevator ride of my life. I tried to make my way to the far staircase without looking, but as I made a turn to begin my ascent there I saw you in your green jacket. I thought two of the nursing students had said you were in the stairwell, but you were not. A concrete column had somehow kept you from my field of vision the entire time while I was in my car. I do not know your name, but my heart hurt for you and your loved ones. Were things really so bad that taking your life was the only option? Did you reach out to someone for help? Is there something I could have done if I had gotten out of my car sooner? Just why? I do not know when you took your life, but you were found today about 6:30 this morning. The emergency personnel closed down the entire parking structure and worked hard to keep you from view. Your passing served as a reminder of the initial event that got me back in school pursuing a career in medicine. I walked into my prerequisites knowing that I wanted to do something to make a difference and promised myself that I would never get less than an A; I promised myself I would learn as much as I could to have the knowledge to save as many lives as I was able to. Thus far, I have kept that promise and recently submitted my application to my school's nursing program. I am not sure if I ever got to meet you, I am not sure if I knew your name, I am not sure what you were going through, I am not sure if you reached out to get help, and I am not sure if you were even a student at my school, but today you changed my life forever. No matter how busy I get, I promise you that I will stop and find time to ask people how they are doing more often. I might not be able to save everyone, but I can at least be someone know who cares enough to ask.
  10. I had dreamed of becoming a nurse since I was a young girl and, having finally found the opportunity, I just could not let this slip from my grasp. Thinking back to my youth, I had taken a personal vow in my heart, that someday I would go to nursing school. In many ways, this was a concerted effort to avoid a struggle similar to my Mothers: following my parent's divorce she was worked hard as both a waitress and mother raising a family. I remember clearly the day I was pushed to exchange my burning desire to be a nurse for Motherhood. I was just a child myself, nineteen years old, living alone in Michigan. As fate would have it, I was working hard as a waitress and within days of calling for information about a nursing school, I discovered I was to become a Mother myself. As my life took a sudden change, of course, I planned to put nursing school on hold, but return to my dream at a later date. Staying true to my own promise, two years later, I decided that it was time to go to nursing school. I was working as a unit clerk at UT Hospital and loved it! However, staying at the desk was a real challenge for me, I longed to be in the rooms taking care of the patients. After some persuasion from the nurses I worked with, I realized I would not be content until I became a Nurse myself. UT offered an excellent nursing program and I pledged that as soon as I could enroll, I would begin my training. I was so excited; my life's dream was finally beginning to materialize! Surprise, surprise, "Judy your test came back positive, you will need to follow up with your Obstetrician, I think you must be about five or six weeks," said the friendly nurse at the Health Department. I was thrilled... I loved being the mother to my precious two-year-old son and now I was to be blessed with another bundle of joy. As I accepted my second pregnancy, I began to hope I would have a girl this time, I decided again that nursing school could be put on hold. Sure enough, two years after the birth of my second child, I inquired at St. Mary's hospital about their nursing program. I knew it would be more difficult to go to school now: having a five-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter would limit the amount of time I could study. Yet, I was determined to embrace that uncertainty. As a new Christian, the refreshing ideas and concepts the Bible was teaching, energized me. Psalms 37:4 became a favorite, "Delight thyself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." I often found myself reminding God that my heart's desire was to go to nursing school. ...not as soon as I had anticipated though! St. Mary's Hospital Nursing Program would also be deferred for a while. Yes, you've guessed it, yet another positive pregnancy test! I was elated, I loved being a mommy and having three children would be perfect... I could always go to nursing school later. A few major changes took place in my life; one was the move to Florida. Leaving my family back in Tennessee was a tremendous heartache. Yet I found peace in believing I was following God's Will. My favorite verse, Psalms 37:4, became my solid anchor for many things and as my life revolved around me, I continued to pray that someday I could go to nursing school. As a matter of fact, several times a day, I found myself dreaming about wonderful plans of how God could put me in nursing school. I had to be careful; often I thought I needed to plan things out for God and then clue him in on what he was supposed to do. Raising a family was much more of an undertaking than I thought. Instilling Biblical values into my children's lives was a full-time job, with no days off. I wanted my children to attend a Christian School, so teaching kindergarten was my solution. The pay was not desirable, yet it allowed free tuition so that was my plan, at least until I could get into nursing school. I just knew I would be accepted in Polk Community RN program after I had taken a few pre-requisite classes. I was determined and I knew I could do it. One more reminder to God that it was he that said; 'if I delight myself in him, he would give me my hearts desires'. So I designed a plan that would allow me to start the fall quarter of nursing school. After what I thought was the flu turned into morning sickness and the red line stood out brighter than a traffic light, I once again put Nursing school on hold. I completed my family and had my fourth child, two girls, and two boys. Who could ask for more? I decided God must want me to be a teacher because he had given me four children, a good start on my own class. So for the next fourteen years, if I were not teaching my own children, God used me to teach kindergarten in a Christian School. My cup was full and overflowing with his goodness. "Ring, ring", there goes that phone again... I knew it would be for Janna, it always was. My baby, now fourteen was a popular young lady. As I raced to answer the phone I glanced at the clock. It's only 9 am; her friends would be in school or still sleeping just like she was. Janna indulged in sleeping late as she was doing homeschool. I reached for the phone, out of breath, and said, "Hello." "Judy please," said the voice at the other end. "Yes, this is she," I said, praying it was not a bill collector. They were calling regularly now that my husband had left and the bills were not getting paid on time. "Judy this is Travis Technical School calling about your application for Nursing School. Judy, we will need your balance paid by 3 p.m. today or we will have to give your place to another student. Can you get your payment in today?" My heart sank, I knew the day was drawing near, but I had not realized it was here. I shuttered, my body went limp and somehow I mustered a few words, "OK I will be in by 3 p.m. today, please don't give my place away." I hung up the phone and felt my world spinning around me. My dream of becoming a nurse was so close, yet, now it was so far away. They might as well be asking me for one hundred thousand dollars to finish my application. Because getting fifteen hundred dollars would not be any easier. Simply I did what had become natural to me, I cried and cried and cried. After I cried my eyes dry, I did the next natural thing, I prayed. "Janna, please come in here and pray with me," I said as I shook to wake her. "Why what's wrong," she grumbled. My weak voice and red eyes must have frightened her because she sat right up. Her face was full fright. "I need you to pray with me about my school bill. They called today and said I have to have it paid today or they will give my spot to another student." I really needed someone to talk to and all I had at that time was my fourteen-year-old daughter. I hated to weigh her down with more problems, she had been through enough already, but I really needed someone to be with me. My two oldest children were away at college and my third child was in High School. Janna sleepily got out of bed and agreeably knelt beside the bed with me. We prayed that God would show me what to do. I went down on my knees with a heavy heart, thinking there is no way I will just have to let this slip past me. My dream of going to nursing school was slipping away before me. I did not have any money and had no way of getting any money. There is no one I can go to now. I felt it would do no good to pray now, but thought maybe God would at least lighten the heaviness in my heart if I did pray. I poured my heart out once again to my Lord and asked Him to help me and direct my paths as he had promised in Proverbs 3:5 & 6. I knew where it came from; I knew the supernatural strength I felt came from God. I knew that he had heard my prayer and was about to do something. But I had no idea how or what. Once Janna and I had prayed I had felt the faith of Noah when God told him it was going to rain. I knew God was going to work on my behalf. What happened next I do not recommend unless you are fully lead by God. In my heart, I knew I was to go to the school and finish the process of my registration. I did not know how I was going to pay for it, but I was going under what I felt to be God's guidance. I took a check with me just in case God wanted me to write a bad check and He would bring the money in later. But I knew I could not lose my place in class. It would be another year before they offered another class. Tuition was fifteen hundred dollars and I did not have fifteen cents in my purse or in my bank account. It was 2:50 pm when I walked into Travis Technical School and proclaimed I was there to finish my paperwork for nursing school. I had stalled all day thinking God was going to send the money from Heaven. The money had not come yet, but I still felt like I was to go anyway. I had no idea what God had planned. I finished the paperwork and pulled out my checkbook to write that "bad check". I said one more pray, "Please God bring the money in to cover this check I am about to write. I know there is no money to cover it and I will go to jail if you do not work on my behalf." I slowly laid the checkbook on the counter and pretended not to be able to find the pen I had been using. This gave me more time to stall and pray, "God please help me!" The secretary had taken my paperwork and had started looking over it while she waited for the check. Then she said something I will never forget in my life. "Judith, are you a single mother?" For a second I started to say no, I had been married twenty-two years. I never thought of myself being single now. But then it hit me; yes I was a single mother. With a look of shock and surprise I looked her right in the eyes and said, "Yea, I guess I am now, but this is the first time I have ever thought about being a single mom, why?" The secretary had no idea what I was going through or that I was about to pay my school bill with a "bad check." Or did she? By the look on her face, I knew she was up to something. Did she know something? "Well Judith," she said, as she read my name again from my application, "We have an entirely different program set aside for single Mothers. We have a program that pays the tuition for single mothers, not only will it pay your tuition but it will pay for your books and uniforms. "Well hallelujah," I burst out! "How can I get that? My God is real and He does care!" I laughed. I cried tears of joy and happiness as I quickly filled out the paperwork for the single mother program. The entire office staff rejoiced with me as I gave them partial information on what was going on in my life. By the time I left the school that day, I was well on my way to having my tuition paid, including books, and uniforms. They were even going to give me two dollars a day for gas. I was on cloud nine and anyone who came in contact with me knew so. I was so excited as I was leaving their offices I saw a little girl sitting in a chair, apparently waiting for her Mother. I went up to her and told her, "Honey I want to tell you God is so good! Don't ever give up on your dreams and trust God for everything! The Bible tells us to delight ourselves in the Lord and he will give us our hearts desires." I am sure the little girl thought I was nuts, but I heard her Mother come up behind me saying, "Praise the Lord, yes, Praise the Lord!" Well, you might know the end of this story! There was another positive pregnancy test. Yet another, but not me this time. I learned days later I was going to be a grandmother. How good God is! He is faithful to his word and Psalms 37:4 says he gives us our hearts desire if we delight in him. One year later I stood proudly on stage and accepted my Nursing certificate. I was not sure what I was most proud of, getting my nursing certificate or seeing my lovely daughter receiving hers. God not only blessed me by allowing me to go to nursing school but he also allowed my twenty-one-year-old daughter to attend with me. Does it get any better? Well yes, matter of a fact it does. It has been five years since Lori and I completed nursing school. I think it is rather fascinating that now I not only enjoy a career in nursing, but I am proud to share this same story with all the nurse assistant students that I have the privilege to train. So actually I am back in the classroom again. Just three months ago a friend and I decided we would go back for our RN degree. I ordered the material from a correspondence course and asked for brochures from two local colleges. I am delighted to be back in school again, but more so, I am delighted that Lori is now expecting my second grandchild. Yes, I know this seems a bit coincidental but it is a true story. I love to share my story to encourage others to NOT GIVE UP on their dreams. With such a shortage of nursing staff nowadays I would particularly like to encourage anyone who has the dream of becoming a nurse to pursue their dreams. "Delight thyself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4 Update: I did not complete my RN program as stated above. My mother became terminally ill and I choose to care for her and wait another day to complete my RN training. I already knew God was going to help me so what was another year or two. However, what is it about me going to nursing school and babies being born in my family. Just two years ago I signed an agreement with a local school to finish my RN program, only months later I found I was having my third grandbaby. With only a few classes left to take I will only trust and wait on GOD to allow me to finish this program this time. The program I choose that fit my needs to be at home and work was Distance Learning Systems. I go to class one night a week and then test at a local center. I have three tests left to take, and I am excited! This program worked perfectly for me as I could continue to work and carry on all my motherly and grandmotherly duties.