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  1. Anatomy and Physiology 1 was one of the most grueling classes I've taken in college. I've never seen anything like it. Anatomy and Physiology was the first class that ever stressed me out and drove me to tears. While it took me a few attempts, I've learned what works through trial and error. Here are my tips from my experiences of Anatomy and Physiology 1 from my experiences. Pick the Right Professor This is so crucial when it comes to AP! Picking the right professor ensures that you get the help you need and understand the material you're studying. Sites like Rate My Professor help a ton in the process. From experience, try to get an engaging teacher. Start Learning the Material as Early as Possible I always feel that learning the material before lecture and lab is a great way to stay successful. I've found that resources such as WyzSci and AnatomyGMC are great ways to prepare for AP1. Organize Materials before Class Anatomy class is a handful. From a handful of a binder with hundreds of slides (Yes, I printed out 112 slides once for a binder) and a book is very unorganized grueling on the back. Try to pack as lightly as you can for class, from later experiences, two-hybrid notebook binders, lab, and the other for the lecture part of anatomy with three slides per page! I brought tabs to label the pages I needed for the lecture and the pages I needed for the lab. Highlighters are also handy as well. I did have binders but they stayed at home, because I stored previous slides and materials in them after I was done. Also, as soon as the new material is release retire the old material elsewhere so you don' get mixed up DO NOT CHASE AN A While an A is desirable, chasing after it is a very bad mistake. You'll be so stuck on getting an 'A' that you'll miss building the foundation for anatomy. I have done this before during my first attempt, and it wasn't very pleasant! I thought back before a retake that I never focused on the grade during other prereqs, just the material. When I implemented this into AP1, I was very successful. Consider an Anatomy Atlas This is helpful for days when you cannot make it to open lab or, if you're like me, happen to like studying outside of the open lab. Most atlases that I've come across had a CD that had quizzes very similar to the lab practical examinations that I've taken. You can get these at your college's library or through amazon. A good atlas that I've used for AP1 was Atlas of Human Anatomy (Netter Basic Science) 7th Edition Create a Study Plan and Haven When it comes to AP1, try to create a study plan. My study plans consisted of two 45 minute sessions (I studied 45 minutes for lecture and 45 minutes for lab). I usually studied in a coffee shop or the study spaces of my college. I was in anatomy class 3 days out of the week, two days for lecture and one day for the lab. During these days, at least 1 hour before class, I always reviewed material. Be Familiar with the Fundamentals The fundamentals for Anatomy are the introduction, Chemistry, cytology, and histology. These are chapters 1-4. You will be seeing them again through the remainder of AP1! From experience, try to learn as of the foundations as you can! As a heads up, histology is a good chunk of midterm (integumentary system) and the lab midterm. Believe in Yourself and Don't Give Up I will be honest during my previous attempts. I didn't do this. I constantly compared myself to the "achievers" of my class, which made me feel like crap. I felt defeated by the 'C(s)' I received, and the negativity surrounded the classroom got me down. I felt like I had to be competitive, and it ran me into the ground. I had a big freakout in my first attempt at Anatomy before the midterm. Also, what I've learned is that if you want something, you'll never get up on it, and you have to look at the bigger picture. Stay Away from Classroom Drama and the Hallways From experience, there was drama, and I let it get to me. I dealt with cliques, mean girls, gossip, and others' anxiety and self-doubt from the hallway. It's best to stay away from the drama and the hallway. Just sit out in the study area or a quiet place before the start of class. As for mean girls, what I didn't do but wish that I did was ignore them completely and just focused on my work. Consider Forming a Study Group Although I prefer to study by myself, groups can come in handy IF they have the right people in them. I have personally found that there are pros and cons to this. If forming a study group started by another person, I always felt that small groups were better than larger groups. Again the right people need to be in them! Be aware of users (these are people whom don't "study" but latch on to a smart person or someone doing well in the class), slackers (the people whom literally show up and contribute nothing) and talkers (they literally just talk throughout the whole study session) Don't be Afraid to Retake I had to retake Anatomy before, and personally, it feels as though it's bad but believe me, it's not! You learn from your mistakes and get more successful Do NOT Take a Morning Class if You Are Not a Morning Person I had to learn the hard way during my first attempt as a night owl who went to bed at 3, sometimes 4 am I signed up for an 8:30 am lecture, and a 7:30 am lab, and I paid for it dearly! I barely retained information, was tired, and only got 30 minutes of studying in! I switched to an afternoon/evening class and fared much better in anatomy! If Your College Offers an Anatomy Orientation ... GO! When going into anatomy some colleges actually offer an Anatomy orientation. It is best to go to this because you get to learn tips for the professor, what to expect out of anatomy and experiences from teachers and students. My school offered this and it helped me tremendously in being successful in anatomy If Extra Credit is Offered ... Take It! Extra credit will help tremendously if you are in anatomy! Whether your professor has you doing bonus questions , making a presentation or in rare cases turning in anatomy notes ... do it , it will help you in the long run!
  2. As a pre-health admissions student, you want to get the best out of your prerequisites. It's the best time to get a bit of work done and shorten up the Fall's course load in the Summer. But as a beginner to prereqs, you don't want to stress yourself out. As a pre-nursing student who has taken all of their prerequisites, here's a list of what I think are the top 5 classes to take during the Summer semester. Low Stress Summer Classes Sociology – This is a very low-stress class! I enjoyed sociology very much during starting as a pre-nursing student. Sociology was a mixture of learning about social groups, social change, and stratification. The final and the midterms are usually very low stress. Psychology – This was a very interesting class to take and is also the pre-cursor to Human Development, which is usually offered during the Fall. As a student who has taken psychology in the Summer, although easy, it required a bit more elbow grease when learning certain material, but it's very doable! Humanities Courses – This ranges from Music Appreciation to Arts Appreciation. These are a series of fun and engaging classes! I've taken a series of humanities classes and fell in love with them. If you start as a pre-nursing student , these are great ways to keep yourself busy and you'll find yourself immersed in the material. English – As a pre-nursing student and an avid reader, I found English class to be a very great course to take during the Summer! As a heads up, English courses during the Summer aren't difficult, but out of all of the prereqs, I'd say that this course required more, because from experience you'd be reading anywhere from three to five stories and then writing a research paper due by the end of the week. If anything, I took this course with two others, and while looking back on it, I'd recommend that English be a course that you'd take by itself. Medical Terminology - When it comes to this course, I heard from an ear's distance that medical terminology for students taking Anatomy in the Fall is a great start! From experience from my time in anatomy, a couple of students took medical terminology before anatomy. They said that it benefitted them because they weren't as confused with the material as the other students, like me, who didn't take medical terminology. Summer Class Tips: For a maximum course load, take only three courses - When it comes to experience, I will leave the full course load at three courses. I say this because the Summer classes are usually shorter, and certain courses are more intense. For example, I believe a maximum and low-stress course load would be something like sociology and music appreciation at a minimum. Consider taking English by itself – If you are beginning and want a low-stress Summer, I'd recommend taking English by itself. From experience, I took my English classes while taking psychology ad sociology. At times, the timing I put into each course was difficult, mainly because psychology required discussions and English required lots of reading. I passed, but looking back on it, I wished I would have taken it by itself. Take time off to enjoy your Summer! – As cheesy as this sounds, your early prerequisites summers will be the best experience when you look back at it in few years; weirdly, it gives me the most nostalgic feelings. Do things with people that you love, set goals for yourself, and enjoy life! 4. Don't be afraid to sit in class – Don't get me wrong online courses are great! But building some connections with teachers, getting some Vitamin D, or just enjoying the beauty of campus helps make for a great Summer! From experiences, I let my shyness (and fear of bugs) get in the way of me sitting in class. Taking online courses was great, but I wished I got to sit in a class that semester. References If more tips and information is needed this is a great place to start The Pros and Cons of Taking Summer Classes
  3. So you’ve approached the thick of your prerequisites, Anatomy, and Physiology? Somehow, you’re either retaking or approached this milestone during the Summer. There’s a feeling of motivation, confusion, and fear. There are countless resources available, but it doesn’t particularly tell you where to start. As a student who has taken AP2 over the Summer and I’ve had quite the experience, one filled with headaches, tears, and a pleasantly happy ending. Here are my tips for taking this course during your Summer semester. Pick the Right Professor Picking the right professor is crucial for your success in your Summer class. In personal experience, many of the good teachers were available! Check websites such as rate my professor to make sure you’re getting the best professor available! Get Ahead Before starting the Summer semester, there is usually a 2-4 week period when there is a break available. If you are going into AP2, it is best to try to know everything up to cardiology, the endocrine system will be the first to study for the lecture, and the blood is going to the section that you learn in your lab section. When getting ahead, be sure to have a notebook handy to jot down notes. Resources such as WyzSci (what I used) will break down the material and better explain the physiological process, which makes up most of the AP2 course. Study Hard for the Cardiovascular Chapter I won’t lie, the cardiovascular chapter is the hardest chapter I’ve ever studied for in AP2, for the P-waves down the how the heart travels! This chapter is very important as it makes up most of the midterm. If your teacher tells you to read the numerous grueling pages, do it as it will be beneficial in the long run if your teacher teaches by PowerPoint, even better! Take Advantage of Extra Credit Anatomy and Physiology 2 is a very grueling class. There are usually bumps and bruises throughout the course, so if your professor gives you the opportunity for extra credit, take it no questions asked! From my experience, extra credit was coming into a live session to review test questions or watching videos and writing a paragraph about it. You’d be amazed how this adds up during the end of the semester. Find Time For Yourself! It may seem crazy to suggest this when you have an 8-week class, but this is crucial to your sanity and success in studying. Take care of yourself by sleeping (easier said than done), eating right, and doing what you love to do. I had to learn the hard way as all I did was study, stress, and ended up with a couple of ER visits. Study but Don’t Cram This is a very crucial tip. When it came to the 8-week course, I would study and read materials given by the professor for at least 3 hours (broken down into 45 minute sessions). By studying, I would go over it or practice quizzes given by my anatomy book excessively (As I didn’t have enough time to make quizlets). I would do this at least a day or two before my test. I have seen students cram, and it had terrible consequences when boiling down for midterms and finals. Online Class Tips Due to COVID-19, I had to take my AP2 class online. The format was very intimidating, and I was worried about the teacher-student contact surrounding the online course! I wrote a few tips to help students taking AP2 online! 1- Time is Crucial When it comes to AP2, your quizzes and tests are timed with usually 10 minutes and maybe ten questions for quizzes and 1 hour and 10 minutes for tests with about 55 questions. In my experience, we couldn’t even go back to change answers. Make sure you time yourself crucially when it comes to this because I spent at least 3 minutes on one question, which added huge anxiety. 2- Don’t CHEAT, EVER In many of the online classes that I’ve taken for science, there were always a group of students caught cheating after the midterm. Cheating during an online course is pretty much you destroying your future! Yes, anatomy and physiology tests and exams are hard, but the act of cheating is very foolish. AP2 is fundamental in health programs. Take time to learn the material no matter how hard it may be at times. 3- Ensure You have a Good Internet Connection While taking an online class, make sure your internet connection is good. In many cases, technical difficulties may occur, which can greatly alter your class experience, depending on how forgiving your teacher is against these things. In experience my WiFi had gone out several times during the span of the course , even during the midterm 4- Stay in Contact with Your Teacher In online classes, you can still forge a good relationship with your teacher. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, schedule meetings to see where you are, and make an effort with the material. Try to contact your professor at least once or twice a week, and if possible, try to set up a progress meeting after every exam, this helped me tremendously. And ... Remember Don't beat yourself up! Test the waters with this semester! Don't rush the process!
  4. GrumpyOldBastard

    The “Light Bulb Moment”

    I have been teaching nursing for a long time. I teach in the last course of an associate degree program. It might surprise many students what I am REALLY looking/hoping for in clinical. You may think that you can find it listed in the course objectives or the clinical evaluation tool. Nope. You may think that it is something that I want you to say or do. Nope. You may think that it is a perfect care plan or paper. Nope. What I most want is for the “light to go on”. That is a phrase that many faculty use to describe the moment when a student understands what nursing is and what the role of the nurse really is. Once a student understands this… everything else will fall into place for them. Until this occurs, students often see everything in nursing school as mere obstacles or busy-work… not as having purpose. This awareness occurs at different times and different ways for various students. Students can have different responses to this awareness too. The good students often seem to be more confident and at ease after the light goes on. They know that there is much more to learn… but they understand why and are eager for it. Some weak students find the awareness to be frightening. I remember one student who had “floated” through nursing school. He had done the minimum required, and had promptly forgotten what he had learned. When the light went on for him… he was terrified at the enormity of the responsibility of a nurse, and lamented that he had wasted so many opportunities in nursing school. I don’t have an easy way to accelerate this process of becoming aware. Certainly more clinical contact with patients is helpful. Thinking deeply about the patient’s situation and the care needed will move students along. Watching really good nurses in action can be really helpful. Sometimes asking experienced nurses “What do nurses do?” is helpful. Often it takes a combination of the above and a dose of luck for the right situation to trigger the awareness. Do you remember the moment that the light went on for you? Tell me about it. If you are faculty, do you have any interesting stories of the light going on for your students? Smile, Breathe, Relax.
  5. As a nursing student, you're probably wondering how you can be more efficient? Do you really have everything you need? What kind of scrubs should you buy? Should you get the yellow or blue stethoscope? Here's one item that is a MUST BUY... LOL. Share your list of MUST HAVE items below... Want more nursing cartoons? Nursing Toons/Memes
  6. I put this list together in hopes that it will provide comfort to someone experiencing uncertainty or difficulty along their pathway to learning and reaching their goals. I applaud your persistent determination. Some of these tips were passed on to me from others, while many are those I have picked up through careful observation on my own. I am in my 5th of 6th semesters into an ABSN program. The topics I will discuss include challenges regarding the following: Motivation, Assigned Readings, Lecture, and Clinical Rotation. Motivation Take a deep breath and briefly focus on what initially inspired you to enter nursing school. In the simplest terms, we all aspire to help others but there are often very deep-rooted, personal explanations for what specifically moved each of us to enter the profession. For example, one of my classmates was a long time caretaker for her grandmother who decided in her last days to leave the hospital and receive only comfort care at home; she was by her side when she passed away. Another student, impressed by the nurses who compassionately cared for her mother during breast chemotherapy treatment; she was at the time a history major, but these interactions so moved her that she could not see any other profession for herself, except to be a nurse. Others advancing their education, strive to provide for their children or families better than they are able to do now. If you are just entering or newly entering nursing school I suggest putting together a motivation board, Pinterest board or other like illustration, representative of your inspirations. You can look at this when you feel like you are broken down, taking crazy pills or about to lose it. These can be inspirational quotes, pictures of loved ones, cartoons, aspirations for where or who you want to be, or just a bunch of funny memes that mirror your sense of humor. This idea came to me based on my experiences with my 2nd semester physical assessment professor. Each class, she began with quotes from a little book she carried around discoursing the feats, values and accomplishments of past nurses. Sometimes it would be audio of a thankful patient experience or a video that made me tear up (such as this gem about empathy from the Cleveland Clinic entitled Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care. I highly recommend watching it if you have not already seen it). I loved her approach because she really taught me how to forget about the grades, the tests, piles of readings and assignments, the pressure and expectations and just remember (even for a minute) why I applied to the school of nursing to begin with. Without recognizing and taking the time to focus on your inspirations, you will be utterly buried in an avalanche of "to-do" with no end in sight. Assigned Readings This advice came to me from a seasoned nursing professional the week before I entered nursing school. I enthusiastically sat with my first semester syllabuses and a heap of rented books in front of me at my local coffee shop, opened to page one and just started reading and reading...and reading. A man approached me and started to open his wallet and I thought to myself, 'Great, he is going to try and sell me something". What he pulled out was his California Board of Registered Nursing License. He said, "It looks to me like you are a nursing student. I am a nursing instructor at [the local community college] and I wanted to give you a tip about reading for nursing school that I wish someone would have given me". As it turns out, he was just 'paying-it forward'. He went on to suggest the following: Do not read all of your assigned reading! Start by reading the 'Learning Outcomes' or 'Learning Objectives' section that is located at the beginning of each assigned chapter (e.g., most objectives start with words such as describe, discuss, recognize or list), Skip to the back of the chapter and read the entire 'Summary' section, Next, skim the chapter and read all of the headings, subheadings and bolded vocabulary words, Prioritize what was unfamiliar to you or weak areas that were discussed in the summary and go back into the chapter to find out that information, Once you have done this, evaluate your knowledge by taking any available chapter quiz questions, If you did not do well with those, go back to that topic. The Goal If you comprehend and have completed the Learning Outcomes/Objectives at the beginning of the chapter you have accomplished much of what you need to know about that topic. What more, if you can teach what you learned to another student, you are even better off. So, if you are able to create a study group, I highly suggest it. In doing so, you could potentially split up the required material so that each person follows the 6 previously mentioned reading tips for their assigned reading; in essence, becomes an 'expert' on that topic and is responsible for ensuring the group understands the objectives when they meet as a group. Lecture Sometimes you have instructions that you love and a lot of what they say makes sense. Other times you have instructors who just do not present the information effectively. In any case, do your best overall to understand CONCEPTS. I have seen too often, many of us (myself included) try to get through nursing school by doing the following: feverishly type down every note or comment mentioned throughout a lecture, print out a 142-pg PowerPoint presentations and try to scribble down notes in the margins, memorize big fat stacks of flashcards - No. As hard as it may be, just don't do this. A lot of lectures include the 'Learning Outcomes/objectives' section on the first slide of the PowerPoint but I've noticed that this particular slide is usually rushed through or skipped completely. Utilize these as a guide. These should be the purpose or focus of what will be discussed, what knowledge you are responsible for, and key words you should be listening for. If you have anything printed out in front of you, it should probably be those objectives. Then, when the lecture ends, ask questions geared to getting any of those listed objectives clarified which you missed or were unclear of. In a discussion of issues in nursing education and practice-based competency outcomes, DiVito-Thomas (2005) made this statement about the preceding predicament, "The outcomes approach requires a mental shift from trying to memorize voluminous readings and class notes (resulting in frustration and the attitude of "just tell me what I need to know") to actually learning to think like a nurse, to integrate information in problem solving and decision making and providing competent patient care" (as cited by Cherry & Jacob, 2011). This 'mental shift' is not easy; I personally still struggle with this all the time! It is something you will need to acknowledge and face if you want to be even remotely confident and competent when you finally enter the workforce. Clinical rotation Just a quick note about skills lab before I discuss clinical rotation. Usually, you have a couple days or weeks of skills lab on campus before you actually get to orient and go to your actual clinical site. Generally speaking, you practice nursing skills (e.g. bed bath, tracheostomy suctioning, foley catheter insertion, sterile field set- up, etc.) in the lab with a partner or group of classmates and then your competency must be first signed off by your instructor before you are able to go to the clinic site for the semester (sometimes this requires a remediation if you do not pass the skills test or mock medication administration tests). This process can be intimidating for some students. Similarly, to the aforementioned tip of a study group, I suggest finding a reliable partner or group to get together and mock-practice your skills with. Practicing with a peer or family member can help you feel a little better about the whole testing stress. Yes, I admit I mitered the corner of my bed with a classmate in it, I don't know how many times the first semester, because I was afraid I would fail out of nursing school for not being able to make an occupied bed. The goal is to feel comfortable and confident when someone is breathing down your neck or watching you perform these skills through two-way glass. At the clinical site, you should use up all of your time to the fullest - it's all valuable even when it doesn't feel like it sometimes. Some placements will provide you with a lot more opportunities than others. You really have to advocate for yourself and be assertive. If you have down-time, find out who is in charge (Charge Nurse, Nursing Manager, anyone really) and ask for things to do. When you are assigned to a nurse for the day, after introducing yourself, let them know what you already know, what you hope to accomplish that day and any skills you are looking to perform. If your patient is taken care of at the time, you can even talk to other nurses for opportunities. Unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP), such as nursing assistants or CNA's are wonderful resources too - they can assign you tasks to keep you busy and if you help them out, they will usually be open to showing or teaching you new things. You can even use these opportunities to network. If there is a unit or facility you are interested in working at, talk to the nursing manager about your intentions to apply there after graduation and make yourself available and noticed on the floor as a dedicated and hard worker. Another suggestion, sometime towards the beginning of the semester, let your clinical instructors know that you appreciate constructive criticism. So hopefully they provide you with as much valuable feedback as possible. Throughout each day, keep a running list of potential nursing diagnoses in your head that could apply to your patient. Run these past the nurses that you are working with to see if they think you are on the right track or ask for suggestions. This will help you later on when you are at home writing your nursing care plans. I really tried to make these study tip suggestions (and other recommendations) thoughtful and I hope that they serve someone during a time when they need it most.