Monday, December 19, 2011

One BScN semester finished!!!

I'm all done. And now I am sick with the cold I've managed to not succumb to until exams were finished. Some things just don't change...this was seemingly always the case when I was a university student, many years ago.

I don't know if it is just me, or if getting older is a factor, but it seems to take me longer to fully realize that something is finished. The past few weeks were so intense, so focused on my courses, that when suddenly, as I left the last exam, they were all over. Nothing hanging over my head to review, no pressure, no nothing. Finito. I was in somewhat of a daze for the next 24 hours or so, trying to believe this new reality.

Now a new reality has overtaken me, and that is Christmas preparations! I plan to write a re-cap of the first semester of "nursing school as a mature student" blog entry...lessons learned, best practices, etc etc (doesn't that sound very work-like!?), but right now, I have just one "lesson learned" that I need to write.

This time next year will be very different, in how I plan Christmas! Certain things have to start way sooner, because I didn't realize, or I'd just plain forgotten, how intense studying for final exams is.

Now it is all done. I think everything went very well. I genuinely thank my friends and family for all the support I've received over the past months in this adventure. I have met many wonderful people in my classes, with whom I look forward to deepening friendships. It is an incredible feeling to be studying something that I truly love. And it is finally (see para 2, above!), finally starting to seem "real" that I will actually be a nurse at the end of this experience. It is starting to sink in.

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One down, two to go

Well, the first one is over.  I have no idea how I did, which is exactly the feeling I had after writing the second midterm in this course, which ended up being just great.  Let's hope history repeats itself.

Back to the books again, but I'll leave this snippet that I heard on the radio the other day, which made me smile..."Stressed is just Desserts, spelled backwards."

Here's to desserts!!!  :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Another day closer

I was going to write the title of this post as "Another day closer to the end", but decided that sounded too ominous.

I have realized that being a mature student with a family and a "real life" (i.e. "grown up life"), that Christmas preparations are NOT compatible with being a student and studying for final exams!!!

Will have to make a mental note of this fact and planner differently (i.e. better) next year.  I'm hoping to get my Christmas cards out this coming weekend.  Then I hit the stores for some serious shopping...

First exam tomorrow morning!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Almost there...

Poor, lonely, neglected blog. At least it doesn't give me the pitiful looks our dog gives me, who is also feeling somewhat lonely and neglected these days (although she got two walks yesterday, so that was a very good day!  It is OK to procrastinate studying if one is exercising, right???)

The end of the first term of nursing school is in sight.  Exams finish on Friday.  I just have to keep going for a few more days.

The croup my youngest started on Wednesday night turned into a full-blown chest/sinus infection by Friday.  It never ceases to amaze me how illnesses in kids always seem to get worse at night, either the fever spikes, or the coughing fits are relentless.  We had four almost completely sleepless nights, my little one and I.  Last night was much better, though, so things are on the mend.  Now I just have to stay healthy (cough, cough)...

Only 4 more days to go.

Unbelievable.  :-)

Back to the books now.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

And cue....croup!

Groggy from being up most of the night with my youngest, who developed croup.  C.o.f.f.e.e.

Croup freaked me out completely the first time I encountered it, when my oldest child was little.  It strikes in the middle of the night, when the child wakes up with a barking cough, and not able to breathe, after they've gone to bed feeling seemingly OK.  Now it still freaks me out a bit on the inside (it's scary to hear a child struggling for breath like that), but now I know exactly what it is, and what to do.

Nonetheless, knowing what one is dealing with is only half the battle.  The other half is still having to be up most of the night with a sick child.  I didn't have this to deal with when I was a student the first time.

She will have a 'sick day' home from school, and get to watch movies to her hearts content, colour and work on some simple crafts, as her mama studies all day. 

And the respiratory system is one of the topics on the final for the physiology exam.  Croup is a different type of review for that exam!  Lol!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

So tired of snide comments about this career change

Yes, got it again today from an aquaintance whom I haven't seen in awhile.  She put it bluntly, after addressing me as "Mrs. Student", laughing, asking "So are you the oldest person in the class???"  What if I was?  Would that question make me, or anyone in my shoes, feel any better?  Yes, that's hilarious to poke fun at my age and being at university, and while you're at it, play up the mid-life crisis angle, why don't you. 

I am so tired of having to explain myself for this career change decision.  Yes, clearly I know it's part of the territory of making such a change, given that it's not a common occurrance.  Yes, I know this looks like a raging mid-life crisis, but for those who know me the best, they can attest to the fact that a career change has been discussed, analyzed, dreamed of for altogether too many years before it actually happened.  And even if it was a mid-life crisis, is it really such a sin to be re-training for a different career, one that gives a person personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day?  Is that truly such a bad thing?

Is it the difference between choosing to switch careers, over having to change what makes it less valid?  Is that what makes my decision seem so hilarious and absurd to some people?  Some people just cannot understand why I would leave a well paying, secure job to do this change.  It is somehow more acceptable to be going to nursing school to be upgrading your life to a better paying job, over deciding that one would love to do more fulfilling work?

Guess I just have to keep reminding myself that this is not forever, just a few more years, and then I'll be back in a regular, multi-generational work environment, where I'll just be 'regular' again.  Or go back to my job waiting for me, and be 'regular' again.  (But when have I ever been 'regular'???)

So frustrating.  And the pressure of the immense workload of preparing for cumulative final exams is starting to affect me, even though they don't start until the 14th of December. 

But when I look back at the past three months, they have also been among the best I've ever had.  I've had so much precious time to spend one-on-one with my youngest daughter, my other two children are thriving and loving to be able to come home, relax and play with friends they invite over, instead of spending so many hours at daycare, both before and after school.  Dinner time is more relaxed when my better half comes home, given that the food is ready to eat.  Our lives are more relaxed in general, and our family is better off for it.

I guess I'll just be an endless source of bizarre entertainment to some.  No, it doesn't feel good, but what does feel good are all the other times I get to spend living my life with a focus on the priorities that are most important to us.  I'm not making the big life choices based on pleasing others and am not doing what they think I should be doing any more.  So I guess, the logical conclusion is just to let them laugh and tease.  All I can say -- despite all the transition, change, uncertainty, stress of exams, of re-integrating into a classroom, of being a mature student, of losing my paycheque and job title, and re-inventing myself as a student -- is that I hope they're as happy as I am.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Classes ending

So the first term of nursing school is slowly winding down.  Seven more to go!  Two classes finished yesterday, and anatomy and physiology still left to finish. Then I'll have just over a week off, to prepare for final exams. 

I must admit, that the past few months have felt very long, in terms of how much work I've been doing and in all the new experiences and life changes involved in leaving a career/workforce and being a student again, yet in hindsight, the time has truly flow by.

My second round of "midterm" exams went exceedingly well.  I am very pleased to see that my brain is not only still working very well in the world of academia (at other times it is questionable!), and that I am maintaining an A+ average, something that didn't happen in my science degree, the first time 'round at university. 

A friend recently told me of a study (I have no idea which one, have no idea if it is 'valid', but for once, I don't care), saying that "they" discovered that the human brain tends to peak at age 45 for academic success.  I'm not there yet, I'll even be done school before then, but it's a nice feeling to know that I am still on the upswing of academic brain power!  LOL!!!

While it is a great feeling achieving results like these, it does add extra pressure to maintaing these marks during final exams.  On the flip side, I am already in the program, and just passing the courses is all that is really required.  That, however, is not me.  I may not always get A+, and that's OK, but I do need to feel that I tried and did my best. 

It is just hitting me, exactly how much studying (or more precisely, memorizing), will be involved for these finals.  Ouf!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

'Healthy fear', transitions and leaving one's 'comfort zone'

I've been coming across all kinds of interesting books at the library in the past few months.  It is quite amazing at times, to see what comes in when you just type in a keyword and the list of books it generates!

One small, quick read book was written by Barbara De Angelis, PhD., called, "Confidence. Finding It and Living It."

In one section of the book she talks about fear associated with transition and about starting new ventures.  Her take was that fear is a positive -- a good sign, that it means that you are stepping out of your comfort zone and becoming more than you currently are.

She summarizes it best in her words:

"If you don't have a dream in your head right now that scares you, then you've probably stopped dreaming. 

A lot of people stop dreaming because they don't believe in their ability to make their dreams come true, which is very convenient because then you can't fail....I call that 'healthy fear'. But when you have dreams and do nothing about them all your life, and you let the fear paralyze you, that's not healthy.

Every time I undertake a new project, or commit to a new dream, I'm scared -- scared of failing, of not doing it right that I may be making a mistake.  But the difference between me and most other people is that I don't misinterpret the fear as a sign that I should stop doing what I'm doing. 
I don't use the fear as an excuse to not go forward.  In fact, when I'm feeling nervous or frightened, it usually means that I'm really stretching myself out of my comfort zone and into new directions -- in other words, it usually means that I'm doing great!"
Those paragraphs really sum up my experience of the past few months.  However, that scenario described in the book is applicable to any kind of change or transition a person may be going through, not just a career change.  We have said a sad goodbye to close family friends this past week, who moved to Australia.  They are currently out of their comfort zone and going through this same type of transition.  See, this concept is definitely applicable to more than career change!  ;-)

Just something to think about, that indicates that fear is not necessarily a bad thing -- just a reality of life!  And, the change does not have to be as drastic as a complete career change or moving to the other side of the world.

Next week is the last full week of classes before the term ends...and preparation for finals begins...more on that later!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Second round of mid-terms over!

Whew.  That was an intense, brain-straining marathon. Another 3 exams over.  My dear husband is a very patient man, and lived through the week with grace and bringing home take-out dinners a couple nights. It is somewhat odd, as I mentioned in my previous post, to be having another set of 'mid-term' exams near the end of the term.  We will have two more weeks of classes, and then we have finals.  And one term will be done!

The anatomy/physiology exam went excellent, if I can say so myself.  It was one of those awesome exams when it all comes together, and you clearly know the correct answer to the multiple choice questions, and some of the options given seem ridiculous.  So that one went very well (I hope!).  The other two exams were back-to-back.  I finished writing the first one in about an hour, so I had about an hour before the second one started.  I think they went OK, but I didn't have that awesome feeling leaving the exam room. 

During the third exam (psychology), as I was diligently filling out the little circles on the scan sheet, I kept telling myself that every little circle I colour in, I am one coloured circle closer to being a nurse -- I just have to get through the exam.  It is an interesting course, but I must admit, I see little relevance between the course content and being a nurse.  Perhaps the link will become more obvious during clinicals or when I'm actually working as a nurse, but for now it seems like a 'filler' course in the nursing program.  But like I said, it is interesting and I'm mostly enjoying it, but there just seems to be little relevance to my end goal in its content.

Now to just re-group my focus and energy on the homestretch.  Oh, and maybe tidy up the house a little and even have some fun!!!  :-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Exam marathon begins

Today will be the first exam of 3 in the next 48 hours. 

I feel good, albeit nervous (of course -- as per usual for any exam!).  My cold is mostly over, I've been sleeping again, and have actually managed to have some info stick in my brain.  Hopefully it is the correct info that I will need later today.  Lol!

Now I just have to remember to breathe.  Breathing is always good!  :-)

I have a lot to write here, but it will have to wait until this set of second 'midterms' is over.  Midterms three weeks before finals???  I'm not sure what is going on with that, but that is simply the way it is.

Best of luck, strength and stamina to anyone writing exams (and extra patience to anyone living with somebody writing exams)!!!

Onward and upward.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Post-vacation bliss is over...

...and has been replaced with yet another round of chest coughs and sore throats (times 3 members in the family, including yours truly).  Why is it in the past year I've picked up seemingly every virus and germ that has even remotely looked my way.  This is not good -- how do I expect to function as a nurse, working with SICK people, when these days I seem to succumb every few weeks to a new virus???

Next week has another round of exams in store -- 3 exams to be precise -- including two exams on Thursday, back to back. 

The kids seems to have picked up a new hobby...bickering amongst themselves constantly, that is, when they are not interrupting a studying mom every two minutes.  And don't even get me started on what the house looks like.  I'll rather just close my eyes to the mess right now.  The stress of it all is getting to me, greatly exacerbated by the fact that sleep has become, yet again, a seemingly elusive commodity.

Why I am doing this?

Right now, honestly, I'm not sure.

I've signed up for a volunteer info night at a local hospital, to have some contact with the medical setting.  Perhaps that will make this year's experience feel more 'real', that I'm actually in nursing school, and not just in classes.  There are no clinicals in the first year of the program, so perhaps getting myself in a medical setting is what I need, to remind me how much I loved being in that as to stick out the next few years in the program.

Time to take littlest one for her swimming lesson, and then scoot over to the school for their Rememberance Day ceremony. 

Thank you, Canadian and other Soldiers, past, present and future.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Back to blogging

What a long 'weekend' my blogging break turned out to be!!! 

After the week of midterm exams, I did indeed take a weekend breather off studying.  Then I attended class for another week, and then went on a little holiday...a trip to this might recognize the castle...

Doing things like this as a student is a definite advantage of being a 'non-traditional student'!  Lol! 

Our week at Disney was incredible, the days full to exhaustion given that we were at the parks when they opened, and we stayed to see the spectacular fireworks shows in the evenings.  The kids were almost beside themselves in wonder as we tried so many of the rides (our 5 year old LOVED Space Mountain -- methinks we may have a bit of a daredevil on our hands!!!), and attended many shows...and of course...met the princesses (the girls loved that) and my son fought Darth Vader on stage (yep, saved the universe from the dark side, everyone can rest easy).

Now back to reality. Sigh.  Luckily the weather has been OK here, sunny and reasonably warm (and not snowing yet!!!).  However, I do so miss the palm trees...

I think I left part of my brain in Disney, as I haven't yet gotten back into the full swing of life at home.  I am studying, I finished another physiology assignment (100% this time - wahoo!!!), and have another round of exams gearing up in a week and half (gulp).  But here I am, still basking in the post-vacation relaxation feeling.  Which is a good thing, generally speaking, but not so good for maintaining academic performance!  Lol!

However, this weekend is seeing me get back on track somewhat, and I know that things will all be back on track where they should be this coming week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weekend breather

I had forgotten how intense writing exams is.  The focused concentration for 90 minutes is extreme, and then when the paper is handed in, there is such a flood of relief and relaxation in your body, that one seems completely unable to concentrate on anything else in the immediate future. That's how last Friday afternoon felt, when my first set of midterm exams was over. 

The past weekend was great, and I didn't touch my books.

Today classes resumed, and I am feeling good both about the midterms being done, and about the next batch of learning that is beginning. 

We have a new prof in my physiology course, who is exponentially more intense than the previous prof.  Not that there was anything wrong with the other guy, he was very good and I enjoyed the lectures.  But today's new prof is dynamic, clearly l-o-v-e-s the material and simply exudes passion for the topic.  AND she managed to cover an entire chapter during one 90-minute lecture.  (which may not seem as much to some, but perhaps a quick peek at a physiology textbook will explain why this is a TON of material...and it all has to be memorized!)

I felt so great at the end of today's lecture, given how intense and interesting it was.  I went home and straight to the books, to re-learn, re-inforce and start memorizing the details of the chapter.  In my past  university experiences, it is with profs like this one that it is imperative you stay on top of the material.  Catching up later is possible, but very, very difficult.

I'm starting to prep for my other lectures this week too, so it is all good.  I am happy.

As far as results go, I've heard back from two of the three exams.  So far I've gotten an A+ and an A.  The latter result was on the exam I studied the least for, so hopefully that will be the lowest mark of the bunch.  Like I said, I am happy.  I am satisfied.  I am learning much.  Things are going well.

Oh, and I should mention, that the S&V studying snack food has been replaced with air-popped popcorn....a much, MUCH healthier alternative!!!  Lol!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


...while snacking on my beloved "S&V" (aka salt and vinegar) chips and drinking ginger tea.  Hmmm, not exactly a healthy habit.  (I guess the ginger tea would be considered OK!)  S&V chips are my main junk food addiction (I don't have a sweet tooth, but make up for not eating sweet junk food by eating salty junk food!) Funny how some habits re-surface years later.  I always used to snack while I studied, mostly chips or salted sunflower seeds.  Now it just seems to be chips.  Probably time to nip this bad habit in the bud, as I want to stay fit and healthy!!!

This morning's exam was OK.  I think I did well, but it wasn't that really good feeling like last week, when I know I did well (or at least I think I did, as I am still waiting for the results!).  I am not at all worried about not having passed the exam, but it is a question of whether it will be a high A or a lower A.  I really didn't know what to expect from today's exam, as there were no sample questions given out, and the course material was rather general.  I will know for next time to memorize all the details in the textbook.

Now I am studying for tomorrow's physiology exam.  I have mixed feelings about it -- I've done all the sample and practice exams and quizzes on the on-line version of the textbook, and gotten mostly 100% on all of them, so that is definitely encouraging and confidence-building, but, always a but, that doesn't mean the exam will go that well. 

We shall see tomorrow -- in the meantime I review as much as I possibly can, and eat more chips!!!  (I think the dog will get an extra walk today, and I may even visit my old friend the treadmill in the basement, for a quick run...or I could just put the chip bag away...)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mental Health Humour Break!

Do you have one of those friends who just seem to instinctively know what you need, and when you need it?  I do.  I am lucky enough to have one such great friend (thanks T!!!).  You're awesome!!! :-) 

In my email in-box this afternoon, I found the following jokes -- whether they are true or not, I have no idea, but they put a smile on my face in this long week of studying!



A man comes into the ER and yells ...'My wife's going to have her baby in the cab.'
I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady's dress and began to take off her underwear.
Suddenly I noticed that there were several cabs - - - and I was in the wrong one.

Submitted by Dr. Mark MacDonald ,
San Francisco

At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest wall.
'Big breaths,' . . . I instructed.'Yes, they used to be,' . . . replied the patient.

Submitted by Dr. Richard Byrnes ,
Seattle , WA

One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that her husband had died of a massive myocardial infarct.
Not more than five minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family that he had died of a ' massive internal fart. '

Submitted by Dr. Susan Steinberg

During a patient's two week follow-up appointment with his cardiologist, he informed me, his doctor, that he was having trouble with one of his medications.
'Which one? ' . .. . I asked. ' The patch...
The Nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours and now I'm running out of places to put it! '
I had him quickly undress and discovered what I hoped I wouldn't see.
Yes, the man had over fifty patches on his body!

Now, the instructions include removal of the old patch before applying a new one.

Submitted by Dr. Rebecca St. Clair ,
Norfolk , VA

While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I asked, ' How long have you been bedridden? '
After a look of complete confusion she answered . . .
' Why, not for about twenty years - when my husband was alive. '

Submitted by Dr. Steven Swanson-
Corvallis , OR
Baby's First Doctor Visit

A woman and a baby were in the doctor's examining room, waiting for the doctor to come in for the baby's first exam.
The doctor arrived, and examined the baby, checked his weight, and being a little concerned, asked if the baby was breast-fed or bottle-fed.
'Breast-fed, ' she replied.

' Well, strip down to your waist, ' the doctor ordered.

She did. He pinched her nipples, pressed, kneaded, and rubbed both breasts for a while in a very professional and detailed examination.

Motioning to her to get dressed, the doctor said, ' No wonder this baby is underweight. You don't have any milk. '

'I know, she said, ' I'm his Grandma, but I'm glad I came here today!'

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Am still studying...but taking a quick break to blog...

Two more mid-terms await me this week, one on Thursday and one on Friday. 

I've worked my way through various population health models, and will need to do more physiology still tonight. 

Maybe next week I will attempt to re-surface socially for the first time since school and this huge lifestyle transition started.  I owe so many people phone calls and emails!  But I am optimistic about this re-joining of civil society, given that I'm almost back to normal with the latest round of family viruses, and I am truly getting into a studying groove.  And most importantly, I'm adjusting to being a student again and wrapping my head around the fact that this stage of life is my current reality (leaving a desk job to be a student again was a major shock to my system)!  I'm guessing I should be fully mentally adjusted to being a student by the time I return to my desk job in May 2012...

I really must get back to the books, but one last item I want to share tonight is a quiz I took recently, from the text book on "Life's Transitions: The Aging Process", from my Determinants of Health course.

It is a simple quiz, one that estimates your life expectancy (based on various health behaviours and heredity factors).

The good news is that I'm going to live to be 101 years old!!!  I guess I'll get be a nurse for many more years than I thought, given that I plan to never fully retire from this job. :-)

The quiz can be found at:  (oh yeah, and eat right, don't smoke and get your body moving, even if it is just a daily walk around the block!!!)   Best of luck!!!

OK, really going back to studying now...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Midterm #1 - that was OK!

Actually, I'm thinking better than OK.  I think it went really well. 

I wanted to write a quick post this morning, before the first exam, but I just ran out of time.  What I wanted to write was that I had this incredible feeling of calm, before the exam...not something I was used to having before exams!  I was trying to figure out if this feeling came from A- being well-prepared for the exam, B- being a 'mature student' and having lots of univeristy exams already under my belt so this is not a new experience, C- studying in a field I LOVE, which makes learning easier, or D- still feeling that this whole 'going back to school for nursing' experience is still a bit surreal.  (YES, can you tell I was preparing for a mostly multiply-choice exam!?!? -- LOL!) Well, I think the answer was E- all of the above.

It was multiple choice, the bane of my test taking existence, but I felt quite confident about the vast majority of the 55 questions.  There were two I just skipped to return to later (which I did!), and about 3 more that I think I answered correctly...but the rest, I think I just knew all the info.  There was also a long-answer essay question about the inner workings of the eye and vision, essay style, which I could have explained if awoken from a deep sleep.  So that was good too. 

Now, of course, thinking I did well on a multiple choice test, and actually having that confirmed, are two very different things.  I think results will be posted on our student course-specific websites, so I'll be checking that in the coming days.  I remember, "back in the day" when I was first an undergrad, our results were typed up, pinned up on a bulletin board on the wall, and we'd all crowd around, elbowing each other as we jostled for a better view of the sheet of paper, looking for our student number and the corresponding mark!  Those days have most definitely gone the way of the dinosaur!!!

Now it is full-steam ahead for my two mid-terms next week, one of them being my beloved anatomy and physiology.  So much to prepare for there.  And this weekend will be busy with our celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving, and a out-of-town wedding we'll be attending.

Happy Thanksgiving, happy studying to any and all students, and happy weekend!!!  :-)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Mid-term exams start this first university exam in many (many!) years will be on Thursday.  Two more will follow next week.  Can you believe the term is practically half over already???

Must get back to the books.  I also think we will have a surprise quiz in class today, in physiology.  On a good note, I spent the weekend working on a physiology assignment, and managed to get 99% on it!  Wahoo!!! 

Here's to hoping the physiology quiz is on the same topic as the weekend assignment, 'cause I know that stuff inside and out!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Yesterday's class was incredibly frustrating.  I arrived a couple minutes late (mea culpa), and had to sit a bit further than I would normally choose to sit.  That being said, given a choice, I usually sit somewhere in the 5-7 rows from the front, and yesterday sat in probably row 8 or 9, so not a huge difference.

What was a huge difference, was the number of my classmates not paying attention to the lecture (and it was a doozy -- 90 minutes spent on the physics and chemistry of action potentials of nerve impulses). 

Many more people are now bringing their laptops to class, as opposed to the first weeks.  That in itself is fine, except that I see so many people using them for stuff other than accessing the prof's pre-posted lecture notes.  Yesterday there were so many Facebook sites up, photos being listed through, Tetris games played, Solitaire games played, someone near me had apparently Googled "light sabers" and was going through the various sites that Google generated for her, texting, etc. etc.

Frankly, all these things going on doesn't bug me, per se -- they're quiet activities and don't really disrupt the class.  I think they're incredibly disrespectful tasks to be doing during a lecture.  Oh yes, and then there's the other reason we go to lectures -- to listen to the prof and actually learn something.  But again, that's the individual's choice and prerogative whether they choose to learn or not. 

What frustrated me yesterday, beyond belief, was the two, extremely young, girls chatting directly in front of me for the entire lecture.  It took everything I had in me to not tap them gently on the shoulder, and suggest that they go to a coffee shop to continue their conversation.  Why were they in the lecture?  They were not taking notes, they were not listening.  They were talking, giggling, laughing so hard they had to wipe tears from their eyes and put their heads down on the table (this was the result of realizing the desk was sloped and that their pens roll down), and texting.  Nobody takes attendance at university.  They were just a distraction to everyone around them.  What did they think they were gaining by showing up?

I'm not expecting everyone to take school as seriously as I do.  Of course not.  But it just made me feel so frustrated and even bad about this second career choice.  Will people like them be my future bosses at hospitals?  I'm giving up a lot to be doing this change, and I still at times doubt myself in this choice.  I have an established career that I'm good at, that pays very well, that has a great pension, benefits and job security, where I have good friends, colleagues, managers whom I really like and respect.  Anyhow, I don't have to decide this right now.  I know I'm back in the office on May 1, 2012.  I sat there in the lecture thinking maybe I should have gone to medical school instead of nursing school.  Maybe that would be a better fit in terms of students being there because they truly want to learn the material.  But I truly do not want to be a doctor, I want to be a nurse practitioner specializing in maternal health. 

Then I looked around me, and saw other young students sitting near me, all with lecture notes printed off or studiously typing notes into their laptops.  Clearly the few totally immature ones in front of me would be considered the few 'bad apples' that tend to give entire demographic groups a bad rap.  They'll either not be around by the end of the year for flunking out (if that even still happens at university - things have so changed in terms of deadlines...that's another blog post in itself!), or will get their act together, grow up and smarten up.  And the class demographic is about 50% being 30+, and the other 50% being fresh out of high school.  So at least half the class is in a similar mindset to myself. And, most importantly, I'm building a core group of friends that are great.  :-)

Given the was they behaved yesterday during the lecture, the giggly topics of conversation I was privy to listen to, I simply cannot imagine these girls in their first clinical rotation next year, when we'll have real patients to touch and work with. 

This vent is ending.  My lesson learned from yesterday was arrive to class early, and choose where I want to sit!!!  And I guess I really need to focus on the end result of the schooling, not necessarily the process, and the fact that like-minded friends are in the program.  I need to visualize myself really working with a labouring mother, and assisting her in the safe delivery of a new life.  That's what I really want to do as my job.  More than anything else. And I've been given the opportunity to do so, even at mid-life.

Time to hit the books.  It will be a full weekend of studying.  My first exam is next week!  Ouf!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back on track!

What a difference a few days can make!  "Life" is definitely getting back on track, energy levels are increasing, and I got caught up in my courses.  Yes, this is much better than last week.  What an awful feeling that was, to want and need to do things, yet feel so incredibly tired. 

We are also s-l-o-w-l-y getting into a home routine, with the kids activities, sports, music lessons, homework, and my new 'stay at home mom' routine into just that -- a routine, not randomly happening days.  In hindsight, even under regular conditions (i.e. not mom leaving her job and starting nursing school!), it always takes us a few weeks to establish a busier routine, after a relaxing summer.  This year it was particularly different, with so many changes happening. 

In terms of school, it is such a reassuring feeling to know that I already have a classmate network established, where I can get help if needed.  Now we're talking about getting a study group going.  This is probably a good idea, given how much memorizing is required in physiology classes, and even in psychology class.  The latter class, it turns out (so far, anyways), is mostly a combination of stats class and neurophysiology.  I've studied both, so the topics aren't really 'new' to me.  I really didn't know what to expect from the psych course, but so far it is very much related to physiology....I admit I haven't yet looked at chapters in the text that we're not doing yet.  My first mid-term is next week, in psych, so hopefully that will be OK. 

I've done one physiology assignment so far (got 90% - yay!!!), and have another one due early next week.  Everything, and I mean everything tested, is multiple choice.  This is a h.u.g.e change from my previous university studies (I think a post on test taking will be in the works soon).  Even when I was writing exams in my science courses, we didn't do any multiple choice exams.  Every test was short answer, definitions, and of course, in the chemistry and calculus courses, showing the work and the calculations for the various reactions. 

What I find somewhat ironic (is that the proper use of the word?), is that I avoided taking this 'intro to psych' course when I was doing my first undergraduate degree, because we students knew that that course was marked based entirely on multiple choice tests and exams!!!  That was the main reason I didn't feel like taking it as an elective back then.  Now here I am, years later, taking the same class that is tested in the same format.  C'est la vie, life goes on, and frankly, it is an interesting course!

Back to paying some attention to my littlest one now.  She only goes to school in the afternoons, so mornings are 'our' time.  In one word, these morning together in the past few weeks have been 'amazing'.  I am so grateful to have this time with her.  :-)

Happy momma, wife and nursing student!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Am still so sick...caution...complaining/venting post...

It was a week ago last Thursday, that I sat through a full day of lectures shivering, even though I think I was wearing about 4 layers of clothing (never a good sign!!!).  A few days later, the head cold emerged.  By Wednesday (2 days ago) I was feeling better, but then yesterday it seemed to mutate into a chest cold.  I spent most of yesterday's marathon lecture day (I really don't like Thursdays) coughing (much to the 'appreciation' of my classmates, I'm sure) and it zapped me of all energy and brain power.

Today I'm a bit better, but did NOT have the energy to even think about driving to class, and then listening attentively.  OK, maybe I did think about going, but that expended and depleted my energy stores!

Luckily, very luckily, I now have friends in class, whom I can lean on for info for the missed class.For this, I am extremely grateful.  Merci, merci, merci.     :-)

I just want to feel like myself again. 

For the first week of class, I was a bundle of nerves and excitement, given that it was the actualization of so many years of thinking about doing this and wishing it.

During the second week of classes I was mostly a shivering heap, knowing full well I was in the early phase of fighting a nasty virus.

This week I am lethargic and coughing my lungs out.

Oh yes, and on top of all this, I feel that I have fallen so far from where I wanted to be in my studies.  And add to that, that my first mid-term exam is in less that two weeks...not a good feeling.

I just want to be my energetic, enthusiastic, 'normal' self again, who exercises on her treadmill most mornings, walks the dog before the kids leave for school and (mostly) meets the daily challenges head-on with energy to spare.

Here's to next week. There's always hope, that much I know!!!  Here's also to a full weekend of studying, to catch up on my studies.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2 weeks down...only 94 more to go...

On Thursday it will be two complete weeks of school.  It feels like about two months have passed, not just two weeks. 

There have been so many new experiences and changes in these past two weeks, that my head is still reeling somewhat.  I have felt such a range of emotions too, from wishing so much that I was still sitting in my safe, comfortable, familiar office, to wondering how I will ever read and learn everything I have to read and learn, and even to thinking that I'm finally, really, truly doing this!  I actually am a nursing student, I am going to finish this, and I am really going to work in a hospital or clinic as a L&D nurse. 

The amount of reading I've been doing has been a shock to the system.  I love to read, and I did read on the bus on my daily work commute, and whenever else I found some time.  Now it is a scheduled read, and not just reading for pleasure, but reading to learn and memorize.  Definitely more intense reading is going on!!!

On the positive side, one thing that I was told to expect (thanks T!), and that has indeed happened, is that all the studying I have to do does not seems like a chore that grudingly needs doing.  I am so enraptured with the medical stuff I am learning, after so many years of wanting to learn it, that I actually look forward to my studying time.  Granted, this may not last, but for the time being, I am grateful to be able to crack open my anatomy book and start learning it for real (I say 'for real', because there have been many times over the past years that I've opened a physiology or anatomy book 'for fun', to glance over and wish I had chosen to study this for a career.)  Now that time is here, and it is 'for real'.

A bit of a routine if finally developing, although I still feel far from being settled in one.  I've been taking our kids to various medical and dental appointments that I had 'saved' up for when I knew I wasn't going to be at work, to save from being absent from work too much.  Now it seems like that's what I've been doing for the past two weeks, and thankfully, the end of those is in sight.

The other thing keeping me from fully getting into a real routine just yet is that I am already fighting the first %^&* virus/cold of the school year, brought home by one of my kids.  Our oldest is 10 years old, so I thought I'd already built up a half-decent immune system from so many years of school germs coming home, but nooooo.  Dear husband and I are both battling an awful head cold, sore throat, sinus infection, absolutely no energy or appetite... Not fun at all, but I am slowly getting better.  I detest being sick and having no energy.  Yesterday, I was yearning for a 'sick day' from work.  Alas, they don't exist right now.  On the flip side, I was able to keep my youngest home from school, as she was also sick, and not feel bad for taking time off work to be home when my child is sick.

Here's to hoping everything will be back on track by next week.  Now, back to the books (actually, back to the computer, as that's where most of the studying and reading happens!)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Learning tools available online

I briefly mentioned in my last post, about the incredible number of learning tools that are available online.  These tools are specific to the textbook being used in class. 

It was somewhat frustrating to me this past week, having to spend so much time figuring out what all is 'out there' in cyberspace, that I'm supposed to be registering for, using and learning from.  It is all new to me.  My 'old' student me was just thinking I should be poring over the textbooks, memorizing as much as I can, yet there I was, spending so much time in front of the computer trying to find various items.  With spending all this time figuring out the computer part of the class, I felt like I was falling behind in my 'traditional' studying (feeling that you're falling behind in the first week of classes is not a good feeling!)

However, in the end, when all is registered for and learning tutorials completed, I am in awe of the materials available.  I have to change my approach to studying, and realize that most of my study time will be spent at the computer, rather than the textbook. 

The other 'new' to me aspect about attending university today, is the fact that the profs all post their lecture notes online, before classes.  The students print these off, and use them as the basis of their notes.  Back in my day, these notes were never available, and we were expected to just scribble frantically during each class, in a desperate attempt to get all the info down.  Now we have the luxury of being able to actually listen to the prof and write down the 'extra' tidbits of info, rather than focusing on getting the slide info written down.  This is great.

It is quite a change in approach to studying, but one that I can adapt to, and think will make for a better learning experience than I previously had when attending university the first time (so many years ago!)

Fighting my first cold of the season, as are two of my the virus cycle begins anew....


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I love A&P!!!

A&P stands for anatomy and physiology....and I simply love it.  I'm hoping my (ahem, older) brain will still be able to memorize the way it did once upon a time, as there is a ton to (re)learn.

I wrote (re)learn, because my first university degree was a science degree, specializing in biology.  More precisely, physiology and ecology (I really liked both topics, so ended up taking lots of courses in both).  So I am very happy to be able to say that almost everything I've learned thus far, and what I've seen in the physiology textbook, is not new material for me. 

The biggest difference, however, is that with this degree I am focusing on physiology of the human body and nothing else.  Whereas when I took the various other physiology courses, it was always a mix of various animals (and even plants - gasp!) that were studied.  For example, we would be studying respiration and focus on gas exchange in a lecture, but in addition to learning about gas exchange in the lung, then we also focused on gas exchange in a fish gill, and then the particulars of gas exchange in a salamander.  Interesting, but to a much lesser degree.  My previous anatomy classes were also similar -- usually 'comparative anatomy' of a variety of animals.

So here I am now, FINALLY studying the anatomy and physiology of the human body and nothing else.  What a treat, for me...frankly, that's all I ever wanted to study and learn about.

As I mentioned above, it is simply an overwhelming amount of material and details -- some details can be more easily learned given that they are part of a system and the way 'x' functions can be explained like a story.  Other areas, however, are pure memorizing.  So at times as I'm studying this topic, I oscillate between thinking, "Oh yes, I remember this!", to thinking, "How on earth am I ever going to learn all this for the exams!?!?!"

I should also mention that the learning resources available on-line to today's students are incredible.  The textbooks now come with special codes that allow the student to access on-line study materials, animated explanations, quizzes, videos, etc. etc.  I hope I have the time to take advantage of all these resources!

Yesterday evening (as I was studying after the kids were in bed), I was actually thinking about how exactly did I fill my post-kids evenings as recently as two weeks ago, before school started?  It seems that I'm still doing the same house-hold chores and work, and yet here I have all this extra time in the evening to study.

It seems to re-affirm my theory that the busier I am, the more I can get done.

Break is over now -- back to studying my beloved A&P...

Happy Future Nurse  :-)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Whew...I survived...

Well, all I can say was that the first two days were very intense.  So much "new" to take in.  New to school again after so many years, new school, new classmates, new routine, new courses, new home routine (doing more 'domestic' stuff since I'm home more now), feels like new everything.  By the end of the first couple hours at school on Thursday, I was starting to longingly think of the comfortable, known confines of my office and work think a mere week ago I was in my safe, regular, known work environment...

But somehow I made it through those first 6 hours.  The first prof started his lecture with the 'classic' line that I'd heard and read about for years in medical classes.  We were each instructed to look at the people sitting on either side of us, and then were told that one of the three of us would no longer be in the program by the end of first year.  Something else that I heard this week and that really surprised me (I had no idea!), was the nursing school admittance ratio.  Apparently nursing school is very competitive to get into, and only one person was admitted into the program, out of every 12 applicants.

Luckily for my brain, the profs shortened their lectures somewhat on the first day, and there were some brief presentations given by upper-year students about 'best practices' based on their experiences in nursing school thus far.  We were even treated to a pizza lunch.  I had forgotten to bring my water bottle, so by the end of the second lecture, I was beyond dehydrated and my brain was full of new info, that I was a bit dazed leaving the lecture hall.  I will admit that that evening, and the next couple, I was so mentally tired that I was sound-asleep by 9 pm....

I met many new classmates, and am feeling very good about the group of us 'mature' students in the class.  I had met one classmate earlier via the Internet, and so I had someone to sit with right off from the start.  That made such a difference -- it was great.  By the first break, we were able to start mingling a bit, and I figure by the end of the day I had probably chatted with about 10 classmates.  The ages certainly vary from clearly fresh out of high school, to older than myself.  There was also a much greater number of males in the class than I figured there would be.  This is good for the profession to have a better gender mix, in my opinion.

Learning at university has also changed much since my first go-round.  Everything is online now, and profs post lecture notes, various additional learning materials, even quizzes and assignments on their websites.  The learning experience is definitely much enhanced now, and I think that is great.  

On the flip side, I was a bit surprised by the degree of 'spoon feeding' that was present.  I'm not sure if it is the expectation of the new generation (based on the questions they were asking the profs and tidbits I'd heard about the reality of high school these days), or if this is the new 'norm' that has evolved at university.  I'm not complaining, it is just an observation comparing from my earlier experiences at university.  Either way, that's the way it is, and frankly, I can just take advantage of this to further my own personal academic goals and results. 

I hope to start writing more regularly again soon, as I adapt to this new lifestyle and reality.  This is going to be great...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Day of Classes! (the morning of...)

Well, here I am.  The day has finally arrived, after being just a wish, a thought, a dream for so many years.  Today will be my first day of classes.  And what a day it will be...6 hours of classes today! 

Off I must run, as I don't want to be late.  I will update the blog hopefully later today, given that my brain survives the extreme input of information it is about to receive!  I don't remember the last time I had so many hours of intense instruction.  Over the last decade (+!) I've attended various conferences, seminars and meetings, but their format, goals and concentration level on my part are quite different from instruction from a professor.

Here's to the first day of the rest of my life!

Onwards and upwards.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday's words of inspiration

OK, this one is not 'deep' or overly 'inspirational', but it certainly made me laugh.

Without "me", it is just "aweso".

I'm packing up the personal stuff in my office, handing-off various documents and files to colleagues, and starting to say my good-byes to work.

It still feels completely surreal, and I must honestly say, that even though I am very, very much looking forward to this huge change in my life, I am a little sad right now to be leaving the 'cocoon' of the known of my current job and career.  And I am blessed with amazing colleagues, whom I very much like and respect, who are fun to be around and with whom I have developed friendships over the past couple years.  I have had some fun times here.

It will certainly be with mixed-feelings that I leave the office later today.

I am very grateful and happy that I have been granted a leave of absence, and that I know I will be coming back here in May, when classes are finished for the year.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Returning to School Syndrome Model"

I came across a very interesting study and information on the following blog:

The author cited a study (full reference below), about the phases a 'second degree' student experiences, after having been in the workforce for a time.

The phases are summarized here, as per Nurse Teeny's blog.  The commentary that follows in the two paragraphs following the phases is also content from Nurse Teeny's blog, and I am giving the author full credit for their writing. 

I thought those two paras were extremely well written, by somebody who has been through the experience.  I think it is useful to get as much info as possible about the experience I am about to embark in!   I think I will start reading this blog regularly.
  • Honeymoon – This period often coincides with the first semester of nursing school.  You’re excited about being a student again, you’re confident that you’ve made the right choice and you’re optimistic at the first signs that you might actually be able to figure this stuff out.  I remember turning to a friend halfway through one of our first clinical rotations and exclaiming, “I might really be able to do this!!!”  It was invigorating and I was in love with nursing.  The honeymoon phase is all about the romance of nursing and is critical to success because it makes you believe that this experience is worth all the challenges to come.
  • Conflict – The conflict phase is tricky.  Utley-Smith et al. noticed that this period often occurs during the second semester, when clinicals get more intense and classroom material gets harder.  The skills you knew well in your life B.N. (“Before Nursing”) don’t get you as far, and the expectations are higher.  Our second semester featured part two of our Med-Surg nursing course, during which we were expected to build on the skills learned in part one and really take off.  And I did notice A LOT more conflict during this time.  More fatigue, more anxiety and much more complaining, often about issues that were out of our control.
  • Reintegration – Reintegration actually begins with hostility, in many cases.  External factors are blamed when students don’t live up to their own standards of success.  I believe that in our cohort’s case, we’re still muddling through this part.  We’re all used to being really good at things – we succeeded in school and previous jobs, and we got into a very difficult nursing program.  So when the grades are less than expected and the G.P.A. doesn’t glow as we think it should, we look for culprits, whether they be administration, faculty, the program itself, or sometimes a peer.  Hence the “obnoxious” remark about my finishing exams quickly.  Hostility hopefully (and usually) evolves into positive resolution, when you figure out how to integrate “self B.N.” with “self R.N.”, and understand how you have been transformed into a nurse.
"Returning to school is difficult.  Returning to school to study nursing is even harder, especially when you have been successful in your life before nursing.  Not only do you learn extremely difficult material at a rapid, break-neck pace, but you also are thrown into a completely new culture.  And to top it all off, learning in the classroom is very different from learning to think on your feet, and in nursing school, you have to do both.
I also advise that you cut yourselves a little slack and realize that no matter how many A’s you got in your prereqs or how many stellar references you got from your former boss, you are starting from Square One.  The skills, the language and the culture will be foreign concepts, and you don’t have to master them right away.  But your interpersonal qualities, work ethic, and passion for providing care to others – which undoubtedly got you in to begin with – are important to hold onto.
And when you start to doubt whether you can do this, you can."

Utley-Smith, Q., Phillips, B., & Turner, K. (2007). Avoiding socialization pitfalls in accelerated second-degree nursing education: The returning-to-school syndrome model. Journal of Nursing Education, 46(9), 423-426.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nervous Nelly

My better-half actually called me this name a couple days ago.

And he was absolutely right.

(And no, "Nelly" is not my name!)  :-)

When did this happen to me?  How did this happen?  Why do I find myself worrying about and doubting things now, much more than I used to?  Is it age-related?  Did it start when I became a Mom, holding my newborn safely in my arms, and realizing how scary the world can be for my little nursling?  Is it a mindset that has become a habit?

Whatever the reason, I really don't like being this way.

A couple days ago at work, I was "worrying" out loud while chatting with a colleague, about whether or not I'd be the only one in class probably not using a laptop to take class notes with.  She's one of our younger colleagues, and is currently taking some courses at univeristy (so she's really in the know!!!)

I have a laptop, and I'll bring it with me and try it for note-taking, but I have a great self-made shorthand I honed when taking notes for my previous degrees.  So even though I can type fast, frankly, it will probably be easier for me to just write down my notes using the old-fashioned "pen and paper" method.

We had a great chat, and she told me that she uses pen and paper to take notes too.  She's in the generation that I am sure grew up 'digital', but writing is her preference.

I guess I'm already really self-conscious (in advance of classes even starting!), of not being a traditional student, and not really fitting-in.  But will something relatively insignificant like using a pen and paper to take notes really make a difference, either way, of fitting better or not?  I'm not so sure that would really make any difference.

Good attitude, friendliness and a smile will probably go a lot further.

It made me realize that I really need to stop worrying about these little things, and....
..................JUST BE MYSELF. 

Easier said than done, but as they say, realizing and admitting something is a big step in getting over it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Some good questions to ask yourself

It seems that in my recent browsings on the Net, I've come across a number of interesting pieces and sites about career change, and that friends have been sending me interesting articles as well.

My latest find is an article from the Oprah site.  While I have never really been on the Oprah bandwagon, I certainly readily admit that she has done amazing work in having people "wake up" to living their lives mindfully and helping inspire people (as well as giving practical advice how) to make the decision to live their lives to the fullest, best, most content level possible. Her web site is an excellent resource for articles and interviews on these themes, and clearly, many, many more. 

The link and credit to the full article is here: (drives me crazy that the articles are never available on a single page)

However, the main premise of the article is to ask yourself five key questions about the direction, state and environment of your job/career, and to use the answers as the basis of your thinking about future plans, goals and objectives.

The five key questions are:

Question 1Does this job allow me to work with "my people"—individuals who share my sensibilities about life—or do I have to put on a persona to get through the day?

Question 2
Does this job challenge, stretch, change, and otherwise make me smarter—or does it leave my brain in neutral?

Question 3Does this job, because of the company's "brand" or my level of responsibility, open the door to future jobs?

Question 4Does this job represent a considerable compromise for the sake of my family and if so, do I sincerely accept that deal with all of its consequences?

Question 5
Does this job—the stuff I actually do day-to-day—touch my heart and feed my soul in meaningful ways?

So I'm just putting this out there, as I think they are strong and valid questions to ask oneself, regardless if a career change is brewing on the horizon or not.  "Job" could be any situation you find yourself in, from present career situation to volunteer work.


Friday, August 26, 2011

"You Should Probably Quit Your Job" (article)

A friend sent me the following article, that she found in a Canadian newspaper.  Clearly, the author is a like-minded individual to myself!

Only one and a half more weeks to go until classes start, and only 5 more days at my job next week.  Only 11 more commutes to/from work.  I'm good at countdowns. :-)

THEN, the focus of my writing will most certainly be focused on school, rather than the media and thinking up various scenarios of what school will be like this time 'round.

I must admit that this upcoming career change still seems completely and utterly surreal at this point.  I'm doing what in a couple weeks???!!! 


You Should Probably Quit Your Job
Life is short. It's "go to bed worrying about your English final, wake up with grey hair and three kids" short.

And shorter yet are the "productive years"; that period in your life when you can make a difference, when your knowledge, experience, and influence add up to something.

Those productive years are fabled. They represent the Promised Land where, one day, we'll start doing something meaningful. I know an investment banker. "One day," he tells me, "I'm going to get out and do something worthwhile, make a difference." A friend told me yesterday, "One day, I'd like to move to Montreal."

Even my five-year-old daughter is craning her neck towards this Promised Land. She tells me, "I'll be a vet one day."

But the banker won't change jobs, my friend will not move to Montreal, and I doubt my daughter will be a vet.

One day never arrives. It never arrives because our short lives move so fast, and we have so much to do. There are too many phone calls to be answered, e-mails to be read, payments to be made. They pile up in front of us, a small mountain of immediate problems, blocking our view, preventing us from seeing beyond the next few months.

But occasionally someone remembers that our lives are so short, the time is so precious, and they push aside the pile to look again on the "Promised Land." And then they do something important. They quit their job.

This happened to Kai Nagata this week. Kai was a Canadian TV reporter who suddenly resigned because he realized he could be doing more if he was doing something else. In his words:

"I quit my job because the idea burrowed into my mind that, on the long list of things I could be doing, television news is not the best use of my short life."

The public reaction was electric. Kai's blog post announcing the decision went viral, Roger Ebert tweeted about it, the Huffington Post reported on it, and it made news across Canada. People didn't care that much about a reporter in Quebec, but they did see themselves in Kai and they realized they would never be brave enough to do the same thing.

Another example of this is John Wood. Working at Microsoft, he was locked in to a solid management career. But one day he realized he could do more, that his productive years could be better spent on something more meaningful to himself and to others. So he quit, and launched Room to Read, a charity that increases literacy in some of the world's poorest nations. By any measure, his decision to quit has allowed him to do something meaningful for himself and others.

Take an honest minute and think about your job. Is it making a difference? Is it making you happy? Is it as valuable to you as the few short years you have on this planet? Some of you can say yes. Most of us, if we are truthful, cannot.

Most of us, if we are honest, know our jobs are simply a means towards a prosaic end. It pays the bills. We tell ourselves "There's nothing else I'm qualified to do." Or "The economy's so bad I couldn't find another job." In truth, everyone could be doing something else, even in tough times like this.

Sadly, though, we are so focused on the pile of immediate problems that we fail to see what Kai and John saw, which is life is too short to be wasted on meaningless work. We all should be doing something important for ourselves, our community, our children, the environment, poverty, or our nation. Remember how you, too, wanted to be a vet? It's not too late.

You should quit your job. But, sadly, you probably won't.

Scott Gilmore started Peace Dividend Trust (after quitting a really good job).

Read more:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yes, you've got what it takes!

I came across the following article recently.  The author graduated at age 45 as an RN, and is happily working in her new field and loving it. 

The article is posted in my blog, but it is also worth clicking on the link, to read all (several years worth!) of comments people have left.  The comments in themselves are inspirational stories!!!

Enjoy!  And here's to us writing such an article one of these years!!!  :-)


The Perks of Nursing as a Second Career
Yes, you’ve got what it takes!

What would prompt a 45-year-old mother of teenagers to pursue a career in nursing?

Delusional thinking, some might say. At times I thought I was mad. How could I keep up with those tireless, technology-savvy twenty-somethings? Still I couldn’t ignore my inner rumbling. I wanted to do something significant with my life.

When I was younger, nursing was my dream. But I wasn’t the student I needed to be to make that a reality. Instead, I got a degree in social work. But like many women my age, I got married, had my first child, and traded in my dry-clean-only wardrobe for playdate attire.

The children grew up. At about 40, I started thinking about nursing again. Since I wasn’t getting any younger, I realized if I wanted to do it, I had to do it now. Five years later, I’m ready to take my State Board Exam and work at a rehabilitation hospital in the brain injury unit.

Being a second career nurse isn’t easy—and it probably never will be. I often feel like I’m 13 steps behind the young new nurses. Nursing is physical, and with a body that’s already slowing down, the eight- and twelve-hour shifts are draining.

I also find myself worrying about adjusting to the technology—which younger students are proficient at. Once you get used to one pump, it’s gone and the next one comes in. I’ve spoken with other second-career nurses, and all share that feeling of not being able to keep up.

But through the discouragement, I’ve learned what second career nurses have to offer.

Your Unique Experience
Second career nurses bring to the nursing profession something younger nurses don’t have: life experience. My fellow students—most who were about 20 years younger than I—often said to me, “You’re just so comfortable and confident.” They mentioned how nervous they felt when talking to a patient. I’ve never really stressed about that. I chalk that up to my background in social work and because I’ve had my own children and been through lots of family health situations. I bring more empathy and knowledge to the nursing environment.

I also think I’ve gained confidence as I’ve gotten older; I am not afraid to say to myself, I am still smart. I can still do it…and I’m going to do it. Seasoned nurses might snidely question the way I do things, but I don’t take it personally. Instead, I deal with it. I’ve encountered enough catty people in my life—from my previous work as a social worker to the PTO--to know that usually these people have insecurities of their own.

As a second career nurse, I’m also sure of my priorities. Often, hospitals want younger students who want to climb the corporate ladder—and, hence, are willing to take the tough shifts. At this stage in my life, accelerating in my career isn’t my first priority; my family is. So, I’ve chosen to be pickier about my shifts.

I encourage others to pursue a nursing career, even if you feel over-the-hill. Health care professionals are hugely in demand, and good, caring ones are going to be the difference in solving the problems we face. Each of us has something different to offer—whatever our life stage—and working together we can make a difference.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The photos below, may also be a reason I'm feeling the "calm" and "peace" I talked about yesterday!  I just have to share some of my favourite nature shots from our recent camping trip in the wilds of Canada.


View of the beach from our campsite


Sunset on the last night of camping

Last sunset

Sunrise as seen through our tent wall


Yet another sunset (I love sunsets!!!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Butterflies and calm

Attitude is everything.

Only two more weeks until nursing school starts.  And I've had a quasi-serious case of the 'butterflies' in my stomach for the past few weeks. 

It is a feeling of excitement mixed with a bit of fear of the unknown.  I felt somewhat better when I realized that this was not a new feeling with the approach of nursing school.  In fact, this was the same, exact feeling I've had every year I've had a school year starting, even going way back to elementary school.  It is a feeling that dissipates very quickly once I actually set foot inside the classroom, because then I know what I am dealing with. 

This morning, a'calm' feeling took over.  I still have the 'butterflies', they'll be there until classes start, but I also have a serene, peaceful, enveloping feeling of calm. 

I think this feeling comes from the fact that the major decisions, the months and months (years!) of thinking about making a change, of weighing the pro-cons of this decision, of convincing myself that it was OK to leave an established career, that it will all be OK and that I will be most grateful and much happier for having made this change --  basically all the emotions and thoughts that were put into making this huge career-change decision -- are coming to a close.  For all intents and purposes, the decisions are over.  They're made.  They're done.

And that is a huge relief.

I feel calm, peace and gratitude that this new phase of my life is starting in a few short days. 

The life-changing decisions are made, action has been taken to set the decisions into play, and now I get to crack open the books and start learning the medical stuff that I've wanted to learn ever since I can remember.  I finally get to stop thinking about wanting to do and learn medical stuff, and actually doing and learning medical stuff.

And that is an amazing feeling.  :-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Late summer vacation!

Off we go camping to the wilds of Canada...for one glorious week of canoeing, hiking, playing on the beach, sleeping in a tent, making 'smores over the campfire, swatting mosquitos and sitting by the lake at night being completely in awe of the millions of stars visible in the sky... it just doesn't get much more stereotypically Canadian than this!!!  Lol!  I LOVE it!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

An antidote to my previous post!

I am sharing a link that my dear friend Trish sent me yesterday (thanks T!!!).  Her email included a comment that accompanyed the link, that stated,  "Here's an antidote to that lame article in the Globe... :-)"

I must say that I am very impressed with what the University of Western Ontario provides for its mature students.  I wish my university offered such a service, but that is no longer the case (I looked into it already).  There are several very inspirational stories, in (appropriately enough!) the "Inspiration" heading.

In particular, I found the results of a questionnaire they sent out, asking "What would you have wished to have known prior to beginning your university studies?"  The results are below.  The section did not indicate if this was the mature students' first attempt at university, or merely a career change with previous university degree(s) already completed.  A few of the answers seem to indicate that it was the respondents first attempt at university.  Nonetheless, some of the answers are interesting.

In particular, and what I can relate to the most, is the final answer in the list.  "Acknowledged the importance of studying what you are interested in." 

This is something I should have done way back when, but then again, I must admit that I've had an interesting, international career path that has taken me to places I wouldn't have otherwise gone, to UN meetings and conferences in NYC, Geneva and even New Delhi once, and working on huge files (like the Kosovo crisis) and many smaller files that I never dreamed I'd be working on.  In a way, it is a bit of a shame to be leaving all this behind, but that type of career is all-encompassing and is perfect for either a workaholic or single person with no kids.  (On the other hand, I have been granted a 'leave of absence' from my work, so if for some reason my attempt at a career change to nursing doesn't work out, back I go into my established career...  I honestly cannot see that scenario happening, but, especially at my stage in life, it is a huge comfort to know that this 'fall back' plan exists.)

My priorities have changed enormously since I entered the workforce, and honestly, even though my career has been very interesting at times, there remains an emotional disconnect, that has increased over time, that makes me question what real value there is in what I do, spending full days, weekends and even some statutory holidays at work.  Admittedly, the consular cases I worked on were rather interesting and somewhat satisfying, but they still lacked the direct, personal involvement I apparently crave in my job.

I'd so much rather spend my days with people rather than in front of a computer, doing hands-on work where I can see at least some small tangible result of the work I do.  Who knows, I might even get a sincere 'thank you' once in awhile and know that I truly did something helpful.  But I digress...

Back to the list of what mature students wished they'd known before their studies...results are as follows:

What would you have wished to have known prior to beginning your university studies?
During the summer of 2008, we asked mature students to tell us what they would have liked to have known prior to beginning university study. This is a summary of the 124 responses we received with the most mentioned on the top, and the least mentioned on the bottom.

I would have:
  • Sought out more guidance on program/course selection
  • Realized that university takes more time than I expected
  • Developed better reading skills
  • Developed better note taking skills
  • Realized the need for good computer skills
  • Attended workshops on essay writing and research
  • Found out where can I go for help
  • Recognized that I’d need to adapt to university life
  • Better understood the costs
  • Found out if there was a mature student association
  • Understood the teaching style of my Professor
  • Looked into daycare
  • Found out about scholarships and bursaries
  • Researched options for buying books
  • Looked into parking arrangements and costs
  • Found out about financial assistance such as the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)
  • Learned that courses are marked differently
  • Taken the Ready for University! modules
  • Learned about how spring/summer courses work
  • Recognized the importance of learning
  • Acknowledged the generation gap among students
  • Researched into the different services available
  • Acknowledged the support available from professors
  • Recognized the importance of balance between home and studies
  • Learned about the importance of having the correct prerequisites for courses
  • Looked up the course registration deadlines
  • Acknowledged the importance of studying what you are interested in
A very good antidote to the 'lame' G&M article indeed!!!

Onwards and upwards.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Battle of the Ages

Hello, I'm back to my neglected blog.  We have survived the "plague" that has infected our house for the past 2 months or so. 

We also survived our youngest having a relatively serious injury to the TMJ, upper teeth, mandible and gums, when a 'twirl' went bad and she crashed mouth-first into a solid wood coffee table.  On the positive side, I did learn a couple things from a nurse in the ER, and I also learned that I absolutely do NOT have any interest what-so-ever in being a dental nurse.  Displaced teeth just turn my stomach, particularly when the teeth belong to my child!!!

I recently happened upon the Globe & Mail article below.  It is a older, dated article, but the topic is ageless (no pun intended!!! hahaha!!!)

And I must say it made a knot in my stomach.  Upon re-reading it, it actually seems to be a relatively poorly written and researched article (this opinion is coming from a comms 'specialist'!). 

It seems as if the journalist picked specific people who had the most extreme experiences to highlight, rather than to look at the overall picture as well, i.e. how many mature students are there, what programs are they in, have schools done any surveys of mature students about their experiences, etc.

The article also talks about culinary classes and arts classes.  I have read that 'the' most popular choice for people working on a second career is nursing.  Therefore, I think that nursing should probably have a somewhat higher proportion of 'mature' students among their class composition. 

Apart from the whole "move from the secure job into the unknown" issue that I've been grappling with, the idea of going back into the classroom and not being a typical students is one of my biggest apprehensions.  I am realistic, and I know myself -- I am not intending or hoping to be going on pub crawls or hanging out in dorm rooms.  Been there, done that!

I am hoping, however, that my classmates (of all ages) are friendly, accepting and I am.  I would love to have a small group, of 3-5 of us who are in similar life-stage situations (home, spouse, kids, dog), who I will hopefully become closer friends with.  That would be great.  And no, I am not planning to wear any of my business suits to class (there's a reference to suits in the article) fact, I am very much looking forward to wearing scrubs and comfortable shoes (the complete opposite of office shoes!) for the remainder of my working life as a nurse!  :-)

However, at this point in my life, I am truly going to classes to learn and to get the BScN behind my name.  Of course I want to make friends and have fun along the way, but learning is the ultimate reason for being there.  Every other aspect of my life is well established and in place, unlike the reality of kids leaving home for the first time.  

OMG, just under 4 more weeks until classes start...and 12.5 more days in the office.  And wouldn't you know it, these past few weeks are THE busiest I've been at this job for over the past two years.  Summer is typically a quieter time in our office, and I was rather hoping to just kind of glide until my September departure.  That is clearly not the case!  Lol!!! 

I don't mind one bit -- I'd rather be busy than not any day, as it makes the day go by so much faster.

And hopefully in a few weeks time, as I'm established in my new student routine, I'll be writing an update about what a great bunch of classmates I have, that we're a diverse and friendly group, and that the next few years should be great....


Battle of the ages -- at a campus near you
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

At her back-to-school barbecue in September, Vicky Wright might have expected a food fight - but what she didn't expect was to have to fight for her food.

"I was surrounded by these, I was going to say 'obnoxious kids,' " said Ms. Wright, a student who had waited in line at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ont., for a hamburger. "They stepped on my toes and invited their friends in line before me. They were rude, loud, had a very odd sense of what personal space is," she said. "One of the kids ran over my foot with a skateboard - I was wearing sandals."

Ms. Wright, a digital-media student, was unlike most students there. At 44, she is back on campus after 23 years in the work force, looking to sharpen her computer skills as a graphic designer.

She is one of a growing number of "mature students" - mainly in their 40s or 50s - who are dropping their day jobs to score a seat in the classroom.

According to a report released last year by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the enrolment rate of mature students reached a record high in 2006. Of the 700,000 full-time undergrads in Canada, 16,000 were 35 or older.

"We have lots of people who come back to school after 20 years," said Marilyn Laiken, a professor of adult education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. "Sometimes they graduate from one program and go back to work, or go start another program."

But once they get back on campus, older students often find that the kids are not all right.

The younger students, riled by the look, attitude and scholarly style of their more experienced peers, are swapping stories online. Dozens of groups taking aim at mature students, with members from Melbourne to Glasgow, Toronto to Halifax, are popping up on Facebook.

"Down with mature age students!" one group posting reads. "Go back to your life and stop trying to reinvent yourself."

"Old, boring and balding" is how they are described; they are mocked for hauling their textbooks in an airport rolling bag instead of backpacks. Some complainers say the older students mention their divorces too many times, and dress inappropriately for class: "Fifty years old and think wearing a suit to class is the done thing?"

"I have this guy in my class, he's 55," said Luke Gaston, a 20-year-old culinary arts student at George Brown College in Toronto. "He repeats things. If the chef says 'debone the chicken,' he says 'debone the chicken?' ...

"It's frustrating because we're there to learn but he's there for leisure," Mr. Gaston said. "He's constantly asking questions and slowing things down. He's hindering our education."

The age-driven tension often runs high, and sometimes it can boil over in the classroom. Kristen Monteith, a 24-year-old student at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., found herself sticking up for another young student when an older one got catty.

"I simply looked at the mature student and said, 'I'm sorry, I didn't realize we were in junior kindergarten, I thought this was college and we were supposed to be mature about these things,' " Ms. Monteith said. "She looked at me and continued on with her work."

For instructors caught in the middle of the melee, sometimes calling a time out is the only option.

"If worst comes to worst, I'll call a snack break and call the two students over to speak to me," says Heather Jordan, a psychology professor at York University in Toronto.
"I enjoy teaching mature students, but they're less co-operative. They have an 'us versus them' attitude," said Dr. Jordan, 37.

While they may be the victims of uncalled-for attacks, the oldsters are nonetheless fighting back against the whippersnappers with their own Facebook groups. On their pages, they scold younger students for showing up late to class with hangovers and for distracting others by whispering loudly during lectures.

"You can only laugh at the Hate Mature Age Students groups because it's clearly spoilt brats that live with mummy and daddy and have no real world experience," one mature student writes.

"It's humiliating getting bullied and abused by people almost 10 years younger than you," another writes, "and then having the staff tell you that you brought it on yourself for coming to university."

Still, some school instructors do hear out the older folks.

"Some younger students go to school prematurely, and they can be a drag to have in the class if they don't want to be there," said Nicole Collins, a 46-year-old painting professor at the Ontario College of Art & Design who is a master's student in visual arts at the University of Toronto. "I've never had a mature student who doesn't want to be there. They've had to make sacrifices."

The campus divide continues outside the classroom, where mature students feel excluded from the keg parties and pub crawls.

"I found it was a bit bizarre and overwhelming, and in some cases very much like a carry-over of high school," said Shawn Rennebohm, a 37-year-old political science student at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, B.C. "We want to be involved but don't want to get smashed."

In turn, the older students are carving out social groups and clubs on campus, holding events from Scrabble nights to potlucks. And as Marie Colombe de Maupeou, co-ordinator of the mature students centre at the University of Ottawa, says, they do it to meet like-minded folks and forge a community outside the cliquey confines of youthful campus life.

"They're not particularly interested in knowing 'this guy was so cute,' " she said.