Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nursing Textbook - 1926!

As a parting gift when I left my first career, my boss presented me with a nursing textbook from 1926.  Its original owner had signed the inside cover, and had studied in my city, in 1930.  The full title is, "Text-Book of Nursing Technique", by Irene V. Kelley, R.N.

The textbook even contained some inserted, loose pages, that were nursing school exams from the early 1930s!

All I can say, is wow, has the field of nursing ever come a looooong way since then.

Naturally, given my love of obstetrics/L&D, I went to that section of the textbook first.  There were many notable paragraphs in it, but I want to highlight two here:

1- During the second stage of labour, the nurse is to "anticipate the physician's wants, and act quickly."  I realize that is certainly the ideal situation and exemplified good teamwork, when each team member knows what the other is doing and what that person may require.  However, I found it amusing to have a nurses's role spelled out that way. 

2- the other sentence that I really loved, was in a section that described how a nurse is to care for a premature baby.  The textbook reads as follows, "The salient features of the care of thepremature are: Keeping the tiny morsel of humanity evenly and constantly warm." 

Yes, I want to work with "tiny morsels of humanity".  That's so sweetly written.  :-)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Inspired Words for Today

Even though I am loving being in nursing school and thoroughly enjoying all the gifts and experiences that making this career-shift have brought me, I seem to struggle with getting through January.  This same phenomenon happened last year, too.

I don't know if it is the post-Christmas build-up let-down (if that makes any sense!) or simply the dark, freezing days.  It has been one of those weeks that happen in Canada -- where the temperatures plunge so cold, that it is truly impossible for average people like me to enjoy the outdoors. 

It is a week of being too cold to take the family skiing (like we do weekly), tobogganing, the snow is too crumbly to build anything with it, the kids are kept indoors every school recess because of the frostbite they'd get in a couple minutes.  I dread the thought of even having to go outside, as I know my nose and lungs will feel frozen in seconds.  Maybe this is the so-called "cabin fever" phenomenon, where people have simply been cooped up inside for too long...

Before anyone reads too much into this complaint, I must say this is not a clinical issue -- I just find it a wee bit harder to motivate myself to keep as active, energetic and eating well as I do the rest of the year.  It is frustrating to me to not have my usual energy and motivation levels, even if these moments are relatively brief.

However, the extreme deep-freeze of last week is over, and the days are getting noticeably less dark.  This is all good!  Apparently I don't do well in extremely cold, dark climates.  Give me palm trees and a beach any day....

All of that intro to say, that when I am feeling in a bit of a rut, I turn to several blogs I've discovered, and read the archived posts.  One of my favourite inspirational blogs is called "Smile With Your Heart", written by a Canadian nurse and fitness/adventure lover, Jenn Thiel.  (

Today, as I was just wrapping up my "fun" computer time, before I turn it to school-related work, I read the following sentences.

"Combine your passions. Create your dream life. Who’s stopping you? If anyone, it’s only yourself. Toss that little voice out the window and keep on keepin’ on. Keep doing what you love. You’ll discover that it really is so much more possible than you thought."  (

Those are the words I'm taking to heart today.  I'm off now to go for a run, as I contemplate with gratitude all the possibilities, people, opportunities, experiences and gifts I've been given in my life, and open my heart, mind and soul with further gratitude to any and all future amazing experiences.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Two clinical shifts in two days!

This week was fun.  We had two public health clinical shifts in two consecutive days.  The first taste of what actually working as a nurse will be like.  I cannot wait to be doing this work 'for real', not just as a student nurse...

Our first placement was a school nurse experience.  After we all introduced ourselves, kids and nurses, the children were told to choose a student nurse to be paired up with.  I couldn't believe my eyes, when the second child who was to choose, a little boy, made a beeline straight towards me!  Maybe I reminded him of his mom???  LOL!!! He was a sweetie, and actually reminded me very much of my own son, when he was that age.

We spent a very (very!) busy afternoon with each of our kindergarten "kids" -- playing with them, and trying to get the assessments we needed for our school work.  I must say, that I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get as much info as I did, during that first day.  We have two more school placements with 'our' kids, in order to finish up the assessments, write a report, and teach a health-related lesson to the class.

The key to getting young children to cooperate with medical assessments, is to turn the assesssments into a game.  This point was emphasized by our lab teachers (teaching to many students who don't have kids), and by my life experience as a mom.  I was pleased with my idea of playing "Simon Says" with my little guy, in order to assess his range of motion of his various limbs that I was supposed to.  And of course, we both took turns playing Simon Says, so I got quite the workout too!  To get him to step on the scale to be weighed, we decided to weigh his toy Batmobile first and then him, to see how they compared.  We had fun.

The other neat idea I had was to first play with the medical kit I found in the classroom, particularly with the toy stethoscope.  After playing with that for a bit, I asked him if wanted to see my real stethosope, that he could really hear with heartbeat with.  He was thrilled!!! 

Yet another thing I love about nursing, is how you get to (have to!) use your creativity and wits, and be able to think on the spot.  Come to think of it, that statement would be equally applicable to working with children and many other groups too.

But I have the priviledge of getting to think and act creatively in the field of nursing...and I love it.

Oh yes, then the following day, we had our second clinical shift at the blood pressure check booth, at a local mall.  What a day/night difference we all felt, compared to our first mall experience.  The change was palpable in everyone.  We were confident, we were more outgoing, we looked more professional in talking to the clients, we heard those Korokoff sounds when measuring the blood pressure.  We rocked.

I'm very much looking forward to continue building on that feeling of confidence in my nursing career, as other clinical experiences come my way in the coming weeks and months.

I realize I am eons away from feeling confident as a registered nurse, that even one day when I graduate and can call myself that, that I will always be learning and bettering my abilities, knowledge and skills. 

Yet, what I can already see, is how even simple experiences can lead to increased confidence, and how that all builds upon more experience.  It's a positive confidence spiral.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Busy days!

I knew this term would be much busier than previous terms, but I hadn't realized just how much busier it would be.  Busy, but very interesting! 

It is a different kind of busy compared to the first three terms.  For those terms, it was busy as in so much time was spent staring at textbooks, memorizing minute details of physiology, anatomy and microbiology.

This term seems to be more of a 'general concepts' type of approach to learning.  There still will be details to memorize for exams -- we'll never get fully away from that! - but the lectures deal with an increased emphasis on the bigger picture. 

In our last 'Intro to Nursing Science' class, for example, we discussed the Canadian health care system, as it relates to government funding, policy, division of resources, priorities of funding and federal vs. provincial government roles in funding and managing the system.  I think it is very important to know how the system works, where we as nurses fit into that system, and where we can and should have some influence to better it.

For myself, I've spent enough years working in the government arena, that I seem to be quite 'allergic' to anything remotely political in nature. I think I'll be quite happy simply being a 'worker bee' in the health care system, and leave the policy change meetings and process to others...but then again, having such a deep knowledge and significant experience in how the machinery of government system works, who knows where I'll end up....  For the time being, maternal health/L&D, paeds, ICU or Emerg are my priorities, and NOT sitting in government meetings!!!  Been there, done that. 

Getting back to the busy current school term, the clinical placements all require some type of follow-up documentation piece to be written, which I didn't realize before starting them, would be part of the process.  And we are not even talking about 'care plans' yet, as we haven't started our long-term care rotation...I am certain those will be added to the mix soon enough!  Lots of writing to do -- good thing I love writing (even if its not creative writing we're doing at school -- its still writing!)

Today I will be continuing my Public Health placement by starting my school nurse rotation.  I will have the priviledge of being part of a kindergarten class for a few weeks, and doing 'well child' health assessments.  I've very excited to be going to today's placement.  I love being with little kids, and did a lot of volunteering in my youngest child's kindergarten class last year -- I have a good idea of what we're getting into today!  It will be busy!!!  I also have to finish up my public information/outreach placement with the blood pressure clinic in a local shopping mall in the coming days. 

Busy few days ahead!  I'm so lovin' this experience!!!

Have I mentioned lately how grateful and totally contented I am, to be in nursing school and undertaking a career change???  It's probably been a week or two since I last mentioned that.

If anyone is even remotely dreaming of making a career change, and you have a good idea of where you'd want to change it to, all I can say is 'go for it'.  Making that decision to change career was, I think, the hardest decision of my life.  But once it was made, and I was on the new path, it was like a weight lifted from my whole body, and even though there have been stressful times and exam periods, overall, it has truly been amazing.  I'm so much happier, content, my outlook is brighter, I'm having more fun with my family...I simply feel like I'm truly living my life now, and not just getting through each day.

It is an amazing feeling to be doing something you truly love.

Try it for yourself, and find out exactly what I mean.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

OB/GYNE Style (Psy - Gangnam Style hospital parody)

OMG -- I love this parody!  ("Hey, pregnant lady...Hey, catching babies!")

I dream of being a "baby catcher" one day -- but definitely *not* the type depicted here, with the baby flying across the room (albeit!) into safe arms!!!!

I'm told University of Toronto medical school residents did this video. Awesome job!!!


Friday, January 18, 2013

How could this happen?

Having spent several years of my life in France, both as part of my childhood and adulthood, France had a significant impact on me...both good and not so good!  (The latter having to do mostly with Parisian driving skills...but I digress...)  I have European citizenship, so have plans and dreams to work in Europe as a nurse one day, when the kids get a bit older.  But back to my Canadian reality for now!!!

Because of my love of France and most things French, I still tend to follow the news in France.  This headline appeared recently, which I find astounding.

The article talks about a 56 year old patient in a French hospital, just outside of Paris.  He went to the washroom and he died on the toilet. 

He wasn't an in-patient, but an appointment at the hospital to have a chest x-ray done, as he had been complaining of chest pains for the past few days.  He went to use the washroom (presumably in the radiology waiting room), where he suffered a cardiac aneurysm.

I can understand that people don't always show up for their outpatient appointments.  Or they show up but for whatever reason decide to leave and not stay to wait for the appointment.  So I can understand the radiology staff at the front desk not being overly concerned that he didn't have his x-ray taken.

There's the hygiene issue that is the most surprising -- would no cleaning staff have entered the washroom in 36 hours, in a hospital???

Poor guy.  What a way to go. 

I hope the hospital is revisiting their policies...


Villeneuve-Saint-Georges : mort et oublié dans les toilettes de l’hôpital

Jean-Marcel, 56 ans, victime d’un malaise dans les WC de l’hôpital de Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, a été retrouvé 36 heures après son décès. « Insupportable », dénonce sa sœur.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Medical Communication

We spent our lab today discussing the role of communication and various strategies to effectively use communication in the medical field.  I happen to have a Master of Arts degree in communication, and spent my first career in communication, so today's lab was not the most informative to me.

That's not to say that I'm the expert and know everything there is to comms.  I'd never say something like that.  I'm always learning.

So even though today's lab wasn't exactly new to me, it did get me thinking about the differences in communication styles and uses.  Medical communication is different from my experience in governmental and diplomatic communication.  It will depend on the type of nursing I eventually end up doing, and the comms skills will be very different depending on the situation.  In trauma/emerg, you'd be most interested in getting the basic, key bits of information that are critical to the patient's condition.  While working as a nurse in an area where a longer-term relationship is forged with the patient, the communications approach would be very different.

The key point to remember, I concluded, whether working as a nurse or a diplomat, is to be an effective communicator, one must always be ready for any situation, be able to think on one's feet (think quickly!) and to "trust the gut" -- trust yourself that you are able to handle the situation presented to you, and in your abilities to ask the right questions, the right way and to project the appropriate body language.

Effective communication comes from experience...and that I have loads of!  Effective communication skills will definitely be a key "transferable" skill that I will bring to my nursing career, from my first career.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Really??? Bizarre medical news

This headline caught my eye this morning, as I was skimming the news while enjoying my cappuccino.
"New weight-loss pump sucks food from stomach after meals"

At first I thought it must be an article from The Onion, but then I remembered (still before the caffeine kicked in, clearly!) I was reading the CBC's website - the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation -- a national, legitimate Canadian news source.

I truly cannot imagine gadgets like this bizarre stomach pump becoming mainstream, but it also makes me shake my head in wonder that we, as a society, are even thinking up and desigining such gadgets.

While I understand and appreciate that different people have different issues and reasons for needing to lose weight, and sometimes not being able to.  I really do get that.  But really, an "Aspire Assist"?  An implanted stomach pump? 

What secondary medical conditions will it potentially cause, such as anemia, from draining too much Intrinsic Factor from the stomach, and not to mention the risk of infection.

This is just sad.

Here's to healthy living: making an effort to eat well and commit to exercising even 10 minutes a day.  (Exercise-can you spare 10 minutes a day?)

It may not be a perfect solution for everyone, and may not give the quick and easy results that some people want, and yes, it does take some effort, but in my opinion, it is ultimately the best solution to living a healthier life.


New weight-loss pump sucks food from stomach after meals

Categories:Community, Health
 The AspireAssist Aspiration Therapy System pumps food out of an obese patient's stomach through a skin-port and tube. (Aspire Bariatrics)
A new that device that lets people eat as much as they want, while still losing weight, is now available to consumers in Europe - but they'll need a pretty strong stomach to handle it.

The AspireAssist is essentially a self-operated stomach pump designed to help combat obesity.

It works by allowing a patient to empty food from their stomach straight into the toilet after eating through a tube connected to an access-port in the abdomen.

The device can be implanted during a short outpatient procedure that manufacturer Aspire Bariatrics calls "minimally-invasive and completely reversible at any time."

According to the company, the stomach-emptying (or "aspiration") process should be performed approximately 20 minutes after every full meal is finished.

"Over the first hour after a meal, the stomach begins breaking down the food, and then passes the food on to the intestines, where calories are absorbed," explains the website. "The AspireAssist allows patients to remove about 30 per cent of the food from the stomach before the calories are absorbed into the body, causing weight loss."

The system has been developed into a commercial product and received the European CE Mark of approval in 2011. Clinical trials are ongoing in the U.S., but it has not yet been FDA approved.

Aspire Bariatrics recently filed a patent for the system with award-winning engineer Dean Kamen's name among the inventors listed. Kamen is best known for creating the Segway Personal Transporter.

As icky as the aspiration process may seem (some are criticizing the AspireAssist a type of high-tech bulimia machine,) GizMag's Brian Dodson points out that similar stomach feeding ports have been used in patients for decades with very few complications.

The company touts the tool as a less expensive and less surgically invasive alternative to gastric bypass surgery, which operates on the same principal of removing some food from the stomach before it can enter the intestines.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Best. Afternoon. Ever. (So Far!)

We had our first clinical experience today, in public health.  We ran a blood pressure clinic in a local shopping mall.

It was the first time I got to dress like a medical professional (business casual + short lab coat) and spend time in public.  For our simulation labs last semester, we had to (got to finally!) wear scrubs, but it was always just for the reason of going to a lab.  This was going out into the world.

I was actually quite nervous at the start.  I'd done public relations at work booths before, I am definitely NOT shy and I love meeting new people and talking and listening to them.  But I'd never taken a blood pressure in a noisy, busy shopping mall before, and never before had I been looked at as someone "in the know" in the medical field.  It was so amazing.  Once I had my first client sit down in the chair opposite me and I started the brief introductory questionnaire we were to do, all the nerves were gone and pure joyful adrenalin was going through me.

That may sound overdone, but I was truly that happy doing a simple blood pressure clinic.  I can only imagine that I will somehow float home after my first L&D clinical shift, if I was so happy after today's simple experience.

It's funny how a simple experience lasting only a few hours has increased my confidence exponentially. 

This career change is the BEST thing I have ever done, in my career choices. 

Today, for the first time ever, while driving home after even such a simple experience, I honestly felt what "career satisfaction" feels like.  Today was a day well spent, doing something I really enjoy, and I feel I did something useful that benefitted somebody.

Almost 40 but still feeling 20

Someone on my FB account shared this e-card yesterday, which literally made me laugh out loud (and has generated more than a few spontaneous chuckles since then, too!)

"I'm almost 40 but I still feel like I'm 20...until I hang out with some 20 year olds.  Then I'm like no, never mind, I'm 40." (The image comes up when you click on the link, but I can't seem to post it on Blogger!)
I thought to myself, yes, going back to nursing school is a good reality check for feeling that way!!!  Luckily, I'm far from being the only one in my "mature" second-career situation, and honestly, everyone I've met, younger and older, has been truly nice and friendly.  Nursing school is a good mix of ages, interests, backgrounds, cultures and personalities.

For some reason, I can't post the graphic from the source credited website on my blog.  (Blogger why have you changed how I can post photos on my blog??? It used to be so simple...)  When I have more time, I'll try again to post the actual image here. 

Getting back to the quote, it's almost like one of those situations where in the past I have often said, "I can choose to laugh or to cry over this right now -- I choose to laugh".

I'm off to prep for my first clinical experience later today!!!  I'm really looking forward to that.

And nobody had better ask me if I'm the instructor...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Student Discount

Late yesterday afternoon, I had my first clinical pharmacology class.  I think that's going to be "the" tough course this semester...and I also think it will be one of my favourite ones.  That's just a gut feeling, but I seem to really love the topic already.  It's fascinating.

The health sciences department at my university is connected to a large hospital.  The medical bookstore is located in the lobby of the hospital.  So during a break during our pharmacology class, I ran over to the hospital bookstore to get a nursing drug reference handbook.

I was in a real hurry, as our class break was very short.  I glanced around the bookshelves quickly, but didn't see anything drug or pharmacology-related titles, so I asked the lady behind the desk to point me in the right direction.  She was very helpful and got up to take me to the right section.

As she did so, she leaned towards me, and said quietly to me, in a voice that implied we're conspiring in something.  "Here, follow me, I'll take to you the student section. We give them a bit of a discount on the books.  It'll save you a few dollars." 

Hehehe!  Of course she assumed I was a RN and not a student, given my age!  I laughed and laughed on the inside.  Bring on the student discounts!!!  I must say, it felt good to be viewed as a working professional again.  :-)  Soon enough...

And I would have done the same thing, if the roles were reversed, and I was in her shoes! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

4th semester started today

I had six hours of classes today, with a one hour break in between. Whew!  That is a lot, especially after a good three weeks off for the Christmas vacation!  The old brain is tired tonight.

But I just wanted to take a minute and write down my thoughts.  I am so overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude that I am really in nursing school.  The profs I met today are all intelligent, dynamic and interesting people.  I love them already and cannot wait to learn all that they can teach me.

My first clinical experience will take place Friday. My first lab will be on Thursday to prep me for that first clinical shift. 

Clinical pharmacology starts tomorrow, which looks to be an incredibly interesting course too.

I just have to sit back for the rest of the evening and simply take it all in.  I still find it a bit hard at times to truly believe that I actually made that change from my first career -- despite all that I had invested in getting to the place I was, in that career.  It was truly a lot to give up.  But now, it feels like a gift to have had the courage to give it all up, and embark on this amazing nursing adventure.

Gratitude.  Peace.  Joy.  Happiness.  That about describes me.  :-)

I'll never tell anyone what to do, but I can say that if you have a dream, even a really old dream, buried very deep within you...if you get a chance to follow it, grab that chance.  And if you don't have a chance presented to you on a silver platter, like I was lucky enough (just needed the courage to say OK, I'm going for it!), then try to find a way to make that chance reality. 

Following and fulfilling your dreams is an incredible feeling.  Being truly happy, content and at peace with your core self in simply the best feeling e-v-e-r.  It takes work, it takes courage, it takes a leap of faith...but it is so worth it in the end.

I guess this is what it means, when people talk about living an "authentic life".

I am so grateful to be exactly where I am with my life -- including past experiences and opportunities, and current ones. 


Future Nurse Kate

Thursday, January 3, 2013


2013 is here already. Happy New Year!

This is the year I'm half-way finished nursing school.  Honestly, it seems like yesterday that I gathered up all my courage, left my office and headed back to the classroom for the first time since 1998. 

What I find somewhat disconcerting, is thinking back to just how fast the past 1.5 years have flown by.  Had I not taken that step to go back to school, I realize how quickly the years fly by, doing work that is less than stimulating and engaging.  How easily I could have still been where I was in my career I realize how quickly this 4 year back-to-school stint is flying by, despite it seeming like an eternity before I started, when just thinking about making the change. 

And while I do miss my income, living as a family of five on one salary is very, very do-able.  It's a question of priorities.  Our priority is family, fun, happiness and creating wonderful memories for all of us and childhoods for our children.  It doesn't take copious amounts of money to create a great childhood.  It takes parents having time and energy to make it happen.  Now that my husband and I are no longer rushing around like two whirling dirvishes, making sure the bare minimum of home/child-obligations are done to keep our household functioning, we are actually enjoying the process of raising kids and living our lives, not just getting through every day. 

I do miss working, I will admit.  Its the 'going to work' aspect that I miss.  Having to be somewhere at a certain time, to do a certain thing.  I guess its the adult in me, who has been in the workforce.  Going to classes just isn't the same, somehow, even though it fits all the criteria of working.  My first clinical rotation will start next week, and so I'm quite certain that I'll feel like I'm working again, even though I won't be receiving an income. But the beauty of nursing school and this career change, is that I know I will be working again, probably before I realize it (if school continues to fly by as fast as the first three terms have!). 

Like most people, the new year is a time of introspection and goal setting.  My resolutions and goals for 2013 are pretty much the same as every year, and every year I get better and better at reaching my goals.  I wish to be more physically active (maintain my 5 km/day runs), to appreciate and enjoy the little moments even more (thank you!!!), to keep working at being better organized and keep the house better de-cluttered (a perpetually on-going Herculean task!) and simply have even more fun.

We have a few more days of calm at home, days which I fully tend to enjoy.  The next 12 weeks promise to be very challenging, will require the utmost organization on my part to keep the family/home life going smoothly, and also promise to be 'the' most interesting nursing school term to date -- bring on clinical rotations.  I am so looking forward to starting clinicals, and writing about the experiences.

Happy New Year everyone!  Spread the love and gratitude in your lives.