Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Comic Relief: Brian Regan Emergency Room

Need a laugh today?
I needed some laughter today, as I focus on the homestretch of the med-surg rotation and third year nursing school.

Here's a short clip I stumbled across: Brian Regan's take on the ER.

I l-o-v-e this guy's take on rating pain according to the pain scale!!!  And he's certainly got a valid point on the need for valet parking in Emerg. I've thought about that being very useful before, too.

Enjoy! ("say eight, say eight!!!")

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Yes, even though I am losing all hope in spring ever arriving this year, I can see then end of third year nursing school.  We have just over a week left to go. That is truly surreal.

I was recently talking with my mom, and she way saying how she couldn't believe how quickly this program is flying by (and she thought I was off my rocker leaving my first career). I chose to do the regular 4 year BScN program (as opposed to the accelerated program) for several reasons, mostly because doing the extended program allowed me to be mostly part-time for the first two years. At the time I started, my youngest was in half-day kindergarten, so it allowed me to spend precious time with her, and to volunteer in the kids' school. That was a gift to me (and them!) beyond measure -- something that I'm so grateful to have been able to do, and something that I can never go back to as time only goes forward.

So what I started this adventure, I was faced with four solid years until I graduated. The days have been full, there have certainly been stressful times and other times when I had to study and couldn't join my family/friends on certain activities, but its not forever. And honestly, even though some days and weeks are very long, in hindsight, it has flown by.

We just have 25 full weeks of classes/shifts left, and then they'll send us out into the real world, to be real nurses! (gulp!!!). I think I've mentioned this before (if I haven't written it, I've certainly thought of writing it down - lol), is how easily I could have STILL found myself sitting in my office, dreaming about going to nursing to school.

Time really does go by quickly. Something that may seem eternal and daunting initially, can easily go by faster than people realize. I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to gather up my courage and make that career change, even if went against the grain and seemed illogical at my current stage in life and career. I would be devastated if I were to look back now and realize, "If only I'd started nursing school when I wanted to, I'd be almost done by now."

But instead, here I really am, just 7 school/shift days short of finishing third year. I've just landed a dream contract with a leading national nurses association, where I'll have the opportunity to beautifully bring my first career and my future career together in a way I didn't envisage possible earlier, and basically, truly living the life of my dreams.

Take steps towards meeting some of your dreams and passions. It is so worth the effort and the initial doubt (and terror!)  I can attest that I'm closer than I've ever been before to living the most authentic life and being most my true self, than I've ever been before. 

I've never been more content and at peace with myself and my life.

That is a gift beyond measure, and something that I'm most grateful for.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Today My Patient Told Me...

I had cared for this patient for two days, and today was my last shift with her.  I was saying my goodbyes as I left the floor, and my clinical instructor was with me, just asking her how my nursing care had been for her.  She said it was lovely.

As we were leaving, she added, "If I'm ever in the hospital again, I truly hope Kate is my nurse again."


Now, THAT's job satisfaction in my books.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Need Inspiration to be a Second Career Nurse?

Here's some genuine inspiration about second-career nursing...she became a nurse at age 54, and at 89, is still working 4 times a week.

Now that's inspiration to me.  And as a bonus, this makes me feel positively young!!! :-)

Thank you, ScrubsMag, for telling the world about this amazing nurse!

89 years old and still going strong…our inspiring nurse of the week!

 + Scrubs + Scrubs

Ever feel like you’re 90 years old at the end of a long shift? So does Ruth Hepler.

Here’s the difference, though: Hepler actually is 90! Well, 89 to be exact.

Four days a week you’ll find Hepler at Nella’s Nursing Home in Randolph County, W.V, according to She will have driven herself there and will likely be overseeing and comforting patients in addition to performing nursing treatments.

Interestingly, Hepler didn’t even become a nurse until she was 54. She joined the Davis and Elkins College RN Program after her husband died. Before that she was a homemaker, and before that she worked in a factory making plexus glass for B29 bombers for World War II.

She doesn’t restrict her work to West Virginia, either. She has also volunteered as a nurse in Haiti and has traveled around the world. All of this sits well with her reason why she’s still a nurse after all these years.

“If you are going to retire to something, that’s different. Just don’t retire and sit down,” she told WBOY.

Well said, Mrs. Helper.

Here's the link to the source of this article, at

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Marathon continues....

Whew. Two exams in two days have just been completed. 

Now I get to work on my nursing care plan that is due on Friday, to be presented complete with Power Point slides. I don't mind one bit. Yes, its extra work, but I've truly hit the jackpot with the best clinical instructor ever.

Last Thursday was our med-surg buddy shift, which meant I didn't really get to do anything except watch and learn how the unit works. By the end of the shift, my instructor told me I'd have not one, but two patients on Friday, and pass meds to both of them.  That's about 25 different medications between the two patient!  And she makes sure we know not only the medications' key info, but also details like mechanism of action (i.e. this one blocks cellular calcium channels which raises the voltage for an action potential to trigger...)  I did it.  I knew them, and now after being verbally grilled on them, I'll remember them forever.

At post-conference on Friday, after I'd managed to look after both patients and get my documentation done (no small feat!), we were talking.  I told the group that honestly, if you'd told me a week ago I'd be looking after two patients, solo, on the med surg floor today, I'd have looked at you like you have two heads.  But I did it, it went well, and my confidence and organization levels are growing exponentially.  Its incredible.  Busy, but incredible nonetheless.

And you know what, my mind is starting to change about the importance of working on a med-surg floor as a first job.  I can now really see the value of doing such nursing at the beginning, as you truly do learn so much about so many conditions.  What a valuable learning experience.  And with my long-term goal of being a Nurse Practitioner, I just might consider that type of nursing initially, even if its just for six months or a year.  I really do want to specialize in the NICU or LD or even Emerg, but I think I'd have such a strong foundation if I did med-surg first.  I think I'll still consolidate in one of the high-acuity areas (probably NICU), but won't be devastated if I don't get in there as a nurse right away.  I think I'd be a better NP if I worked med-surg for awhile.

Anyhow, time will tell.  Its just interesting to see how my thoughts and priorities are changing as we go through nursing school.  I went in thinking LD all the way, but now its truly one of several options.  And I love having options!!!  Lol! 

I just love nursing so much, I want to do a bit of everything!!!

Back to reality, back to face my care plan now.

And here's a cartoon that brought a smile to my face, from my beloved website:

Here's the link to the entire cartoon series on

Monday, March 3, 2014

30 Stages of Nursing School

I came across this gem of a list a few days ago.  I don't know who it belongs to, so I'm just sharing the link and giving full credit to the fun people who took the time to compile it.

It's awesome.  It is also a bit sad that it rings so true.

Only 9 more months of school, and 13 months total until we graduate...we can do this....

Just a few more nursing diagnoses....must push through....

ENJOY!!!  Here's the link:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The True Importance of Assessment

I'm still thinking about my experience during my first medsurg shift, with the patient I described yesterday. I cannot help but wonder how the situation could have been very different, had I not gone it at the time I did, to assess him. That's part of the nature of the job, I guess. 

And just from entering into his room, I could already tell by looking and listening to him, that things were not right. That's a pretty good feeling, I must admit, for an inexperienced, novice student nurse ("snurse"!). I'm doing some "critical thinking" here, folks! Its all a question of building up confidence over time and experience.

I keep thinking back to my pediatrics rotation, where it seemed all we did was do vitals q4h or q2h, depending on the patient. I even had one pediatric patient with a head injury, that I was doing neurovitals on every q15 mins, I believe.

I remember expressing a bit of frustration to my nursing prof, saying that it seems that all we do is take vitals. Luckily, my pediatric patients were all stable, and we were clearly doing all those assessments just to practice doing assessments. She tried to explain to me how important doing those VS assessments were, as part of the ongoing care for our patients. It just seemed very routine to do, and we had to go through the motions of taking those assessments. It felt tedious at times.
Now I know better.

Now I can really see the importance behind doing those assessments. They provide so much information about the patient, that I didn't realize back then.

Our clinical instructor told us that she's never had a patient unexpectedly crash on her. She does a complete head to toe assessment on every single patient at the start of each shift. Any deviation from that baseline assessment is noted, and potential predictive trajectories of decline can be spotted on follow up checks. That's not to say she's never had a patient crash on her, she has, clearly, its just that its never blindsided her.

And speaking of clinical instructors, my teacher this term could not be better. She is very tough and very demanding, yet very approachable and enthusiastic about teaching us as much as she can. We are going to learn to much -- actually, in just two shifts (one on the floor, one in a classroom) with her, I've already been able to apply so much theory I've learned since year one, to practice.  She's making the theoretical portion of nursing school come to life.

And she's only been a nurse for 7 years.  That is maybe the part that amazes me the most. If she can be that awesome, intelligent, efficient and capable a nurse in that amount of time, you can be sure I'll be right up there with her, in seven years.  She's shown me it is 'do-able' to be such a great nurse, in a relatively short period of time. 

If she can do it, so can I.
Oh, and how could I forget to mention...glory be, the nursing theory paper is d-o-n-e!!!!!! Whew.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Medsurg Can Be Exciting

I'm just home now for a short while, after my first medsurg shift. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, except that it would be busy for me. I guess I was expecting busy but doing more or less routine things.

It wasn't quite that way.  For the most part, yes, but I'm currently coming down from an adrenaline rush -- I'm realizing I'm perhaps more of an adrenaline junkie than I realized.

I met all kinds of patients today, some very nice, some not so much. The nice ones were truly lovely.

Then there was my patient who I went to take a set of vitals on, who congestion was audible when you entered the room and was breathing quickly, using the accessory muscles/retractions and the tracheal tug that I'd read about in textbooks (it's really something to see in real life -- I didn't realize it would look quite that dramatic!). I couldn't get his O2 sats - I tried and tried, then got a different machine and tried again on his toes, and finally got a reading -- 68% and his legs were cool and mottling.

I got help quickly.  They were still working on him when I finally left the hospital tonight, but he seemed to be breathing a bit easier.
I was breathing a bit easier too.

I did something good and useful in my work today. What an awesome feeling.
I can see how one would learn so much working on a medsurg floor. But I also love the idea of specializing where you're working on a 1:1 ratio and being an expert in your particular field.
So many options, so many choices.  Again, what an awesome feeling.

I'm loving this!!!