Friday, October 23, 2015

Several months in as an RN

Life has been so busy and so exciting these past few months...and so terrifying at times and so rewarding at other times.

I am now working 2 jobs -- one in primary care and one in acute care. This way, I am truly getting the best of both worlds. I love this. In primary care, I am getting to know the patients at our clinic, forging the basis of long-term relationships with patients that I find very rewarding. And at the hospital, I am learning how to be an independently functional nurse, working on honing my skills and my time management skills. Both of which are currently facing a huge learning curve! Lol

I've met so many nice and supportive people. In a few short months I've also learned a lot about human behaviour, family behaviour and how to deal with both pleasant and difficult situations.

I have anyone yet to die while I'm working, so that is something that I know I need to face one of these days. Part of me is so relieved when every hospital shift goes well, and yet I know it is lurking there, and a small part of me wants to face it, so that I can face that own personal fear of mine. What grim thoughts.

Back to better things. At the clinic, I am slowly starting to feel like a relatively competent nurse. I am really enjoying telephone triage shifts in particular -- our clinic has a mini telehealth program, where nurses have medical directives for certain conditions and we can use our templates to prescribe medications for some callers, and give advice and book patients urgently, and sometimes do counselling and whatever else happens to be the topic of the call. I am an extremely visually oriented person, I feel the most confident when I can assess my patients visually as well as physically, but I am finding that I am so enjoying the triage shifts. Love them!!!

And the hospital shifts are going well too. I am so blessed to be with an extremely supportive group of nurses, some very, very experienced, and others relatively new, but all that I've worked with have a strong team mentality and help me out and answer my questions as they arise. At that job, the understanding is that I'll work a few months in my current position to gain experience, and then they will start transitioning me to ultimate passion.

Life is good. Life is busy. Life is very tiring at times. Oh, we also got a tiny puppy to add to the mix, just to make sure we're not busy enough! She's a golden retriever and some days appears to be growing before our eyes. We are completely smitten with her - pure puppy love!

In hindsight, I am so grateful I had the opportunity to make this career change. There have been moments when I completely doubted my sanity in making the career change....berating myself why I just didn't stay put in the comfy job I had. But those moments, although intense, have been fleeing. I am ultimately so happy now, looking forward to what my workday brings, even though I am still apprehensive at the start of shifts and at certain moments during the day, or night!

I LOVE being a nurse. Life is great.

RN Kate

Friday, July 24, 2015

When it rains, it pours

This week, it is raining good stuff.

NCLEX: passed
RN goal: achieved
Job offer: accepted

Happy, happy dance!!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

I did the craziest thing last night

I am studying and studying. And starting to drive myself crazy with just sitting and studying (and perhaps eating, too, when I study!).

Last night, on an impulse decision (even though it is something I've been thinking about for a long time), I signed myself up to run a half-marathon in September.


I don't remember the last time I went for a run. So I went this morning for a short run, to see if I still could run (maybe that's something I should have done before signing up, but hey, that's me). I managed to do 3.5 km. That is nowhere near 21 km, but all things considered, it is a good start. It was not fast, but it was a run.

My goals are 1- to finish the half-marathon, and if I succeed with goal 1, then goal 2 is not to be the last person in my age category!!! (at least second last would be fine!)

I think some wise old ancient Greek guy said, "Healthy mind, healthy body." If I want to conquer this nursing licensing exam, I gotta get the healthy body to help out.  Plus, I like the idea of actually doing the stuff I tell my patients they need to/really should be doing.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

NCLEX booked!!!!

I cannot believe the absolute final step of this nursing school/registered nurse journey is now official.

My exam is set for July 28, 2 pm.

We were always told that we get to choose our date/time for the NCLEX exam, which is a major change from the Canadian Registered Nurses Exam (CRNE), which was only given 3 or 4 times a year. As of 2015, all Canadian nurses must write the NCLEX to become registered. So we are part of the new cohort for this license.

Back to booking the exam...yes, it is entirely true that candidates get to choose the date/time of the exam. However, what we weren't told, was that it is only offered sporadically! So we choose the date that works for us, among the slim pickings of it being offered.

When I went to book my exam, I had the choice of either June 24-26ish, I don't remember exactly, but it was definitely too soon, or the next available dates were July 27, 28. The one offered July 27 was to be written at 8 am, and I definitely not a morning person!!! I thought back to all the sleepless nights I had before dayshifts, stressing that my 2 or 3 alarms had failed and was wondering what time it was. Crazy, sleepless nights those were. And there is no way I'm subjecting myself to that before the most important exam of my life, when there are alternatives!

So 2 pm, on July 28th it is.  Yay! Later than I'd hoped, but still, yay!

And I must say I've ordered the Saunders book and online package for RN-NCLEX prep, and I think it is absolutely amazing! They provide you with a personalized 6 week study schedule based on an assessment test. I think the book is really well written, the online questions re-inforce what you've just learned, and they have lots of quizzing options.  I've heard lots of good things about many prep courses, but for me, this one rocks! I already feel confident that July 28th will go great.

(Full disclosure -- no, I am not being paid to write this brief review, sadly!)

The job situation is a bit discouraging, when one chooses a consolidation placement that really wasn't a good fit. I mean, the people were awesome, I did learn a lot and did a variety of tasks, but ultimately, I belong in acute care in a hospital or a clinic where I am working with patients on a regular basis (and less time in front of a computer). I know something will eventually come about, but like I said, its a bit discouraging when I see my classmates being handed jobs where they consolidated, and they're getting them where I want to be!

However, I must admit, I haven't been trying too hard yet to look for work. We went to France for a glorious vacation...I am still homesick for France, and am going through fresh bread withdrawal. I'm taking an awesome coronary care/assessment course where I am slowly starting to make sense of complex ECGs and loving it, and frankly, want to focus primarily on getting licensed. Then I will do a full-out job search for a place I really want to work in.

Its funny -- I can multi-task like mad at work or at home, but when it comes to studying, I absolutely need to focus on one thing at a time. Just studying. Studying and job searching, for example, don't mix. Study, study, study, and get it done and over with.  What an exciting life I'm leading right now. Lol


Almost RN Kate!!!  So close now!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Coronary Care Course...starts tomorrow!!!

Yep, I think I set a new personal best between finishing one major educational goal, and launching right back to the school setting.

Tomorrow, I'm lucky to be starting my Coronary Care course. It is a very intense, focused 40 hour course designed for ER nurses. And I get to start tomorrow!!!

Otherwise, I'm mostly just doing fun things with the family. I was volunteering a lot these past few days in my daughters' school. I simply love being able to do that.

As far as the job front is concerned, I'm also laying low with sending out applications. This weekend we are going on a trip that has been booked and looked forward to for at least half a year now. We are off to Europe -- I'm going back to my second home away from home, to France.  I've got dual citizenship, both European and Canadian. When I'm here, I want to be there, and when I'm there, well, I kinda want to be there, but also miss Canada a whole lot.

Any way I look at it, life is good. Life is great. And I am so incredibly grateful for it all.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Almost there!!!

Last night I took my Jurisprudence exam, and passed it.

I was stressed going into it, because I'd heard from people that it was very difficult and that they barely finished in time.

Well, it definitely was not easy, but it was very do-able. And, I finished it with 1 hour 43 minutes to spare. So much for stressing about the time constraint.

There is officially just one more exam standing between me and me being a Registered Nurse.

Bring on the NCLEX!!! (Yet, I still am waiting for my provincial nursing College to send me the 'go ahead' to register for it. In the meantime, I study more...)

Almost RN (so, so close now!!!),

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Anti-climax Phase of Nursing School

I must admit, finishing nursing school is extremely anti-climatic. After all those weeks, months and years (!) of counting down to the finish date, of doing last exams, last papers, last presentations and last clinical shifts, it is suddenly over. The toasts are made and the champagne is thoroughly enjoyed.

And now what? The anti-climax.

So nursing school is done, but we are in limbo. The huge licensing exam looms huge over our heads, since without a license, we cannot practice. Job applications are submitted, and we wait. And study. And wait some more.

It is another phase of transition in this career change, and those of you who know me, know that I am n-o-t a fan of transition. Deep down in my heart, I simply know that everything will work out and I'll be looking back at this post thinking, "If I knew then what I know now, I'd not be worrying about anything." And truth be told, I'm not worrying. It is more of an unsettled feeling. My routine and structure from the past four years of school is suddenly gone, the final clinical rotation that had us working full-time is over, and it is not yet replaced with working.

I think I spent about a good 10 days just de-stressing and relaxing and exercising. I hadn't realized just how tense and how much work the past few years have been. Now my head is clearer, and I've started studying for the licensing exam. On a very bright note, I wrote the CAT exam last week, to practice for the NCLEX, and got the "good" pop up after only 85 questions. So that, plus the HESI results, have greatly increased my confidence for the licensing exam, and have helped my motivation to start studying again (even though nursing school is finished!).

Tonight I will be teaching my daughter's Girl Guide unit their first aid badge. I have so many activities planned for them. It is going to be so much fun!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rocked the HESI today!!!

I did the HESI, part one, back in November, 2014. I did OK, better than average, but not the 900+ score to be aiming for. The test gave me an outstanding study package based specifically on my results. In theory, it was going to be great to review all that and then take the test, part two, and improve.

Well, somehow, the second test sprang up on me, and it was today. I managed to review a few of the great gems of knowledge that I needed improvement on, yesterday. I spent most of last week, since Tuesday when the last class presentation happened, just feeling layer upon layer of stress evaporate and leave my system. It was a very strange few days, coupled with spring allergies/cold hitting me. I was definitely in a strange mental fog for the better part of last week. Post nursing school stress disorder??? Lol. Let`s hope not!

Today, I slunk into the exam, with all my great plans of studying gone. I was just hoping to not do worse on today's exam, than on the previous one.

I came out of there with a 914 and a new sense of confidence!!! Woot!!! Woot!!!

I am so happy and relieved. I guess I did learn something more in the past half year. Whew!

My first application package from my provincial college of nurses arrived, I'm mailing it back tomorrow, and then I wait for the official invitation to write the NCLEX. I'd love to get it done sooner rather than later, but want to feel (reasonably) confident that I'll be successful on the first try.  Here in Canada, we only get three chances to pass, unlike in the USA, where I understand they get unlimited attempts. Three strikes and you`re out. That would be a disaster.

To end on a positive note -- all is well in HESI land, and I expect full time studying for the NCLEX to start tomorrow!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Nursing School is DONE

It really, truly is finished. Today we gave our last presentations that summed up our nursing school journey and beyond. It was a nice way to end the program.

I am still a bit incredulous that it is finished. Back in another transition phase. Transition that I always find so unsettling.

The College of Nurses for my province has sent me a package that I need to complete so that I can write my licensing exam. I have filled out my temporary licence application form. I have a job lined up for as soon as I get my temporary licence, in primary care. I'll be working part-time at the clinic for the summer, and then switch to full-time in the fall, when the children go back to school.

In the summer, I'd also like to get to know the people in a couple clinics very close to my home, and try to get casual positions there, a couple nights per week, or on weekends. Variety is the spice of my working life.

In the fall, I'll head back to school, to get my post-RN certification as a trauma nurse. Hopefully, a year from now, I'll be working in a clinic part-time and at a local hospital ER part-time. That would be simply awesome.

In the meantime, I need to start studying for my NCLEX, so that I pass is on my first try.

We also have an awesome trip to Europe booked for May, so that is something I'm very, very much looking forward to for next month.

Life is so great. I am so incredibly grateful for the many blessings I've been lucky to receive in my life. Even though this is a transition phase, it is great.

I'm a nurse!!!!! I did it!!!!!

Friday, March 27, 2015

My nursing school courses are all done

Yes, it is really true. The academic component of my nursing program is finished. I've passed all my courses. I have no more quizzes, papers, tests or exams as part of my BScN program.

This new reality is still sinking in, even though its been a couple of days now. It is still sinking in.

I have 7 days left of my last rotation. The semester is officially over on April 14.

Even though its been a very long 4 years, it has truly flown by when I look back. I'm beyond grateful it is so close to being finally done. It seemed so daunting and far away at the start, and suddenly it is done.

Now I get to re-focus and start living my life again with no school stuff hanging over my head. Of course, that will last as long as it takes to start studying full-out for the NCLEX licensing exam, and then my post-RN certification courses that I'm already planning to take... But that is different. Those are purely interest courses that I'm choosing to take. Nursing school was a choice too, yes, but there were quite a few courses that I'd definitely not have chosen to take, had they not been a mandatory part of the curriculum! Lol. The courses I take from here on in, are purely my choice, based on interests.

And speaking of interests, this is the time when I get to re-awaken, and start re-discovering my pre-nursing school interests. Tennis? Play more piano? Dust off my saxophone that's been staring at me and making me feel guilty for the past 4 years? Writing for fun? Zumba? Pilates? I'm not quite sure where to start, and in my typical fashion, want to start everything at once...

Anyhow, this picture below captures EXACTLY how I am feeling now (I hope it gets better soon):

What I look like everyday.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Signed, Sealed & Delivered

My last (hopefully ever!) scholarly article is finished, and was submitted yesterday. I'm still not quite truly believing that it is done, but my logical mind reassures me that it is. The email I also got that confirmed it being submitted, also helps reassure me. Anyhow, it is done, and I am feeling a sense of enormous relief.

I have about 20 more shifts left in my last rotation. I survived winter camping last weekend with my daughter, and am still recovering from the lack of sleep. There is a mountain of work for me to do around the house...stuff that's basically been 'on hold' for the last while, some since the second week of January.

The pressure and stress of the semester, and frankly, of the past 4 years is starting to lift. I have an evening shift today, so am basking in the free time I have this morning. One last little quiz to do on March 24, and then the academic component of the nursing program is officially finished.

What will I then do with myself and all my newly available free time?

Oh yeah, the "little" detail of starting to study for the NCLEX will become top of mind. Even though I may have soon finished nursing school and graduated from that, without successfully passing the licensing exam, the NCLEX, the exam that tests everything you've learned over the past 4 years, all that work is for nothing, as you cannot work as a nurse without a license.

Goody. More studying to look forward to. But not right now. This morning I am still basking in the post-last-scholarly-paper-submitted bliss.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My Last NS Paper is Still Hanging Over My Head

I've started it. I have an outline done. My reference list (thus far from what I've researched), is done. I even have my first sentence done! (that is usually the hardest part). Nothing seems to be helping me get going on this crazy last paper.

I even went for a run this morning, for the first time probably since October, or maybe even September. That felt like the longest 3 km of my life, but I'm feeling good and am so happy I went. But still, that is an element of procrastination.

There are eight pages of double spaced text (so really four pages of actual writing), standing between me and complete academic freedom from nursing school. Seriously, why is this so hard????  Maybe a subconscious part of me wants nursing school to go on and on? Nope. Definitely not.

I guess some habits just run deep, and even though I know this is the last thing that I need to do, it is still practically impossible to get it done early. Pathetic, I know.

LOL  - a friend just texted me as I am writing this post, that clearly going for the run was the much healthier choice between exercise and writing a paper.

Gotta love that perspective!!!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

My Last Nursing School Exam is DONE

Really, truly, I have no more exams in nursing school. 4 years of nursing exams are o-v-e-r. I cannot quite believe that, yet, but I will in very short order. That's won't be a problem to accept.

I am going in for my work shift later today. We have less than 8 weeks left in the program, and all that remains now to do are two papers (one short, one longer -- outlines for both are done) and my remaining clinical shifts.

I am simply loving primary care nursing. It is something that didn't even cross my mind, when dreaming about being a nurse and planning the career change. I was going to be a Labour & Delivery nurse, to the exclusion of all else. Now here I am, a primary care/family practice nurse-to-be...and absolutely loving it. I will still get my peri-natal certification, as I still want to learn to be a LD RN, but it will somehow have to work in conjunction with primary care/family practice nursing.  I truly believe I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. And that is a great feeling.

I am so grateful to be where we are in the program. The end is so close, we can all almost believe it. It was bittersweet being together as a class one last time today. We had the exam in the same room that our first-ever class was in. It felt like the experience had come full circle. It is bittersweet, because it is the end of a phase, an era, but also very, very exciting because we are all very much looking forward to breaking out of the school/student routine, and start actually working as nurses.

Exciting times!!!


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I couldn't make this up if I tried

In the my short (8 days, to be precise) experience as a primary care nursing student, I've heard some sentences and learned about some situations that just make me shake my head in wonder.

Today I heard my nurse say the following to me: "You can't miss your patient. She's wearing a orange and green Hawaiian shirt, is barefoot and clutching a stuffed chicken." Say what?


Only it wasn't a chicken, it was a Holstein cow. But I still managed to easily find my patient, even with the wrong animal info.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Final Countdown

(cue the synthesizer music & drum intro...that tune was playing in my head as I wrote that title, so I thought I'd plant that in someone else's head too - you're welcome!  Here's Europe's official video of their song: I digress)

The last semester is (finally) upon us. I must admit, that even though some days (weeks, months) have felt extremely long, when I look back at this nursing school journey now, it honestly seems like about a year, year and a half have gone by. It is a bit of a scary feeling to think how easily I could have still been sitting in my beautiful government office, wishing I had the courage to walk away and be a nurse. I am forever grateful to everyone who supported my in making this huge decision. I could never have had the courage to do it alone.

We officially finished classes. Only once more do I have to go back to the school, in mid February, for one final exam (YIPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). It seems surreal.

My last clinical rotation started a week ago today. I am working full time in a clinic, as a primary care nurse. For most of my nursing school, I had dreamt of being a Labour & Delivery nurse, and maybe an ER nurse. Then this past summer I discovered Primary Care nursing. It gives me the variety that the emergency room provides in terms to variety of people, ages, stages, conditions and needs (variety was the only thing lacking as a LD nurse). It lets me work with pregnant women and newborn babies (assessed 3 day old twins the other day!!!). It teaches me so much about so many conditions, that if I do become a Nurse Practitioner, I'll already have heaps of knowledge and experience to base my practice on. It allow me to build relationships with patients and families (that was the biggest component that was missing, in the ER option). And maybe best of all -- I work days, the occasional weekend, and NO nights!  (A good friend of mine is starting a marathon of 5 consecutive night shifts tonight at her placement -- I'll have to check in on her in a couple days and make sure she's hanging in there)

So who knew that primary care was where I'd ultimately end up. I am so grateful for this opportunity.  I have an incredible preceptor nurse, who is infinitely interested in teaching me the realities of nursing that one does not learn in nursing school. I think I remember reading somewhere that nursing school teaches you the basics of anatomy, physiology, etc, and how to not be a danger to your patients (and yourself!) when you graduate. The real learning comes from experience on the job.

I still think I'll probably start working on my perinatal nursing certification once school is done (thank goodness for 'lifelong learning' in the nursing profession -- I can continue to stress out for exams and tests for as long as I work!!!). In all seriousness, I think I will get that certification, and find a way to work both in the clinic and on a LD floor somewhere. But that will all sort itself out later.

For now, I'm focusing on primary care. The steepest learning curve that was the first week on the job was last week. Now I can hopefully focus on learning and doing as much as I can from this last rotation as a student.

10 more weeks!!!!!


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Happy New Year 2015

This is the year. This is the semester. Only 11 weeks and 2 days to go, and my goal is achieved.

I just came across this photo below, and that pretty much sums up my goals for this year...perhaps with the exception of grad school. That can wait a year or two. I am, however, already signed up for an Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) course and some other things. It will truly be 'life long' learning for this nurse. Number 4 is important, always! Lol.