Posted in being in nursing school, fear of the unknown

Graduation & Jobs

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Well, gang. I did it. I graduated. I finished my 5th and final semester of nursing school and while part of me is really, really, excited, the other part of me is terrified. Let me start off by saying I was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society of nursing, and graduated with a 3.6 GPA. I was in the top 30% of my class. That impresses me, because God knows I had to work really hard to keep my head above water. It didn’t seem like anyone else needed to work nearly that hard to pull off the same grades, but, dammit, I did.

My hard work paid off. The last few weeks of nursing school were filled with evenings receiving award after award, going to scholarship banquets, award ceremonies and just overall recognition for being awesome. Before you roll your eyes at my mightier-than-thouness, please understand I say this with a heavy dose of disdain. I have no idea what to do with all of these awards. Do I frame them and make a wall of awesome? Do I use them to roll sushi on the particularly tough Monday afternoons? Do I stare at them and wish I was still in nursing school because now I have no idea what to do with myself? I mean, seriously? What do I do with these?

I thought about putting them on my resume, but I can’t imagine what prospective employers would want to do with knowing I attended the National Student Nurses’ Association convention and learned how to apply for this very job. I mean…seriously (I have to say that so far every employer has loved that)?

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As I look back on the final year of nursing school and reflect on each of the accomplishments for which I was awarded, I am reminded of really happy moments that I know I will miss in the near future. I will miss my cohort. I will miss my faculty. I will miss knowing exactly what was coming up next. Now that I’m finished, there aren’t words all over my calendar anymore. They have been replaced with TV shows. I had to find something to do. So, like a good nursing student, I started job hunting.

I began applying for jobs in the early part of the final semester and landed 2 amazing offers. Both before I had even graduated or taken the NCLEX. One offer is located in our local healthcare system and the other in a very well known and cutting edge facility that anybody would be CRAZY to say no to. That is…unless, of course, you are me. Guys, I think I’m going to be that one crazy son of a bitch that unlike any other able bodied and clever human being, decides to work at the local healthcare facility over the 100 best places to work facility. Here’s why I’m crazy:

Option A: Local healthcare facility. 5 minutes from my home. Easily $10K less than Option B per year. Smaller, home-feeling, facility with access to Labor and Delivery (YAY!). 15 minutes from my son’s school. Across the street from my husband’s job. Staff is known to me. Director loves me (and I love her). Flexible hours.

Option B: 100 Best Places to Work facility: 25 – 35 minutes from my home. $10K more than Option A per year. Big. No L&D. 45 – 55 minutes from my son’s school. Unknown staff. Excellent resume builder. Doing same thing I would be doing in Option A. Hours not flexible as Option A.

I am so seriously struggling with this. I have been agonizing over this. I have exactly 24 hours to give my answer and I still don’t know what my answer will be. I feel a tremendous since of loyalty to Option A. But I know, on paper, Option B is the more clever choice. I wish like hell I had someone else to make this decision for me. I wish I could say that I’m enjoying my time away from school but all I am doing right now is agonizing over this potential career changer.

So, I’ve promised myself I would come back here and not only update the world on where I am at now, but also remind myself why I became a nurse. I became a nurse because I was extremely inspired by my Labor and Delivery nurses, lactation nurses and the OR team that worked my c-sections. I fell in love with the OR on the way, because I love the atmosphere of the OR, but my first love will always be babies. There are absolutely 0 babies at Option B. Additionally, how much is my family worth to me? The time spent in traffic driving for an hour only to get home in just enough time to watch my son fall asleep may not be worth it. At least not at this point in his life while he is so small.

Also, let’s think about this. Have you read my About section? You know that part where I say I have been “doing the latter for over 12 years”? About that: the reason I was in business for over 12 years is because of the golden carrot. The golden carrot was the big wad of cash that was dangling in front of my face all of the time. That fat wad of cash (and knowing I was working for Fortune 100 company) kept me from exploring who I was and working within my passion. MONEY and STATUS kept me a prisoner for so long. And here it was again, dangling in front of my face as if God is challenging me to say “Are you sure?”. I thought I was, God. I thought I was sure. And then you put this opportunity in front of me that people fight over. YES! I am sure. But, am I stupid?

Sigh. The good news is that it has put me in a position to ask Option A if they can do anything to match Option B. As a new grad, I gather this is absolutely unheard of so I’m not expecting much, but my recruiter absolutely understood my predicament. It’s difficult to choose between what you want to do and what money is trying to force you to do. I didn’t come to nursing for money. I came to nursing because I wanted to love what I did. I wanted to love it. That’s why I’m here. If I don’t love it, then why do it? I made great money in business. Great money. But, it didn’t fulfill me in the least bit. I want to be fulfilled.

In other news, I should probably mention that I just received my testing eligibility from the Board of Nursing and am waiting patiently on the ATT from PearsonVue. That makes things feel awfully real! Oh! And my classmate and I were the speakers at our Pinning Ceremony. It was a hoot!!

Wish me luck tomorrow as I pray for guidance towards the correct path. I’m accepting all good juju!!

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Posted in being in nursing school

Wait…what???

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My sweet dad told me yesterday that I was “smart enough to be a doctor if I wanted to”. How cute. He thinks that was a compliment. This nursing degree was, easily, the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. The brevity of information you’re expected to retain is overwhelming. The time I’ve spent away from my son is time I will never get back. The back to back 12 hour shifts that I’m not getting paid for is exhausting and in this program we do over 1000 hours of that. I reckon, yes, I’m smart enough to be a doctor but I would submit to you that maybe somewhere deep down doctors are smart enough to be nurses, too.

Posted in being in nursing school, on a personal note

Shoes.

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Ok. I admit it.

I totally followed the crowd. I bought the $137.00 pair of Dansko Professional XPs a month before I started nursing school (pictured at the top). I was excited. I had asked my nurse friends, and my bartending friends – both of whom spend a good bit of time on their dogs (feet). They raved about them; I’d even go as far as to say they idolized them. But me? I had no idea. My job required me to sit 7 hours of the day — something I could comfortably do in a 4-6″ pair of heels. This whole “comfy” shoes phenomenon was new to me. So, I did what any other n00b would do and I asked people “in the know”.

There is a certain…ok, I’m not going to sugar coat it, exaggeration of awesome in the fields where I sought my advice. Everyone works the “longest hours ever” with feet that hurt really really bad when you’re looking for advice on a good pair of shoes. So, I went with their advice — their tiny feet advice. I was getting advice from people who wear size 5 to size 7 shoes with perfect arches. Dudes, I wear damn near a size 11 and these shoes are heavy as hell. My feet are so narrow that my feet didn’t know what was going on – but you know what? I suffered through it. I suffered through it because these shoes were $137.00. I refused not to wear them. But now that I only have 2 months and 29 days (who’s counting) left, I have decided enough is enough. I’m actually doing 12 hour shifts now and my the health of my feet are important.

I have long been wearing compression stockings (shout out to TCS; cutest CSs ever!), so I didn’t need any help there. I decided to go on the hunt for some cooshy, light tennis shoes. And not expensive Nikes, just some $50 shoes. I found Skechers with memory foam inserts. Blessed be these shoes. I praise the shoe gods from whom all shoe blessings flow for these shoes. Stepping into them felt like stepping into a fluffly cloud full of awesome in comparison to the hard and unforgiving Danskos I had previously worn. I got sucker punched into buying arch inserts — I wore them and regretted it. I have flat feet – arch support just bruised my poor flat feet. I took those suckers out and just enjoyed the flat memory foam. I can’t believe it took this long for me to switch. If anybody wants some ridiculously overpriced Danskos, I have some for sale…ya know, for $100 that isn’t even worth it. Size 42!

-HN

Posted in being in nursing school, fear of the unknown

Bringing it all to a close

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The first month of the last semester of nursing school is almost over (You may have to read that three more times to understand what I just said). I did a great job on my Exit HESI, and thank goodness I did, because I studied so so so hard for that thing.

This, coupled with my nothing-lower-than-a-B grades mean I get to choose a specialty for my final clinical rotation. I chose Labor and Delivery as my first choice, and the OR as my second choice. Having already spent 3 months in the OR over the summer, I’d like to give another specialty a try to help make the decision much easier when I leave school and become a full fledged nurse.

Let’s talk about that for a minute. I feel absolutely and completely torn. What the hell kind of nurse do I want to be? I love Labor and Delivery, and I love the Operating Room. Do I have to know right now? What if I pick the wrong thing? What if they don’t like me? I’ll be 33 years old when I graduate – not exactly a spring chicken, but not even a toe in the grave just yet. Does that mean I’ll have less time to switch teams once I do choose what kind of nurse I want to be? All good questions, sure, but are they pointless? Considering the fact that the job chooses where we get to be, and not our preferences, I think it’s a little pointless to fret like I am. Is it indecision, or is it fear of the med-surg floor that I can’t get over. Nothing about me wants to be a medical surgical nurse. Nothing. I know that sounds ridiculously spoiled to you seasoned nurses who did your time in the trenches before rising to the glory that is your preferred specialty. I totally get it. I know.

I learned an awful lot about med-surg in our clinical rotations. You know, things like I don’t want to do this, and I don’t want to do that – and man are these nurses miserable or what, and nobody respects their nurse manager. The patients are so sad to be here and the nurses don’t want to be here either. Skill wise I learned a lot, too, but it was grossly over shadowed by the horrowed experience of all those around me – and their constant complaining that they hated their jobs.

I feel too old to be miserable. I’ve already done the misery – that’s what brought me to nursing. I don’t want to do it again. I have a young family and I want to add another member to that family; if I have to be away from them, I want to love what I do. What’s wrong with that? I can hear my seasoned nurse friends telling me that if I want to be a nurse, I have to have the skills and the only way to get the skills is to do med-surg…but I disagree. I disagree because I believe in change and evolution. I think a new era of nursing is arising and I think we are seeing people struggle in specialties as new grads, or new transitions, when previously, you came into a specialty an absolute badass — and we can’t handle that it isn’t true anymore. The fumbly nurses are not only in med-surg anymore — they’re coming into your specialties and by the time they’re done with that specialty, they are absolute specialized badasses. I totally get it, seasoned nurse. I get it. Why does this new grad get to waltz right into what took me years to accomplish — and then do it being paid leaps and bounds more than I ever had when I started. I get that. I have that same feeling sitting in class with accelerated nursing students who just 2 semesters ago I was helping to interview to determine if they would get in to our School of Nursing. It’s called hating. I have to call myself out on this pretty frequently. It’s tough. So, I get it.

Not quite sure what I’m going to do about your feelings towards what I want for my life, though. It will be hard to know you don’t like me or are unhappy with my decisions, but that’s just it. These are my decisions to do with my life. I am going to try my damndest not to disappoint you, though, seasoned nurses. I’m going to try my damndest!!!

In other news, I have been looking into Graduate Nurse residency programs here in town and some of them are absolutely amazing. They’re going to be great to get rid of that culture shock when people are going through the same thing as you just out of school. I’m praying I get one of the specialties I’ve requested. I have some certifications I’m working on and hoping to have done before I graduate to make me an even better candidate. At the end of the day though, I just want to be happy – with a handful of coworkers I can call my friends and mentors. Is that too much for a girl to ask?

 

Posted in being in nursing school, Extracurriculars

New Year Reflections

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Happiest of New Years, WordPress readers! I am so thrilled to announce that I am a Certified Lactation Counselor as of December 11th, 2015! I just found out this week and I couldn’t be more excited. What a great way to go into the 5th and final semester of nursing school.

But, I have to be honest. I ran into a little bit of a wonderful experience that has made me feel torn about what my 2016 future may hold.

You see, 2 months ago I sent an email to my Nurse Manager from my OR summer externship to check in — ya know, see how things are and let her know how I’m doing. No different to what I have been doing since I was in the externship. I loved my experience there. Everything about it – the people I worked with, the hours, the management. Sure, there were things that I would like to have seen improved morale wise, but improvement is an opportunity in my eyes. At any rate, we met over coffee (actually, she had tea) and chatted. And then, something amazingly unexpected happened; she told me she had put my name forward for one of the nurse residency programs here in the area for when I graduate. How exciting!!! I knew I had some soul searching to do…because the next few words that came out of her mouth had me thinking on my toes “I mean, that is, if you’re still interested?”

Sigh. Am I still interested? Of course I’m still interested! I LOVE the OR!!! …but, I also love Women’s Health — I just became a Lactation Counselor and have plans to pursue that. But hell, who says I can’t have both? I can very well have both. She just offered me a shoe-in for a nurse residency program that is highly competitive. A foot in the door – and not just any foot, but a foot in a specialty area that new grads don’t just walk right into at a hospital that everybody wishes they could call their nursey home. Am I interested? Hell yeah I’m interested. So — how did I answer her?

“Yes, of course!! That is wonderful. Thank you so much. What do I need to do?” That’s how I answered her. I, of course, told her that there were two things I was passionate about — The Operating Room, and Women’s Health. To my relief, she also loved Women’s Health and told me that whenever she had the chance to float to help out in another unit, she always chose women’s health. Ahh. A common ground. Listen, I’m no idiot. I recognize fully that I have a 3 year old who is about to start school soon. I recognize that my husband is broody and ready for another child – as am I. I fully recognize that the OR is going to have amazing hours, less weekends and less holidays – especially at this particular unit. And I recognize that nursing is a wonderful journey full of different paths that can be traversed at any given time.

This is not business.

This is not business.

I have to remember that nursing is NOT business. I don’t have to be an accountant, or a market researcher or a sales person. I get to be a nurse in a  wide variety of positions and specialties. I can switch and change my mind at any time and at 32 years old — I’m still relatively young and have another 30 years of work ahead of me.

I once met an OR nurse (DNP, CNOR at that) who was also…a Certified Lactation Educator. She did them both. I like that. I sat on a student panel to talk about my OR externship and expressed to the group of seasoned OR nurses that I went into nursing to become a Lactation Consultant…and I still want to achieve that dream. But, I’m in love with the OR and will find a way to marry them. An overwhelming supportive sigh of “awwww” came from these nurses who assured me I could do both. That was a great feeling.

Somehow, I’m going to pull off both of these things.

Watch this space.

In other news, the final semester starts next week. I’m ready to get this over with — I’m also not looking forward to all of the clinical hours and having my nose in a book again. On top of that, I have the final push of potty training my son, we’re down to one car, my husband is nursing a bum foot and I have to start registering L.D. for school. Another great reason to accept all the help a resilient nurse manager is offering me. I have plenty to think about!!

What is in your 2016 plan?

 

 

Posted in being in nursing school

Labor and Deliver Me

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Guys. I found my happy place. I mean, c’mon. We all knew where it was but I am so happy that I actually found it: Labor & Delivery. So, we all know I am in love with the Operating Room. That hasn’t changed. I LOVE the OR. Even more exciting than the OR is being able to have some serious autonomy in labor and delivery. But, you know what’s so beautiful? L&D has it all. An OR, autonomy and sweet little babies. My job would require me to read strips, make some serious judgment calls, prevent hemorrhages and recognize emergent situations way before the doctor is even on site. That is some serious autonomy. It doesn’t hurt that the end result is a beautiful brand new life. I love that.

Bonus? I get to teach. I get to teach Childbirth Classes, sibling classes, breastfeeding classes. So many great great classes. I love that, too. Now, every amazing thing comes with a downside, and I’ve seen this downside more than my fair share of times…circumcisions. I am not against circumcisions. I’m not particularly for them either. This is truly an area where it is totally up to mom & partner to decide the best for their family. HOWEVER, I AM A FIRM BELIEVER IN ANESTHESIA AND A DAMN GOOD SURGEON. I cannot stress enough to you parents out there to make sure you understand that local anesthesia is NOT a given in circumcisions. Don’t send your little dude back there without knowing anesthesia use of your surgeon. There is no worse sound on the planet than hearing a newborn scream. Nothing worse. While that makes me want to vomit in my mouth, it has also strengthened in me my first resolve as a nurse –advocate for the tiniest of patients by making sure parents are well informed about what happens to their children when they are ushered away.

Now that that is out of the way — let’s get down to how in the hell I’m going to get on an L&D floor as a new grad. It’s damn near impossible. I am hoping to make moves that will make it not so impossible, but…I appreciate that it is damn near impossible. To be in the recovery room and circulate through the OR, you need to be ACLS certified — OK, check. I will have that on November 30th!

To teach childbirth classes, you better know a thing or two about breastfeeding – CHECK, I will have my Certified Lactation Counselor credential on December 11th.

I joined the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrical and Neonatal Nurses, but I’m having trouble finding the active chapter here at home. I will have to keep searching for them because they have to be out there somewhere!

I am also going to look into a STABLE certification, a NRP certification and take a Fetal Heart Monitoring class as well. Basically, I am doing everything in my power to become an amazing candidate right out of the gate. I am pray it all works out and hoping I can really make a difference in the lives of others the way that differences were made in my young family’s life.

Wish me luck!

 

Posted in being in nursing school

3rd Semester – IN THE BAG!

3rd Semester of nursing school is complete! I did it. I have to say that I am feeling more and more nursey every day. My clinicals are starting to make a little more sense, the drugs are starting to be remembered and at the same time I feel like I know nothing.

This semester I took Adult Health II (Med-Surg), Nursing Ethics, Nursing Science II and Perioperative Nursing. I got 3 As and 1 B. Unfortunately, the B was in a 9 credit hour class, so my poor GPA has fallen to a 3.28 from a 3.5. I am super bummed about that. I was so close. At any rate, I have to somehow pull 3 As out of my ass for next semester in order to be a 3.5 and achieve some dreams I have to be inducted into Sigma Theta Tau and also be a good contender for graduate school.

It’s funny. I came into nursing school wanting to be a lactation consultant. Part of me still wants to do that. But, the other part of me has truly enjoyed perioperative nursing and even more so loved cardiovascular surgery. I witnessed a nurse practitioner assisting in cardiac surgery and I thought – wow, I really want to be here. Really really bad. So, I called up UAB who has an NP-RNFA program. The catch? I would become an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner – Registered Nurse First Assist. Wow. Talk about specialized!! I’m not sure what all that exactly entails, but I know that the acceptance is closer to a 3.5 so, yet another reason I need to keep my 3.5 GPA.But, hey, I passed my Adult Health HESI!!

So? How did it go this go-round? I made a pact with myself not to stress. Not to let stress get to me the way I did last semester. While this semester saw me a lot more relaxed, a lot more calm and a lot less worried about everything. I did run into some hurdles. First, Little L was sicker than he has ever been before. Fevers, the flu, and 2 staples in the back of his head. My poor little guy couldn’t catch a break. My husband found a way to pay over 800 hours worth of video games which was very difficult to swallow when I had just come home from work, school and picking up my son. He quit school in favor of work which is never good. Sigh. I didn’t have as many “friends” this semester as I have had in the past – both in and out of school. The folks I had had clinical with for a while were in different sites so we didn’t see much of each other. We made up for it in the end, though. School wise? I was very very busy. I sat on the board for the Student Nurses Association, went to 3 conferences – 2 student and 1 professional. I joined both the AORN and AACN (perioperative and critical care) and I’ve made contacts all throughout the professional team.

Today, I can’t believe I am 4th semester nursing student but I am ready! I get to work with children (i’m terrified – don’t wanna see sick babies) and in OB next semester. It will be nice to see if I can truly handle it or not. We shall see.Oh, about those interviews, I got the externship at the hospital closest to my house! It’s one of the city’s newer hospitals and I am absolutely thrilled to be working there this summer. As I went for my pre-employment screening, I also scored a contact to get some IV and sticking practice in the outpatient screening center. They do X-Rays and phlebotomy there so it would be a kickass place to get some practice. I want to be REALLY REALLY good at sticking people, as terrible as that sounds.

At any rate – I’m looking forward to being active in AORN, AACN and my final year of SNA. I am planning to pump out 4 As next semester and get that 3.5 I need to be a contender for both Sigma Theta Tau and grad school. I’m planning some fun little jaunts with my little family to get back in the normal swing of things. Everyone keep their fingers crossed for me!!!