What Every Nursing Student Needs — July 17, 2017

What Every Nursing Student Needs

I know summer vacation just started not too long ago for those of you still in school. It’s sad but it’s flying by quicker than I want to accept and I don’t even get a summer vacation anymore. When I was in school July and August were always my favorite times of the year for one simple reason..back to school shopping!! I don’t know what it was about getting new school supplies but it always brought a smile to my face. I get so excited about it to the point where I want to go to Target just to go up and down the school supplies aisles and buy things I really don’t need. Since I’m restraining myself from that (for now) I figured I’d shed some light on those nursing students and some of the essential things that they’ll need going into the school year.

  1. Stethoscope: this might seem like a no brainer but you’ll be surprised how many people forget to bring one. When I started nursing school we used our stethoscope day one in the skills lab. From that moment on it was never off my person whether it was around my neck or in my scrub pants pocket. Invest in one, bring it, love it. It’s that simple.
  2. Pens, pens, pens: and more pens. You’re going to be taking notes on everything. Whether it’s in class, in the skills lab, or during clinical while you’re watching a procedure you’re going to be taking notes. Even as an RN I have an over abundance of pens. I’m always letting patients borrow them, losing them, having them stolen, etc. Make sure you stockpile and never be without.
  3. Quality shoes: trust me on this one. During clinical you’re going to be on your feet for long hours running around like a crazy person trying to see as much as you can. Your school probably makes you wear all white shoes but you’re going to want to purchase a pair that is going to last you and spare your feet. Everyone thinks Dansko is the best brand but quite frankly I think they’re beyond uncomfortable as well as ugly. My advice? Buy a nice pair of sneakers, you’ll thank me later.
  4. Big bag: either a backpack or a tote bag. Something that’s not going to kill your back or shoulders from carrying all your stuff. You’re going to have books, notebooks, all your clinical stuff, laptop, etc. Save your back and invest in a decent bag that won’t fall apart half way through the semester.
  5. Planner: it will be your best friend. Everyone who has gone through nursing school will tell you that you’ll be the most busy you’ve ever been in your entire life. Think that senior year of high school was a lot with college app deadlines, tests, homework, and a social life? Nursing school is 100x worse. All through college I used a basic five star planner where I was able to write down all my assignments, due dates, test dates, clinical schedules, and what little social life I had. There are hundreds of different planners for you to choose from based on what best meets your needs. I recently invested in my first Erin Condren Life Planner and am completely obsessed (my next post is going to be a review of it and how I use it). It was a decent chunk of change but it’s worth it for where I am right now in life. Find what works for you and use it!

That’s just the most important things I can think of. You obviously need notebooks, binders, your regular school supply stuff. I wouldn’t worry about getting a pulse ox, blood pressure cuff (unless you have people you can practice on), or thermometer. Whenever your clinical placements are are going to have these items for you to use. You’re going to invest a lot of money on extra stuff in nursing school. Save yourself some cash and purchase the essentials. Over the 2-4 years you’re a nursing student it’ll get easier to figure out what you need and what you don’t. Trust your gut and when all else fails, ask you’re friendly new grad nurse 🙂

Things I Wish Nursing School Taught Me — October 22, 2016

Things I Wish Nursing School Taught Me

I spent 4 years in nursing school and I thought I learned everything there was to ever shove in my brain. I was oh so very wrong about that. I go into work every day and realize just how unprepared I was coming into this job and the things that I actually have to do. Here’s just a few things that I wish nursing school had taught me.

  1. How to talk to doctors: Sure they always told us it’s part of the job and they even had us practice these obnoxious SBAR phone calls with one another but actually talking to a doctor either on the phone or face to face is totally different! The SBAR bull doesn’t apply when actually talking to a doctor. Luckily at my hospital we text page the residents and usually we don’t have to talk to them at all. But when we do have to talk…ohh boy do I become a basket case. It has gotten easier but I do feel my heart racing a little when my phone rings and its an MD.
  2. How to put in an IV: Now I get that this is a safety thing for schools and they don’t want anyone getting an accidental stick, but come on! at least let us practice in the simulation lab. I have zero confidence when I have to put in an IV. I’ve put in 4 since I started at the hospital..and that was during orientation. Since then I haven’t had any luck. Maybe one day I’ll get the hang of it but so far nada.
  3. How to take and give report: Again, we practiced the SBAR shit but that’s not what actual report is like. 9 times out of 10 its nothing like that. Some nurses like just the basics, some nurses want a full head to toe, some nurses don’t want anything besides what meds you gave them. Its all a mess. I’m slowly starting to get the hang of it but it’s still nerve wracking when I have to give report (especially to those nurses I know are going to grill me).
  4. How to deal with a difficult patient or family: Every patient a student nurse in school is given is the ideal patient. They don’t have a lot going on and there isn’t a lot that they don’t know about their plan of care so you don’t really have to answer any questions. Now become a nurse where you don’t get the pick of the best patients and you have do deal with the crazy family drama and the patients that are screaming at you because they don’t think you know what you’re doing (fake it til you make it, right?). It’s something I still don’t know how to handle. I’m getting better at answering questions to the best of my ability and when I can’t I say let me page the doctor to come talk to you. Maybe I’ll start gaining some more confidence in this stuff as time goes on?

Well there you have it, 4 things I REALLY wish nursing school taught me. It would have made the transition a hell of a lot easier. For those of you who graduated, what are some things you wish you learned in school?? For those of you going into nursing school, what do you hope you absolutely learn to make you the best nurse possible? Let me know!

Tips For Surviving Nursing School — October 9, 2016

Tips For Surviving Nursing School

Hey everyone,

Since school is back in full swing for everyone I thought it was fitting to share the tips I learned about surviving nursing school.

As most of us know, nursing school is one of the hardest and most trying times in someone’s life. Not to say that other majors don’t have their moments and don’t work hard but I’ve seen grown women cry because they got an 80 on an exam. Remember, you’re not alone through this. Nurses and nursing students past and present have all gone through what you have and will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So here they are..my tips for surviving nursing school.

  1. Make friends who are going to be your ride or die: I can’t stress this enough. Believe me when I say there is no one who is going to understand what you’re going through besides the people in your class. They’re the ones that know the frustration and stress level and utter exhaustion. You need to find a few good friends who are going to be your go to for every bump in the road, every life changing moment, and everything in between. For me it was my friends Kate and Sarah. I wouldn’t have made it through if it wasn’t for them pushing me harder, crying with me, laughing with me, and helping me realize that I’m going to be a great nurse and I know my shit. These are going to be the friends you hold onto and freak out about NCLEX and life as a nurse. Trust me.
  2. Listen to your teachers: This might seem pretty obvious, they’re the ones who are teaching the material, making up tests, and giving you the grade you work your ass off for. You’ll see that there are teachers who go above and beyond that. One teacher I had in particular, Dr. Knecht, was not only concerned about us learning and understanding the material for class but also that we learned the skills we needed to succeed on the NCLEX and as an RN. She would meet with us one on one, in small groups, or as a class and have heart to heart sessions with us. She would challenge us to think outside of what the book was telling us. Which leads me to my next point…
  3. Remember life isn’t like the textbooks: This is the most true statement that I wish someone had stressed more all throughout college. In the books you get presented with the perfect, ideal patient who has all of the symptoms of one disease process and there’s few options that are set in stone and the procedures you preform are going to go perfectly. Hate to break it to you but that’s not real life. When you get to clinical you’ll quickly realize that your perfect textbook patient doesn’t exist and they’re going to have multiple disease processes which most of the time the treatment for one is contraindicated for another. The sooner you realize that you’re textbooks aren’t going to be your saving grace, the quicker you’ll start learning how to critically think.
  4. Stay organized: Another obvious one you would think, right? WRONG! There are more times that I can count or would like to admit that I completely forgot about a homework assignment or what chapters we needed to read. Finally by spring semester of junior year I started using my agenda like it was my lifeline. Nursing students are beyond busy, keeping organized and knowing what’s happening when is essential. Also your ride or die friends will help keep you in check.
  5. Advocate for yourself: All throughout nursing school I was taught to advocate for your patients. This is also true for yourself. There’s going to be times where teachers are busy and might not realize that you need extra help or another explanation of a topic. There might be a time where a clinical instructor is belittling you to the point of tears (it happens..trust me). You need to be able to stand up for yourself and make sure that you’re getting the most out of every situation in nursing school. You’re going to graduate and have people’s lives in your hands. Make sure you know that topic like the back of your hand, make sure someone knows that you’re not being treated fairly and not comfortable with a clinical instructor (it helps for when you’re not comfortable with how a coworker is treating you). Don’t get all high and mighty thinking you deserve to be treated better than everyone else but make sure that your voice is heard so you can become the best nurse possible.
  6. Remember to schedule ‘you’ time: This one is probably the hardest for most nursing students. We go into each semester with the mentality that we need to study X amount of hours in order to get the grade we need to pass the class. As true as this is, you also need to remember your mental health is crucial, not only in surviving nursing school but being a safe and competent nurse. Give yourself at least an hour a day to unwind and for once not think about the patho of a medication and how it works in the body. That hour will mean more to you than you know.

So there you have it. Six tips for surviving nursing school. It won’t be easy and these tips aren’t going to make or break you, but they’ll make the hardest journey of your life a tad bit more tolerable. You’re never alone in nursing school. Your class goes in as a team and comes out as one. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of every girl in my class (I say girl because I went to an all girl’s school..). You make friends with the people you normally would never talk to because you all have this one common goal, to become a kick ass nurse. Accept and embrace it, these people are going to be the backbone to your success and you’ll be part of theirs.

Welcome to Senior Year — September 4, 2015

Welcome to Senior Year

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, sorry about that. I start school two weeks ago and it’s already kicking my butt. This isn’t going to be a long post just a recap of how things have been going since I last talked to you (which I don’t remember when that was haha).

I’m taking three classes this semester and have two clinical rotations. Needless to say I’m overwhelmed already and it’s only going to get worse. I think I’m most stressed because of work. I’ve finally accepted that I really don’t like my job and that eats at me every time I go in for my shift. Most of the girls in my class don’t have to worry about working so much during the semester but I do. I have bills, rent, and a wedding to save for. I’m wearing myself thin already but I have to do what I have to do.

Tyler keeps telling me I’m in the home stretch and I know he’s right. I just want things to get easier. I barely get to see him and it’s starting to get to me. I’m an emotional mess.

Well back to reading about neuro disorders. Sorry for such a short and boring post but I need to get this reading done. I promise to try and post more often.

My Nursing School Story — August 6, 2015

My Nursing School Story

Hey everyone!

I figured I would keep up with the get to know me section with my nursing school story. Like I said in my first post, I didn’t take the traditional 4 year route even though that was my original plan. Let’s start from the beginning though…

I graduated high school in 2010 knowing that I wanted to go into nursing school right from the get go. I was accepted into Uconn but not for nursing. My assigned advisor said that if I did 2 years working on my prerequisites I would be accepted into the program. I took his word for it and went to uconn right out of high school. I was completting the courses I had to and in the spring of 2011 I applied into the nursing program. I got a letter in the mail telling me I was not accepted because of lack of open seats in the class. I was heart broken but once again listened to my advisor who told me to do one more year and then reapply. Since he was supposed to be my go to person who I can trust with all decisions regarding my education I chose to listen to him. I did another year of core classes and once again applied. Just like the first time I was rejected because of the lack of seats available.

At this point I was beyond discouraged and had lost hope in my chances of getting into my dream nursing program. I ignored everything my advisor told me after my second rejection. He clearly didn’t have a clue what was going on and didn’t have my best interest in mind. I started applying to other nursing programs with hopes that I hadn’t wasted two years of my life to not get in somewhere.

I got a phone call from the transfer advisor at USJ saying that I had been accepted into their nursing program!! I was so thrilled that it didn’t even phase me when she said I would be in the 4 year course and graduating in 2016. It took me a while to calm down and process what she had said. Did I really want to start over again after 2 years of hard work?  In the end I chose to accept the offer to be in he nursing program at USJ and honestly I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I have loved every second of my time at this school and I truly believe it is the perfect fit for me. I’ve made some great friends who have been with me through it all.

I have one more year left of nursing school and will be graduating in May of 2016 and will have my RN BSN. It has been a long 6 years but it had all worked out for the best. I’ll admit, it was really difficult in 2014 to see most people I went to high school with graduating college knowing that I still had another 2 years to go. I was able to push past that and continue to do the best I can and succeed in one of the most difficult nursing programs in the state.

My advice for anyone going through a situation similar to this? Stick it out. It might be tough to see people your age graduating but I promise you you’re not the only o e in your situation. There are plenty of people who missed their opportunity the first time around and are now back at it. Keep your head up. No matter how long it takes you to get your degree just remember that it’ll be worth it. You’re doing some thing that not everyone can say they’re doing. Make the best of the situation and roll with the punches, it does get  better.

Until next time…