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navigating through nursing school
Yes, I know, I know, I suck at blogging. I’m not sure I actually have any readers anymore, so it likely doesn’t actually matter, but — my summer classes kicked my ass pretty thoroughly. (Organic chemistry? Hell.)
I’m going to give it a third, fourth, something like that go, though. I occasionally even have things to say! Up and coming: a rant/statement on how I much prefer “patient” to “client” in healthcare despite the intention of empowerment behind “client.” But it’s a messy and hard thing to talk about.
But I do have Thoughts on it, and those are thoughts that want to be written down. And where else to do it but here?
N.B.: The names and organization of my classes have the potentiality of outing my identity, here, because I’m not sure what other programs run like ours. If you figure out which school I go to please don’t tell anyone or think anything of it!
Well, the semester ended back on the 22nd with my make-up clinical and then I proceeded to wait approximately forever to actually receive my grades. (“Approximately forever” = “a week,” but I felt like I was the last person of anyone I knew still in school who hadn’t gotten grades – well, of people at other schools, anyway! People in my program had to wait just as long.)
The good news is unlike quite a few other people (which is normal), I get to stay in the program, having worked myself to the bone to save grades that were low in the beginning of the semester from staying low. I still wasn’t sure if I’d actually manage to pass everything, despite trying – I wasn’t ever sure until I actually got my grades. Starting out nursing school recovering from a summer where I was seriously ill didn’t go too well. My initial microbiology test grades, for instance, were a 50 and a 58. Once I started to feel fully like myself and really work at it, combined with getting the right help in the right places, I got two 94s and an 81 on the final. This combined with lab grades left me with a frustrating 79 as a final grade. She gave me a C, of course, because while I could hope, improvement over a semester isn’t really grounds for rounding up an entire point.
Anatomy & Physiology I was where I was totally in the dark. My lab grades were pretty bad, largely because of issues with hand tremor that have, thankfully, also been resolved. (My medication for it was wearing off just as the lab started, and nobody ever noticed the tremor because when it came to things like giving injections in clinicals, my hands moved smoothly and without any problems. I knew it was there but wasn’t aware of how much it had an effect on what I was doing.) My final exam grade was a 93. My exam-exam grades were all over the 70 and 80 spectrum, and we had an abstract-writing (as opposed to abstract writing) assignment that I got a 25/25 on that of course I couldn’t recall the actual grade computation value of.
Turned out the final and the lab grade canceled each other out, leaving me with a C. I never got the actual number.
Nursing I? Nursing I was a headache and a half, because I was doing fantastically well with the exception of one exam. And then I was sick for a quiz. Boyfriend called me in, which I was never even aware of due to the fact that I had a migraine and had just never really made it out of bed – I don’t actually remember that morning at all, so I didn’t know he’d called me in. I only figured out after he must have, because I went to check postings to see if I was eligible for a makeup.
My name was on the list, but of course by the time I thought to look, the quiz makeup had already passed. So my comfortable B (which had even been a comfortable A until that one exam!) vanished, becoming an uncertain B instead.
And the final was absolutely horrid. I had real trouble with the final, and I still don’t know why. There were a lot of questions I found hard to understand despite having done NCLEX questions to prepare. Part of the problem was likely tiredness and nerves; my microbiology final, which I had to get a B on to pass the course, was immediately after. I had ten minutes between tests.
I got a C on that final. But it was enough, leaving me with a B in the class – a B I barely scraped by, but a B nonetheless.
Now, issues with my previous program screwing things up and refusing to fix them (I have documentation of how many times I asked them to fix this problem, and none of my emails or phone calls were even responded to let alone handled) my previously-good GPA tanked over the summer, and this semester did not really bring it up. I think it maybe brought it down a little bit, and I need it higher to actually be a candidate for BSN programs. I’ve heard admissions looks at the difficulty of the courses and the school you went to for your ADN and not just raw GPA and the fact you passed the NCLEX (I don’t know if they look at NCLEX scores) but I can’t be sure of that. I have enough problems figuring out how to get in all the electives the BSN programs want you to have!
So who knows what’s going to happen with that, but that’s a year and a half away, and while I obviously need to think some about pre-reqs because of all the additional electives, clearly my actual focus point has to be on passing what’s required for my degree and passing the NCLEX. I’d just rather not have to stay in school longer to take additional electives when I’ve already gotten my ADN; it seems like a pain and I think the nonmatriculated course prices are higher.
But I’ve only got three semesters and 1 summer left, and in that summer I’m having maxilofacial surgery so I don’t know how much of it will be left for school! Hopefully it all works out. Right now I’ve got about five days to enjoy winter break before I’ve got to have a bunch of dental work done, and that’s worrisome enough.
Lots of things to update on that I keep running out of time to comment on (and this week, considering the paper, presentation, exam, CPR recert and all the other homework, isn’t really the time) but this is another one of those ‘I should note it so I don’t forget it and I have time right now‘ sorts of things.
I had a nightmare last night that I showed up to clinical this Thursday late, with no paperwork, no ID (this is actually a problem for real, as I don’t have any photo ID right now) of any kind, wearing some weird pyjama getup instead of my scrubs, and without a stethoscope.
Then my boyfriend and one of his former classmates showed up attempting to convince the hospital that they were students for some energywork class that didn’t exist. So a classmate of mine (who isn’t real) and I literally pushed them out the door, just to ask them to come back in and help us move a patient.
I have no idea.
My previously comfortable, low-key schedule (meant to contain nursing classes and Anatomy & Physiology, totaling 8 credits and about a million lab hours, plus a clinical rotation) has been completely destroyed by the addition of Microbiology, attempt #3. Every single time I’ve tried to take this class I’ve ended up sick and unable to complete, and so I don’t like the omen this is creating, but it’s a co-requisite to nursing classes and I’ve got to get through it. I like the course material, mostly (there are some instances that are painfully boring) but my trouble with my left eye makes microscope work tedious and sometimes impossible. Which leads to me being terribly down on myself for otherwise being capable.
Our first skill exam was yesterday morning and I passed; there isn’t really a “doing well” or a “not as well,” so much as just “passing” and “failing.” I’m actually afraid of the next one, which is the complete bath of a patient and making an occupied bed (at once). This is a ridiculous thing for me to be afraid of; IV insertion? Administration of medications? No problem. Intubation? Easy as whichever pastry you choose, I’ve done a million of ’em. Making a bed? Get me away! I can’t even make my own bed. And as far as the entire thing goes, I’m 5″ and 80some pounds; the manikins are bigger than I am, and what may well fail me is not being able to move them in a way that is the most comfortable for a real patient. Obviously, with a real patient, I would get assistance. I can’t so much do that on a skill exam.
Most schools, as far as I’m aware, don’t do skill exams like ours do; hopefully I’m not risking identifying myself. Much.
Despite the scary bedmaking (I know, I’m pathetic) and the additional class making my schedule merry hell because it’s a night class and getting to school at 7am on Monday and leaving at 11pm is a little bit wretched … the worst part of all of it is probably the commute.
At various times, I have: experienced a drive home spending 15 minutes straight with my foot on the break in one spot, been caught at a single red light for 10 minutes, nearly gotten into two separate accidents (neither of which are my fault), forced to park across the street in a pile of rocks and mud behind the grocery store, driven through major construction in the rain at rush hour, left 45 minutes before my class began and still ended up late because of a lack of parking, and other such delightfully pleasant things to experience when I’ve only had a drivers’ license for two weeks.
I’m sure I’m actually forgetting a million (un)pleasant such driving experiences. Really, I’m only posting so I can have posted something and can have even remotely mentioned the terrors of the commute; if I felt awake, it’d be a better constructed post.
But I have homework to do.
Today is Orientation, and so of course immediately in sets my particular brand of organizational panic: that being that everything I needed done in advance is, of course, not done. Case in point: I can’t find things and my parking sticker is not properly affixed to my vehicle.
Why? I don’t properly know. Because I hadn’t done it before now. For me this task includes cutting, something I’m fairly bad at doing in a straight line, so I need Boyfriend to help. Boyfriend is annoyed at my morning-person tendencies as of late and is completely ignoring me by way of getting out of bed just to go back to sleep on the couch. I don’t entirely blame him, but here I am, helpless, because he is the tailor and it is his damn rotary cutter that I need to use to cut the transparency that the nice Staples people gave me for free in order to have something to stick the sticker to that is not being permanently stuck to the window of the car, which only theoretically belongs to me (I still sometimes have nightmares that my dad will just casually ask for it back. My dad is buying a new BMW, he doesn’t need my six-year-old Toyota, although he does borrow it when in my area). Maybe I should ask Boyfriend to wake up and help me cut the transparency and stick the sticker on. It’s not like I actually know how to use the rotary cutter. And being able to park legally would be a plus.
Then immediately I realize that something is wrong with the picture over by my mirror. Namely, that my eyeshadow and concealer are both gone. They are not on the floor right by the mirror, or in my purse, or in the ensuite, and I never keep makeup in the properly-sized bathroom. Check anyway. Nope, no makeup there. I really need the concealer because it is also my acne medication, and without it I have let’s say a lot of problems with my face looking as if it’s entirely made of bumps. Not a good plan in my book. Frantic looking for concealer yields nothing.
And I haven’t had breakfast yet. Or taken a shower. I have over twenty inches of hair, it takes some time to dry, and I can’t go over it with the iron (which I need to prevent my frizz attacks in reaction to any weather over 50 degrees) until it is actually dry. I should eat breakfast before I take the shower, in case I do something weird like get food in my hair, which is actually not all that weird when I haven’t trimmed my normally cheekbone-length bangs in three weeks and they sometimes dangle into my mouth. I should probably add “trim bangs” to the list of things I haven’t yet done today.
Having gotten distracted thinking about the bangs I won’t trim until later tonight anyway, I’ve managed to forget what else I was supposed to be worrying about. Not sure if I’m going to bring my netbook or not; after all, I have no sleeve for it and I’d hate for it to get chipped. (It’s new. RIP, old netbook that fit in the sleeve I had, I will miss you and hope you manage to be repaired by a parent who can use you.) But I wasn’t focused on that before, I was reminded of it letting my eyes roam across my dining area to where the netbook was hanging out on a chair. I think I was busily worrying about what shirt I was going to wear, and if it was okay to wear my knee-high boots because they’re the most supportive shoes I have and I’m having a very bad foot week, and then concern over coordinating eyeshadow I can’t find with a shirt I haven’t identified, and only then did I manage to start thinking about jewelry, and then paused full-stop to realize how much of a girl I am.
I should probably go eat breakfast. Take a shower. Make sure all the stuff that needs to be in my purse is actually in my purse, not forgetting my CPR card this time. Pick out clothes. Don’t put them on. Find coordinating makeup. Put that on first. Then put on clothes. Then take hair down from towel. Sit on porch until hair is dry enough to iron, then iron. At some point in this hope that Boyfriend has dealt with the vehicle tag’s being cut and then find some tape to affix it to the car. Fret over shoes. Give up, find socks, wear knee-high boots anyway because in medical fields your feet are an important investment. Continue racking brain to attempt to remember where I was going to go before my orientation (after is easier: grocery store, parallel parking extravaganza, maybe Staples, definitely drugstore, probably somewhere else that has just slipped my mind), give up, leave anyway.
That sounds like a decent enough plan.
All of this passed through my mind in the span of about two minutes. It took me ten to actually write it out. I don’t know what that says, either, but it certainly is easier to go back and take it all in when I can stare at it. Thank you, blog. My apologies, readers.
As after yesterday’s post, I looked at the available class seats for that one class I still needed (or I would lose my entire course schedule), and miraculously found that there was one (and exactly one) seat available that fit perfectly into my schedule.
Unfortunately that means that my Mondays begin at 6:30 am and end at 10:35pm, but that’s what I get. It’s not so bad.
Of course, then I was dumb and went to get my Nursing I manual bound so I didn’t have to put it in a binder … and now have a nice, professionally-bound manual that has all of my lab sheets bound permanently to the back of it. Sigh. I don’t want to have to have it bound again (it’s very nicely done and was only $3; Staples, I will never doubt you again!) but getting the pages out is somewhat of a difficult task. It’s a good thing Boyfriend has a rotary cutter, I guess.
Some days I just don’t know what to do with myself. Usually I sit on doing things for ages and meticulously plan. Today I decided I’d just go out and get something done … so of course the something was something that ended up not being the best move ever.
Mystery Illness is really kicking me when I’m down, right now, and so I actually had to drop my microbiology class because of how I kept having to be in and out of the hospital. Isn’t that a great way to start health care career #3? By being in and out of a hospital? Today I spent four hours trying to get an anti-ribonuclear protein test done. Apparently only “antiquated” doctors request this test anymore. I thought that was funny, since one of the doctors in question is in his late thirties and the other one happens to be my dad.
Not knowing what’s wrong with me aside, though, I’m trying to remind myself I have this blog here, and even if it doesn’t have readers, it’s okay to update it! (No, I don’t have a clue how to publicize my blog. I’m not sure if I want to, but I do like having people to talk to; I read lots of nursing blogs, I’m just too socially awkward to ask for a link exchange. If you’re here reading this: hi.) My little-bit-out-of-it-ness will hopefully end soon. And I am getting excited about the start of school!
I got a haircut, reinstating my bangs to attempt to make myself look older than twelve, something I often get in the ED when all geared up in my EMS clothes. “You can’t do that job, you look like you’re twelve!” I’m twenty-one, thank you, and I think with my bangs back for the first time in six years I probably look at least 18. On good days. Of course, I’ve promptly failed at keeping the hairstyle as nice as it was because of an inability to blow-dry my own hair, but my hair isn’t that important. My hair isn’t really about nursing. It is part of getting excited for the semester, though!
I also got my uniform, which I won’t include pictures of, because it identifies my school, but miraculously it has scrubs that fit me. (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned how extremely small I am. Well: I am extremely small. The world is designed for people much larger than I am. It contributes to folks thinking I’m twelve. I’m too short for my car, which was purchased with my height in mind. It is the smallest automobile I could find and I still sit on two pillows to drive it.) We were required to get another stethoscope, which made me want to scream because I have a Littmann Lightweight and why would I want to use something of lesser quality? but my new Sprague #122 is okay because it’s purple (my old SpragueLite is blue and my Littmann is green) and offsets the school uniform nicely, and I can understand (kind of; my old clinical programs did not do this) them wanting us to match. Plus scissors and a stethoscope nametag. Shopping! Exciting! Normally I really, really hate shopping, but I really like ‘stuff’ (as you may be able to tell by the fact the first post in this blog is all links about scrubs) and so I had a good time getting these things. It was a bit ago.
The SHOES, though. The shoes are going to make me mad, because like the stethoscope, I already had what I thought was perfect: a pair of Danksos Professional Clogs. Unfortunately, I learned at the last minute at the uniform store that nursing students have to wear white shoes. What? I’m sorry, I’m a neatfreak. I can’t wear white shoes. I will be polishing them every twenty minutes. The white shirt is bad enough — really, I can’t just wear my brown Danksos? I came out with Cherokee Robins, which are very nice, but … they’re white. And no one will sell me a gallon of shoe polish.
To suddenly change the subject and make this post even more disoriented than it already is, I also got my letter today informing me that my orientation is Thursday, August 19. Nice to know. I get to pick between two times and I’m sure not sure which one of them I like better! I have no idea what I’ll be doing then. Except, apparently, not going mountain climbing with my dad like I thought I was. The sacrifices one makes for school, of course.
In that letter, they identified the textbook as Fundamentals of Nursing, which I’m sure surprises no one, but despite having put in a textbook order at the college bookstore (that also includes my A&P books and whatnot) I figured I’d scout around online and see how much it cost, expecting some sticker shock. I was pleasantly surprised: it’s averaging at about $90.
That’s a small favor.
(My attempt to certify my county residence and knock $10k off my tuition, on the other hand, was rejected. I filled out the residence forms and got them notarized too early. This place is very strange sometimes.)
In my last two semesters of college, I’ve had courseloads of 22 credits for Fall 2009 and 18 credits for Spring 2010. This summer, I’ve got one class (microbiology) that counts for the current degree I am nearly complete with as well as my ADN, as well as two other courses, giving me a load of 10 credits, but hey, it’s summer and I’m going to be working six days a week (Sunday-Friday) as well.
So imagine my horror when I get my schedule worked out for Fall 2010 and discover that I only have a load of 8 credits.
And I do, in fact, mean horror. The best way to get something done, as many people including my father yesterday evening have said, is to give it to a busy person. I operate under momentum. The more I have to do, the more I do, and I never take breaks, because if I stop it’s the next day before I get going again. I work through and work through and finish and then relax.
So what on earth am I supposed to do with no classes on Tuesday or Friday? Admittedly the classes I’m in are Anatomy & Physiology and Nursing I, neither of which are walks in the park, but suddenly I’m cursing the fact that my previous degree has me entering nursing school with more than half the classes done already.
I might need to take some non-required electives (that won’t even count for anything, as I have all my required electives done) just so that I don’t start failing exams because I’ve got too much downtime to remain able to retain information and stay focused.
“Too little work” is not a conundrum I ever thought I would find myself in. And yet, here I am, wishing I had a learning style that allowed me to sleep every now and then.