Tuesday, May 11, 2010

And now, the moment of truth!!!

I will admit, I am nervous! The new job starts next week. For the past three years I have been in school, studying hard and becoming the best nurse ever and the moment of truth is upon us: Can I successfully articulate my education into clinical expertise?

I will be embarking on this leg of my journey as a nurse practitioner in a STD clinic that is a branch of a local health department. Since I am still in the process of completing my doctorate, I will be working roughly about 32 hours a week. But I think I should back peddle a little bit so that you have a clearer picture of how I ended up in this position. I would also like to illustrate how my higher power aligned this opportunity, I still can't believe it myself!

I was applying for positions and as you know I am an FNP. I wanted more than anything to be an internal medicine nurse practitioner (with an HIV specialty) at the local free clinic or at a homeless health care clinic doing outreach work. (I chose family as a specialty because I have a plan to do Doctors Without Borders or Peace Corps when my kids are all grown up). A good foundation would be a position in Internal Medicine or Family Practice. To work in primary care most of the units want 2 years of nursing experience.

You see, I have only been a nurse since 2006. And I only practiced for a year and change. I basically had no nursing experience so to speak. But, I worked in sales for many years...I can sell ice to an Eskimo ;) I was offered a position in 2 units: A neurological specialty and internal medicine. There was just one catch: They wanted me to work five days a week, 8+ hours a day with an occasional Saturday and they couldn't promise me a schedule that was not more than 40 hours weekly. I quickly calculated that I would have to not only meet the learning curve, but I would have to manage the demands of a strenuous schedule, mother my children, manage my household and also work on finishing my doctorate. I could have managed it but, I would be so overwhelmed!

As I was calling to plan my interview for the internal medicine position, I happened to ask the recruiter if there might not be a position in Infectious Disease. She said that she just had a position come across her desk for a nurse practitioner in, you guessed it: Infectious Disease. 32 hours a week, working with STD's, the staff willing to teach a new nurse practitioner the ropes. As a matter of fact, she gave me the phone number of the collaborating physician and encouraged me to call immediately. The MD and I talked on the phone for like an hour! While I was on the phone, she scheduled my interview and a tour of the unit for one week later. When I arrived at the unit, I learned that half of the staff were people I worked with when I was a clinical instructor (I'll have to tell you that story one day as a throwback). Luckily, I had a really good relationship with the staff in clinic and they were excited to find that I was interviewing for the clinician job. A week or so later, I was offered the job!

I know that this position is a narrow application of my skills and my goals as a clinician are so much more loftier than where I am starting out. For now, I believe that this is where I am meant to be! This position is in my area of interest and my new superiors encourage my academic pursuits...They love it that I am working on my doctorate! It is only the beginning :)


Thursday, April 29, 2010

I really need to chill out and also get motivated!!

I have completely lost my motivation to write my proposal. Seriously! In the beginning I was so excited and energetic. I wanted to get a committee together and change the world. Then I met the red tape of making appointments, inexplicable delays and people deciding at the last minute that they don't have the time or expertise to help me with my study. The first draft of my proposal was the final project of the last course of my doctoral degree. I got a 'D' on my proposal...Yes folks, a 'D'!!! I received the first 'D' of my collegiate academic career on the 'crown jewel' of my studies, which resulted in the first and only 'C' as a final grade on my college transcript...At which point I just put on my big girl panties and said "Screw it!"

I can't write a decent literature review to save my life. I had to change the study...Well not change, just make a few minor adjustments. Thank GOD it doesn't require a whole new literature review! I have to change my theory, (not really a big deal) but after the horrific feedback that I received from the last person that reviewed the draft of my proposal I have just felt my confidence sink to an all time low. I guess I just need to whine. I have tried Vodka, chocolate, sleep and a chat with a therapist...I still feel poopy :(

I think what makes this 64 page masterpiece so overwhelming is that it is a 64 page fiasco. Today, the goal that I am setting between me and my chair today is to break this monstrosity into small digestible portions so that I can reduce my anxiety. The next step is to talk to people in my community who can realistically help me plan my intervention. I have been doing a bit of research in this area and was disappointed to find that there has already been a project of my kind done...However, no one has published their findings which I find to be somewhat comforting.

Being a bit of a trailblazer is HOT! But this is a lot of work (I am making excuses!!!) I don't know where to start, (lie). I need some guidance, (now you're talking). Perhaps today's meeting will be insightful, (let's hope so). I want to graduate in August (we'll see about that). Hey...It could happen!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Adventure with FNP boards ;)

The past year has been so very busy. I completed my Masters and (next week) I will have finished my Doctoral coursework obligations. I opted to finish all of my doctoral courses before taking my Family Nurse Practitioner Boards. That was kind of crazy given that I have 'poor test taking skills' but it was what I needed to do because I didn't have the money to pay the exam fees. I had been away from the content for ONE YEAR and I managed to pass after only studying for TWO WEEKS!!! So there...I control my own success and failure ;) Because I was unable to find anyone else's study plan for boards, I have decided to post mine...

To prepare for boards, I spent a total of $52 and I used only three items. I studied using the $40 Fitzgerald book and the sample test questions posted on the ANCC website. I surveyed the Fitzgerald book chapter-by-chapter in order from 1-15 (This is important because one chapter leads to the next in a very methodical way). I also used (borrowed from a friend) the 2005 ANCC guide, but for the information on Theory/NP Practice, as a reference to the Fitzgerald and for the questions in the appendix. If you can't afford to buy the ANCC reference manual, try to find one of your nursing texts that covers NP practice, family theory and health care policy for the purpose of review. This is how I did it:

Step One: Answer the questions that proceeded the content in the Fitzgerald guide

Step Two: Read the content...The Fitzgerald book is a very EASY read

Step Three: Create flashcards based on the Fitzgerald content using plain 3x5 notecards. After I used notecards for the first two chapters, I decided that it would be better to make powerpoint slides so that I could put them on my Blackberry. As I made the flashcards, I read the questions and then the correct answers ALOUD

Step Four: Find some more practice questions. I found mine in the ANCC guide and on the ANCC website. I did these questions and my flashcards over, and over, and over again. I used the adult, peds, gero and family ANCC sample questions on the website. This proved to be helpful in learning the flow of the questions and building confidence.

For two whole weeks, any spare time I had was used to study the Fitzgerald book, doing about one chapter a day. I woke up with that book...Laid down with the book...I even loaded the questions onto my Blackberry so that I could practice questions whenever I was idle. An amazing source of support during my studies was my daughter's father...Yes,I have vilified him in the past, but he kept an eye on the kids, made sure I stopped to eat and made me take sensory breaks (Like going to see 'Why Did I Get Married, Too). When I wanted to fuss, he let me. When I wanted to give up, he encouraged me. The morning of the test, he prayed with me. I guess he is not ALL bad.

When I arrived at the testing center I was terrified. I placed all of my items in my locker and checked in...I was a nervous wreck. I completed the tutorial and proceeded to take the test. The first question popped up...I didn't really know the answer. It was in that moment that I decided that I would 'mark for review' every question that I thought I missed. The first 7 questions I marked. Then finally I started to get questions that I felt pretty confident about. I was moving along at a pretty good clip! Then I got to the last question and I though..."Could it be over that quickly?' After I counted the questions that I 'marked for review'...There were only about 50 questions. Not Bad :/ So I went back through and reviewed the ones a thought I missed. I might have changed a couple since my nerves were a little more settled...I had plenty of time, at least a hour and a half to review my questions. Then I said, either I know it or I don't. I decided to end my test. A survey popped up and then I was directed back to the proctor.

I walked out and asked, 'Did I pass?' She said it depended on the print out. I was feeling sick! She had to re-boot the computer because my paper didn't print out. I was hoping that didn't mean I would have to take the whole thing again. After about another 5 minutes, the paper printed and I found out that I passed. I am a ANCC Board Certified Nurse Practitioner! I don't have my state license yet because it requires me to complete paperwork. The test was not so bad after all :) If you are reading this and preparing for boards just breathe and be confident that you have all that you need to pass...I am sure you will do just fine!

Now to get my proposal written so that I can get my study moving!



Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tough Times...

I am feeling lost...This whole doctorate thing is becoming frustrating. I still don't have a committee. Papers are coming due and I don't have the energy to follow through. I don't want to do this degree any more. I am dealing with motherhood stress, financial stress, school stress, love-life stress, self-esteem stress and I am just tired of it all. I have no energy and I just feel alone. No one seems to understand. I am the first in my family to pursue a terminal degree and when I try to talk to someone about my troubles, it is always looked upon as me trying to one-up someone. I just wish I could be done and doing the things I planned to do to change the world.

I would cry, but it is a waste of tears. I would scream but what is the point of that? I would quit, but I would be mad at myself in the long run. Other students in the school get attention and support. I have been on my own from the beginning. My advisor keeps saying that she wants me to call her if I feel lost. My thought is 'why should I have to be the one doing all the calling?' They gave me the opportunity to return to school, would it be too much to ask to have them occasionally check in on me to see how I am doing from time to time? Why is it that I have to call and make an appointment with the administrative assistant to discuss my study? Why can't I just make an appointment with you personally, Dr. Thus-and-Such?

Yesterday, a prof asked me why I decided to pursue a doctorate in the first place. I couldn't really tell her. I forgot why I wanted to do this! My family keeps asking me for money. Fifty dollars here, twenty dollars there. A few weeks ago, a relative of mine who is living with AIDS asked me to help get him an appointment to get him back on track. I asked one of my esteemed colleagues to see him and he went to the doctor's office and showed his ass. The bank assessed NINE overdraft fees because they imposed a 5 day hold on a $400 check. When I challenged the $456 in overdraft fees, they only reimbursed $125. I owe $550 to the electrician who switched my fuse box to breakers, $270 for the fees associated with my FNP licensing exam and I still haven't paid my car note. I need an escape...The DiVa is having a really bad day...

DiVa...is wondering how she can empower other women if she is feeling so weak ;(

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Finally, the last of my doctoral coursework is complete!

A few weeks ago, I completed the last of my doctoral courses. It feels so good to be done with the actual lectures and classroom stuff, now it's a matter of finishing the projects. My challenge at the moment is completing the written proposal, the data/code book and putting together a committee with synergy! Then I can prepare for proposal defense. I plan to have my data collected before the end of the year...that way I can graduate from the program next May and enter the health care arena as a practitioner of some sort before I turn 40.

About the whole becoming a clinician, I have been thinking about that quite a bit lately. I am an African American woman. In our country, many have preconceived notions about what it is to be black in America. Many of the policies that affect black people are based on these notions. As a researcher, I will provide scientific evidence to things that fellow African Americans know as common knowledge. Through research I can give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. It is important to make opportunities like mine available to ALL African Americans. I think it will take more than just money because some of us need a little nudge to get moving in the right direction. I still want to be a Family Nurse Practitioner, but I also want to be a researcher and a nursing educator...Nurses can never stop moving!!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Class is back in session

Sunday was day one of 6 days of class. Eight hours, every day!

The first class is about evaluation and the second is action research. I had a little run in last semester with evaluation. A prof gave our class a total of three hours of instruction and three assignments. The assignments came without any supplementary reading. The prof offered no office hours. She only allowed communication by email on Wednesdays. I was determined not to let this negativity stop me. I turned in my assignments and waited for the results.

I was told that I had an 88.5%...I failed one assignment because she said I turned it in late. I provided hard evidence (time-stamped email confirmation from her)that I turned the assignment in on time and then she told me that I failed not because I was late, but because I did not meet the course criteria. You can't change your mind!!! When I tried to enlist the support of the administration, I was told to simply let it go, there was only a certain amount of attainable A's per class but not to worry, in my doctoral courses there will be no limit to the number of A's that can be issued by a prof...WTF? As I recounted the story, it pissed me off all over again. I was fuming for the rest of the day. If I weren't being sponsored by the federal government to attend this school I would have quit on the spot.

To this day I have yet to see my paper to find out what I did wrong...I wonder if I did anything wrong to begin with? I learned a valuable lesson! With the Advanced Research class that I am presently taking we had three assignments, an article critique, a literature review and finally our written proposal. I turned in my article critique and the literature review. I happened to check our online grade book and noticed I was assigned a grade for the critique, a BAD grade. I had already turned in the literature review, which meant 2 bad grades. I decided to take charge of my evaluation. I sent the prof an email advising her that I needed an extension for the written proposal until I received feedback from the literature review, because the literature review was a HUGE part of the proposal...She could have failed me if I had just let her continue to evaluate me without feedback!!!

I will say that being in this class with this prof has restored my faith in the academic system, so far...I will be optimistic!


Thanks 'areader' for your friendly reminder!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The ladies at the disco club...

Last week, a friend of the family came in from out of town. She is a little younger than me, by about 10 years. Since I have time, I was enlisted to entertain her and her friend. The focal point of their visit? To visit with our family of course, but most importantly to find a MAN! That gender ratio disparity rears its ugly head...There are 10 women for every man in the United States, so they can pick and choose and they know it!

One night, we decided to go to the club. The first place we went to was more like a bar, with men who were not really attractive but they were okay. I guess I don't get excited about men like the younger set :) And then the next bar that we went to was basically ALL women! The women seem to be my age or a little older, but they too were on a mission. The dance floor was women dancing like they were in a strip club...and the five men that were in the club stood at the edge of the dance floor enjoying the show...

Afterwards, we found a club that was open until 5 am. The door policy was crazy: no gum, no bottles, no lighters, no cigarettes...the only thing you could take into the club was a smile. Once we cleared security, there was a man with a cash box. The cover charge was $10. Too much money in my estimation of things, but the kids wanted to go...so we went! The club had 2 levels, the lower level was empty but you could hear music booming from the rafters. We ascended the staircase to find hundreds of kids bumping and grinding to the beat of rap music.

Some girls were dressed modestly, with floor-length sundresses and sandals or jeans with a cute t-shirt. Others in bootie shorts and dresses just long enough to fall below their buttocks with 4 inch heels. The young men were dressed in the finest urban gear, standing in groups with their friends testifying to the lyrics of Lil' Wayne..."Cuz we like her, and we like her too." I was surprised, one of those young dudes asked me (the senior citizen of the group) for my phone number!

Anyway, as I sat back and observed the events of the evening I realized something, these are the people that will benefit from my study. I wondered, does that young lady who is bumping her butt up against that guys crotch know her worth? Does she realize that she is beautiful? Does she protect herself and is she aware that she is at risk? And when I saw that young man, standing at the bar sippin' on his Corona I wondered if he will respect her in the morning? Will he insist that they use a condom? Does he like to sleep with men, but is fearful of the stigma that comes with homosexuality?

NurseDiva...That's what happens when a researcher to a nightclub!