Sunday, October 10, 2004

When you ask a question, don't be angry at the answer.

This is not the glowing story of a student nurse. Perhaps I am not a typical student or even a typical nurse. But wouldn't a world of typical people be less interesting? I made a promise to myself a long time ago, when I was a child that I would be anything but ordinary. "To thy own self be true." No one really wants to know the truth. Everybody wants your edited reality. They want you to tell someone else's story when yours is not the one they want to hear. Case in point:

Since I have been taking this Pediatric course we are supposed to write a journal. In my journal, I take full liberty to write exactly how I feel and what I think I have learned. In my journal entitled Learning Suspended I reveal that this particular round of clinicals has taught me absolutely nothing. This is true. I feel like I have learned that parents stand in the way of recovery. I found that the children are victims to the limitations and guilt of their parents. No one sits down with the parents and really tells then what is going on. No one has time. Can you really blame the parents if they haven't been told that the q4 vitals are performed to keep a pulse on their child's well being, and that vitals signs are a barometer that lets the medical staff know whether or not the treatment is working. The parents are just as much a part of the clinical team as the doctor or nurse. How dare the clinical instructor get mad? She is the guidance counselor of students on the floor. In my journal, I never blamed her entirely for my lack of enlightenment. I admitted that I haven't approached the clinical area as aggressively as I need to. I committed to developing nursing diagnoses and interventions. That wasn't enough. Why? Ego.

My instructor gave me the absolute worst midterm evaluation that she could. She said that she wanted me to make friends with the other students and kiss their butts even though I don't like them because that's how you get people to help you when you need them to. I refuse to be something that I am not. I will be civil when I work with them but I will not be phony. I am having a hard time understanding what she wants from me. She is always ready to tell me that I should consider another career. Just because Peds hasn't been my "Florence Nightingale" experience, doesn't mean that nursing is not for me. It seems to me that every semester I have to give my "I didn't chose nursing because" speech to the instructor so that they understand that I want to make a difference. That nursing is not just a job for me, and is an opportunity to use all of my passion to help people. I was meant to help people. It is my divine purpose. How dare she dash my dreams in a few words?

This educational experience has been a very hostile experience. I have never been in a class where you cannot ask a question. And if you do, it should be well thought out because you will be made aware of your stupidity by your fellow classmates. I have never been in a learning atmosphere where everybody already knows everything, so they want the teacher to tell the shortest version of whatever it is she has to say because they need to hurry back to their dorm and call their boyfriend. Everyone wants to leave class early. Damn what you want to know. Leaving early is paramount. The stress level is so high. Everyone clips the head off of one another because their patience is so short. No kinds words of encouragement. You can't let anyone know that you got a bad grade, because then everyone knows and you will be burned at the stake. We are all part of a clique. You cannot just join a group, you should be invited. So when the class has group projects, you are forced to go around and ask "Can I be in your group?" How lame. I feel like the kid who gets picked last in gym class. I don't claim to be the most astute individual, but I feel like I have something special to bring to the table.

I promise, the next entry will be more positive. My clinical instructor accused me of having a bad attitude and called me a pessimist. Gee, I can't even begin to imagine why.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

What's wrong with the world?

Alright world,

What's wrong with you? Why are you so rude at the grocery store? I don't understand why you are frowning and short with the words you speak. I am not a rude customer, I say "please" and "thank you". Yet and still you act as though you have a stick up your butt. Okay, so I don't have my advantage card. Will they be taking my savings directly out of your paycheck? My sister-in-law wants to use my advantage card. What do you care? Just scan the damn card and move on. Life is too short. If you are having a bad day, feel free to say so. I can understand that a whole lot better than your nastiness...

And you at the gym. What's your problem? Okay, so people are taking advantage of the facility by letting their friends come in and use their card. What does that have to do with me? I pay for my memebership just like everyone else. I should not have to go through the third degree because other people abuse the system. And you talk to me as though I am a child. I have lived on this earth for a complete 32 years and you insult my intelligence by telling me that you are protecting the children. This is the YMCA, doesn't the C stand for Christian? Perhaps before you seek to condemn a member for something so trivial as an ID card, you should ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?" My kid left her Id card in her bookbag, which she left at home. I have my driver's license. Just look up her ID card and let the child go to her swim class.

People, lighten up. Smile every once in a while, I swear it won't kill you and you might even like it.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Alright, so maybe Peds just isn't for me

I took a mental health day yesterday. I needed a break from school. I needed to process the past clinical experience and do some self examination. Why did I choose nursing again? I hate talking to my Peds instructor because every time I express dissatisfaction with anything she questions my choice of profession. It seems like every Clinical rotation I have to tell somebody that I didn't choose nursing so I could marry a doctor. Or because I thought nursing sounded like a fun, glamorous career. It's not because I watched ER and thought "I could do that." I chose nursing because I genuinely love people. Because I have an interest in the science of nursing. I find nursing diagnosis challenging. I look forward to inventing interventions that nobody else ever thought of. Nursing is my passion. It's who I am,it's what I do.

I imagine you are wondering what has me on my soapbox this fine Friday morning. It all began on Wednesday when I began clinical for Peds. I chose a patient that had a perianal abscess. He was a two year old boy with soft blonde curls. When he was sleeping he looked like a fallen angel. When he awakened, his voice sounded with the coo of a dove. But whenever I walked over to him to do something he cried and screamed like a banshee. This is fine. I expect that. Everyone has been poking and prodding him. I wouldn't be 100% convinced if I were him either. Finally, I had a patient with parents who were agreeable to having their child treated. He only thing was the parents were not always diligent about making the little angel take his medicine. When I came in there was a syringe with tylenol in it on the bedside table, and there was a medicine cup with milk of magnesia in it. I went on about my business as usual. Then there was a shift change. I was told by my new nurse to give the patient the meds that the parents did not because he was scheduled for a colonoscopy in the morning and his stools needed to be clear for the procedure. The little angle was also complaining about pain in his rear. The nurse said, "You make him take it or get you instructor to go in there and make him take it." As directed I went in and made him take the medication. As soon as I came out of the room, the instructor asked "Did you make him take the meds?" I said yes. She was upset. She said I didn't know what meds where in the containers and The parents could have poisoned him. She said I was in the wrong. I agreed that I was in the wrong, but last week, she encouraged me to give medications drawn up by another nurse and I couldn't really tell the difference between this situation and the last. Another thing that pissed me off was the fact that as she is giving me this feedback, various students are walking up, adding their two cents and discussing among themselves my error. I told her exactly how I felt and I didn't mince any words. I was told by one of my peers that I gave too much information and that as a result of the night's incident, my instructor was going to give me a bad eval.

I dare her to give me a bad eval. She never comes into the room to meet the patient. She never comes to the bedside with me to pass a med. She only looks at the order, and then at the drawn meds and says "Have at it." I have never felt so abandoned in my entire career as a student nurse. Isn't she concerned about her license? Doesn't she care if I check the five rights of medication administration? Does she want to watch me do my assessment to make sure that I hear crackles and not rhonchi? Four weeks in a row I have had bad clinical experiences. I am trying to give Peds a chance.

Everything else in my life is okay. I am going to watch a play tonight. It is Julius Caesar. I have to take copious notes and prepare a paper that is due in two weeks. I have a paper due in my African American Literature class, and midterms are next week as well. My diet is going well, I lost 12 pounds. My energy has real improved since I started taking the calcium supplement.

Well I have a one o'clock appointment so I must go....

Friday, September 17, 2004

Back in the Saddle Again!

Hello Friends,

I haven't written in so long. Class is going well. I am really enjoying my electives this term which happen to be African American Literature and the History of Theatre. I don't always enjoy clinical. There is one kid in particular. She is so annoying. Whenever my clinical instructor asks me a question she is always waiting to correct me, or answer in my behalf. I guess that's what I get for going to a school with kids that are so competitive.

So how am I doing? I passed my med math test. At least one of them anyway. I can pass meds in Peds, but not in OB. The day that I took my OB math test the second time, the teacher left us in the room alone. As always, I am the last to complete my test. There was one other girl in the room with me. She finished her test before me and when I went to turn in my test she was standing there looking through the pile of everyone else's tests. She realized that she missed one. I missed one too, but I wanted to turn in my test and leave. She said, "I don't feel like taking this test over again...I'm changing my answer." It sounded so easy, I could change my answer too. No one would know. The other girl returned to her seat and changed her answers. She looked to me and said, "Go ahead, change your answers, why do you think she left us alone?" I looked at my test one more time. It was at that moment that I decided that my integrity was worth more than a 100% on a test. I placed my paper on the stack and left with my integrity in tact. I know I made the right choice. I will just take the test again.

When I arrived to Peds clinical, my instructor congratulated me on passing the Peds test 100% I felt pretty good about this test. When I sat down in Peds class I told my self, "I will not let this test beat me." And it didn't. My instructor is very laid back. I can't believe how laid back she is. On my first day of clinical, she let me pass meds independently. That is so different than my first year of clinical, where I had to discuss the medication and do the 5 rights of medication administration under the watchful eye of the clinical instructor. My first night I almost gave a 3 year old 100mg of Colace. She caught it that time. One of my peers gave a 4 year old juvenile diabetic 2 units of regular insulin and 4 units of nph. It seemed like a pretty scary situation. The child's blood glucose level was 400 at the time of dose. But a incident report still had to be filled out and my student colleague was emotionally crushed.

I haven't really got to see too much in Labor in delivery yet. We are starting in the postpartum unit. That's fine with me. I haven't learned quite enough about labor and delivery yet and as a side note, I am becoming a pro at neonate assessment. In Peds, I am already taking care of kids. That is the easy part. It's the parents that make peds challenging. Mom wants the morphine now, it doesn't matter that morphine is a narcotic that requires two signatures, and that I need to find another nurse to get the medicine out of the pixis. Mom doesn't want the baby awakened for an assessment. She has been poked and prodded by the residents, and the specialists, and the other peripheral medical staff and now here I come. Or Mom and Dad are at the bedside. Here comes Aunt Ophelia who is dissatisfied with the room's appearance. She wants ME to get a bucket and clean the bedrails, she wants to know why we are not collecting his urine. She wants jello, and when I get to the room with that she no longer wants jello she wants apple juice, make that a straw, no a spoon. No pleases or thank yous, just hurry up! I will adjust.

I am not feeling overwhelmed yet. The kids are doing well. The are enjoying school and in my free time, I will try my best to encourage them. I started a new diet. So far, I have lost seven pounds. I am feeling better already, and it has only been about two weeks. Well, I've got 100 things to do. Talk to you again when I get a chance.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Nurses never rest...we just keep going and going and going!

Last year was my first year of nursing school. We learned to give baths, proper body mechanics and other basic nursing skills. I think that I am probably the best in the industry at assessment, bathing, and dressing changes....really! It's like an art. I have my entire morning routine done my 10:00am, which leaves me plenty of time to research my patient's pathology and write the infamous nursing diagnosis and care plan. Okay, okay I only have one patient to be responsible for, so that makes it pretty easy. Besides my nursing classes, I also have to take humanities classes, and English classes and history classes too. I don't mind, it is a labor of's what I signed up for. And as if that isn't enough I also have community service hours to complete. I decided to be a nurse because I wanted to make a difference. I want to do meaningful work that did not go unappreciated like the general customer service jobs that I did in my early adulthood. I have been told many times to "try and enjoy nursing school", but how can that be when I have so many things to do?

Last year in the fall I took 18 credit hours. In the spring I took 14. Totally my choice I know. In an effort to lighten my fall schedule I took 2 classes this summer, and even still I had to take 17 credits this fall so I could graduate on time/not take classes next summer. I was very pleased with my Fall schedule, no classes on Friday....evening clinicals...just beautiful. And then I received an email asking me what I had planned for Wednesday morning. Since I have clinicals on Monday and Wednesday from three to eleven at night, I planned on doing some reading/studying on Wednesday morning. Wednesday morning would be the day that I have a relaxing cup of coffee and review my bills. Wednesday morning had such potential, that is until I received that email asking me to forfeit my Wednesday morning. And they wonder how it is that nurses become burned out or co-dependent. It would be more fair if you told me, hey...we need you to select a time to do (insert activity), these are the days and times we have available. At least fake me out and make me think I have control over my life, make me think that I have a choice,even though I don't. Make me think it was my idea.

Non-traditional students have different challenges than do the traditional 18-23 aged students. We have jobs and bills to pay. We have families to take care of. Some of us are taking care of aged relatives. Some of us take care of our children. I have some ideas about how we can fulfill this service obligation. I believe everyone would be happy with this one. How about I spend time with my kids helping my son with his math and my daughter with her reading. How about I give my children a loving, supportive environment to grow up in so that they don't become sociopaths, thieves, porn stars or serial killers. Now that is a service to the community. When I take my mother to the doctors and we come back home, why can't I use her medical history to write a comprehensive care plan and come up with different way to promote health. Or possibly have a high blood pressure/diabetes screening at a church in my neighborhood complete with physician referrals and pamphlets highlighting the warning signs of both diseases and nutritional/fitness guidelines to help prevent disease. Now that, is community service! I realize that it seems as though I am complaining. I really do love the meantime, I will need to do an internet search on energizer bunny training. By any means necessary...

Saturday, August 07, 2004

"Twelve Days and Counting"

This summer has gone so fast. I have only 12 days before school starts. My children's school shopping is finished, (Thank God!). I have carefully labeled each of their supplies and packed their hello kitty and ninja turtle bookbags. Every morning when I wake up, I wish it was the same day over and over until I've had a perfect summer the movie Groundhog's day.

I received my financial aid package in the mail. OMG! They gave me an extra $17,000. In a way I want to turn cartwheels. But I know that within six months of graduation, somebody is going to have to pay back the money. It would really be nice to have the money because I could pay for my new dental crown ($1500), I could get the damage to my car fixed from the accident that I had last summer ($500), I could buy new glasses (?), pay my house note ($450), and car note ($402). There are also a few frivolous things I could do like...go on vacation, have a shopping spree at the local mall, new carpet in my house, a day at the spa. Okay, okay...back to reality.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

"Gentlemen, start your engines"

In two weeks school will officially start for me. School starts for the kids a little later on. There are so many things to do! I have to buy school clothes and supplies, get down to campus to buy books, and get into the studious mindset. I must admit, I have become complacent in my relaxed summer ways. For the past three weeks my children and I have enjoyed not having to be anywhere in particular. But sooner than later, our lives will be filled with rushing here and there making sure lunches are packed, homework is complete, and so on. This is the chaos that we know as normal.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Diva. I am thirty-two years old and a single mother of two. About two years ago on my thirtieth birthday I was depressed. I looked back over the disaster that I called my life and wondered what the Hell happened. I felt like a complete loser. I hated my job in corporate America. I decided to take a class or two at the local community college in hopes of becoming a nurse. Soon after I decided to go back to school, my job (that also happened to be funding my academic endeavors) terminated my employment. Before I knew it, I was a full-time college student. I went from community college to a four year university. Life has changed a lot since two years ago. I have learned so much about myself and what I can accomplish once I become determined.

I have decided to chronicle the ups and downs of my last two years of nursing school. I have already completed my first two years of nursing school on the baccalaureate level. To give you an idea what that means, I have completed medical-surgical nursing courses, gerontological nursing, psychiatric nursing, and all of the associated science courses. In the Fall semester, I will be embarking on my obstetrical/gynecological nursing and pediatric nursing experiences. I am excited about this semester because my intended area of concentration is women's health. Who knows, I may end up doing anything. Nursing is my passion. It is what I was always supposed to do. I know this is true because everytime I decide to quit, everything comes my opinion by way of divine intervention.

I am new to sharing my life with the whole world so please bear with me. I am taking 21 credit hours this semester, so I can't promise that I will be able to write often. My hope is that writing my experiences will be cathartic in a therapeutic way. I welcome any comments, and look forward to meeting people who aspire to do great things. And maybe in sharing my experiences, one person may take a leap of faith and try something new.