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... 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 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!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hey man, this isn't supposed to be about me!!!

In my quest to study HIV/AIDS as a theme for my doctoral project, I have enlisted the help of a local nursing expert in the area of infectious disease. The expert is an amazing woman. She came to one of our classes in women's health to discuss the impact of AIDS in the community. I was impressed...

Initially, my interest was to study the paucity of data regarding the relationship between knowledge, perception of risk and high risk sexual behavior of African American men aged 27-50 who seek casual sexual encounters with women using social networking sites on the Internet.

In English: I want to know what black men know about catching a sexually transmitted disease, whether or not they think they are at risk for catching a sexually transmitted disease and how that information affects their sexual practices.

When I broached my nursing profs with the research idea I developed, they gave me discouraging news. How would I get the IRB to approve my research using the Internet? There are no doctorally prepared nursing faculty who study Infectious Disease...Who would be on my committee? Maybe I should change my foci...NOT! So, I wrote a letter to the local expert begging her to be on my research committee and to mentor me so that when I am done with the fellowship, I too can be an nurse expert in the area of infectious disease. I could have fainted when she said yes!

The first time we met, she was feeling me out to see how serious I was about studying HIV and what I already know about the population. I had to admit that I knew nothing and that I was hoping that she would put me in the right position to get the exposure I need to develop a good study.

She basically told me that I had a group of subjects sitting right in my lap...My friends! African American women who are my age are the fastest growing number of newly diagnosed HIV in the country...but I wanna study men!!! She gave me a 10 article reading assignment on HIV/AIDS among African American women and scheduled a meeting to discuss what I have learned.

I read the articles and didn't learn anything that I didn't already know. But she posed some questions that made me feel a bit uncomfortable.

Do I think that I am at risk for contracting HIV?

Why don't I think I can contract it?

I have children, which proves that I have unprotected sex...that clearly makes me at risk. And what makes me think I should trust my partner?

Now she did not come right out and ask in that order, we had conversation in between. It really made me think:

'Why do we trust who we trust?'

'Why are African Americans the highest group? What does our population need to get the wake-up call?'

'Is the little 15 minute sexual encounter worth risking my life over?'

'With the numbers growing so fast, why don't we know more people who have had a close call...a diagnosis...or even died of AIDS?'

I have donated blood, but I have never had an official AIDS test. I could be HIV positive!

Ugh, now I am thinking about changing my research question...but I won't because there is something about my discomfort that intrigues me! I want to do a study that is interesting but will also help my community. This is hitting too close to home. This isn't supposed to be about me...but I realized that whatever I study is about me!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

NurseDiva, the nursing scientist....Lol!!!

Everything is happening so fast. BSN, then MSN, apply to take boards and doctoral intensive courses. My head is spinning! But I will break down what I am doing so that it is more easily understood. To be honest, I just learned it myself :p

The first course that I am taking as an official doctoral student is advanced research. The goal of this course is to develop your research problem, research purpose and research question that you would like to study. At the end of the class you should be finished with the first three chapters of your written proposal, which includes you literature review. The literature review is when you go to the library and look for scholarly articles that support what you want to study...basically you are looking for proof that your study has NOT already been done :)

The written proposal is like asking the project defense people and university for permission to go forward with your experimental study. If they say yes, then you go to the institutional review board, which is a panel that reviews studies to make sure that they are example of unethical would be like the Tuskegee experiment!

So I have been developing my research problem and I am stuck. I will share my ideas and if you are into this sort of thing maybe you can give me some feedback. Or if your are not, you can just tell me if you think it is cool or not! I am not afraid that my idea will get stolen because if you can make something out of this you are freakin' awesome!!

My research interests include: african americans, health disparities, education regarding std transmission, HIV/AIDS, health promotion and health protection.

Research problem #1

The research problem being investigated is the relationship between motivation and adherence to the plan of care in African American populations with chronic illness.

In English: I want to know what will motivate black people with hypertension, diabetes or HIV/AIDS follow the instructions given by the clinician. I say clinician because Nurse Practitioners are the future of primary care!

Research problem #2

The research problem being investigated is the relationship between knowledge of sexually transmitted disease transmission and high risk sexual behaviors of adult men on social networking sites.

In English: I want to know if guys who frequent websites like MySpace and Tagged know how STDs are passed from one person to another and how that knowledge speaks to their sexual behavior...are they more high risk because they don't know how diseases are passed?

I have a meeting with my prof to find out whether or not either of those studies will work. I think this research thing could be FUN!

Well, I guess I should get my kids ready for school...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm still here!!!

I have missed blogging. Blogging was a therapeutic outlet for me to share my feelings. It was all fun and games, until my ex found it and confronted me about all the things that have happened over the last four years! It was kind of funny at first, but then I felt bad. And then I thought, well hell it's the truth so he'll get over it!! So I'm back!!

What have I been up to lately? Well, there have been a variety of things that I wished I had blogged about and didn't so I will get you up to speed. The last post that I wrote was about my adventures in billing. A funny thing happened with that class. The teacher only taught the class for one hour and refused to give office hours. She would only answer questions via e-mail on Wednesdays. I was pissed. So I did my assignments to the best of my ability and waited for my grades. I received an 88.5% as a final grade. I received an 'F' on one of my assignment because according to her I turned it in late. I knew that this prof was going to be difficult so I planned ahead. When I turned in my paper, I asked her to send me an email to let me know that she received it, and she did. The timestamp on the email was at 8am on the due date. I sent proof to the prof that my paper was on time and she said that she really meant to say that she was giving me a 'F' because my work was of a poor quality. That made me go to the dean. I explained the situation and waited for a response. The response? She said I had to take the 'B'...ain't that a bitch? The reason? Because it is not important for me to get an 'A' it is important to finish the semester so that I can graduate and sit for boards. I was so pissed, I stayed mad for 3 weeks! I wonder if they would be as lenient if I accidentally plagiarized?

Speaking of graduation, did I tell you? I graduated on Sunday!

I am officially:

NurseDiVa, RN, MSN

Next stop: boards and the completion of my doctorate. I plan to take boards in July. I have been practicing my new signature all week! But there is no rest for me, I am already back in class! At the moment, I am working on my doctoral coursework. Yesterday was my first day as a REAL doctoral student. The first class is a research course. In this course, we are developing our written proposal for our doctoral project. I have not finalized my research problem but I understand how the development process works. Which I think is a good start :)

Since I have been a doctoral student, I have met some really nice nursing leaders. One is a Midwife from the southeast and another is a Women's health NP from the southwest. Then there is one from the Midwest who is in management, one from the southeast who is a Family/Psych NP and one who is a nurse attorney! All of the nurses in our classes, (except those of us who have limited nursing experience) are amazing advanced practice nurses from whom I hope to learn. They are nursing leaders from all over the country.

Who would have ever thought that I would be where I am today? At graduation, one of my nursing mentors suggested that I will be working on my PhD. I laughed, but now I wonder if I really WILL be working on a PhD!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Since I am not ready to tell you to your face...

I will tell the world!

I have been a great friend to you. When we worked in Labor and Delivery together, our co-workers treated you like poop. I listened to you cry. I fixed your mistakes and watched your tracings so that you wouldn't let your patients hyper-stimulate. It was I that defended you and tried to make you feel like a member of the team. I was so excited when we received the fellowship together. It seemed like the start of a beautiful friendship. But there is one thing that I have taken for granted. You have no idea what it means to be a true friend.

My first semester of the FNP program was challenging. I had been out of school for a year and a half. The L&D job was hard on my feelings of confidence and self-esteem. And it didn't help that our assessment instructor called me 'fat' in front of the entire class. Instead of being my friend and supporting me, you opted to kiss our instructor's ass because she was your advisor. I was not saying that you had to hate her because she was mean to me. That's ludicrous! My thought was that since I listened to you vent when you were being ostracized at our previous employer, that when I am having a hard time that you would return the favor. That's what friends are for! But not you. You tried to distance yourself from me. I talked to you about it and I decided that it would be better for me to give you plenty of space.

You understood that I distanced myself from you because of your behavior. You apologized and I forgave because it is who I am, it's what I do. I thought that you truly valued our friendship. I was wrong. The first class we took together this semester we had a group project. It was a spur of the moment thing and we were given an option. Either we could work on the project after class or come in early the next morning and complete our work. We voted and the majority won fair and square. We agreed to stay late. You said you had daycare issues. I understand daycare issues, I too am a mother. But your kids were with your mother and you said that she was understanding.

We offered to let you leave and you chose to stay. You said you only needed to make a phone call. But you had decided that if you HAD to stay, you were going to make EVERYBODY miserable. You disappeared for an extended period of time, then you expected the whole group to wait for you to read the article before we started working on the project. I thought that sucked because you were gone at least 30 minutes. That was more than enough time to make a phone call home. You insisted on doing the powerpoint which was fine. But anytime that we tried to give you feedback about typographical errors and problems with content, you had a very nasty attitude. It was HELL working with you. But you explained your position and I tried to understand. Everyone deserves a second chance. Then there is Sunday...

This Sunday, we had our class that teaches us how to negotiate our contracts once we become nurse practitioners. This was very important to all of us, especially those of us in primary care. We all need to know how insurance covers patients and how to chart so that we get reimbursed. Just because you are a midwife and they bill for your services in bundles doesn't mean that the rest of the class might not have benefited from the content. Within one hour of the class starting, your kids started calling you. And it was for stupid stuff. You interrupted our class to take these phone calls and expected that the teacher wait for you to finish your calls before she continued teaching. That was so unfair and if it were me, you would have said something. I also did not appreciate how you spoke to our classmate, who happened to know the answer to a question that you posed. I know, you didn't say it to me, but I thought that you were unnecessarily mean.

Since the teacher told you that class would be over at 3pm, she tried to rush through the content to accommodate you. That was also bullshit. Our class costs $1500 and I felt that we should be able to benefit from being able to answer questions. You made us all feel very uncomfortable. You should be ashamed of yourself. We came all they way to your neighborhood, which was better than 30 minutes from campus and within 10 minutes of your home. That made the drive almost an hour for me and at least 30 minutes for everyone else. We did everything to accommodate you. And you still had to have it your way. I apologize but I cannot be your friend.