My First Clinical Thoughts

I’ve been in my first clinical rotation at the hospital for the past month and thought it would be fun to share some things I’ve learned thus far. I had NO idea what to expect going into my first rotation (mine is medical-surgical) and honestly I’m really happy I didn’t have any expectations. It’s been nice to just go into things ‘blindly’ and just take a leap of faith each week (albeit, also kinda-really-terrifying). We had two simulation labs this summer that focused on both clinical procedures and patient assessments and now, we’re utilizing everything we learned on the hospital floor (supervised and guided).

Some of the things that I’ve loved thus far: how so-much-less-scary it was than I imagined - I was terrified the first 3 weeks of my clinical and finally, I realized that I’m actually really prepared for this next step! I was also really surprised at how much I really love it- it’s been so nice to finally feel like I’m ‘in my element’ and found something that I can be truly excited, challenged, and passionate about. I’m also really surprised at how much more I know than I thought I did! Those two labs this past summer taught me so much. They were really challenging, but I’m really thankful for them. I’m also surprised at how much I already know about reading patients charts, vitals, how to do the ‘little things that kinda seem scary’ like moving a patients bed/turning off their alarm/ assisting the patient with mobility etc.

Some things that I’ve been intimidated by: Going into the patient room by myself seemed real scary at first, but I’ve gotten ‘used’ to it. I’m still a bit scared, but I’m sure that will come with time! It’s also been intimidating being in the room with the team of doctors, however they are all so wonderful and supportive and value the nurses feedback - so nothing to be intimidated about there either! Just wandering around the hospital still seems a bit overwhelming (it’s HUGE!), but it’s already starting to feel more familiar which is nice.

I’m already surprised by: how much I’ve grown over the past month as both a person and a student nurse. I also cannot believe at how my patients and instructors have already changed how I ‘view’ the world- so much more empathetically and positively. I’m trying to spread those things like wildfire : )

Needless to say- I’m really excited to see where I’m at in the next month/ at the end of this clinical/ at the end of the program in August 2020!

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Any other student nurses (or used-to-be- student nurses) out there? I’d love to hear your experiences of your first clinical!

Nursing School: A Peak Into This Semester

I thought it would be fun to give you a sneak peak into what my 2nd semester as an Accelerated Nursing Student. I have 2 more semesters left after this one and that is CRAZY to me! I’m just starting my clinical rotations at the hospital this semester, which is both equally scary and exciting. It’s very similar to starting a new job- anxiety-producing, lack-of-sleep nerves, exhilarating, terrifying, etc. Going into my first clinical (I have Medical-Surgical this semester), I don’t feel prepared at all for it, but I felt that same way during my labs this Summer!

I also have my Medical Surgical (focused mainly on Older Adults) lecture as well. It came with the BIGGEST book, which was pretty intimidating. I’ve heard great things about this professor and am excited to have it accompany my clinical.

I am also taking another lecture focused specifically caring for Older Adults and then one on Mental Health (the lecture portion). I will have my second clinical with Mental Health focus during the Winter semester. I liked the idea of doing the lecture and then having the clinical be my sole focus afterwards.

I’m taking a total of 13 credits, which feels a whole lot better than the 18 credits I took over the shortened summer semester. I’m still in that beginning part of the semester where I’m struggling to find a schedule and have my first exams this week (ah! stress! give me all the chocolate!)- I know that things will calm down in a few weeks (like it always does!).

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First Semester: Nursing School Recap

I have no photos from my first semester because, well, because it was REALLY busy. My first round of classes took place over the Summer semester and most of my classes were 7 or 10 weeks long. I took a total of 8 classes from May-August.

The classes that I took included: Introduction to Nursing, Fundamentals of Nursing, Fundamentals of Nursing Lab, Nursing Health Assessment, Nursing Health Assessment Lab, Pathophysiology, Pharmacology, and Nutrition.

My favorite class? Either Fundamentals of Nursing Lab or Nursing Health Assessment Lab. I really enjoyed the hands-on aspects of it and felt like I could apply those things that I learned in lecture.

My least favorite class? Pharmacology. Mainly because it was conducted online and this was a really challenging class to do things ‘on the computer’. I ended up watching a lot of videos and memorizing things.

What I learned most? How to critical think again and how crazy smart Nurses are.

What I wish I did more of? Took classes over a longer period of time. Covering 3 or 4 chapters in a week for one class was typical. Just when I thought I was learning the material, we moved on to something else!

What I’m most excited for in the future? Excited/scared to be taking all that I learned over the summer and applying them to our in-hospital clinical experiences! YIKES.

Race Recap, Life Updates, and What's Next?

I’M BACK! Life has been absolutely crazy these past 5 weeks including 6 final exams, a 10k race, goal setting for the Fall, and researching a million different wedding venues.

You can find my Beach to Beacon 10k Race Recap HERE.

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It’s also included a whole lot of ice cream because- SUMMER. Maine/New Hampshire friends -> Sherman’s Farm is a MUST for both ice cream and fresh veggies/ produce. Such a nice little New England luxury we have so close to home!

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I’ve also been brainstorming a lot on what my next goals for running are. I love a good challenge, so I decided to take my next ‘big thing’ to train for to my social feeds and the result was…unexpected…scary….exhilarating to think about!

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SO I’ve been researching 100 mile races and tentatively might have found one. Still deciding, but it’s also been pretty fun to break out my road bike and get in some cardio in a different aspect of training too.

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I really like the idea of doing an ironman, but also really love the idea of trying to complete a 100 miler. I already have everything I need for the 100 and I could do the same 50 miler I did this year as a good training part for the 100. I’m still debating it, but thinking my ironman dreams may be going on the back burner for a little bit.

Speaking of going on a back burner - that also includes Netflix, casual reading (unless the 3 pages I make it through before bed), and cooking from scratch has all been put on the back burner as well. I’ve been all about studying, schoolwork, teaching skating, and trying to still move in to our house in my spare time! I’m down to 3 classes now (all online), so I’m not commuting at the moment (normally I was commuting 1 hr each way 4 times a week)- which definitely saves me a lot of time. My classes will end in 2 weeks and then I’ll have a week off before my Fall classes begin (three semesters LEFT!). It’s exciting to think that my hardest semester will be behind me once these end (this summer I’ve heard is the most challenging).

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SPEAKING of goals- I think I’ll need a whole lot more of THESE from our local Country Market (they have the most amazing organic products for $2 or $3!!) to help me reach my next upcoming Fall races!

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I signed up for my next two races yesterday, so it’s official! I did need to drop out of the Chicago Marathon because it just was not feasible considering my schooling schedule right now. I would want to spend a few days exploring the city post-race and purchase all of the race merchandise, which it wouldn’t have happened had I gone there this year. I know my time will come and it will be amazing. I’ve got the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon coming up next month (it’s our local half marathon, so I HAD to do it) and then I’ve got the Loco Marathon (!!!) at the end of October (it’s another relatively local race and perfect time of year). It feels so good to have some ‘concrete’ set goals for the Fall because it helps take my mind off of the schooling I have! It’s also nice to look forward to something other than classes/studying.

My HOPE is to get back on track with blogging (I think this should be more feasible considering my upcoming class schedule) in the near future. I love this space and hope to continue to improve and tailor it to my interests in the future.

On the wedding planning front- we’re BACK to finding a venue. We had originally found one, picked a date, and was getting ready to sign the contract when some red flags on the contract came up. There were a bunch of unexplained fees and items that were not discussed during the tour, so we decided to not go with it. SO unfortunately we’re back to trying to find something within our budget, researching a million different options, and trying to keep our spirits up that we will find the perfect spot soon. I have to admit that it felt REALLY GOOD when we did find something and had a date set, so I’m sure we’ll feel much more relieved when our time does come.

Anyways enough about me, what’s new with YOU?

-Favorite thing about Summer?

-Any nurses out there have any Pharmacology/ Pathophysiology tips?

-Favorite snack while marathon training?

What It's Really Like Leaving Your Full Time, Salaried Job To Go Back To School

SO I’ve been ‘back to school’ for a little over a month now. I left my full-time, salaried job at the end of April and began classes full-time at the beginning of May. I also moved across the country from Colorado back to my home state, Maine into our family home (my great-grandfather built it)! Let me just start by saying that NONE of this has been ‘easy’ and I really will NOT sugar-coat it because honestly I feel like everyone that I’ve ever heard of that has made any of these decisions just glaze over all the crappy-parts to get to the happy-parts. If you’re looking for that then, maybe this isn’t the post for you because it’s about to get really honest. Before we get to all the tough-parts, here’s what I’m now seeing as my view most mornings when I study from home (this is nice, see!):

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I didn’t decide to change careers overnight.

It’s been a LONG journey to get me to this point. I applied to Med School after receiving my undergraduate degree and have always been extremely passionate about working in the healthcare field. I’ve previously worked as an Orthodontic Assistant and went to school in (original hopes) of becoming a Physical Therapist. I won’t go into all of the details, but short story- none of it panned out. I also found a real passion for youth athletic programming and knew that a boost in my GPA would help my still dreams of going back to school to get my DPT or possibly DO degree, so I got my MBA in Sports & Recreation Management. I LOVED my schoolwork and learned so much. I’m 100% sure I’ll use it down the road in one way or another and it was also really beneficial when I was still running the Figure Skating program in Steamboat, CO.

SO, I guess long-story short, I started to dream of maybe going into Nursing was the perfect fit for me after I had a really really great experience with a Nurse Practitioner. She was AMAZING. After this encounter, I started thinking that I hadn’t had a BAD experience with any nurse and all of them were outdoorsy and had relatively flexible schedules and were obviously highly intelligent and had job security and I got along with any nurse that I met. I mulled this profession over for several years. I didn’t just want to apply to a program (especially now with all of those lovely student loans I have) if I wasn’t really sure this was for me. SO I finally decided to apply.

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But, Why Move Very Far Away?

When I was looking to apply, honestly- Maine was really the only program that I even looked at (or even applied to!). Alex and I had been talking about ending up back in New England at some point (our entire family is in ME/VT/MA), so it just made sense (plus not having to pay rent was key if I was planning to go back to school). University of Southern Maine has an EXCELLENT nursing program, so I knew that if I got in I had to go. This was probably one of the easiest decisions throughout this journey.

How are you paying for all this?

Yes, I’m going to talk about money because honestly I don’t think most people DO. I always wonder how people go back to school after having all of these bills and remain unmarried and how do they afford it all?!? SO I’m kinda flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants with this one. I was able to save up some money to float me along for the Summer and as my classes wind down, I’ll be taking on a part-time job to pay for my bills and gas and food. I’m also currently teaching figure skating lessons, which helps. Honestly- this is one of the most stressful things surrounding going back to school. It’s so much easier when you’re younger (all around!), but I’m 29 and certainly no longer ‘one of the young ones’ in my class! I’m taking as little additional student loans as I can and hoping for a few scholarships that I’ve applied to. It’s helpful that this program is one year and then I’ll be able to apply to get my licensure. I wouldn’t go without saying that Alex and my mom have been super helpful with financial extras as well. I couldn’t continue to reach for my dreams without them!

Some things that I’ve found useful when cutting back on money:

  • Packing lunches each day

  • Limiting the ‘extras’ (Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts/ Purchasing less organic foods/ etc.)

  • Evaluated any extra bills I have (reduced car insurance/ limiting electric bills etc.)

  • Selling items that I no longer use (this was really easy since I had so many extra clothes still left in Maine that I no longer wanted/needed!)

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So, Was It Scary?

Oh yeah, every step that I took to get to the first day of classes, first exam, first study-session, first round of books purchased was REALLY challenging and SCARY. If I let myself get easily deterred, then none of this would have happened. There were so many roadblocks, set-backs, wrong-turns, but I just keep moving along. Some days were frustrating, everything costs ten times more than what you anticipate, and I’ve had quite a few meltdowns along the way. Leaving a job (albeight one that I really didn’t love) that gave me security (although no health insurance) was HARD.

Leaving Steamboat was also really really hard. I had a lot of anxiety around the entire trip and continually questioned whether I was making the right decision. If it was meant to be, wouldn’t it feel easier? HOWEVER most things that are the most rewarding are really challenging and will test you (hello, take marathons or your first race as an example!). I didn’t get to say goodbye to a lot of people and left it a secret to most because Alex still hadn’t told most of his friends (and he had lived there twice as long as I had), so I kept it mainly to myself which also made it a lot harder when the day finally came to drive away. I also just really hate goodbyes, so yeah.

6 Weeks In

I’m 6 weeks in and can honestly say I am LOVING it. Everything I’m learning is giving me a sign that I have FINALLY found the career for me. I wake up in the morning really excited about what I’m going to learn today, how I can apply it to my future career as a nurse (and hopefully an NP one day!), and just general happiness - something that I had been missing for a really long time. School-wise it’s been great. I love studying and am absolutely a life-long learner, so even though there is still anxiety surrounding exams - it’s a new, fun kinda learning that I never had during my first undergraduate degree.

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Relationship-wise it’s been hard. Alex and I are still figuring out our new dynamics - we’re in a new place, he’s working from home, I’m gone most days for 12+ hours, and money is obviously tighter than it has been. There’s been some bumps in the road and I wish I could say that we’ve been planning our Wedding or it’s already planned, but honestly that’s taken the back-burner and it just sucks (no sugar-coating here!). I’m remaining patient and optimistic and looking toward the future where it looks a lot brighter over there.

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Any questions you have for me regarding this area?

Ever quit a secure-job for something unsecure? How’d it go? Any tips for me?

Anyone a nurse out there? Tell me more about your job!!