Time is passing fast right now

I am already past my mid-term of my 3rd semester out of four. It has been a very busy time. As soon as I settled into one of the rotations, it was time for the exam and moving on to the next. This of course will keep you busy and at a fairly constant moderately high stress level. However, there is good news. A semester at my college is only 16 weeks long. I am so busy right now, that occasionally I am too busy to even think about it. How do I deal with all this?

Do not look at the whole schedule and syllabus and panic. The amount of work per semester can be very overwhelming. I just think one week ahead and prepare for those classes. These are manageable chunks of information.

Manage your time wisely. Invest in a planner that will work for you. Write in all your lectures, simulations, and clinicals for the semester into the monthly calendar. In your weekly planner start by marking out the class times and commute times. Note and highlight deadlines you need to meet. Now write in all the commitments and study times. Just remember to also leave a little free time for some relaxation. You need to be able to just have some fun too.

Deny yourself every now and then. You are an adult now and need to focus on what is important to achieve your dreams. I know this is not easy to accomplish. We want to have fun with our friends and loved ones, but the nursing program is very demanding on our time. Do not let the fear of missing out overpower your desire to succeed. You don’t have to sit out everything. Just make sure you allow enough time to devote to your studies and future career, and enjoy your free time the way you like. The time people need to devote to their studies varies from person to person.

Don’t get caught up in watching other students success. Their grades have no bearing on your passing or failing. Some people are just smarter, they comprehend better, and therefore might not have to put as much effort forth in order to get good exam grades. Others might just have to work a little harder. Don’t get envious of those who seem to have effortless success. You don’t live their lives, and they might put in more work than you are aware of. Instead just ask them if they have some study tips for you. Find out the secret of their success. There are many methods out there that benefit different learning styles.

Now just take a deep breath, evaluate how far you have come, and how close you are to the finish line. If you have some struggles don’t keep doing the same thing over and over and hope for different results. That is the definition of insanity. Try to improve on your process. Just do you and grow with the challenges.

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I am just blown away and blessed beyond what I deserve

I was really lucky during my externship to be assigned to an amazing person and nurse. She picks up on people very naturally. With the patients and their families she notices the needs they don’t verbally express. With her co-workers she pays attention to their likes and dislikes, and notices if they need a hand without them having to say a word. She is also very generous with herself, her time, and her resources. She knows that I love to quilt in my free time and that I am getting ready to head to a Quit Retreat with my friends. So to celebrate the end of my externship she gave me a gift of two layered cakes. For those of you who don’t quilt, they are packs of 10 inch squares of fabrics of a collection. This is something a quilter gets really excited for. Bobbi even knew that I love fall colors, and of course pumkin everything. There are some shiny fabrics in there which I just adore. I can’t decide which ones are my favorites. I am so grateful to Bobbi for this wonderful and thoughtful gift which is way more than I deserve. I am looking forward to many hours of fun quilting these fabrics together, and everytime I see the finished quilt I will be reminded of this wonderful woman I was so blessed to have met.

Below is one of the fabric packs laid out. Aren’t they lovely?

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This Summer is flying by so fast.

In one month my classes will start up again, and I can’t wait. I am eager to learn new things and also to get closer to my graduation. This summer I had a taste what life after school will be like, and I have to say I love it. Although I know I will miss the easy-going ways of school life. Yes, I said easy-going, because compared to actually taking care of 5 patients or more at a time, it is easy-going. I am so glad that I gave up my summer to experience this externship.

It all was just such a gratifying experience. My heart overflowed every time I saw a patient get well again and able to leave the hospital, or when I hear them say that they felt well cared for. In those moments I knew I am right where I am supposed to be. It is such a privilege to have made a difference in the lives of people. Some of them I will carry with me forever. I have learned something from every patient I came in contact with, and I am so grateful they allowed me to be part of their recovery.

I am also grateful to my co-workers. They are an amazing team. They all work so well together, and have great love for the people they take care of. Every single one has been very instrumental in my learning this summer. They welcomed me so warmly to their team that I felt right at home. I look forward to the days I get to come to work and help them to serve our community.

I am sad that now I have to scale back in my schedule and only work one shift a week instead of three with these amazing people. However, these last two semesters will fly by, and as a graduated Registered Nurse I can be a more effective member of the team.

Now it is time to get my mind back into school mode, adjust my time management accordingly. I feel recharged and highly motivated to finish these last two semesters as strong as I have the previous ones.

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I raise my glass….

… to the successful conclusion of the 2nd semester of nursing school. I had my last final today, and this semester went very well. I am very proud of my performance if I may say so. It wasn’t easy, but I can tell all of you, it is absolutely possible. I have a few tips for success in nursing school. I know, I probably mentioned them before, but I am telling you, they truly work.

  • Get organized!!! I can not stress this point enough. Make sure you have all your notes and print-outs organized. It will really help you in your study. I use tab dividers in my binders and label them with the concepts. When you get home from school take a few moments to make sure you insert all your notes and print-outs in your binder so you will not lose any valuable information. This will help you to study for your exams.
  • Study, study, study!!! Do not wait until the day before the exam. Let me repeat that. Do not wait to study. Study your material while it is still fresh from lecture. Pound it into your head. You may think that some of that stuff is not going to be covered in the exam, and you are right. However, you will have to know it when you are at your patients bedside, and your knowledge is all that is keeping that person alive. Do not just study for the exam, but study to save lives.
  • Do your Assignments!!! There is a reason you got assigned all that work. Because if you actually do what your instructor asks of you, then you will have covered the required material at least once. It will help you tremendously in your exams, and also those points you earn can make a difference in you passing or failing. Remember that if you miss your deadline you will have an automatic point reduction.
  • Manage your time wisely!!! I recommend you use a planner. I don’t have a specific one, just pick a planner that will work for you. Schedule everything!!! Schedule times to go to class, to work, relaxation, and study time. Make everything an appointment. However, be generous in scheduling study time and keep the fun times as a reward. You will need a lot of study time, and sometimes we underestimate the amount of time assignments take. Do not leave school work to last-minute, things will happen, and you will run out of time. So start early, and have fun later.
  • Put on your oxygen mask first!!! You know how on a plane they instruct you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping someone else. You will be no good to anybody if you do not take care of yourself. Make sure you eat healthy, exercise, relax with a hobby, and make sure you get 6 to 8 hours of sleep every single night. You will be able to study more effective, and you will recall information easier. You will serve as a good example for your patients. You will be healthier and not miss class, which by the way are very difficult to make up. It is a fast paced program and you want to be able to keep up with it.
  • Take advantage of learning opportunities!!! Learn from your instructors, your fellow students, your patients, and the personnel in your clinical site. They all will be happy to share what they know. Do not count out non-nurses. I learned some pretty awesome stuff from the PCTs (Patient Care Technicians) at my clinical site. Ask everybody about everything. Learning opportunities sometimes come from the most unexpected places.
  • Remember to have fun!!! Health-care workers have a great sense of humor. Don’t forget to laugh and enjoy what you are doing. Yes, we are in some really sad situations, but there is also a lot of joy to be had. Take advantage of the happy times and let them carry you through the tough times.

If you are in Nursing School or about to start, remember, you can do this. A semester is only 16 weeks long. You can do anything for a short time. Don’t give up, and just keep on going, it will be over so quickly.

This being said, now it is time for me to get ready for my summer. I am starting out with a vacation in the Pacific North-West for some fun times. After I return home I will get ready for a Externship that will last throughout the summer. I am really looking forward to the learning opportunity, and to keeping my skills up.

So I raise my glass to my fellow students, and a semester well done, and to a great summer ahead of us all.

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An Unusual Class Assignment

The best class assignment this semester was a little unusual. We had to make a contribution to Project Linus. I think it was a great idea. It taught us to so many things.

First off, we had to take time out to make the project. It could be anything from crochet, to knit, to quilt, or tie fleece blanket. But whatever we chose required us to take time out from book work, and other activities, and just sit down, slow down, and do something for someone we don’t even know. It meant planning and time managing to not miss any important deadlines. It meant to just slow down and sit and work with our hands. For me it meant to be in my head and think about things. Things I want to do, how to find time for them, things that are important and maybe not very important, and what I would like my life to look like.

As I chose to make a quilt for this project I had the time to use my creative outlet to fight off burn-out and kick stress to the curb. It showed me how important it is to make time for the things I love to do. At first I wasn’t very happy about having to do this and take time away from studying. After all, there is a reason I normally don’t quilt during my semester. But then I realized that I actually function better if I take a step back, make time for pleasure, and just relax a little. If you have a hobby, make sure you make time for it. I don’t mean watching TV or Netflix, those are not hobbies, those can be addictions and time-wasters. I am talking about something creative, or physical. Something that lets you decompress, and allows time for relaxation, and is an outlet. It is so important for mental health especially when we have such a busy schedule as we do in Nursing School. Yes, to the outside we don’t look that busy, because all we do is stick our noses into books, and scribble in our note books. But what really is happening, is one deadline chases the next, and we are constantly struggling to stay on top of it. That is just so exhausting!!! However, from now on I am scheduling time for my creative outlets, and I will rest in the knowledge that I will be better for it.

The other thing that was very important in this project was to see how much the team on the pediatric floor appreciated our gifts. We can get so busy and self-involved that we forget how much it means to people if we give a little of ourselves. This was not a project that took an insane amount of our time, but means so much to so many people. This blanket means that the care team has a gift to give to a sick child, it will put a smile on the child’s face. It will comfort them and the family members to know they are not alone, someone is thinking of them in a difficult time.

I would like to encourage everyone who is reading this to reach out and get involved. You don’t have to make 20 blankets a year, but if you can just make it a habit to make one or two a year, it would be a big difference. Just think if everyone would make two blankets a year and donate to Project Linus in our respective areas how many children and their families would be comforted. This is a very Nurse thing to do. Part of our job is to comfort and care for those whom are not well. Just a few hours a year can make a huge difference to many people, including us.

I hope you all will join in. Below is my contribution to the class assignment.

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Back in the swing of things

Break was great!!! I wish it could have lasted longer. Especially the time I spent with my friends. One in particular who since has passed away. I am just glad we made the most of the time we had not knowing it would be our last time together. But this is too painful to go there now.

So I made three quilts to donate, and sent them off, and then school started again. I felt like I had a hard time getting out of the starting gates. As with every semester it seems a bit overwhelming figuring out the syllabus, getting used to the schedule, and managing the work load. Especially the first weeks have a larger workload. We had to review, test the old stuff, at the same time dive head first into the new material. However, now it seems to have mellowed a little again. I don’t know if I am just caught up, missing something, or it really became less.

My favorite days are my clinical days. I find it so rewarding to work with people. Although most days it seems that I need more to do. One patient at a time is not enough to keep me busy all the time. But relax, it’s just the unit I am on. The patients are just a little more independent and don’t need intensive care and hovering. So I just follow my primary nurse around when I have done what I am supposed to, and learn from her. I answer call light and just try to be useful and see what I can learn.

We also already had some exams, and of course nothing has changed there. Once again there is no straight forward asked question, and everything is like a big secret and you have to read between the lines to figure out what it is they want you to answer. Mind you, I have no problem to apply critical thinking, and actually enjoy figuring out how things relate to each other and how they work together. But what really cheeses me off is that I clearly applied myself to find the right answer and still was on the wrong track, I never get a clear answer from the one teacher so I can at least figure out where I went wrong and avoid the same mistake in the future. Welcome to the deep end of the water where you just have to figure out how to swim on your own or drown. Of course to make it a little more challenging they push your head under water every now and then just to see how you cope with that.

Now I don’t mean to scare you, because although you have these overwhelming periods where it is a struggle to be afloat, once you make it to the edge of the pool they do give you a hand and help you out. They just want to see you try your best and push yourself a little. I think that is also why there are no Summer classes in Nursing School. Because you need that time to recover and forget the bad parts, to avoid PTSD.

Once again this semester is the same as last, organization if half the battle. If you can be organized and manage your time well, it takes off a lot of pressure. Also make sure you have a certain amount of flexibility, because you are going into a profession that requires you to adapt to situations. Sometimes you have to be able to adapt quickly to changes in school too. Just train yourself not to stress out about a change in pace, direction, or unexpected situations popping up, because as a nurse that will be your life. Health Care is a constantly changing environment, and we just have to move along with it.

I also have my periods of confusion. Actually, I believe I have never been this confused in my entire life. The reason for this is, that there seem to be no straight answers to questions. You have to figure it all out on your own and you don’t know if you are right or wrong until you see the end results of things. For example, we are starting the whole concept care map thing this semester. I can not tell you why this is such a hard concept for me to wrap my mind around. I am so confused about it all and I have no idea what I am doing, and if I am doing it right. Because, even when I ask for feedback there are just these vague answers. I just want someone to tell me that I did such and such wrong, and this is what it should have looked like. So my best course of action is to just fumble along, and hope for the best in the end.

Come what may, by the skin of my teeth, I am determined to become a nurse. I shall conquer this, and hopefully look back on this time with fond memories, and a lot of humor. How long until graduation? Oh well, lets just count down to the end of the semester. 11 weeks to go.

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Veni, vidi,vici …

… I came, I saw, I conquered. The semester is over and it was successful. Now I can take a few weeks and focus on fun things. My quilting and knitting really came to a stand still during the semester, and I am still working on finding a good balance between school work, family responsibilities, and play time. But I am sure I will figure it all out eventually. But now I get to play a bit. That means knitting that sweater I have started, and quilt on some quilts I have in the works. However, before any of that I am getting everything ready for Christmas, and then I will donate of my time and resources to one of my favorite charities.

I will make some quilts for the Quilts for Kids organization again. They take these quilts and give them to children who suffer from abuse or life-threatening illness all across the country. This is an organization that is near and dear to my heart. As a mother, a future nurse, and a person in general, my heart just breaks for these children. Although a quilt may not save someone’s life, or erase the abuse suffered, however, it does give comfort and love. In many instances there are so many people whom this quilt touches.

When one of my daughters was gravely ill when she was little we received such quilts. These quilts mean so much to my daughter that she is still using them today, many years later. These quilts got me involved in charity work, and there is no telling how many people’s lives were influenced because of my quilts I gave. I like to think that these families pay it forward just as our family is looking for ways to give comfort.

Now that you know how I will spend my winter break, let me give you some tips on how to get through Nursing school. These are things that helped me succeed and I hope they will help you too.

  • Prepare for class ahead of time – Look at your syllabus, read the chapters in your text-book and take notes. Then do all the activities recommended for the chapter.
  • Take notes in class – once you are prepared for class take notes in class of things you don’t remember. Writing things down will make it easier to remember.
  • Study – Read over your notes again, read over important information again in your text-book. But do not have cram sessions. Study a little every day. Get yourself an Organizer and break your study material up into manageable chunks. Make it an appointment and do not miss that appointment. This will keep you up to date if not ahead of the game.
  • Take criticism the way it is intended – If your instructor criticizes you don’t get upset, but thank them and think about what they said. They want to help you succeed. How would you know what you are doing wrong if nobody ever tells you? So take it as the help it is, think about the feedback, be grateful for it, and then make the necessary changes and corrections.
  • Take time out – it’s important to just unwind for a little while. Preferably with exercise. I personally enjoy taking my dogs on daily walks. I can think over things while walking, and when I come back to my desk my brain is fresh again and full of oxygen from the exercise.
  • Stay away from negative people – you know the kind that always complain and whine about everything. That is absolutely toxic to your success. Negativity is highly infectious, and once you have negative thoughts planted in your head it’s easy to get caught up in that thinking. Negative thoughts have never produced positive action. Remember what you came to accomplish. After all you are not sentenced to Prison or hard labor, you made the decision to sign up for school. It is voluntary and you can leave at any time. If this is truly what you want to do with your life then there is no cause for negativity. Stay positive, because you get to follow your passion.
  • Stay away from bullies – Yes they exist even in nursing school. They might be outright or covert bullies. They might be picking on people, making fun of them, or telling them they don’t deserve their grades in their face, or they might do it covert behind their backs to everyone who will listen. Stay away from this!!! It’s all drama and it is designed to distract you from your real purpose in school, which is to get a good education. A bully is nobody’s friend, they are just out for themselves, and they will use you and try to hold you back so they can look better.
  • Have fun with it – Mark Twain said that if you love what you are doing you will never work a day in your life. Make sure your major is something you really love and feel passionate about. If you are really interested in your chosen career that you look forward to reading the study material like you would with a good Novel. A young man at my school told me a few days ago that if you have health care in your heart it seems to be easier to learn and doesn’t feel overwhelming. I can tell you he is wise beyond his years, and I have to agree with him.

I hope that these tips will help you no matter how many semesters you have ahead of you. Enjoy your Winter Break, take a breather, but don’t forget everything you learned.

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Time is flying…

… when you are having fun. Well, time is certainly flying for me. I am enjoying all I am learning and all the activities I need to complete for school. I have to say, my favorite homework is doing online simulations. This is where we simulate caring for a patient in the hospital environment. The only thing better than this is actual clinical day.

Although I just finished off week 11 of 16, work is still a lot. However, I have fallen into a nice routine. After I get home from school, I care for my animals, eat lunch, do stuff around the house, and then sit down and work on school stuff, such things as reading, note taking, or online activities. Then it is time to walk the dogs. We are all so used to it, that we miss it when it is raining too hard. During the walk I go over things I have learned that day and commit it all to memory. I am sure the increased oxygen flow to the brain is helping that also. After we get back home I start dinner, and finish whatever task I had planned that day to finish. Work just flows so much better after the walk. It just raises my motivation to tackle the things that have to be done. Once everything is finished, dinner is done, and the kitchen is clean again, it is time to just snuggle with the fur babies, talk to friends, and spend some time with my husband. With this routine my days are just flying by, and I can’t believe how close I am getting to have a break.

I am also registered for my Spring Semester. My college has changed the process somewhat, and it was not as good an experience as it was in the past. The old saying “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.”, came to mind. It was really just a thing to give us the runaround because there was absolutely no point in standing in line to pick up a piece of paper nobody is keeping track of. But I guess they have to spend the tuition money we students pay somehow. At the least it kept some people at the student activity department busy for a few days, and justified their pay-check. I am not a big fan of pointless time wasters like that.

With the days getting shorter and colder now I am more and more excited about spending time with my hobbies and a hot beverage. I find some time to read and knit, but not nearly as much as I would like. So in a few weeks I can follow my favorite past times as much as I wish. But for now I have to get my head back in the game. I still have a few Exams and then of course the finals to study for.

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Mid-Terms have arrived

I have been really busy leading up to the mid-terms. It seems that the work is never done. However, I am not complaining, on the contrary, I fully understand what it is doing to me. It has me thinking as a Nurse all the time. It takes a lot of practice to get into the mindset and adopt critical thinking as a habit.

The time leading up to mid-terms is always very stressful. Not so much because of the things I need to learn, but because of the atmosphere in school. The tension and stress is palpable, you can smell the fear and panic in the air. Everywhere you go you hear students fret about the exams. So how do you stay sane in this environment and not let it get to you?

The most important part to remember is that you are not in competition with your fellow students. Everyone is responsible for their own grades and learning. If you feel the need to compete, then strive to be better than you were yesterday. But refrain from comparison with others. I guarantee you it will only make you feel worse, because there is always someone who is so good at what they do, that we can never reach that level. That will only depress and make you bitter.’

Study all you can. Work hard doing homework, using study aids, and read whenever there is some time. Yes you will have to forgo some fun and pleasure. However it is only for a short time. A semester is only 16 weeks long, so if you miss one or two parties its no big deal, break is right around the corner. Resist the need for instant gratification and practice the joy of anticipation and delayed gratification. Believe me it will be so much more meaningful.

Relax a little!! Yes it sounds like an oxymoron to tell you to work hard and then relax. But it is very important. Make sure you get 7 hours of sleep a night, exercise, follow your hobby. Just don’t overindulge in the time you spend on your hobby vs. the time you spend on school work. But it is important to relax and spend some time by yourself. When you are in class you are always overstimulated. There is noise from everywhere. You are bombarded with negativity from the other stressed out people around you. So just spend a few hours a week by yourself recharging. I recommend to spread out the alone time over the whole week, that way you always keep at an even charge to deal with everything that is flung at you.

Finally, just enjoy every day. You are in school learning what you are passionate about. Stop seeing it as punishment, but rather than a reward. You get to do what you love. Keep that in mind and you will see a great difference in your ability to cope with stress. Because all of a sudden it just isn’t that much stress anymore, but fun.

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First Semester week 3 finished

Things seem to calm down a bit now, or perhaps, it might be just the calm before the storm. However, I am enjoying it and will not complain about it.

Once the first weeks work was caught up the workload reduced as expected to the weekly tasks. Although, week two was still a bit stressful. I had some doubts that I am actually doing the correct things because some of my class mates were voicing their confusion which instilled some doubt in me. Then when our instructors clarified once again I was confident that I am on the right path. Also classwork and quizzes confirmed I am doing the correct work.

Week three was just amazing. We are starting to dive in deeper now and I am loving it. Lecture as well as clinical practice seems to just come natural to me so far. It gave me a good feeling of accomplishment. Also in our class we are getting to know each other better now and are quite comfortable with each other. I think we all are a great fit together. There is a great deal of teamwork between us all, a good sense of humor, and no drama from what I have noticed. I am just so happy that I ended up in a group that is not divided in factions like so many other classes are, but we are one large group helping each other, building each other up, and enjoying each others company. It makes it a pleasure going to school.

I managed to actually work ahead now, and have a good peace of mind regarding my deadlines. I have my first exam coming up on Monday morning and I am really looking forward to it. I feel so well prepared. Between reading, hearing, watching videos, case studies, practicing in the lab, talking the material through in lecture and with my fellow class mates, I feel very confident we all will do great.

So this is going to be the first weekend since the semester started were I can relax and just review my notes for the exam and lecture. It feels so good to let go of the worry and fear of not meeting deadlines.

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