My Amazing Preceptorship

alwaysbelieveinyourself

Wow… preceptorship… I learned SO MUCH! I absolutely loved my preceptor, the floor I was on, the staff, the computer charting system… just everything about it!

I must be honest, I was very nervous for my first shift, but I felt ready to get it started. I was initially assigned to a nurse, a new grad himself, not yet a nurse for a full two years which led me being assigned to a new nurse who was young, and oh so smart! Not saying that the first preceptor wasn’t. Both were very knowledgable… it was my school’s policy to be paired with a nurse who had more experience.

You can click here to read what happened in the beginning of my preceptorship. Come back and continue reading after you have read that post.

So as you can see… I was stressed out. I was overwhelmed about the thought about being a new nurse and on my own. I felt so unprepared. In a nursing program, you are taught everything by the book. Preceptorship is a wake up call as to how nursing really is in the real world. I realize nursing programs try to teach in way that it will be as close to the real world as possible, but unless you are one-on-one with a nurse and taking on all the patients, and doing absolutely EVERYTHING in EVERY clinical from start to finish, it is not a clear representation.

I do however believe I have learned a lot in my program. Unfortunately, there is not a nursing program that can get in so much depth about each specialty. Luckily, there are nurse residency programs/transition into practice programs/new grad programs available to train you and prepare you for your specific unit you get hired onto, and to train you on the hospitals policies and procedures, as well as their charting system, and much much more.

I am so fortunate to have had a preceptorship that was so useful to me, and really opened up my eyes to a cardiac step down unit. I had a 4:1 patient ratio, and that was plenty! Although, most days were very relaxed, I wish I had a really crazy day that required me to be on my feet the whole shift… just so that I could have the experience before going into a new grad program and don’t make a fool of myself… LOL!

My preceptor was the sweetest, most patient, and caring preceptor ever. I honestly wish every preceptee has a preceptor like her because I learned a TON. She tells it how it is, but makes sure I am not under too much stress. She understood when I wanted more autonomy and independence. She made my preceptorship a great one.

Tips for Preceptorship:

  • Find a brain sheet that works for you. My preceptor used a blank sheet and folded it in 3’s, and used each row for a different patient. I personally like this brain sheet: BrainSheet
  • Be comfortable. If you have the option to wear your own scrubs for preceptorship, DO IT. I unfortunately was still told to wear a white shirt (not our usual uniform one, with our patch put on it) and the “hospital” blue pants. Does that make sense? HA!
  • Always have your stethoscope, favorite pen(s), pen light, sharpie, tape, alcohol swabs, 2×2 gauze, and flushes with you. I usually start my shift off with 5 flushes in my pocket so that I can assess IV patency if the patient is saline locked, and a handful of alcohol swabs because… that is just a given… need it for cleaning ports, taking off tape, prepping for a finger stick, the list goes on.
  • Wear good shoes (and compression socks). I put compression socks in parenthesis because I should’ve used them throughout my preceptorship, but I didn’t. I have worn them before because they really do help with circulation, and help with less swelling by the end of the shift. My shoes were also so comfy. Click here for the shoes I wore for clinical/preceptorship.
  • Always have a watch. I personally love my Apple watch, but it is absolutely not needed, it is a “want”, not a “need”. I am going to try and do something with the “Notes” app in which you can put medication safe dose ranges on it and it connects to your Apple watch. I got the idea from Nurse Nacole (Nacole Riccaboni). Follow her on Instagram, she’s awesome! @nursenacole).
  • Always keep hair ties if your have long hair.
  • Hydrate and eat! Don’t go hungry and always give yourself a break (wise words from my preceptor). Whether you think you need a break or not, TAKE IT WHEN YOU CAN! Your brain will thank you!
  • Don’t get alarm fatigue!
  • Learn how to prioritize and have time management. Time management is always an area to grow in (also wise words from my preceptor).
  • Know your patient’s disease process (inside and out) and critically think about their whole situation, medications, procedures, tests, labs, etc.
  • Address the family too! They need the support as well. Do this by letting them know what you are doing, what medications are being given to the patient, what procedure(s) you are performing, informing the family of what the patients plan is, answering questions to the best of your ability, offering spiritual care, case management, social worker… you get it.  It keeps the family at ease when they are “in-the-know” too. Just be aware of HIPAA!
  • Treat your patients as if they were your own family and be their advocate.
  • Always ask questions, and never do something without being sure. Be safe, not sorry!
  • Trust your gut. Just do it… trust me.
  • NEVER STOP LEARNING! ALWAYS STAY UP-TO-DATE WITH YOUR EDUCATION!

I am sure I can add a lot more to this list of tips, but you would be here forever.

Overall, after this preceptorship, I really felt ready to get into the real world of nursing and enter a new grad program to work on cardiac step down unit (I love the heart!), my preceptor really helped me believe in myself. You may not feel like you know what you are doing, but you wouldn’t have gotten this far if you didn’t! Right? Once you start doubting yourself is when you start making mistakes.

If you are going into your preceptorship soon, just know that all of your emotions are real and totally normal. You may be scared, you may be intimidated, but you will make it! I believe in you! ❤

I hope you have a fantastic day and please e-mail me if you have any questions! I am happy to help because I care!

(FYI 6 days left until my graduation/pinning ceremony! But who’s counting…;) )

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One of Many Breakdowns…

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Are you a nursing student? Does this post title sound familiar to you? If not… are you even in nursing school? LOL. Let me tell you about a recent breakdown I had…

First, let me tell you that I have anxiety (I mean who doesn’t) and I take medication for it daily. I have had it since high school. Sometimes it really gets the best of me and I overthink sometimes… and by sometimes, I mean ALL OF THE TIME. Nursing school is FREAKING HARD. I have asked multiple friends who have a Bachelor degree in something else from a university, and they agree that an Associate’s Degree nursing program is the hardest this they have ever done. I am seriously not exaggerating. (But don’t let this steer you away if you are in the beginning stages of getting into a nursing program… it is so worth it).

So along with the many breakdowns I’ve had throughout this whole program, I had one just the other day during a shift for preceptorship. My preceptorship is on a cardiovascular unit, which is the floor I requested to be on because I have a fascination for the heart. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I am pretty good at reading ECG rhythms and knowing about different heart diseases. So, you would think I would be on top of my game, right? WRONG. Preceptorship has made me doubt myself because I am so used to knowing how to do things the “nursing student” way. It is TOTALLY different when it comes down actually performing as a NURSE, and taking on a load of patients (with the help of your preceptor of course).

So my preceptor asked me a couple pertinent questions that were super important to know being on a cardiovascular unit. I unfortunately couldn’t answer her questions because I had forgotten to do important tasks (a.k.a, knowing my patients’ heart rhythms at the beginning of the shift). Let me also add that this was a very CHILL day, and there was a low census on the unit, so we only had 2 patients and one admission.

My preceptor and I went into the medication room, where my preceptor started telling me advice to get through my day… but my brain just said, “do it… cry like you always do”… and well… out came the water works… I really hate crying in front of other nurses. I didn’t want to seem weak and that I couldn’t handle the career choice of being a nurse. Then 2 more nurses came in, and the water works turned into rivers down my face. Fortunately, the nurses knew where I was coming from and they made sure to give me their advice and that they had been in my shoes once too.

So… why was I crying? I wasn’t crying because I was overwhelmed by the patients. I was overwhelmed because I didn’t feel READY. I graduate in the middle of May and that day just made me feel like I was not ready to graduate and pursue jobs. All because I didn’t know the answers to a couple questions my preceptor was asking me. I felt like she couldn’t rely on me to “call the shots” when I got further into my preceptorship. I had the knowledge of a nursing student but not as a nurse who can think for themselves. I felt out of control, and one thought after another just turned into being overwhelmed and I could NOT STOP CRYING FOR THE LIFE OF ME!

Fortunately, my preceptor took the time out of her day to talk to me outside of the hospital and to help me realize that I am not expected to be perfect and I am not expected to know everything when I get my first job as a nurse. That is why there are New Grad Programs. She helped me realize that many nurses before they started working had the same realization and overwhelming day I had. I was in the same shoes as many nurses were before they began their journey. She also told me to not be hard on myself and that she could see that I am an overachiever; which I totally am… I hold myself up to certain standards and I get upset when I don’t stay up to those standards. I am super hard on myself and I just want to be that perfect nurse… which I know is never going to happen. No one is perfect but that is just how my silly brain works.

I stopped crying after about an hour or so. I know… I am ridiculous… I just couldn’t stop crying. I tried so hard!

Next time you find yourself having a breakdown… know that it is completely normal having those feelings. Most people want to be this amazing nurse they have always dreamt to be.

Not everyone is going to be as emotional as I was, and that doesn’t determine how much you care. Just that drive to want to do better and to attempt to be the best nurse you can be, shows that you care and have ambitions to provide the most amazing care to your future patients.

I hope whoever is reading this can take something from this post. I hope you know that you are doing great. If you are feeling down and don’t know who to talk to, please email me. I am here to help because I have been in your shoes.

I hope you have a fantastic day, and always do your best. 🙂

Last Semester… already?

mantra

Wow… have I been on another planet or what? Not even considered MIA anymore… Well… let’s get to it. I’ll be giving you some updates, tips, and words of wisdom as I enter into my last semester of my 2-year ADN nursing program.

UPDATES

I honestly haven’t been posting lately due to being so busy with school and just going goING, GOING! If you are a nursing student, and have been through at least one semester, you would know what I’m talking about… I bet you’re even wondering why you’re even able to read this because you should be doing other things like… writing your care plan, finishing your readings, watching nursing related videos (FYI I love THIS girl on youtube for quick reviews! She is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G).

My fiancé and I moved back in with my grandmother, which means less space, and more distractions, but we are happy to be here to make sure she isn’t alone. I usually just go to campus or Starbucks when I really need to get down to business. I know what you’re thinking, “Nicole, how are you even able to study at Starbucks? It is SO loud!”. Really, I go for the white noise of people talking, coffee brewing, and I don’t feel like I can really procrastinate there when I am surrounded by other people who are studying too which makes me feel like I need to be constantly working… on my statuses for Facebook and pictures for Instagram. I KID! HA!

I feel like I have a solid way of studying, and I’m pretty sure I dominated that style of studying at the end of my 2nd semester (I think). I will share how I study in the “Tips” section of this post.

I took on a new hobby! Calligraphy and bullet journaling! Sooooo… not saying you have to, but you can totally go follow my calligraphy/bujo Instagram account (@calligncoffee). I’ve been finding that to be my self-care lately. It keeps me busy, and it allows me to be a perfectionist. Also, it satisfies my stationary addiction with all these cool brush markers and pens! WOO!

Not so much of an update – I’m still engaged but I HAVE started wedding planning more since the end of my 3rd semester. This semester, I am going to do my best not to really plan intensely due to rumors saying that this semester is over-the-top HARD. So with that… I’ll lead you into my tips where I will tell you how to get through your remaining semesters (I’ll do an updated version when I actually pass this semester, because who knows, it might change!)

TIPS (Do’s/Don’t’s)

DO:

  • Bring in either a printed version or the power points or your electronic device with the power points (excluding your phone) provided by the professor (either 4 or 3 slides per page for the paper version).
  • Record lectures if you are allowed to (always ask the professor beforehand).
  • Re-listen to the lectures about a day or two after the lecture to catch any important information that you might not have thought was so important in class or didn’t hear/pay attention to.
  • Take notes on the same power points in a different color when you are re-listening to the lecture.
  • Take additional notes to add to these power points from the book in another color to differentiate your sources (lecture/re-listening/book).
  • Ask questions because whether you want to ask your question or not, someone else is probably wondering the same thing.
  • Be respectful while other peers are talking. It is SO disrespectful when you are trying to hear someone ask a question (or hear the professor answer the question) and someone else is talking over them with their side chat.
  • Highlight only key points, mnemonics, lab values, other important numbers.
  • Be on time (nothing more distracting than someone coming in late to a lecture that has already started and the door slamming).
  • Have some kind of calendar and mark your exam dates, events, clinicals, and what you should be wearing/bringing with you to those days. I know that sounds silly, but some events probably require you to wear your uniform, a polo, or scrubs, etc.
  • Use post it’s. They’re fun.
  • Drink coffee (or tea, whichever your prefer).
  • Keep your chin up.
  • Keep a positive mind and outlook on the road ahead.
  • Take it one day at a time.

DON’T

  • Be shy. Ask your question, involve yourself in case studies, etc. Professors notice those thing! I feel like most shy people end up coming out of the program a more outgoing person due to the nature of this field. You can’t be shy and work with all these different people in a hospital… it just doesn’t work! LOL.
  • Use highlighters galore. Use one or two colors, and make a key on the page somewhere as to what the colors indicate.
  • Have side conversation in class. It’s rude!
  • Come in the class with a bad attitude, leave that at home. It will ruin your focus in class. Treat lecture/clinical the same as any other job you have had where you had to leave all your personal life at the door (which you should be doing at every job anyways).
  • Expect the professor to baby you. You are a grown adult in a professional nursing program, and it is up to you to be in charge of due dates, assignments, and exam material that the professor establishes.
  • Expect the professor to praise you every day. Sometimes professors have other ways of praising you without directly going up to you and saying “WOW NICOLE! You did great on that last exam!”. Sometimes it will be a smile, or a friendly “hello”, etc.
  • Exclude yourself from all events. You don’t have another time in your life where you get to do all of this fun stuff that you get to do in your program, so take advantage of it now!
  • Make enemies. That is just a big no-no. You and your cohort should be a little family helping each other along the way to graduation. If you have a problem with someone, let them know so issues can be resolved and not gossiped about.
  • Sleep in class. That is just awful and so disrespectful!
  • Fail. Nuff’ said.

 

WORDS OF WISDOM

  • You will do amazing things.
  • You will make a patients day and that is going to make you feel awesome. I speak from experience!
  • You will make mistakes but that is what is going to make you a better nurse… because you’ll never make those same mistakes again. YOU ARE HUMAN! Again, I am speaking from experience!
  • Always TREAT YO’ SELF after a huge accomplishment… *COUGH* ICE CREAM *COUGH* (like finishing an exam that you studied so hard for… just do it… even before you get your grade because you worked so HARD!)
  • Take care of yourself and try not to get burnt out. It is okay to ask for help from family/friends/etc. We all want to be wonder woman/superman but keeping us from being that amazing is stress because stress is our kryptonite. Did that even make sense? I’m trying to be humerus here. HAHA, get it? Humerus?…Alright I’ll stop… 😛
  • Love yourself. You are going to be an amazing nurse!
  • Take one day at a time. I know it is easier said than done, but it is something we all (including myself) need to remember and live by in life in general.

 

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read my post. I am writing this at midnight and I just really felt like I needed to share all this info (I’m sure there is a bunch more in this brain of mine, but I’ll save it for another post). I volunteered yesterday at my nursing school and presented to the new incoming nursing students about some of the things I said in this post. Hopefully you find it helpful too!

Hope you are having a wonderful beginning to 2018! Cheers! ❤

 

End of 2nd Semester and Summer Thoughts

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve been on here. I have made so many plans to post a lot on here and to make videos, but this summer has been amazing and I don’t want it to end… ever! I’ve also been working on my health! (Go me!)

I had been taking classes non-stop before entering into a nursing program and that involved me taking classes during the summer and winter sessions so that I could apply by a certain time. It all paid off because now I am enjoying my summer and preparing myself for what is to come for my 3rd semester.

Let’s talk about 2nd semester, shall we?

My second semester was great, I passed clinical with an “A” and theory with a “B”. I enjoyed all the new information I learned while in clinical and in class. I can definitely say that my study habits have changed based off my instructor. I never really have found a uniform way of studying that will suit every professor I have.

Each professor has different ways of reviewing for tests and helping us prepare for their tests. Slowly but surely, I have been figuring out these NCLEX style questions. Critical thinking is SO important in nursing school. If you can’t think critically as well as out of the box, then maybe nursing school isn’t for you. Patient’s lives are in your hands!

After going through clinical in the med-surg setting again, I have come to realize that I really love it, and I am hoping I can start off in med-surg as a new grad. Although, I am going to try and take any job I can get!

(I can’t believe I am already half way done with my nursing program, and in less than a year I will be graduating and planning to take the NCLEX! Ahhh!)

Anyways, like I’ve talked about in a previous post, I really cannot see myself working in pediatrics, although I can definitely see myself working in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) or L&D (Labor & Delivery) down the road after working in med-surg for a bit.

A word of advice: Try not to listen to your upperclassmen. Some will try to scare you that the next semester you are going into is going to be scary/hard/crazy.

Everyone experiences their semesters differently and goes through their own type of stress. I have been told plenty of times that 3rd semester is going to be very hard and stressful. I have been doing my best to block that kind of thinking so that I can ensure that I will go into this next semester with a positive outlook on what is to come and what I will learn.

But for now, enjoy your summer, study as you should, and always remember to breathe. Tell yourself that “everything is going to be okay”, because it will be. You have to be the one to make it that way because no one else is going to make everything “okay” for you. Study like you mean it and always reward yourself! (Even if it is a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream). OH! Also remember, it is okay to cry! Crying is good for you! 🙂

Have an awesome day! 🙂

“On the other side of your maximum fear are all of the best things in life” – Will Smith

Why I Don’t Like Pediatrics

So… yeah! That post title must have gotten your attention. Well, it’s true! I cannot see myself being a Pediatric nurse. As much as I love children and babies, I just cannot see myself going through every shift with them in pain or discomfort. It is very sad!

I wish I can make all their pain go away, and I am sure most of these children have no idea what is wrong with them or why they are in this unfamiliar place, and that makes them more upset. I bow down to those nurses who do what they do as Pediatric nurses, I definitely learned a lot from the nurses I was paired with for each of my clinical days (especially their soft voices, and their never ending patience).

On one of my clinical days, the corner of the floor I was on was full of many babies who just would not stop crying, I started to go a little crazy and even contemplated if I wanted a baby of my own. HA! Kidding! I want children for sure!

I am finished with my OB and Pediatric rotation, and I can say that I really enjoyed OB. I especially liked Labor and Delivery and NICU. There is something about working in critical care that just intrigues me. I am excited to see what my future brings!

I am still unsure as to how I want to start off my career as a nurse… my options are:

  1. Start off in Med-Surg and go into a specialty (that being L&D or NICU)
  2. Go straight into a specialty (if available)
  3. Take any job I can get!

I have heard that I can’t really be picky, as it is sometimes hard to get a job. We will have to see how the market is once I graduate and get my license.

Oh! Have I mentioned I will be starting to plan for my wedding in the fall?! Can you say “stress”? I plan on meditating every day to keep my cool. HA! I’ll be planning my wedding during my 3rd and last semester of my nursing program, ahhh! Wish me luck!

How did your OB and Pediatric rotation go? If you haven’t experienced it yet, are you excited? Neutral? Not looking forward to it? Let me know!

Have a fabulous day! 🙂

OB and Peds… so far!

Hey there! I’m back with a short update. I’m going to tell you how my 2nd semester has been going so far.

Obstetrics

Love it! Love everything about it! Especially clinical, where I can get hands on practice. I really enjoyed rotating through the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and L&D (Labor and Delivery). I didn’t know I would like NICU until after my experience. If I went into the specialty of becoming a NICU nurse, I guess I could see myself “giving back” because I was admitted to the NICU as a baby for a week or two.

I am still not sure how I want to go into the specialties after I graduate. I have been going back and forth between going straight into a specialty (if available), or going into med-surg and then eventually going into a specialty. I still have a little more than a year to make that decision though! No rush!

Pediatrics

I knew from when I started my program, that I did not want to be a pediatric nurse. I have yet to go through my pediatric clinical, so I will have to update you all when that happens. I have found that I am enjoying my OB lectures more than my pediatric lectures.

Studying Update

  • I have found that watching YouTube videos have really helped me in my studying for my OB and Pediatric exams. Like I have said in my previous posts, I am a visual learner. I cannot sit and read for long periods of time, and I only use the textbook to get more information on a disease process that isn’t making much sense.
  • So far, studying off of my power points and attending review sessions with my professors are helping so that I can focus on what I should be studying.
  • Practice questions haven’t really been helpful unless they are practice questions that my professors created.

Overall, I am enjoying OB more than Pediatrics, and I can’t wait to get into Med-Surg again for the second half of my semester!

How is your semester going so far? Learn anything knew for clinical? Let me know!

Have a happy day! 🙂

 

New Year, New Semester!

So the holidays are pretty much over, and I can honestly say I am ready to go back to school… is that weird? Probably, but I am SO BORED! I haven’t had a real break from school ever since I made the decision to become a nurse, which was back in 2014.

Ever since Fall 2014, I had been taking classes non-stop in order to get into a nursing program as soon as I could. It paid off!

I am happy to just be doing NOTHING, but then again, I get this need to have to be doing SOMETHING. I was always going, going, going, and my mind and body got so used to it. I am also happy to just have some time to myself and not be so busy every day, but I was just so used to being in school all year long. I am hoping that I will go on some sort of vacation or trip in the summer and make it worth while!

I plan on getting some reading/studying done, and updating my medications before my second semester starts on Monday. I want to get ahead of the game so that I don’t feel like I am falling behind with all the new information we will be taught. I have been hearing from the upperclassmen that this next semester is a less intense than the rest of the semesters, so I am excited about that!

I am going to continue the same study technique from last semester in hopes that I will get by just as well as I did last semester! Crossing my fingers! I’m shooting for A’s!

Anyways, until my textbook comes in, I am going to kick my feet up, get some organizing/cleaning/hobbies in before next Monday, and just enjoy the freedom I have. HA!

What do you plan on doing before your next semester? Do you plan on trying something new for the upcoming semester? Let me know!

Hope you are having a fantastic New Years! 🙂

Staying Organized in Clinical

I still have a lot to learn, but for being in my first semester of nursing school, I’d like to help out the incoming nursing students going into their nursing school this upcoming Spring semester! Here are my top 5 tips to being successful in clinical while in your first semester.

1 – Time Management

Please ALWAYS wear a watch. There is nothing more embarrassing than not knowing the time and needing to ask someone. You need to be prepared, and usually being in complete uniform includes wearing a watch.

Your professor should give you an idea of when you should be completing your charting and when you should be getting your work done with your assigned patient(s). For example: bathing, ambulating, oral care, turning, feeding, emptying foley’s, procedures, etc. If you are on top of those tasks, then you will have more time to chart and do any paperwork you need to finish before your shift is over with. I also like to have extra time to help out my RN or CNA with any help they may need with their other patients.

2 – Clipboard/Binder

I was using a clipboard that would fold in half to keep information confidential, but I have found it to not be as useful for me. One, the clipboard would fold my papers, and two, it was hard to keep track of my papers. I switched over to a 1″ binder to hold my medication references, and to hold other documents I need to fill out to turn in to my professor.

Some of the upperclassmen still use their clipboard, and don’t have a problem with the papers folding, and still feel organized even with more than 1 patient. I will soon be taking on 2 patients, so I feel it would be best if I switched over to a binder

3 – Pen/Pencil/Penlight

Just have these… you need them for recording information, and you will need your penlight to complete your head-to-toe. You can buy disposable pen lights online. I started off using a pencil to complete paperwork that was to be turned into my professor just because I was still learning, and I could erase my mistakes. I also just recently bought erasable pens because writing in pen looks neater.

4 – Eat, Hydrate, and Pee

Not so much an organization tip, but more so time you should be dedicating to your own self care. Nurses are notorious for holding their urine, and notorious for UTI’s. Also, drink something and eat something, because you need to be awake and ready for whatever patients you will have that day and you have to be completely alert.

5 – Always prioritize

Your patient comes first, not your charting. If you are on a tight schedule to get your charting done, it is important that you let your professor know you had to help your patient, and that your charting might be in a little late. They will be understanding. Safety always comes first. Although, it is okay to say “no” to certain tasks because your charting is a priority. You are not the only one on the floor, and there are plenty of other people that can be asked. Don’t be taken advantaged of!

Hopefully these tips help you going into your first semester. It definitely is a nerve-wrecking experience, but with practice, and more experience, you will learn to organize yourself with ease. Also, I can’t stress this enough… get your CNA certification before entering your nursing program… knowing those CNA skills really helped me!

Have a question? E-mail me! futurenursenicole@gmail.com

Ciao!

First Semester: Ending Part One and Starting Part Two

Welcome back! So I survived the first part of my first semester in nursing school, and I couldn’t be more happy about it. I passed my clinical portion with an A and I passed my theory portion with a high B. I busted my a** getting high grades on my exams after that first fail. But, I did it, and that is what matters, right? It gives me that much more motivation to push myself even harder for this next part of the semester. I’m going to update you all on how things have changed since I first began this program…

Studying

Remember how I told you guys that I would make outlines when I studied? Well, I threw that study technique in the trash, because no one has time for that while studying for a nursing exam.

SO, the main technique that I use while I study is listening to my lectures again and taking extra notes on printed out Power points. I find this really helps and helps me focus on what my professor wants us to focus on for the test instead of just focusing on the reading. Sure, the reading helps to reinforce what was taught in class, but I have done fine with focusing on the Power points for the majority of my study time.

I also do practice questions wherever possible. From the book, online, in my lectures, you name it!

Organization

I have come to a conclusion that keeping everything in one place is less stressful. I initially had a binder for theory and a binder for clinical. Now, to just reduce my stress level, I am keeping it all in one 1″ binder. I like to set up my binder as follows:

  • Information for part 2 of theory and clinical
  • Clear pockets with important handouts that I use for reference
  • First tab: Assignment references
  • Second tab: Clinical references
  • Third tab: Case studies
  • Fourth tab: Other
  • Folder for graded case studies or handouts worked on in class

I keep my clinical schedule in the front of my binder

I have other binders that I keep at home that I use to keep me organized:

  • Exam and Quiz Materials
  • Printed Power points of my lectures
  • Extra copies for clinical
  • Graded assignments

Note Taking

As I previously stated, I take extra notes by hand on printed Power points when I go home to re-listen to the lecture when I am studying for an upcoming exam. Although, while I am at school and in class, I use my iPad to record my lectures and take notes on the downloaded powerpoint. To see how I take notes on my iPad, see this post.

Overall, I am very content with how my program is going so far, and I am comfortable with how I have organized myself. I decided to not attend study groups as I do not do well in them, and I personally think they are a waste of my study time. Study groups may work for a lot of people, but when it comes to understanding the material and thinking critically, I have to learn it on my own.

Nurses are different in how they provide care. I understand there is a certain way to provide care, but it takes time to really understand why there is a specific way of doing so and what makes it so important. If that makes sense?

Anyways, I still have no life, and I am okay with that HAHA! Logan and I are officially moved in to our new apartment and are so happy with how we have set it up.

How is your program going? I’d love to know! Let me know if I can help you out in any way. You can email me at futurenursenicole@gmail.com

Have a fantastic day! 🙂

Quick Update: First Month of Nursing School

Hello! Welcome back! Sorry it has been a while (about a month as indicated by my title). The first month has been a rollercoaster of excitement, fear, sadness, happiness, and… FULL OF ANXIETY! Let’s dive in, shall we?

First Test

Let me start off by explaining to you (if you aren’t in a nursing program already) that most (if not all) nursing programs have a different grading system. Some will say passing is anything >75%, >80%, etc. According to the grade I got on my first exam (72%) I was considered failing. Yes, I totally cried and thought of every reason as to how I’m going to be a terrible nurse, and if nursing is for me… which is totally extreme but I over think things way too much. After talking with my professor, friends, and my fiancé of course, I found out that I was just being crazy and I had to forgive myself. 72% is not that bad, and my professor said it is still very possible to recover from that fail.

Why did I fail you ask? Here are some reasons as to why I performed the way I did:

  1. I read too much into the question being asked on the exam.
  2. I didn’t read all of the answers choices thoroughly or completely.
  3. I was stuck between two answers and picked the wrong one.
  4. I didn’t study as much as I wanted to and should have.
  5. I didn’t study the right material that was important (I didn’t study the objectives that were given to us by our professor and instead studied the objectives from my textbook and made complete outlines for all the chapters in the book that we were going to be tested on).

So it isn’t that I didn’t study correctly, or at all. I did learn from my mistakes and talked to multiple peers and upperclassmen about some tips and tricks to studying and how they got a passing score. Some of those suggestions were:

  1. Listen to the lectures again to note anything you missed during lecture (RECORD YOUR LECTURES IF YOUR PROFESSOR LETS YOU!!!).
  2. Do practice questions from the book, online program, and review practice questions from Quizlet (specifically ones designated as NCLEX questions).
  3. Use your study guide textbooks.
  4. Review charts and tables from assigned reading.
  5. Ask for help when you need it and attend study groups if needed.

I personally do not do well in a study group unless I am teaching someone something that doesn’t necessarily have a rationale to a different answer (ex. chemistry or math). I feel as though I wouldn’t be able to teach anything regarding nursing material because it is something you have to understand and interpret yourself. BUT, I still try to attend study groups and maybe get some more information from other people that I may have missed. My next exam is this coming Monday and YES, I am totally freaking out and trying to keep my calm. I know what you’re thinking, “So why are you blogging if you are freaking out?”, because I’m venting OKAY! Don’t judge me! HA!

First Clinical Days

YES, I was a nervous wreck on my first patient care day. Which is weird because I have always been so used to interacting with patients and clients with no problem before starting my program. I guess something about being in a school uniform and being fresh off the boat was what made me so anxious. I was paired up with another student on our first patient care day to alleviate the stress, which was good, but was also irritating because we were focusing on different tasks.

My second patient care day was also nerve wrecking because 1. I was by myself, and 2. I had to get all the information I needed for my care plan that is due in 2 weeks! Since we are so crunched for time, I felt rushed and felt that I could’ve asked more questions to my patient but I also had to chart on the computer, do vitals, do my head-to-toe assessment, complete my assessment on paper to turn in, and come up with two different nursing diagnoses (as well as implementing them with our patient)… talk about a busy day! I could only imagine how stressed out nurses are when handling 5 patients! Oh, might I also add that the computer system is SO tricky and takes some time getting used to!!!

Everything Else

Do I have a life? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA NO! I can guarantee I won’t for the next 2 years either! When I do go out to have fun, I feel so guilty and feel as though I am wasting time when I could be spending that time studying. This also goes for my mornings on the days I don’t have theory or clinical… I am NOT a morning person. I cannot get up and start studying immediately. I have to eat breakfast, wake up, and be awake 100% before I can start studying. So I am easily an afternoon/night studier. I bet you can imagine me on the mornings I do have class… See picture below LOL

ANYWAYS… back to trying to survive on the daily. I actually really enjoy what I am learning and everything is very interesting. I also can’t believe how fast we are learning skills. It has only been one month, and I already know how to insert a Foley catheter, like wait… I thought yesterday we were just learning how to give someone a bed bath. But seriously, things are going 200 mph and I can’t read fast enough, HA! I work with it though. It is all about time management, whether you are a student nurse or a RN. You can do it, I can do it! We are in this together! Thanks for stopping by an reading about my life in nursing school thus far!

Ciao for now! 🙂

P.S. I am moving in about 2 weeks, and can you just imagine how quickly that stress level went up?! Bring on the sleepless nights of studying and unpacking. WOOHOO!