Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Top Ten Things I Learned Second Semester of Nursing School

It's been awhile. I was reminded by a dear friend that I've not updated lately and looking at my calendar, I see why I haven't.
So, here we go with the Top Ten Things I Learned Second Semester of Nursing School....
 Number 10. Don't worry about not having a life in nursing school, none of us do. Sounds profound, but it's just the nature of the beast. If you are a very social person who parties, goes shopping, attends church, has outings with your family, goes to your child's school functions....I'm talking to you. You can kiss all of that goodbye in second semester. Nursing school is kind of like boiling a toad. You don't just throw him into the boiling water, do you? No, you put him in the pot with cold water and in increments, turn up the heat. The poor toad adjusts to the temperature each time until finally he's boiled to death. That's what happens in nursing school. They give you those first introductory classes, like Intro to Nursing, Pharm I, Medical Terminology, etc, just to get your feet wet, so to speak. You develop partial confidence, thinking, "Yeah, I think I can do this, " just to bait and switch you second semester with Intro to Med-Surg, OB, Pharm II, and Mental Health. It's totally different second semester. Go in with your eyes WIDE OPEN.
Number 9. Organization is the key. Yeah, I know. I've read it on other blogs before and just sort of blew it off. But, take heed. You are going to get hit with careplans, quizzes, virtual clinic assignments, papers, clinical dates (which you CANNOT MISS EVER). If you have problems managing your time, or saying no to other activities that require your attention, figure it out  NOW. They don't care what your problem is, you have to have that assignment in; you have to make that clinical; and you have to be prepared for that test.  And they are not being hard on you just to be mean, they are preparing you for the nursing field. The hospital is not going to care what's going on in your personal life, you have to show up. They will simply fire you and hire someone else.
Number 8. Never be unprepared for any class or clinical. I know it sound the same as
number 9, but what I refer to is the preparation. Prior to any class, you are going to have tons of outlines/powerpoints/assignments to download and print. You best have a good if not GREAT printer, at least a case of paper, and extra cartridges at all times. You also have to have it in a note book. Get one for each class. The bigger, the better. It will come in handy at finals when you are responsible the CUMULATIVE material. Your time is better spent NOT looking for all the outlines like I did. Get all this together the night BEFORE CLASS. You will thank me for this advice. It lowers your blood pressure on test/quiz day and you walk in ready to do battle, not be frustrated because you couldn't get it together.
Number 7: Be ready for clinicals: uniforms wrinkle-free and clean. Shoes should be the comfortable. Don't skimp out on this. Your feet will pay for it. Stethoscope handy and on your person at all times. Don't ever set it down. Someone will walk off with it. A pocket notebook is nice to write notes. And a non-leaking pen, black ink. I ruined a pair of scrubs by not noticing my pen was leaking. ALWAYS have your drug book handy. You will be passing meds most likely. I got stupid and handed mine to a classmate who forgot hers. Dumb, dumb, dumb. She did not hand it back in a timely fashion and it was my turn to pass 20 meds. Needless to say, I had points taken off for not looking up all my meds and being prepared. Don't be me. Don't loan it out.
Number 6. Buy all the scantrons you need for each test and quiz and then buy 10 more. Your classmates have a tendency to NOT be as prepared as you are, and on test/quiz day, they are in a  . Be their hero...give them a scantron. One day, I guarantee, you will need one, and they will remember.
Number 5. Do not let the ineptness of an instructor prevent you from learning. I have said it over and over again: there are teachers galore on the internet who will bestow their knowledge for free. If your teacher doesn't make sense, teach yourself. This semester, I was forced to rewrite a certain instructors powerpoints because she didn't layout the material in a manner that was conducive to my learning style. My learning style is not her problem. It's mine. The biggest take away I ever got was doing a search for powerpoints from other instructors teaching the same material. Here's the big secret: book publishers supply teachers with the powerpoints taken directly from the book. The teacher can add or subtract what she/he thinks is necessary. So, while your instructor may not explain something in depth that you are struggling with, another instructor whose powerpoints online may. Get your google on and search!
Number 4. You gotta sleep sometime. Try your best to keep the same schedule or your body will rebel, and embarrass the heck out of you. Case in point: I had a bad habit of staying up until 1 AM, even on nights  when I was going to clinicals at 6:15 AM. So not a good plan. My eyes got very tired, and I developed a weird eye strain condition. Every time I would squint, tears poured down my face. This was very embarrassing during a sterile procedure when I was gloved and gowned and could not even see for the tears. It was my body telling me: "You can't abuse me." And I got the message.
Number 3. Thou SHALT NOT hack off thy clinical instructor. This is where you have to leave the ego at the door. She/he can make you, or make you wish you had never been born. Don't embarrass, don't gossip about, and don't make her annoyed. Yes, I am asking you to dance. You have to go along to get along on this one.  After you finish clinicals, you are going to need a decent job reference. They would be more willing to give it if you have a good working relationship. There are going to be bosses, charge nurses, hospital administrators that you can't stand and are going to have to be working with side by side. Consider this practice.
Number 2. Make your family/friends/significant other understand what this journey means to you. I had to sit my family down and explain that I had to study X amount of time for X amount of material. Dishes, laundry, general cleaning, can all be done on weekends. Remember: there's always paper plates, cups, spoons, etc. You have to work hard with kids to get them to see that Mommy isn't going to be doing this bit forever. And when you get time off, enjoy them. I am so lucky because my 8 year old is my greatest advocate. I've heard him say to his dad, "No, Mommy can't go to the movies...she has a 2 tests this week. Didn't you read her calendar?" Too cute. :)
Number 1. Be there for each other. Our class went from 60 to now 31. By the time we graduate, it's going down further. Help each other. Send your notes, offer to show someone a skill that you have mastered. It's going to reap benefits because one day, you both will be in the work place. And who better to have there than a comrade in arms? Someone who went through the war with you....because that's pretty close to how it feels. Help them cross the finish line with you.