Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cardiovascular Test Down; Lymphatic Blues

Well, my cardiovascular test is done, and I should know my score on Thursday. The test was a nightmare; long, drawn out, and very thorough. I snagged a couple of questions I just figured out before class started with my study group (who meets for an hour before class to review).

The test taxed my knowledge of everything from eosinophils, to Perkinje fibers, to atrial diastole, to the factors of the intrinsic and extrinsic clotting mechanisms. Was I successful? I think so. On a test this long and hard, I can hardly imagine what the score will actually be once everything is calculated up. I know I passed, but did I get the 'A' I was shooting for? Probably not. But hey, who knows, weirder things have happened. I'd really love to ask an R.N. if they actually know how osmotic pressure contributes to the diffusion of cellular nutrients and wastes into the veins, but hey, I guess an overunderstanding is better an, uh, under-understanding. If a patient has a internal clot, I'd hope my nurse would catch the mistake if someone prescribed me heparin!

Now we're in the lymphatic system, and its really fascinating how it works. I'd love to take a test on this section, however, it appears that this body system is actually learnable, so the powers that be suggested that it be combined with the digestive system, which I learn about next class. I now know why antibiotics work, why my doctor was able to see what I was immune against based off a simple blood test. Really cool how this system works.

Nursing-wise, in preparation, I've been using my wife as a test dummy to take blood pressures. Also, and embarrassingly, I've also had to molest her to show me where to put the female catheter. Laugh if you want guys, but it's not as obvious as it might seem! Probably gonna get that damn expensive ($15, or, as related to current gas prices, about 312 ft. of travel) hepatitis B shot on Friday too!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Circulatory Test Tomorrow!

I'm finishing up my Anatomy and Physiology II class this summer to have a much smaller courseload during the semesters with my nursing program. See the accelerated LPN program is 1 year from start to finish, but since I inquired last year a bit too late, I simply did all the academic classes for the LPN curriculum, then got accepted to the program and I only have five NUR classes to do to be eligible to get licensed as an LPN. Once that happens, I'm guaranteed a spot to sit in the LPN>RN program.

The test tomorrow is arguably the most important section in AP2, the cardiovascular system. Perhaps I should be studying instead of blogging, but I find that this is a great outlet to vent. I really want to get an 'A' in this class, because I've actually made a couple of fellow nursing applicants mad because I opted to get in based on my ACT score sooner, rather than my GPA later. It's important to me to get an 'A' because I'd like to show them it wouldn't have mattered. Either way, the clock is ticking and nursing school is starting soon!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Nursing Student Blogs

I enjoy writing my blog (even though according to site traffic, people don't enjoy reading it quite that much), but most of the time, I love cruising other nursing students' blogs. It's great to see what others are doing, writing, struggling through, and triumphing over.

Nursing is a great career. I realize many people go into this field, but most significant, and personally satisfying to me, is reading blogs and articles about parents (either single or married) going back to school later in life. I'm a pretty young guy, but I have three stepchildren and a son, and a wonderful, supportive wife. Problem is though, with this many kids, and having a house way out in the country, I can't afford not to work. So I'm going to be tackling a full-time job, being a somewhat decent father when I can, and being a full-time nursing student. My favorite are the blogs that focus on juggling family/work/school, but I love reading even just normal students blogs.

Is it impossible? It feels like it. But that's why I love reading other people's experiences. They tell me that it can be done, that it of course is not easy, but that your goal is attainable.

Here's a few great blogs I've found so far that I enjoy reading. These are nursing student specific blogs:

Gotta love these blogs. Especially Damons post on his vagina hunt!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My School Laptop (and no shots...)

I didn't get my hepatitis B shots; I couldn't afford my extremely reasonable co-pay. Oh, well. That's why I'm changing professions!

Also, I'd like to talk about my laptop I got for school (since there hasn't really been anything else interesting to talk about until late August, early September). For one thing, I'm not exactly rich (see the afforementioned paragraph about not being able to afford a copay) and I managed to scrounge up enough to get a $400 laptop from Best Buy.

First thing I did, unlike so many other people, is I totally removed Windows and installed a Linux distribution called Ubuntu. All I can say is , "Whoa!". My bottom of the barrel laptop, with a 2Ghz Pentium processor and a gig of RAM absolutely screams on this operating system, and I use lots of cool Vista-like windows effects without any slow down (by installing a window manager called Beryl, I think). I also don't have to restart when I reinstall software; it just appears in my menu system. For my schoolwork, OpenOffice is better than Microsoft Office. My internet is faster with fewer load times. I can get virtually any Windows software working with a program called WINE. If anyone is gutsy enough to remove Windows from their machine, this is definitely the way to go! And I saved the best for last.... all this stuff is totally, 100%, no lie, no gimmick FREE! Now that better fits my budget!

I love Human Anatomy and Phyisiology. Today I found out my blood type is O+ and I even took someone's blood pressure. But the thing I love most is that once you really understand body systems, you can make lots of great jokes no one will pick up on, like when I told my co-worker his mother must have had a severe folic acid deficiency when she was pregnant with him!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Shots, shots, shots! (And great support!)

Apparently, I've been slacking on my shots. As noted in my previous post, I didn't have any records of my immunizations, so I'm just doing them over. Well, I'm starting my hepatitis B shot series tomorrow. This'll be the fourth needle stick I've got since the physical. Oh yeah, and the tetanus shot made my arm swell up and created a big knot that was so hard it felt like concrete.

Hepatitis B is a series of shots, not just one, and I'm going to need the whole series before I can start. This waiting game is driving me nuts! I'm excited and nervous all at the same time and very anxious to begin my work and clinicals.

Speaking of nervousness, excitement, and just support in general, Allnurses is a website for just about anyone in the nursing business, all the way from CRNAs to fledgling first-year nursing students like me. I made a post on the forum stating that I was nervous about certain procedures I'd have to do, etc., and within an hour I had tons of other male nurses giving tons of support and words of encouragement.

If you're a nurse, a student, or are just in school considering nursing as an option, I highly recommend checking them out! My name on the forum is laxrick.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Plan Of Action

I've looked into nursing to the point that I feel like I have micromanaged all my goals which, in my case, is pretty necessary with all my kids, work, and family life. I want to get as much done as quickly as possible while still making sure I'm not taking on too much. I've gotten all of my academic courses (except for Human Anatomy & Physiology II) done as of right now.

I spent a year doing my general educational classes, so when I begin in September, each semester I will do only one nursing class and one online educational class. This I think will make the courseload much easier. However, doing it part-time, it is going to take me three years to become an RN. Here's my plan of attack:

September 08 - August 09: LPN Certificate
September 09 - May 10: ADN, (RN-licensure to follow)
September 10 - May 12: BSN at another school; transfer credits
September 12 - May 14: MSN, Family Practitioner Track

This is what's awesome about nursing as a career choice and what convinced me this was the way to go (I used to want to be a Rad Tech). Just keep climbing the ladder, and get a pay bump every two years.

I really, really want to go to school to be a CRNA, but I don't know how I will be able to accomplish that with kids. Those programs are like 24-27 months, 40-50 hours a week. Gets paid as much as a doctor does though!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A New Opportunity...

I just found something very interesting out: once you actually get accepted into a healthcare program (LPN, RN, Rad Tech, etc.) there are many more opportunities out there than when you were just doing your prerequisite courses.

I reached quite a few scholarship deadends because I was attempting to dig up scholarships before my official acceptance, and many places would not even accept my application.

When I checked my local hospital / research facility I found out that they will pay me up to $8000 for two years worth of schooling, and get this, my federal financial aid, which pays more than 100% of my education costs, will still be in effect and the money will be paid directly to me in exchange for signing an employment contract with them for two years. I've been very nervous because me and my family barely squeak by as it is sometimes, so this will really allow me to focus on my schoolwork.

Pretty sweet huh? I was thinking about getting a job there anyway so this may be the perfect option for me. Not to mention I will also get any applicable sign-on bonuses when I actually become employed there. That $8000 sure will help over the next two years as I anticipate making much less money due to the fact I will not be able to work as much and the hospital will even pay for me to get my bachelor's and other postgraduate options.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Am I Ready?

Can you ever really be ready for a career change like this?

I know that I want to have important responsibilities, help people, and everything like that. I'm just nervous... I mean what is going to happen the first time I need to change a bedpan, catherize someone, or dress a draining wound? It's easy now to say that I'm fine with it, and I do believe I am fine with it, but the real world is a little different than 'theory' I have been learning. I mean what happens if someone codes; will I freeze or start performing CPR without missing a beat?

I don't have a weak stomach. I have four children, so, my fear of vomit and excrement left a long time ago. How will I react to my patients though? I've definitely got sort of a nervous type of excitement about the whole career change thing, and I think I will do fine (especially seeing a few of the dodos that work at the local hospitals) but I think going into this whole thing a little apprehensive is better than bragging about my great test results, which I know, will mean next to nothing when I'm faced my first code blue.

Physical Done; Books to Buy

Man, I feel like I'm trying to get a job at the Pentagon or something.

I had to have a complete (yes, complete ) physical the other day and proof of all my immunizations. I also had to have a tetanus and that bubble test to see if I have tuberculosis. Slight problem with the immunizations, though. I don't have a record of them, and there's really no way to get them (quickly I should say). That means I was the lucky recipient of the business-end of a phlebotamist's needle for some labwork to check out my blood for immunities.

I also have registered and paid for my CPR class on August 8. I'll see the CPR certification before I acn even be present for any sort of clinical. Also, I need to have my scrubs ready to go come September.

Then... the books. Oh god, the books. There once was a time I complained about spending $375 on an anatomy book and a lab manual. The books will be a considerable amount more this semester; to the tune of nearly $800. Yes, you read it. I need approximately 11 (yes, eleven) books for one nursing class, NUR101. Thank goodness I should have enough left over from my Pell Grants to afford it. Hopefully I'll have enough left over after the books to buy a wheel barrel to haul them all in!

I anticipate this blog getting quite a bit more interesting once I start my clinical rotations, but in the mean time, maybe some other people starting a nursing program will know what to look forward to.

In other new I began my BIO203, or A&P II, yesterday. Same teacher, same classroom, different organ system. Another 6 1/2 weeks of torture, but hey, it'll at least be done.

Oh yeah, and its official: in BIO202, or A&P I, I got an 'A'. Not to be smug, but I studied so much that I deserved it.