Saturday, August 30, 2008

Nursing Orientation

My orientation went well. It was pretty much what I expected: congratulations on getting a spot, and your life will be a living hell for the next two years, but you'll be a better person for it. There were some introductions, most notably the local hospital representatives, who discussed a $10,000 scholarship grant that is payable to the student (not the school) in exchange for a two year service committment. Pretty sweet deal, especially since you can still nab the standard sign-on bonus for when you get hired.

I was also informed that I am a member of the Nursing Student Organization (NSO). Just what that entails, I'm not exactly sure, but hey, I'm sure it will look great on a resume. I also should be getting an invitation from the National Honor Society this fall.

It was also suggested that I get travel luggage to carry my books in since there's so many: and yes, I have to bring them all to class everyday. That sucks, but I'm not killing my back carrying 70+ lbs. of book to school everyday, so I heeded their advice and bought a rolling luggage thingy.

I've been installing much of the required software on my laptop that was included with my textbooks; it's been touch and go since I decided to go with Ubuntu Linux instead of the ridiculously buggy Windows Vista.

Oh, and I have videos about nursing procedures that I will be learning. I've watched the incredibly detailed clinical experience videos and I shudder to think about some of the procedures I'll be expected to perform, especially catheterization and rectal temperatures. The Spike Lee angles seen in my clinical videos didn't help my feelings of nervousness either!

Hell begins Wednesday, and even after viewing the disturbing male catherization clinical video, I can't wait! (Although I won't be volunteering to be the catherization dummy any time soon!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Books... Oh My!

I'm starting to wonder exactly what I'm getting myself into. I didn't have enough cash to get all my books, however, financial aid covered all my required core reading and I paid out of pocket for a drug guide and Tabler's Medical Encyclopedia.

I still need about four books, however, the eleven books I've been talking about have so many supplemental booklets that were either included or needed to be purchased separate, I have over eleven books sitting on my computer desk's bookshelves right now.

My wife nearly fainted when she saw me carrying about 100 lbs. of books to the car, in bags, but being carried under my arm because the bags bursted about five feet into the journey back to the parking lot.

I also have to read about a hundred pages before September 3rd out of one of the books (don't worry there's still plenty to read in that book; about 1400 pages worth!)

The sheer amount of material is completely dumbfounding. I really had no idea... oh God, what have I gotten myself into? :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

My School Books has a really cool "Wishlist" feature that allows you to create multiple lists, sort of like a gift registry or something. I've made a public list of all eleven books that it is suggested that I need for my Nursing 101 class that starts early September.

Check out my booklist; and it's a wishlist so feel free to purchase one for me! ;)

Financial Aid Woes

Financial aid is a double-edged sword. It certainly makes it possible for the less fortunate (i.e. me) to go to school, but the amount of hoops and trouble that it causes me is insurmountable.

My estimated family contribution (EFC) to my education used to be 0. Due to some tax return / FAFSA "inconsistency" in my dependants, they've adjusted my EFC to $720, and thus caused by overpayment of $850 to be an overpayment of $550.

Not a huge deal since its "extra" money right? Wrong! I have to buy books, supplies, and clothing, and I was counting on that money to help with that. Either way, $850 or $550, this whole thing is going to cost me money... now it's just going to cost me an additional $300, and it's going to cost me this before September 3rd. I wouldn't be nearly as aggravated if I wasn't expecting a certain payout, and secondly, if there actually was an error on my tax forms (its a dependant issue that can be squarely blamed on poor verbage on the instructions of the FAFSA, or more likely typo altogether).

I am grateful I qualify for aid to get my education. It's almost like a dream come true to me. I really thought I'd never be able to afford school; even the measly $83/credit hour my community college charges for in-state tuition. However, since my payout has been changed, I'm racking up quite an expense. Here's what I need and have $550 to get:
  1. Eleven Nursing Books (About $800)
  2. Bandage Scissors (About $10)
  3. Full-Length White Lab Coat (About $30)
  4. Stethoscope (About $30 for a basic model)
  5. CPR Certification (About $50)
  6. Two Sets of White Scrubs (About $50-60)

I hope I'm not being construed as an inconsiderate whiner; I'm really just a struggling-to-make-ends-meet father with a son and three stepdaughters whose needs come first.

Using my wonderful critical thinking skills I think I can borrow some of this stuff, beg some family members to get some other things, and buy some used books. Just hope I can make it work with minimal out-of-pocket!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pre-Nursing Worries...

I'm so far outside my comfort zone right now. I've been a sales representative for more than seven years now, and its starting to hit home that I am making major life changes.

I've gotten a rough, rocky work schedule hammered out that allows for me to work full-time, attend nursing school, and even have a bit of time to study. Personal time? Family time? What are those? Starting September 3rd, they are going to be memories of a less stressful time. My schedule calls for me to work six days a week every other week; a mediocre task to be sure, however, coupled with the stress of nursing school that is not going to be a good (every other) week.

I've been asking advice on forums and to my wife's coworkers, and everybody says something different about how to be ready for nursing school. Certain nurses say it's challenging, but very doable. Others say that I'm destined to failure because I don't have a medical background and/or I have never worked as a CNA. Others say care plans are fiendishly difficult. Others say they are very easy and interesting. Some say to get a PDA, some say to keep a notepad, some.... well you get the point.

At this point, I don't know what to expect. Everyone puts their two cents in and its all different. Nervousness certainly is kicking in, but I have to admit, I'm also excited and eager to get started. The more I read about nursing care plans, the more I understand the actual job and broad spectrum of what a nurse does, and most importantly, how crucial their role is in patient care, and I have a higher respect for my chosen profession.

Until Tuesday...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I'm CPR Certified!

Today, I finally got my CPR license. I'm able to do the Heimlich maneuver, CPR, and using an automatic (or semiautomatic) defibrillator.

The class started way too early at 7a.m. and lasted about four out of the five scheduled hours. It was not what I expected. I expected some videos, some notes, some brief practice on a dummy, etc. What I got was nearly five hours of keeping my CPR dummy alive! In one session, I performed one man CPR on the dummy for nearly ten minutes!

CPR is definitely exhausting work, and complain as I might, the extra hands on experience certainly gave me a better understanding how to correctly perform CPR.

Next step: purchase my (eleven) books on Tuesday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Preparation, D-Day Approaching...

I'm starting to get a bit nervous as the day to begin nursing school is fast approaching. I've been looking up some stuff on how to prepare for nursing school and came across these two wonderful lists:
  1. Things Every Nursing Student Should Have, Part I
  2. Things Every Nursing Student Should Have, Part II (PDAs)

Saturday is my CPR certification for Healthcare providers. Tuesday I go get my books. Thursday..... orientation.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Anatomy and Physiology II Wrapped Up

Yes, it's over and my final grades are as listed below:

  1. Lecture Exam 1: 89%
  2. Lab Practical 1:89%
  3. Lecture Exam 2: 99%
  4. Lab Practical 2: 102%
  5. Lecture Exam 3: 93%
  6. Lab Practical 3: 94%
  7. Lecture Exam 4: 89%
  8. Lab Practical 4: 94%
  9. Final Cumulative Exam: 90%
  10. Research Project: 103%

I was unsure of #8 and #10; looks like I made some solid guesses. That's it. Eight AP credits in 13 weeks... phew, it was taxing, but well worth the effort since I won't need anymore physiology until the ADN-to-MSN degree program.

CPR class is on August 23rd, and my orientation is on August 28th. Until then, I'll be enjoying a few more weeks of kickin' back (and of course, working 40+ hours a week at my current job).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Our Healthcare System At Work....

My father has a fairly bad case of CHF and tips the scales over 300 lbs. Yesterday he was admitted to the ER with respiratory failure. I had a call at 3a.m. last night stating that he was on a ventilator, but he was "stable".

Here's where our wonderful healthcare system kicks in. My wife calls to get information. She is told that he has been revived twice with CPR by my father's nurse. We were also told that he aspirated during CPR. So we pack up, and head out a few hours later in the morning. We arrive at his room and ask the nurse a few pretty standard questions. The conversation goes a little something like this:

Me: How is my father doing?

Nurse: He's stable.

Me: If he's stable, why is he on a ventilator?

Nurse: Because he needs it to breathe.

Me: So, he can't breath on his own?

Nurse: No.

Me: But he's stable?

Nurse: Yes.

Me: Um, ok. What was the diagnosis for admittance?

Nurse: Respiratory failure.

Me: Oh.. so has that been resolved?

Nurse: No.

Me: Ok, well was CPR performed on him?

Nurse: No.

Me: The nurse last night said he had CPR performed twice in the ambulance, and that he aspirated.

Nurse: She must be mistaken.

Me: Ok... well he was in the ambulance for awhile before they left. I was under the impression they did CPR. What did they do?

Nurse: You should have asked the paramedics.

Me: Well, wouldn't it be in his chart?

Nurse: Yes, but it's not there.

Me: Ok, maybe it was a miscommunication. How long was he oxygen levels too low?

Nurse: We're not sure, but they've stabilized.

Me: If his oxygen was low, isn't there potential for brain damage?

Nurse: There's always a chance.

Me: So what are we doing to check for brain damage?

Nurse: Nothing right now, we're mostly concerned with his lungs right now.

It continued like this for awhile. Getting information from this woman was like pulling teeth from a rabid raccoon. The irritation at asking the results of certain tests and/or procedures performed was quite apparent. One good thing came out of this negative experience though. When I'm an R.N. I'll live by this simple rule:

Answer all questions asked as accurately as possible and provide specific details whenever asked without attitude, as long as said questions do not violate regulations or require explanation from a doctor.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Take the AP2 Challenge!!

Anyone interested in taking the devilishly fiendish Anatomy practice test... go right ahead! Here's your link!

Two Tests Down; Studying For Final

I have completed my final lecture exam in AP2, as well as my last lab practical. The tests were harder than expected, and included several questions not in the study guide for the test, which really irritated me. All in all, I think I did fairly well, though I'm sure a bit more studying wouldn't have hurt anything. However, after doing the math, I figured that I would only need 70% on each of these final three tests to maintain the 'A' I'm looking for.

One thing bugging me, however, is this final. It's not been written by my instructor, but by the head of the science department, and it is extremely tricky. I've been attempting the practice questions, and let me just give you a prime example of two questions pertaining to the urinary system:

An increase in hydrostatic pressure in glomerular capsule will:
  1. Increase filtration rate
  2. Decrease filtration rate
  3. Increase secretion rate
  4. Decrease secretion rate

And then the followup:

Increased glomerular filtration results from:

  1. Increase in environmental temperature
  2. Increased cardiac output
  3. Decreased fluid intake
  4. Decreased blood pressure

The answers are both #2, according to the answer key. Ok, so if increased cardiac output increases glomerular filtration, and increased cardiac output increases hydrostatic pressure, how in the name of fluid mechanics does increased hydrostatic pressure decrease filtration?

This final is driving me crazy! I'm gonna need to check with my professor on this one...

Oh, and to boot, I overslept and missed my CPR class that needs to be done by August 28th. Better get me some scrubs... my orientation is on August 28th. Hopefully, I'll still have my 4.0 going into the program!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Off-Topic Rant: Politics and Scientists

The internet has been full of stupidity the last couple of days and I'm writing here, on my only medium, to call it on its own crap!

1.) Why do people have to be so extreme about Barack Obama? Get off his case! He's not the antichrist, a muslim extremist, or a terrorist sympathizer! However, he's not the messiah, nor is he the answer to all our problems. And not innocent himself, Obama, please start talking politics and stop leading us in short chants that get everyone excited but accomplish nothing other than mass hysteria! Also,, please stop saying that that Obama photo is transfiguration caught on film! It's ridiculous that none of your ignorant readers know what an aperture is or what shutter speed is because I can duplicate Obama's "transfiguration" with a modified Walmart disposable on any homo sapien on the friggin' planet.

2.) Why in the world would you release a religiously themed slander video bashing your opponent John McCain? Now everyone thinks you're either calling him the messiah or the antichrist. Who advised you to make that move? Probably some sort of television evangelical who is sure he's unveiled some doomsday prophecy about an antichrist with a revolutionary new educational program. That's the lowest political blow I've ever seen: inferring that your opponent is the antichrist. Why not just start bustin' yo mama jokes. That would be far more effective. Congratulations for losing your last shred of credibility.

3.) Why does everyone think the Phoenix lander found life of Mars people? The rumors spread so fast about an impromptu meeting with the President's science advisor (does he really have one?) that they were forced to reveal their fantastic discovery, reportedly more important that liquid water, early. It was perchlorates. Wow. Does anyone know what that means? I'll skip the public relations mumbo jumbo. Nothing!! It neither hurts nor helps the case for life. And I admit, even I was expecting a monumental announcement.

Everyone should be required to take a critical thinking course in their lifetime. And pay attention.

P.S. Two hours til test time. Pray to our Lord Obama I get an 'A'.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

New Local RN-to-MSN FNP Track

I'm very excited, because the local university is now offering an advanced RN-to-MSN track that takes you from RN with an ADN to a FNP with a MSN.

This is great because it slices a ton of time from my original goal: RN-to-BSN, BSN-to-MSN, MSN-to-FNP Certificate. I haven't worked out the kinks of exactly how long it will take me to complete, but it looks like in about 5-6 years I could be a FNP.

The only thing that sucks is that I'll be graduating from one program into another with virtually no break. That'll be rough, but hey, you want to make great money, its just what you have to do.... I want my kids to go to college!

Hmmm, I'm sure its going to be expensive. I've been considering funding sources and Im fairly sure that if I take advantage of our state's workforce shortage grant, along with any financial aid I'm eligible for, along with whatever the hospital (who I'm assuming will be my employer at the RN stage) and then I'll probably just pick up the remainder with a Stafford loan! That's a FNP education without those $100k plus student loans.

I'm very excited about this program... more details to come. Assuming I graduate nursing school, I'm looking to enter this Fall 2010.

Anatomy II nearly over; Reproductive System No Longer Fun

Well, I had my final Anatomy and Physiology II lecture last night about everyone's favorite body system: the reproductive system! Even though there were a few giggles from the younger crowd, this system wasn't nearly as fun to learn about as you would think!

That was it. No more classes now; just testing! I have three tests left to go. Here's what my scorecard looks like:
  1. Lecture Exam 1: 89%
  2. Lab Practical 1:89%
  3. Lecture Exam 2: 99%
  4. Lab Practical 2: 102%
  5. Lecture Exam 3: 93%
  6. Lab Practical 3: 94%
  7. Lecture Exam 4: Coming Thursday!
  8. Lab Practical 4: Coming Saturday!
  9. Final Cumulative Exam: Coming next Tuesday!
  10. Research Project: 103%

Pretty good, huh? I spend much of my "free" time studying (i.e. kids are sleeping, wife is at work, dogs are fed and walked) however, I still don't think I spend enough time studying as I should. I hope it doesn't get too apparent when I am taking more difficult courses on my way to that coveted Family Nurse Practitioner title. I would have had probably a 98-100% on the Lecture 3 exam, but like a retard, I had a major brain fart and forgot what a juxtaglomerular apparatus was. Oh well, at least I know now!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Making Forward Progress

Well, I took a much needed vacation. Of course, I still had class and couldn't go anywhere exciting, but taking a 40-hour a week committment out of the equation was very nice.

My AP2 class is wrapping up. I haven't updated in a while, so my scores are below:

  • Cardiovascular Exam: 89%
  • Cardiovascular Lab: 89%
  • Digestion & Lymphatics Exam: 99%
  • Digestion & Lymphatics Lab: 102%

Looks like I'll get that 'A' after all. Probably. Got two more tests in limbo right now... done but I don't know my grade. Crunch time is happening at the end of this week. Thursday test, saturday test, tuesday test. Ugh.

I've got my immunizations out of the way, my physical done, and my CPR class is paid for in full and I will be taking it on Friday. Looks like everything is coming together just great. Oh, and my wife bought me some great sneakers for clinicals!