startingnw

My new life is starting now

Mostly complaining…but very happy.

 

A day in the life of a nursing student. I don’t think…NO; I know that unless you’ve been through nursing school…you have no idea what we go through. There is a big difference between just college, and nursing school program. Pre-nursing is nothing compared to the actual nursing program. This is a typical day for me…a single mom, working two jobs going to nursing school.

I wake at 0625 ( after going to sleep at 0200 from studying and working the night before) to turn the shower on for my sweet little boy who hates getting up at any time other then when he wants to. Shower, breakfast and out the door for both of us. BOTH OF US. I shower two people, get two sets of clothing ready, and get two backpacks ready to go to SCHOOL. I drop my boy off at his school, and I usually head out of town. Tuesdays I get to class by 1030, until about 4pm. I walk , well struggling to walk into class. Carrying my giant purse, my rolly bag ( Yes i finally invested, and recommend a big loud obnoxious bag on wheels), lab tote bag , lunch bag, and phone in hand. I’m hoping we are on the first level, and thankful that we usually are. God forbid the days we have class on the second floor of the giant building. The struggle is real getting up those steps , opening the door and throwing yourself in before the weighted door hits you. In class now for the next many hours. Where the teacher lectures over some body system, talks about drugs, and ways we can kill our patient if we aren’t careful . Yeap, we can kill patients easily! Isn’t that the encouragment we all needed. We watch boring, corny videos,and talk about lots and lots and lots of classmates real world experiecnes. Didn’t you want to know that your classmate next to you has hemmoroids . Depending on whcih isntructor we have, we may take three or four bathroom breaks, which just prolongs the torture even more. Then of coruset heres always the classmates who bring preztels, celery and carrot sticks to snack on in class, in the quite classroom we are all sitting in. You sound and look like a horse..STOP IT! Hopefully its not one of the weeks where we have an exam every day we are in class. Exam days are ROUGH. There is so much anxiety, and people are chatting enedless about howt hey didnt have enough time tos tudy, and they didn’t know there was an exam today, or they didn’t know the material or they just were too tiredt o study. We all have excuses, and I hear the same ones OVER AND OVER each exam day. Before the exam everyone is asking everyone else questions…what about this…should we do this for this patient..should we not do this for this kind of disease, what medicine should we give, did you read this or that. It goes on and on. Then the teacher comes in and everyoen floods her with questions. FInally its test time. I am a weird variety, i love takign exams and seeing progress. I get excited. Teacher makes us clear the desk, yes even your water bottle. Exams and scan trons are given out…upside down. YOU CANT LOOK AT IT UNTIL EVERYONE HAS ONE. NO CHEATING. NO BRAIN DUMPING.Everyone is still whispering at this point. Then the teacher writes how long we have on the board and every flips there paper over. Now its a race to the finish. Me, personally i start at the back of the exam and work my way up, again i stress..I am a weird variety. Exams usually are about an hour too long! Then again it takes me ten minutes to do my exam and then im just wasting time. Once your done with this stressful exam you go outsidet he room…where another mass panic goes down. Everyone is asking everyone what they got on so and so answer. Phones are out, google is running and everyones a talking. But there wasn’t any of “this” on the exam. She told us to study this but didn’t put it on there. That test was so hard, i was unprepaired, next time i ll do better. It goes ON AND ON. THEN…….another flocking frenzy. We all go in and the teacher has the answer key taped on the walls. There are thirty students in my class. Everyone fights to see the answers…everyones whispering and using fingers to count how many they got wrong. You’ll hear the occasional damn it..o no…or YES! Yes is magical to hear after exams. So after everyone is done stampeding over each other we get ANOTHER break. Where again…everyone is complaining and going over the exam. MOVE ON…FORGET ABOUT IT. ITS DONE! Then we go back to class and listen to the drooning of the lecture on the next topic we wil be examed on next week ( 7 days away). But everyones mind is ont he exam they just failed, or the questions they just got wrong to even pay attention to the instructotr and what she is saying. After another few long breaks its time to go. Go where you ask? To work! Atleast for me taht is. I am expected at work thirty minutes after I leave class. So i go from mom to nursing student to emergency department tech. Now for the next 8 hours I am listening to and usually making babies cry. The next 8 hours I am poking kids, listening to parents complain or cry and running around grabbing whatever supply the doctor forgot to have me get the last four times i was in the supply room.When Im not running around busy, I am sitting at my computer at work with my giant text book open going over the stuff for the next exam. Youtube is always on , on my work computer. Its amazing what i learn from y outube in five minutes that i didn’t get from the isntructor in the 8 hours i was at school. Kid comes in with a possibly anaphalactic allergic reaction…BUT IM DOING A TIMED EXAM RIGHT NOW. I can’t leave my desk. Fine ill go put him on pusle ox he likes fine. Let me finish my TIMED exam…but you want to know what his blood pressure is? FINE! Role conflict to the fullest. The double cheeseburger i got on my way from school to work is now digested and im starving . Dominoes ordered to work again..PERFECT. Who has time to cook at home …NOT ME. Okay its 11 at night time to drive an hour home. Drive an hour home to shower ( yes you have to shower again after that dirty day). Okay it’s midnight, i can quickly do one side of my study page before 130, as long as i am asleep by 2am I will be okay. Just to start it all over again in a few short hours. Mom..nursing student….employed healthcare worker….Mom. When do i get me time? Well thats in the ten minutes I have timed ( yes i set a ten minute timer when i’m in the shower, as to not accidently waste time) in the shower. My time completely revolves around school, studying, working, and spending time with my six year old so he doesn’t forget who i am. I spend more time doing stuff ( work and school) to ensure he has everything he wants. Even though i don’t have time to spend with him he will have whatever he wants or needs. On the days I am off , i spend with him..but as soon as he’s in bed, guess what i am doing..studying. Every once in a while I go grocery shopping and do laundry. Grocery shopping is actually a highlight in my life, its peaceful and quality time i get to spend doing something i want to do. Nursing school is every bit as hard and time consuming as everyone says it is. Its traumatic and time consuming. Did i mention the time consuming part? But if you want it bad, and its there a will…theres a way. Its a short term sacrifice for a long term benefit. For X amount of year, yes YEARS you will see your classmates more than you will see your family. Nursing school will kick your butt in ways you couldn’t imagine..buts its an amazing journey that i am completely in love with and am so thankful to be able to do by God’s amazing grace. I am proud to be a student nurse and I can’t WAIT to do more.

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A little humor

A little humor

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Nclex is coming up

I am a month and two weeks away from taking my final exam in my LPN program. We will be taking the hesi exit in a month and God willing the NCLEX pn in two months tops.

DID YOU KNOW….

* You can apply for and pay the $300 fee to the state board of nursing within two months of expected graduation

    Its a good idea to head over to the state board of nursing and make sure you have the requirements to even APPLY. For instance all names on your identifications must match exactly. Its good to just look over the application…get yourself comfortable.

*You can apply to the Pearson VUE a month prior to graduation. Pearson VUE is the actual NCLEX peeps who give the exam.Cost of that exam is $200

Just a few reminders

 The NCLEX PN is 85-205 questions and you will have five hours to finish it.In those five hours you will have two scheduled breaks ( optional though) and can take as many breaks as you’d like. Just remember breaks count agaisnt your time.The preliminary test results of pass or fail are available in about 48hours give or take.

 

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Week 12

We are now ending week 12 of the block two fast track lpn program. I unfortunately haven’t had much time to update on here and I apologize. Life has been completely crazy and my time has been completely taken up with responsibilities. We have covered the cardiac system which was quiz one. That was supposed to be the hardest quiz of the semester per instructor and other students. Quiz two was on the respiratory quiz and that was okay. I was super confident on that quiz, but that was the only one I’ve done kinda bad on. O well, on to the next. Quiz three was on fluids/electrolytes/hem/lymphatic system, a lot of students had difficulty with that one, more so then the cardiac. I did phenomenal on that one. Quiz four is coming up and will be the first day of week 13. Quiz four will be on the Nuero system and neurologic stuff. We have six exams coming up in four weeks. One exam a week, and two weeks we have two exams. We then have our HESI one week, and our final the week after that.  I just finished studying for that. Class has been moving along. Tuesdays are still our lecture day. Our instructor has been Suzi and she is fantastic, highly personable and really makes the connection with us. Lecture days are optional. In the sense that it won’t count against you if you don’t show up haven’t gone to a few, as I do better with self-studying and self-teaching. Thursdays are lab day and mandatory. Remember lab is clinical hours and missing those will get you out of the program. Week 8,9,10 we had simulation lab from 8am to 4pm. On those days we had Jeri and then our pediatric instructor; Cheryl. Both are FANSTASTIC. Jeri really loves what she does and it shows, she’s very positive and open. Cheryl is the same! We don’t have any more simulation lab days. Today is an online hybrid day were we do our stuff independently, there is no structured class to go to. They (instructors) post our assignments and learning potentials on canvas and we work on our own. It has to be done prior to our exam (next Tuesday). At this point we have ELEVEN more days until our FINAL.

Clinicals have been kicking my butt. I will save the negative stuff for a separate post as I feel its a lot to talk about and I will be airing it all out. We had three pediatric clinical days at local elementary schools. That was enough. We went during school hours and hung out with the school nurse. Our big project of that was to do a presentation to a class regarding a health topic. My partner and I did diabetes to a special needs class. The teachers appreciated it and the kids did wonderful.  Yesterday I finished my 6th day of med/surg clinical at Maricopa Integrated health systems. I will solely say that the hospital itself is amazing, and the staff is great. They really have phenomenal patient care and a great system going. The patient load is low across the board for both techs and nurses. There are three clinical groups. One has been doing the VA on the floor the entire time, im not too sure what their experience has been. The second did a mix up. The first half they were at the outpatient clinic at the va. From what I heard there they had great time and learned and saw A LOT! There was many opportunities for learning and doing at the outpatient clinics. Everyone got their IVS they needed and did so much. Again I will post a completely separate post on my clinical experience/instructor/ and advice.

Last week (week 11) was spring break. We were out for the entire week and enjoying ourselves. This is week 12 and we have 7 weeks left of the block. Week 18 we are scheduled to take our HESI exit exam. This grade can help get you into block three. You will need to score an 850 or higher which is super easy! Just study!! Week 18 only has one day with that hesi. Week 19 we take our final on Tuesday and graduation is scheduled for Friday. Somewhere around there we will have the opportunity to do a three day NCLEX review that is provided to us by the school. It normally cost a few hundred dollars but the school is waiving it (paying for us) to attend. I will definitely be doing that. Jeri has said that the day of the final on May 8th she will be accepting out applications for block three and they will be accepted on first come first serve, after the test scores that are needed are achieved. I have decided I am not applying for a block three in the summer, but will do a block three in the fall God willing.

Block two has been moving right along. We have not lost any one in the class, and it seems ( as I pick up on) that the stress level is not very high with everyone. We are doing great, and will be graduating very soon! So far the program has been great, I’ve been learning and retaining a lot and am excited to march on! 

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Week 6

Finishing week six of block two. We’ve been busy in class and lab with many things. Week 5 we took our first exam , it was on the cardiac system.We were forewarned this would be the hardest exam of the semester. Overall as a class we did good, and i was very happy with my own score. 

In the lab we’ve gone over IV starts, venipuncture, chest tubes, trach and trach care. We are going to have our lab final next week on Thursday (week 7)  Our class is divided into three groups. The three groups do clinicals at different times and different places. One group is at the VA clinics on Monday, the other is at the VA on Wednesday and the other (mine ) is at Maricopa Integrated Health on Wednesdays. We all started on different times, so groups one and two have already gone to the VA multiple times, and have finished the pediatric rotation. Where as our group started late, we just started this week at Maricopa, and will be starting our peds next week. We only do three weeks of pediatrics as an LPN, but come third block RN we do alot more. The other students have all gotten many successful IVs and other procedures which is great! For our first day at clinical yesterday we toured the hospital and met alot of the staff. We went to the burn center and the manager was VERY helpful and informative. We went to the burn ICU, saw soem patients, as well as the ED. In the ED we were able to go into the trauma bay, and watch an intubation, as well as a few of us helped with an EKG. Our group will be divided between the burn center, ed, surgical icu and oncology. Next week we will be given our assignments and split with the working nurses. The staff at maricopa were so nice, and encouraging. I look forward to learning so much from there. 

 In the classroom we now move very fast. Next week (7) we have pediatric clinical on Monday for 8 hours at an elementary school, Tuesday we have our respiratory exam, Wednesday we have our 12 hour clinicals at Maricopa, and Thursday is our final lab exam. For a while to come we will be having two days of clinicals, two exams a week and it only gets tougher. We have our HESI exit, and NCLEX to study for as well as applying for third block . God willing we will be able to get into third block in the summer, and fourth block in the fall as to graduate in December with our RN. 

I find second block is so much easier, i understand what to expect and don’t stress. It’s flying by, the information we are getting is incredible and the staff here at Gateway is amazing. 

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NCLEX info

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Yesterday in class while we were going over a very boring topic I played on the state board of nursing website. I clicked on the NCLEX link that is under Education and read some pretty good stuff.

First off proud to say that since 2011 ( The last year they have on the website) only ONE person has failed the NCLEX out of Gateway Community College. That i must say is impressive and gives me hope. 

Also they have NCLEX test plans on the website. Its a broad outline of whats on the exam, what topics and what percentage of questions pertain to what. They also have a few practice questions on there.

So some recommendations for the Nclex

They say to take an NCLEX review course,

      Well im excited to say that at Gateway we have the option of attending a two day NCLEX review course for FREE.It is offered through Elsevior the maker of the nursing books, and the college pays for it, for us.

They also recommend working in healthcare to see the nursing process.

  I got that under my wing! Hope it helps 🙂

The PN nclex exam contains roughly 85-205 questions and you have five hours to complete it. Within those five hours you can take breaks, you will have two prescheduled breaks. Everyone misses atleast half the questions, the test is designed to work that way. After the student misses fifty percent of the questions the exam will adjust according to the test taker. The machine will stop administering questions when the computer is 95% sure that the test taker is either way above the passing rate, or way below the passing rate. You can review your NCLEX exam for a fee of $ 400. Whoa!! Also I was interested to read that you can take the NCLEX as many times as you’d like in the state of Arizona, you just have to pay a 100$ retaking fee along with the 200$ exam fee. And, if you fail the RN NCLEX, you can take the PN NCLEX if you’d like. I also read that you can have ear plugs which i will need! You cannot bring your own in though, as they will be provided for you.  They have a strict no “brain dumping” policy. You can’t just write stuff on the white board you are given. I will have to work on that, because I usually write numbers or such down. 

I should be taking my first NCLEX  (pn) this June. Then God willing I will be taking my NCLEX RN the following June. I am not too stressed about it, just excited to be able to! I’ve never failed an important test and don’t plan to start now! 

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Block Two

I am so very excited to say I am now in block two. I survived block one. I can’t say all my classmates were as fortunate. We lost a total of six from our block one class, which equals to 20% of our class, very sad as most of those i considered friends, had every ability to be phenomenal nurses and were great people.Our block two class started at 25, then they added three from last block two that failed and are retaking block two.  Block two is med/surg, peds, and OB for us. We take our final the 9th of May, at which time she will ( assistant director of the nursing program) be also accepting out block three advance placement applications.Last semester everyone who qualified to get into third block and applied…got in. They even have empty third block seats this semester. There’s also a possibility they will open an accelerated summer block three, so i could potentially graduate with my RN December 2014. We take the Hesi PN roughly the week after finals, which will give us an idea of how prepared we are for the NCLEX. Gateway community college had a 100% pass rate on the NCLEX last semester. That is  reassuring. Then our pinning and LPN graduation is May 30th. 

 First day was an 8 hour day. We went over the basics, what to expect and such. We then went into M.A.T.H. Handed a three page pamphlet to see how we were on our medication math calculation. I got them ALL right. That was such a positive experience for me as last semester i FAILED the first medication math quiz. After we went over the old medication math we jumped into IV medication dosing and numbers. That was actually not too bad. We talked extensively about IV therapy and venipuncture. What the state board allows of LPNS to do and management of the IV therapy. We only need FIVE successful IV sticks to get our LPN lisence. That is per the state board of education. I think that is an awful low number!! When i did my phlebotomy class we had to have 100 successful venipunctures. There’s a big difference huh? Thanks to my 16 week phlebotomy course and clinicals, along with my current job which includes venipunctures, I am confident in my needle sticks…but that’s not everyones’ point of view. Day two we did more on venipuncture and IV therapy. We practiced our venipuntures on the hand dummys and practiced setting out IVs by the drip system. I must say its tedious to counts drops per minute. I’ve always wondered how nurses figured out drip rates and such, and was relieved to find its pretty easy. Just a few easy formulas to remember. Bring on the real stuff! 

For block one we needed roughly 275 in points to attain our passing grade. This time we need 272. Our point system is broken down to the following

 195 points for our proctored exams 

15 points for our HESI PN

90 points for our Comprehensive theory final exam

25 points for our comprehensive lab final. 

The Hesi PN will be comprehensive from block one, block two and CNA care. As the prereq for becoming an LPN is having your CNA license. There is homework and other stuff such as clinical grades, but those are counted in our final grade. Its either pass or fail for those with no set numbers or grades to them.

 We have eight weeks of med/surg clinicals. I am at Maricopa Integrated Health systems for that. Apparently which is refreshing, MIHS has a partnership with MCC so we have priority to going there over any nursing program in the valley. The other option for that was the VA. Which we are second on the totem pole , second to ASU. Then for OB we have two weeks of clinical for that. I am MIHS as well for that. The alternative for that was Arrowhead or the VA. Then for peds we have no idea where we are going or what we are doing. We also have a 4 hour alternative clinical assignment that is our responsibility to find placement for. So you can shadow at hospital if they will let you. But you are not a student, or anything, you are simply shadowing and learning what nurses do. Well since I have plenty of experience in knowing what a nurse does in the hospital I am probably going to go to a conference or such.

 Our first exam is January 28th. It is worth 30 points and covers the cardio system. Per prior students and the teacher, it is the HARDEST exam of block two and usually results in the lowest grades overall out of all the exams. Challenge accepted! I will do GREAT on it. I WILL study my ass of. I WILL pass this exam and i WILL do good. 

Block two we will have three instructors total. Three great instructors. I don’t look forward to working with my clinical instructor but will be okay. She has a reputation for being ………….a witch. Other then that i expect block two to be an amazing expericen all around such as block one was. I am very excited to graduate as a nurse very soon. Bring it block two! 

 

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First block DONE

Eighteen weeks later we are done with first block. We’ve lost three people ( that I know of) from our day cohort unfortunately. That happens though, its known that not everyone that starts, will finish. I am so relieved to be done with the first semester and smoothly moving on. We get three weeks vacation, from December 10th until January 2nd. Block two will be med/surg , pediatrics ( I look forward to it) and OB. We will be using the same books from last semester, sparing us hundreds of more dollars. Adding to the excitement is the fact we have our clinical assignments already. I will be going to Maricopa Integrated Health care..otherwise known as COUNTY. With only stating COUNTY, you can imagine what fun that will be,and what we will get to see.

The major thing I’ve learned in block one is that stressing gets you nowhere. I’ve learned the flow of exams, and what to expect. With the experience comes a sense of peacefulness. I’ve learned that if you pay attention in lecture, ( I didn’t go to many lectures btw) , if you practice NCLEX questions pertaining to the subject being tested, and study you will pass. But you have to put a little effort in. I promise though its very accomplish-able. I want to  state that I am a single mom, work two jobs, and am full-time in two community colleges, and I was still able to spend time studying, working, and tend to home life along with having a social life with my son. Youtube is a great study guide, many people present things differently and hearing/seeing from anothers point of view can help ( it did me), google NCLEX questions in the area you are being tested on (prenhall had very good ones with rationales). 

I am still in awe that I am finally doing what I’ve wanted to do for so long..nursing school. The last 18 weeks have gone by SO fast, its incredible. Heres to block TWO! 

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TIPS

We are in our second to last week of the first block of the rest of my life. We have an exam this week on the GI system ,and then our final next week. We get a three week break after that.   Last week was our last week of clinicals and it was nice to not have to wake at 3am to get ready for a long twelve hour day of clinicals.  We had twelve weeks of clinicals, twelve hours once a week at the SNF. For me i didn’t really learn anything new, and the only new experience for me was passing meds ( which lost its glamour quick).  

A few things I’ve been thinking of that I wish I would of known ahead of time…

Stressing gets you nowhere. It does get easier. 

   Man I remember stressing super hard about passing everything, and getting perfect grades. Now i just want to pass with the 76 i need. I am retaining everything, and am acing my clinical side, so aside from that I am doing PERFECT. 

I can’t stress the importance of having clinical experience prior to going to nursing school. I have learned so much in my short time as a CNA within the hospital/hospice/home health and rehab that i have done in the last four years. I came into this knowing alot of procedures, medications, what to expect and what to not expect from patients. If you are working…ask questions/get out of your scope and ASK ASK ASK. I always ask nurses, docs and everyone i can why they are doing what they are doing, what they expect and what the heck is going on. I have always been answered with amazing educational responses. They understand what its like being an undergrad with a goal in mind. 

You don’t really need all the books they “Require” of you. Our program was requiring a 600+ 100 tote  that i opted to not get through the bookstore. I Bought all my books on my own through amazon and craiglist and paid a total of 250$ out of pocket. With that said, I didn’t really need the diagnostic book, or drug handbook . I really didn’t need the tote either for the first block. That would of saved me about 150$. I don’t think I have opened the diagnostic book once yet, and the drug handbook I have a few on my tablet that i take with me and can get easier and even more up to date access. 

Bring busy work with you to the clinical site. Hide some notecards in your pocket. It was super slow, and noone really needed or wanted our help . With that said I think we had a crappy clinical experience due to our instructors preference. She only let us work with the RNS or herself. Well there was only one RN in the entire facility and only one of her. She said she didn’t feel comfortable with us working with the LPNs. Well in our class we had three groups, and the other two were allowed to work with any LPN or RN. So they had more opportunities. 

You can spend hours studying, read every single piece of material you have, and yet you won’t get the test a hundred percent. I know i personally and many of us in my class, second guess our self, or read too much into the question. Our exam questions are taking from the NCLEX, so they are NCLEX style questions and they can be tricky. 

You will HATE check all that apply…and the majority of your questions will be this format. 

I recommend buying lots of materials. I have always even before getting accepted into this program have bought older, used nursing books. You can’t have too many reference materials that may present something differently, that you understand. There are many different NCLEX practice books out there…get as many as you can. Success and Saunders are good ones. For us Saunders was a requirement…that one was a good one. 

Youtube is a good resource. Yes of course its not reliable, but you can use your common sense and see whats good information and whats not. When other people present stuff….it can help you GET IT. There are lots of cover songs and such that i remember…they are usually obnoxious but they STICK! 

Time WILL FLY, be confident and soon you will be the nurse you WANT to be. 

As for me, I am excited to finish the first block, move onto the second and get into block three and four. I can’t wait to be an Emergency Nurse. Bring on the rush!!! 

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Clara Barton: I…

Clara Barton: I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.

Fitting for veterans day. 

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