Pharmacology and Puerility

Sigh of relief… I finished my first Pharmacology exam today and also got an A! Woo! It was on the low end of the A (90%), but given that after it was done I had felt like I hadn’t done as well as my Fundamentals exam… I didn’t feel like I bombed it or anything, but I felt like it was more difficult so I would have been happy to just have over the required minimum of 80%. That is, we have to have a class grade and a weighted exam average of no less than 80% to pass the courses. So, phew! I also feel like I can likely do better next time, so I’m feeling good about that overall.

Now, just to make it through my check off this Friday and I’ll have week 4 done and dusted.

I feel like this semester is going by so fast already… 1 month out of 3 1/2 already done, about a third out of the way! What? Wow, it’s all feeling very… well.. DOABLE. Compared to the anxiousness I felt about it all at semester’s start, it feels so much easier to tackle now.

I do worry about a handful of the young, just out of high school, classmates of mine. Some of them still don’t seem to get the focus that is needed and that nursing program is NOT like other college classes or programs. Some of them seem to think they will be able to skate by, or not pay attention to assignments due coming up then rush to get it done at the absolute last minute… or ignore explicit instructions that an instructor has given (i.e an instructor that specifically said an assignment should be submitted online only to have a couple paper copies handed in when she announced that she had not received them all on time.) It makes me wonder if they’ll make it through – whether reality hits them roughly and they drop the program, or whether they get through most of the semester and just don’t make the grade (considering the >80% rule.) I don’t want to talk bad about any of my classmates, I do hope they’ll get themselves sorted and be successful in the program.

Another nurse I worked with prior to the semester starting told me she went back to get her RN at 35 as well. She told me that she felt it was easier at that age because she was more focused and knew what she wanted, etc and she had noticed her younger classmates tended to have a harder time of it… So maybe that’s the main thing. I’m 35 now and starting the RN program has been a long time coming for me. I know what I want, I’m serious about what I want… When I was younger I changed my mind here and there about what I wanted to do with my life, I also thought I was so mature and, well… I’ve learned a lot about life, interpersonal relationships/communication, education, and myself in general in the 16 years since I graduated high school. I think maybe now I really am grown up? LOL

That being said, there are also quite a few of the “youngin’s” (i.e younger than me, even those not straight out of high school LOL) in my class that are really focused and taking the program seriously and I have no doubt they will do well.

 

 

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A Strong Start

I’m not the bragging type…  I am uber-excited because I have had not only my first skills check-off, but also my first nursing exam – which was a few days ago. I was really nervous before both of them, definitely had my anxiety trying to push through at me, but I am happy to report I got 5/5 on my check-off and 98% on my exam! Wooo!

When it comes to school work, I would rather start out strong then have less pressure as the semester ends. Makes finals week a lot less stressful usually! Starting out with less than optimal grades is still something that can be recovered from, and I have certainly had to do that before… I’m glad I’m not (currently) having to recover from these grades!

To be fair, most of the topics for these first items were basic knowledge and basic skills I already had, (for example the skill was infection control PPE and sterile gloving which is not only something I’ve been doing for many years, but also have taught in the past) so it would have suuuuupppper embarrassing if I had failed. The real test will come as we start getting into other things that I am not already proficient in.

Now it’s time for me to be nervous about my first Pharmacology exam that is coming up this next week! My main nervousness is that I don’t know how the exam will be. I have a better sense of what to study for after the last class, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to rock this one too! Wish me luck!

Week 1 and 2, done and done.

Week two is pretty much in the books for nursing school. The first week was stressful in that a lot of it seemed overwhelming and I felt so under organized, but once I got my planner pretty much filled out and got through the first classes I felt like I had a better understanding/expectation of how the semester would go… That helped.

Also, it helped getting my first skills check off over and done with (5/5 woo!) It was the one and only time we’d have up to two weeks to schedule a check off time (usually it will need to be done that week we’re taught the skill) so some of my classmates still need to get theirs done tomorrow. I’m glad not only that I just got it over with, but that I did it in the normal time frame so that I had a better sense of how most weeks will be.

We have also had our first student drop out as of Tuesday. Our clinical instructor told me at orientation that usually at least two students drop the program prior to clinicals, so that wasn’t a complete surprise… It did surprise me though that it was within a week, this girl had passed her skills checkoff and seemed so organized… I just wasn’t expecting her to drop the course, especially so soon. Oh well.

Oh, I got my haircut too! Just above shoulder length cuz I wasn’t about to be dealing with my massive amount of hair trying to get it to stay in a bun for check offs and clinicals as would otherwise been required (no long braids… whuuuut 😦 ) Now… to change my bitmoji or no… Imma have to think on that 😉

I’ve got my first exam in one week’s time (Fundamentals), and the second exam a week later (Pharmacology.) Some classmates and I were discussing our teachers and how we’re lucky they all are very nice, helpful, etc. I said that I like them now, but we’ll see if my feelings change after our first exams! HA HA. Just kidding…

I also went to Pharmacology coaching this week, though we are not yet deep into the meds and our first exam will mostly be theory, terms, legal stuff etc so I didn’t feel the need for extra help just yet… But it was taught by an RN student in her last semester and she gave us some good tips for Nursing School in general. One thing that made me feel LOADS better is that she said that first semester is by far the hardest, and if we can get through these few months then the rest will be no problem. I’m gonna keep that in mind, for sure!

Also, as one last tip from me to you: Chai tea lattes are awesome. I’ve been getting them on class days and it makes me feel like I’m starting the day right. Bonus is I went to my normal place this morning and they have skinny sugar free chai as one of their September specials – score!

I’ve also been making Yogi Sweet Tangerine Positive Energy tea this week the night before and chilling it in a glass water bottle so I have that to bring with me and drink throughout the day. Just tried it for the first time this week… It’s good. I recommend. I already like the same brand’s Honey Lavender Stress Relief tea too… I have a feeling my water bottle will be seeing plenty of both this semester!

Prepping for Study Time

I will be off to my first nursing class in just less than an hour, but I thought I’d first share with you some of my prepping/organization tips I’ve been putting in place for myself over this weekend, and this morning.

First, I made sure to write in all the due dates and exams dates from my syllabi into my planner. I even color coded so I will always know what class I am referring to if I add in additional notes at any given time. Color coding is probably not entirely necessary, but it helps me keep things straight in my head.

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Second, I put my note taking paper in my binder, and separated sections into tabs for each class so I can keep all my day to day stuff together. This type of paper is designed to assist in the “Cornell” note taking method, You don’t need special paper for it, any old notebook paper will work if you want to separate your pages yourself… But I like having it all pre-set for me.

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Basically, you take the bulk of your notes on the lined section. You use the cue column to jot quick notes that you need to go back to review (questions you need to find answers to, reminder to listen back at your recording if you missed something the professor said (if you take recordings of lectures) or remember to clarify with the professor what you missed after class, pages/chapters/tables in the textbook that correspond, or definitions of words, etc.) And of course the summary section is for any key points from the lecture.

What I tend to do is write out my notes in class on these pages, then go back and rewrite my notes much neater and adding in bits as necessary, cleaning up diagrams I may have drawn etc so that A) It sticks in my head better after re-writing it (I’m a visual learner) and B) I have more straightforward, clear, notes to study from for exams.

That brings me to my Third tip. Over the weekend, I registered my textbooks with Evolve which has free resources that correspond with the textbooks we use in my course. There I found that so far at least the Pharmacology text has Key Point documents for each chapter (The other texts probably do too, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.) These are like the Key Points in the back of each chapter, but instead of a couple small paragraphs, it is expanded to two-three pages. More detail. More points.

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From this…
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To this… (all chapter pages have at least one other side full.)

I printed them out in order that they are in the Syllabus, grouped them with their Lesson Plan numbers/by the week we should be studying it and which Exam it will correspond with. This is especially helpful as not all chapters we’ll study go in numerical order, and some are random number groupings (for example one week we may be studying chapter 12, 13, and 43.) Then I made separate folders for each Exam to hold pages such as these, as well as my polished notes from each class as they get made. This way, I will have easy to grab packets that I will know has all the info I need to study for any given test.

Now… Oh shoot! I better get going so I’m not late to class. I’ll share some other organizational and study tips later. In the meantime, what do YOU do to keep organized for study time?

T-Minus 1 1/2 days… Or Not?? T-Plus 3 Days?? Ahh!

Ok, you guys – I’ve had my first mini nursing school freak-out and recovered already… and classes don’t even start till Monday!

Basically, we had our orientation “welcome day” this past Wednesday. It was great, got free lunch and some fun little goodies (T-shirts, drawstring backpacks… all the little promotional stuff.) But, there was also some info discussed that elevated my anxiety just slightly.

First, we received pre-class assignments to be done before next week already, and it was quite a bit!! I expected plenty of homework, sure, yet I also expected a handful more days of freedom before the onslaught! Ahh! Basically, start time is NOW! I mean… as of a few days ago!!

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Ummm… My hair is basically in a constant state of frizz.

I try to tame it, but it is a bane of my existence. Basically the only time it’s not frizzy is the day before wash day when my hair is good and soiled, lol. Sometimes I have luck for awhile after I flat iron… but I also have a lot of thick hair and I don’t have time for that all the time. I’m basically gonna be investing in the hair spray and wax industry, because I dunno how else I’m gonna deal.

Another thing was that they suggested certain tips for being organized, such as separate totes for different class materials to make sure we always have what we need on any given day. I considered this, went home and messed around with my bags; I had a mini breakdown feeling like I was so not organized like I thought I was…  turns out my rolling bag can’t hold all my binders plus books for every class  anyway (they suggested 2″ binders for each class – two classes of which had already provided me with a good 1″+ of papers to add to a binder.) It’ll hold all my Wednesday class stuff, and my Clinicals bag will hold my Skills binder… Plus all the supplies I’ll need for Clinicals are the same I need for Skills… so that all works out at least.

It mainly threw a loop for me thinking about the stuff I’d need every class – such as my planner. Originally I had a binder with tabs for all my note taking (smaller zippable binder to keep my shit together and be able to take notes without pulling out the huge 2″ ones in class all the time), then I thought maybe I needed to split the note paper into smaller binders for each bag and then hated it. Decided to go back to the original way I had it after chatting to one of my besties that has her BSN. She said she had done it that way and it was a lot easier to keep track of stuff, so there ya go.

Finally decided I needed to use my backpack for said binder, pencil case, planner, etc and will tote/roll class specific bags as needed. I guess we’ll see how it goes. I’ll still need to carry my Fundamentals textbook to Skills on Mondays and to Fundamentals on Wednesdays, so… ugh.

Anyway, my breakdown is over, I think. I organized to the best I think it can be. Got mini hairspray pens to keep in my skills bag, ordered nude sport tape to cover my wrist tattoo to also keep in that bag, replaced my graphing calculator with a basic pocket calculator as indicated in my skills syllabus. Ordered new scrub pants as they said I can’t use my previous pants (even though they are the same brand and color, my preferred fit has a slight flare leg so I had to order the straight leg, guh.) Aaaaand I am nearly done with all the online modules, etc, I have to do before next week… I do still have a bunch of reading to do though… so I best get back to it shortly.

After all my complaining, however, I’d like to say there were some extra perks:

  • Came to find out that Clinicals don’t start until Oct 25, so that freed me up to be able to buy plane tickets to go to my sister’s wedding… and have a whole extra day and a half over there. Luckily it is also on a weekend I’m already not working – woo!
  • Also, found out that Clinicals will be AMs, so that works out well with my work… I’ve arranged to swap from alternating AMs and PMs to straight PM shifts while my coworkers does all the AMs – something she vastly prefers, so it’s a win-win for everyone!

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The Clinicals instructor said that currently we have 2 too many students to not also have a PM Clinical group, but that in her experience we will likely lose 2+ students before Clinicals start anyway.

Made me look around the room and wonder who might quit the program in the first month or two… Hmmm…

She did say though that if we happen to have to do PM Clinicals, she will ask for requests and there would be no issue for me to keep an AM slot. Phew.

5.5 things to do (and 4.5 not to do) at the end of the Summer Break

It’s that time of year again, school days are closing in on us fast. I just came across an article aimed at teachers about 4 things they shouldn’t do at the end of Summer break. First, I thought to myself, most of these tips are applicable to students themselves. Second, I thought I’d expand on the idea and write a post aimed at students myself.

Some schools have already started – I was aghast to see some of our local public schools started the 1st week of August! But both my kids’ school and my uni don’t open for classes until August 27th, so I’m going to go with the assumption that the majority of us have just over two weeks left to prepare for the school year.

1. At this point, about two weeks out, you should have all your school shopping done. At least the majority of it. By this time your school supply tax free days are likely over for your state, and with the sheer amount of things you need for school… well, that shopping is more of a headache than it is worth at the end of the summer. At this point, I suggest, having only small odds and ends left to pick up at most… and possibly still some school clothes if you are keeping an eye out for sale/clearance items still.

2. The last two weeks of break you should not be overloading on activities. Take a break, a true break. Hopefully throughout the Summer you’ve had time to just relax, but lets be honest – few of us really do. As adults or teens we work at minimum part time if not more. We run around on vacations – getting jet lagged or travel weary. We do yard work, we have play dates… Plenty of things to keep us busy. These last couple of weeks, take the time to really unwind. Stay at home and do next to nothing. Be lazy as much as you can. If you work, at all I’m not suggesting you slack off from there 😉 But limit all other unnecessary busy-ness so your brain can be relaxed as possible before starting in on the busy-ness of the school year.

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3. As the teacher’s article suggested having their classroom already setup and ready to go before now, so should the student have their office/bedroom/study space ready to go by now. I am lucky enough to have been able to create my own private office space, but younger teens/kids are more likely using a desk in their room or a common shared space. Have your desk organized the way you like it, have all the home supplies you need in place… It’s just one less thing to worry about as the school year nears.

If you do not have a special place in your home for this, and you use the family dining table or sit in the living room – consider having a designated box or tote to hold your items in the corner of the room or in your bedroom for as needed.

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As a side note, my daughter does have a desk in her room, but we also have tote boxes in the dining room for both of my kids with their names on it that hold their backpacks and other school items throughout the year. Currently it is filled with the supplies they will be taking to school with their new backpacks. Once school starts, it will hold their backpacks and school books or folders each day when they come home. If you too do something to this effect, consider this a part of getting the study spaces ready.

4. This one is a simultaneous should/should not. The teacher article suggests not counting down to the beginning of the school year… I say this one depends on you. Do not do this if you dread the school year starting…. but you should TOTALLY do this if you are excited for school to start! I am super stoked, personally, to have my nursing classes start AND have my kids back in school… so T Minus 17 days, y’all!!

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5. You should be done organizing and cleaning, in general. By this I mean, don’t wait to do another Spring clean until next Spring. Do a follow up deep-clean in mid-Summer, and get your house/room organized along with your study space so that by this time you can get on with the relaxing. The next few weeks should be reserved for only basic, maintenance cleaning… The day to day stuff that can’t be avoided like dishes and laundry etc. Another one less thing to worry about as school starts.

I’m a bit behind on this myself, if I’m honest. I’ve been making strides… but I also have two young kids to contend with! So I’ll be cutting it close to the 2 week mark, but I plan on getting all my carpets and furniture steam-cleaned next week after I’m done my stretch of work I’m currently on… with the brand new steam-cleaner my husband bought me! (You have no idea how much I’ve missed having one of my own!!)

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6. You should not worry over past mistakes or issues and let it color how you view the upcoming school year. So, you failed that class last year? This year go in with the plan to not let that happen again. Build strategies to help you be successful in that class, and all others, this year. So you had conflicts with particular classmates or teachers last year? This year be optimistic that things will be different, and again build strategies ahead of time. Speak to a parent or professional if you need help with any serious issues such as bullying ahead of time or if you need tips on maintaining interpersonal relationships. If you have the ability, you can also make sure to avoid taking classes with those certain people if necessary. Go in to this next year with a positive attitude, it could do you wonders!

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7. You should treat yourself. Soon, you will be in the full swing of the busiest part of the year. Take time to not only relax, but do some self care. Whether it’s just getting yourself some cheap bath salts or Mr Bubble Bubbles and taking a relaxing bath or whether you have the cash to do something more like getting a massage or a mani/pedi…. Now is the time to do it! Well, you can do it during the year too… I’m all about advocating the self care all the time. But now is the time to get yourself in the right frame of mind as you prepare for the last third of the year. Need tips? Take some alone time to go shopping for something special, even if it’s just fun school accessories. Take the time to read that book you’ve been meaning to get around to (no time like the present to get some pleasure reading done – soon you’ll only have time mostly for academic reading.) Or take a break from your diet, just this once, to treat yourself to your favorite dessert.

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8. Whether you are a healthy eater or not already, make sure your diet is in check. You should not be eating crap. I know I tend to eat even worse during the Summer, well… I eat like crap when I’m busy during the school year too… I mean… Fast Food does seem like a heaven send when you are busy all the time. But in the Summer I give in to ice cream much more readily and if I’m on vacation I reason away my bad eating choices by saying “I’m on vacation!” and wanting to experience all the gastro delights I may not have easy access to where I live.

When considering your self care, go ahead and have that special dessert …but then otherwise really taking care of yourself includes nourishing your body. You will need the energy that a good diet will give you once the hectic schedule starts up again. Take these two weeks to jump start a new diet or get back to your pre-Summer eating habits.

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9. Around about now you should be moving towards a school-year sleeping schedule. This is assuming that you’ve let yourself fall into an erratic Summer sleep schedule – this will apply mainly to the kids… But, heck, I’m totally on an erratic schedule myself as I only work every other weekend, in general, and the shifts change occasionally from day to evening… So I have definitely been acting like an adolescent and sleeping in as much as I can this Summer. Since I didn’t have to get my kids up at a certain time in the AM and I stopped working PT at their school… I have no reason not to!

Around the 2 – 3 week mark I advise that you slowly start adjusting your schedule. You don’t need to be at full school-night schedule until about a week out. If it works for you, you can probably push that to half a week prior to first day of school. For now, though, slowly adjust by a half hour here and an hour there. Take your time adjusting and it will be easier on you overall.

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10. If you can avoid it at all, you should not be making any major life changes right before the school year starts. Sometimes these are unavoidable, but if you know you are going to have to move, for example, try to do it a little earlier in the Summer so that you have at minimum one week of rest time, self care time, etc and you won’t be exhausted or frazzled as school starts – or soon after. It also sucks for your kids if they have to suddenly change school districts right before school starts, and it sucks even more for them if they have to start a semester at one school and then swap schools before the end of the year. Again, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do – but if you have the ability to dictate the changes occurring middle to early Summer, you should really consider it. It really does take the stress off.

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So, that concludes my tips for finishing off your Summer Break on a good footing. Is there anything you think I missed? Anything you particularly agree/disagree with? Let me know in the comments below!

T minus 20 Days

The countdown has begun, 20 days until my nursing classes start. I am glad to find out today that clinicals won’t actually start until October.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to clinicals in general, but as they will be taking up my schedule for 6 hrs each day on Thursdays and Fridays this semester and my work schedule has me working every other Friday… Well, the extra month or so will help me adjust to full time uni life again, get settled into the school year schedule with the kids, get work arranged, and all that before adding the extra stuff to my planner.

The next step is going to “Welcome Day” about 5 days before class, in which we’ll get a more in depth orientation, get our student IDs, etc etc.

I also need to pay my tuition sometime in the next 20 days… siiiiigggghhhhh. I mean, I have the money, but I also don’t want to part with my hard earned money.

Otherwise, I’m ready to go. Even re-organized my office today and got all my supplies resorted… after one of my kids had tried to play hide and seek in my office closet a few weeks ago and made the shelf fall and all it’s contents spill out over the floor. So that was fun.

Today I did a bunch of cleaning and organizing, I want my house completely scrubbed down and steam cleaned before school starts. I want to start this school year off on the right foot, with as little to stress about as possible once the Nursing school rat race starts!

I still have quite a bit to do, especially since my day was interrupted by a flooded basement from a failed septic pump. Ugh.

In other news: I debated discussing it here, but I feel like possibly a lot of other prospective nursing students may be dealing with similar issues… Though I won’t go into much detail at this point in time; I went to the doctor earlier this year with concerns about anxiety. I had been diagnosed with depression as a teen, and I realized I have long had anxiety symptoms that had never been controlled. Once I realized that I might just have anxiety, I approached my doc in hopes that I would be able to get medication or something to get it worked out and under control before the stress of full time school starts.

She was concerned that my symptoms might be the work of something more, so she referred me to a psychologist. This unfortunately took up precious medicating Rae time… as I had to wait for a couple of months for that appointment, then another 3 weeks for the results of my testing to get the official diagnosis.

Turns out I do have anxiety on top of my old depression issues, but I also have PTSD which would naturally heighten my anxiousness. So the plan is basically meds for anxiety, counseling for PTSD. Unfortunately again, at this point I can’t get in to the psychiatrist that can prescribe me meds until early October. Plus I’m sure there will be some trial and error to get drug and dosage correct for me. (I am on a waiting list so if there’s a cancellation I may get in a little earlier *crossing fingers.*) I will be starting my counseling right away though – I go for my first session this afternoon.

Luckily I am high functioning so it shouldn’t affect my actual school work or attendance or anything. It’ll just be a matter of it might suck in my head for a while longer, just one more thing on my plate to deal with.

I’m just glad I recognized it in myself finally so at least the majority of nursing school I should have it managed, hopefully.