Thursday, May 16, 2013

One year under (LB: first year)

This first year of nursing has been a whirlwind. I have learned an incredible amount so far in my classes and my clinicals. One of the greatest things I have realized, too, is that not only have I learned so much but also I am able to apply it to everyday life and my clinical experiences very quickly and accurately. I know that I had been worried in the beginning thinking, “How am I ever going to learn all this information, facts, and tips and be able to apply at the drop of a hat when it is most important?” It is so exciting though when I realized, “Hey, I do actually know what I am talking about and I see why what we are learning in class is so crucial and this is how it is applied”. I also want to note how much I have grown to respect the medical professionals that teach and help us every day. I knew that they had to know a lot but just the sheer volume and importance of everything is overwhelming at times. I really have grown to respect my professors, too because I realize that they not only had to learn all the same information that we are having to learn, but they are having to keep up with the latest research to keep up safe and updated. They have to relearn things that they had come to take for granted and they have to learn how best to teach this information. Being a teacher and presenting information that one has learned and taken for granted is very difficult and I have a lot of respect towards them for that.

One thing that I am very excited for in this upcoming year is interacting more with the public. We have been practicing and researching so much in our lab and watching tutorials and being taught how to interact with other people but I cannot wait to actually experience it. We were able to enjoy the simulation lab on campus recently with our top-of-the-line mannequins and that was very exciting to get closer to what real life will be like. We learn all these basics in safety and medication information but to actually see it all pieced together was something else. I just cannot wait to actually see everything applied at once.

Congratulations to the IUSON Bloomington Class of 2013!

On behalf of the IUSON Alumni Committee, congratulations! As we start a new chapter in our lives, let us not forget where we began to learn to be a nurse. Best wishes to all the graduates! --I.M. (third year)

In the End (RS: third year; Class of 2013)

The day has finally arrived! Today, I completed my last day of Capstone and therefore ended my career as an IU nursing student. As I write this, I cannot seem to find the words to express what I am feeling, but I will do my best. I am proud, ecstatic, and relieved, but I am also feeling nostalgic.

As I was leaving at the end of the day and walking down the halls of Bloomington Hospital for the very last time, hundreds of memories flooded my brain at once. I remembered being terrified of taking patients’ vital signs the first few days I spent at the hospital and asking the nurse to go in the rooms with me “just to make sure I was doing everything correctly”.  I remembered setting up an IV piggyback for the first time and spilling the medication on the floor right in front of my instructor and my patient. I can even still remember what medication it was. (Avelox, just in case you were wondering…)

I remembered exchanging stories of success and misfortunate with fellow nursing students, sometimes laughing at each other’s mistakes while other times congratulating each other on a job well done. I remembered the look of relief on multiple patients’ faces and the words of gratitude they expressed towards me for doing something for them as simple as helping them bathe and change their gowns. I remembered laughing and joking with my patients and their families and sharing in their happiness when they found out they could go home. I remembered comforting a family member of a dying patient during a shift on critical care and letting her know that grieving is normal and okay. I remembered being her shoulder to cry on, literally, as she came to terms with her loved one’s prognosis. I remembered the moment I realized what nursing truly means and being frightened, empowered, and exhilarated all at once.

Nursing is giving yourself entirely to people you hardly know. It is missing your lunch break because you are feeding your patient who cannot feed herself. It is missing your bathroom break because you are assisting your patient with using the restroom. Nursing is thinking about your patients long after your shift has ended and wondering how they are doing.  Nursing is accepting that every person is different, in good ways and in bad ways, but treating them the same. It is seeing someone in distress or in pain and feeling absolutely helpless but compelled to do something to help anyway. Nursing is mentally, physically, and emotionally demanding work that goes unappreciated by many but is praised repeatedly by those who do value the work nurses do. Nursing is the most intimate profession-you see some people in their weakest states of mind, body, and spirit, while you see others at their strongest. It is the profession I am proud to say I have chosen to make my life’s work.

As I reflect upon all of the memories I have made while in the IU School of Nursing, I realize with great joy how far I have come since those first days when getting vital signs and practicing injections on gel pads were intimidating tasks. My classmates and I have grown so much, and we could not be more ready to move on to the next phase of our lives. We could stick around here for a while longer and make more memories, but we would cease to grow. The time has come for us to see what we can learn from the real world.
Thank you, IUSON, for enabling us to grow as individuals, team members, and professionals and for making our time here so unforgettable.

“I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him.”-Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, April 27, 2013

R.S.: Soon-to-be RN (RS: third year)

My capstone experience on the medical-surgical dialysis unit at IU Health Bloomington Hospital has without a doubt been the most critical part of my nursing school career. This experience has shown me that nursing is definitely what I want to do…not that I didn’t already know that. However, working alongside an RN for 12-hour shifts 2-3 times per week has solidified my decision to go into nursing. While it is hard work that can leave one feeling exhausted at the end of the shift, it is at the same time one of the most rewarding professions. Capstone is molding me into the nurse that I someday hope to be, and I have learned invaluable lessons through my experiences. Probably the most significant lesson I have learned is that I am more prepared to take on the title “RN” than I had previously thought.

I still have two days left of capstone, and I am excited to discover what final lessons I will take away this experience before I leave the realm of academia and enter the real world. 

START Triage (RS: third year)

Our senior nursing class went to Mascatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC) in order to learn how to triage victims in mass casualty situations. We focused on a form of triage called START triage. START stands for “simple triage and rapid treatment”. This type of triage is indeed simple, as the only factors assessed are the ability to walk, respiratory rate, capillary refill, and mental status. By properly assessing victims, we can efficiently identify who needs priority treatment and who can wait to receive medical attention.

We each took turns playing the roles of rescuers and victims so that we were able to get a feel for what both parties experience during these terrifying scenarios. This was such an incredible learning opportunity that opened our eyes to the unpredictable and difficult nature of this area of healthcare. First responders do not always know what to expect when they arrive on the scene, but they must always be perseverant, level-headed, quick to make decisions, and brave. Not only did I gain respect for those who are the first to respond and to perform START triage in emergencies, but I also gained an interest in someday responding to emergency situations by utilizing the skills I acquired at MUTC. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Attack at Different Angles (LB: first year)

Recently we have started putting together simulation charts and doing more research for medications, nursing diagnoses, nursing interventions, and nursing care plans. What struck me the most about these new implementations to the schedule is the level of demand these assignments have on our time and attention. I was well aware that this new semester would bring along new challenges but I think I had taken for grated how much my professors had guided me in previous classes and outside the nursing school. These new projects posed numerous options on how to answer the problems that we were required to figure out ourselves without much direct guidance from our professor. I learned from these assignments that there are many diagnoses and interventions that can be employed for a single medical diagnosis. From the singular nursing diagnoses, various nursing care plans can be drawn up and arranged. Although these simulations tried on my patience and mental stability, I really appreciated learning all of the various ways of tackling a problem and being able to use the knowledge that I had not realized I already had and applying it to an assignment that is pertinent to our everyday careers.

Focus on Prevention (RS: third year)

Community Health has been an amazing learning opportunity and an inspiration for us senior nursing students. Most of our focus this semester has been on the social determinants of health. The social determinants of health are situations in which people are born, grow-up, live, work, and age. Stress, unemployment, lack of education, and poverty are some examples of these social determinants. The health disparities that occur among different populations of people are not accidental. Instead, they are largely influenced by the social determinants of health.

Recently, we were assigned to write papers that required each of us to select a specific community and to explore a health issue that occurs frequently in that population. After researching the issue and the social determinant that is behind the problem, we had to propose solutions that would alter the detrimental effects of the identified social determinant and would improve the health of the community. While challenging, this project as well as the other coursework and community health clinical experiences have been eye-opening.

We have learned that healthcare outside of the hospital is the key to prevention. In fact, if we really want to change the health of communities and consequently our patients, we need to go into those communities and make changes rather than just waiting to treat people when they come to the hospital. This means that, as nurses, we need to do more than just starting IVs, administering medications, and measuring intake and output. We need to look at all aspects of a community and determine what factors are influencing its health and contributing to health inequality. Once we identify the social determinants that are causing the problems and begin develop solutions to help alleviate their effects on the community’s health, only then can we hope to see change. Only then can we hope to eliminate health disparities and bring about health equality and a healthy future for all communities.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Best Teachers (RS: third year)

Bradford Woods, Weekend 1

As part of my Community Health Practicum, I am able attend camp sessions at Bradford Woods for two weekends during this semester. Last weekend was my first experience, and I have another one coming up in February. My time last weekend at Bradford Woods working with adults with disabilities was hands-down the best clinical experience I have had. Before meeting the campers, we were told not to focus on the disability but rather on the person. To keep us from focusing on the diagnoses of the campers, we were not given any information about their disabilities beforehand. This was much different than my typical clinical experiences at the hospital. 

Normally, the nursing students go to the hospital the night before clinical to select patients and to look up their medical records. We then spend the evening learning about our selected patients’ medications and reading important information about their conditions in an attempt to prepare for our clinical day.  My experience at Bradford Woods could not have been more different. With no way of preparing for the weekend or knowing what to expect, I was very anxious. However, taking the “unprepared” approach to this clinical experience taught me invaluable lessons that I will carry with me throughout my career as a nurse.

Because I spent the entire weekend working with the campers in a non-medical environment, I saw past their disabilities and really got to know them as unique and capable individuals with lives of their own. I learned about their interests, their families, and their daily lives. The most important lesson I learned from them is how to listen. I've gotten so used to treating patients and planning their care based on what I have read in textbooks and have practiced on mannequins. That approach did not work so well with my campers. 

They frequently corrected me when I was helping them and instructed me to do things certain ways. Right away, I accepted the fact that I needed to help them on their terms, not on mine. After all, they are the ones who have lived with their disabilities their whole lives. They certainly know more about their care than I do! As they say, our best teachers are oftentimes our patients. That is one of the most significant lessons I have learned while in nursing school. o time at Bradford Woods working with adults with disabilities was hands-down the best clinical experience I have had.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

At the End (RS: third year)

Nursing school at IU has been an incredible journey filled with trials and triumphs, late nights and early mornings, real patients and practice mannequins. More than anything, it has been an honor and a privilege for me to be a part of it all. I have truly enjoyed learning alongside others who, like me, have a passion for nursing. As a senior in my last semester of college, I can reflect upon my previous five semesters in the nursing program and can honestly conclude that I have had some of the best instructors imaginable. They are always there to support and encourage each and every one of us to be the best that we can be and to consistently strive for excellence. They have taught us and continue to remind us that, no matter the circumstances, our patients should be at the forefront of our care and that advocating for our patients is our mission.

For me and many other students, there is something so poignant about our upcoming graduation. Sometimes it is absolutely terrifying to think about leaving IU and entering the real world and saddening to think about nursing school friends going their separate ways. However, IUSON has equipped us with the tools that we will need to succeed. Graduating is a bridge that we must cross so that we can go out into the world and do what IUSON has taught us to do, which is to provide outstanding nursing care.

Graduation on May 4 will represent the end of my IU nursing school career, but it will also signify the beginning of my new career as a professional nurse. But before I get ahead of myself, I still have one semester left. From weekend-long clinical experiences at Bradford Woods to Capstone beginning after spring break, I believe this may be the most exciting semester yet! The future seems to be filled with endless possibilities, and I am looking forward to discovering what it has in store.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fun With Challenges (LB: first year)

     My experience in the nursing school thus far has been full of wonderful revelations.  I was under the impression that it would be all work and zero time to enjoy other activities.  I have found that I can successfully balance classes, work, and my personal life, which has been a huge relief.  I enjoy how challenging my classes can be and how fun the different exercises can be as well.  The professors have been astute in recognizing that not all students learn the same way and therefore encourage us to study and learn in a way that fits.  From past experience in college and throughout high school, it is evident that not all teachers truly enjoy their careers and therefor do not want to help their students excel.  I was delighted to discover not only how much the professors enjoy teaching but also how much they truly love their careers in nursing.  The teachers present the course material in various ways, i.e. learning about skin anomalies with gourds, discussing discrepancies with the Board of Nurses, and supplemental videos to help further our education.  I have met so many people in the program and I have developed strong relationships that I am sure will endure a lifetime.  I feel it is obvious to note but I enjoy clinicals the most.  I am so passionate about working with the patients and making a connection with them not only as a healthcare professional but also as another human being who can relate and empathize with him or her about his or her life experiences and health difficulties.  I am anxious to learn more in future classes and in different health settings.  I am excited about meeting new people and catalyzing my promising career in nursing.