Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's OVER! (long!)

Nursing school has been a long, hard, trying, emotional, and amazing journey.  It is hard to believe that after 2 and 1/2 long years it is all over.  While at the time those 2 and 1/2 years seemed long anyway, when I look back they have flown by.

When I started nursing school, my daughter had just turned a year old.  Now she is almost 3 and 1/2.

I have new friends that I never would've met had I not been in nursing school.  Friends that will always be my friends no matter what, because we went through this all together.  We all took turns falling apart, and holding each other up and we all got through it together.

My way of thinking has changed so much.  I remember starting working as a CNA at that horrible nursing home, thinking I will never be able to do this, maybe I don't want to be a nurse after all if this is what it's going to be like.  I remember my first nursing school melt down in the lab my first semester, thinking all of what I was learning was just like the nursing home and I didn't want to do it.

I remember the year I spent not working, devoting entire "work days" to studying for all my classes and taking pages and pages of notes.  I treated school like a full-time job, since I couldn't find anything else.  As soon as I found a job those 8-hour long study sessions ended quickly, and I switched to working all night and then spending all day in class, often being up for 36 hours or more at a stretch and wondering how I ever made it home awake and alive.

I remember one of my best friends I made in nursing school being pregnant and having her baby at the end of this past summer.  And for all the times I wondered how I managed to do it, I wondered even more how SHE managed to do it and still keep good grades!  She worked full time, where I was part time, and she was having her second baby, as her first is the same age as Arianna.

I remember the family troubles - my sister being sick and spending a spring break helping her around the house when she came home from the hospital, just grateful she had made it through it all alive.

I remember nervous breakdowns over my first care plans, where now I can bang out care plans and care maps in an hour.

I remember stressing over how HARD those first tests were in Intro and Fundamentals.... If we had only known then what classes like Adult 2 would bring us!

I wasn't upset on the last day of classes, I just wanted to get the hell outta there.  I was a little sad on the last day of clinicals, as it was starting to sink in that the end was near.  Now, as I sit here writing the morning after my very last day of preceptorship, I am very sad, and happy and excited all at the same time.

I am Happy and Excited that it is over, and soon I will finally be an RN.  I am sad in a way that it is over, and that while I will always have my friends that I have made, we aren't necessarily going to see each other several times a week anymore.  I am sad because I really enjoyed my preceptorship, the floor I did it on, and the preceptor I had.  I LIKED being there with everyone and looked forward to my shifts working there, even if I was free labor.  I am going to miss all the people on that unit.  I would really love to go to work on that unit.

I am also sad that now I get to go back to work tonight and be "just a tech" again.  Chances are good we will not be able to take the NCLEX until after the first of the year, and who knows how long it will be until I can get into the Internship and start working as an RN.  I don't want to lose any of the skills I have worked hard to gain because I am not using them.

Again, I would like to thank my family, for without them I would not be where I am today.  My mom for inspiring me to be a nurse (she's my Hero).  My dad for helping pay for my education.  My hubby for putting up with my rants, raves, nervous breakdowns, constant studying and worrying over whatever test or project was due next, and taking care of watching our daughter when I couldn't (and my mom for all that too!).  Hubby also for listening to stories about "yucky nurse things" he had no interest in at all, and is easily grossed out by.  My daughter for understanding (somewhat, in her 3-year old way), that mommy had to study, or sleep because she worked all night and was up all day.  Someday I hope I am a role model to her.

I would like to thank my friends that I made in the nursing program, for always being there to support me, be a shoulder to cry on, study with me, commiserate with me, share stories with me, vent with me, and have "fun" times that did not relate to school or work. I have two new best friends that I never would've met had it not been for nursing school!

I need to thank my friends that I had before nursing school, for putting up with the fact that I have basically been MIA for the past 2.5 years.  Sorry that I haven't been around much, and I hope to be able to spend time with you all more soon!

I want to thank the great teachers and clinical instructors I have had throughout the program.  Most of my instructors were great, and I had all wonderful clinical instructors.

I want to thank my preceptor, for getting me through the last 3 weeks.  I had a great time and I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did.  I could not have asked for a better end to my Nursing School Journey. 

I want to thank the nurses on the unit I work on for being there for me, helping me learn new things, supporting me in school emotionally and mentally, and genuinely caring about me.  I have learned so much working with all of you that I never learned in school, and I think it really has/will help me excel.  There is no substitute for real-world experience.

Next week is pinning and graduation.  I will have a degree that I can have a career with, finally.  While I plan to go back to school and work up to a Masters or DNP degree, I don't HAVE to.  If i want to stay an associate degree nurse and work on the floor, I can do that.  While I also have an AA degree, I never felt this huge sense of accomplishment like I do now.  I even managed to complete nursing school with a 4.0 GPA in the nursing program.  That is huge.

Next week at the big graduation party, I am so burning this stay-puffed marshmallow man uniform, as I have been talking about that and looking forward to it for 2.5 years!  WOOHOOO!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Last Day of Preceptorship!?

Tonight is my last night of preceptorship.  I am excited and sad at the same time.  

I have had a wonderful experience on this unit doing my preceptorship.  I have found that I really enjoy working on the floor, as well as working with the nurses I have been with on my last 7 shifts there.  My preceptor has been great to me, and all the other nurses I've been working there with have been really nice.  I am sad to be leaving.  I really wish that I could work up there.  Unfortunately, Sonal and Christian will likely be working there after passing the NCLEX, and I don't think she will have any extra spots.  At least, Michelle was told it wasn't going to happen for her by her preceptor for that reason.  We shall see I guess.  

At any rate, I am sad to be leaving this unit.  Open heart has been very interesting and something I found I liked, where I thought before my clinical rotation started there that I would hate it.  I was never much into cardiac stuff, but I have found I really enjoy it.  I am glad I had the opportunity to do my precpetorship there instead of on just med-surg or orthopedics or something too much like where I work already.  

I am sad that after tonight, I will be going back to just working on 4N as a tech and not getting to do any nurse-things.  I don't want to be just a tech anymore.  I don't want to forget all the charting stuff I have learned because I don't get to use it, or forget how to do chart checks or check over the MAR's.  I want to keep learning.  I want to keep learning to take on more and more patients, to learn to start IV's, to keep learning how to put it all together.  I really hope I get to sit for the NCLEX early, and pass the first time, and get into the first internship there is after that on some unit that I will enjoy.  

I have already submitted all my stuff for the NCLEX.  I did it last week.  I'm hoping I did it early enough that once they submit our names after the NCLEX review I will be able to take it soon.  I still imagine I won't be able to take it though until after the first of the year, and that really sucks.  :(

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Survived first night of preceptorship.....


It was so amazing to feel like a REAL nurse.  I have to admit though, I had a hard time switching hats.  I had a hard time not running to my call lights every time they went off and letting the CNA's do their thing.  I am just so used to doing that job.  
However, I had a wonderful first night.  My preceptor is amazing.  Very patient with me, showing me everything we had time for, and letting me do as much as I could/was comfortable doing.  

Instead of taking 2 of her patients myself this first night, I just sort of took her whole assignment with her (4 patients).  I did assessments on all of them, and she did too to help me make sure I was getting it right.  I passed meds on everyone, did a dressing change, put in a new foley, straight cathed someone, even got to help do a new admission.... Had a good, busy night!  

I definitely still have a lot to learn, and in no way could I be left alone to my own devices, but I did learn a lot!  I hope I retain it all!  :-)  I'm sure it will take a few times of doing all the charting and stuff for me to really get the hang of it!  It's going to be weird going to my real work tonight and being "just a tech" again.  :-(  At least I have cool nurses at work who show me a lot and let me help them with a lot of stuff, because they all know I am graduating.  

I can't wait for graduation and passing the NCLEX!  I know I am going to rock it, just like I did my classes and clinicals!  I'm sure I wasn't the only one in my class of 70 to graduate with a 4.0, but I DID do it, and I am damn proud of it!  I worked very hard to get A's in all my nursing classes!  

Now, just 7 more shifts of precepting and a whole lot of NCLEX practice/review questions!  I am almost there!  I can do this!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

JetPens Order

My very first order from JetPens came today.  They ship REALLY fast, as I think it was Tuesday when I got the email that it had been shipped!  Hooray for Jetpens!

I'm telling you, there is really not much better for me than a Uniball Jetstream Multi-pen.  They took my 2 favorite things and bred them together, basically!  Jetstream pens have been my favorite for several years, and to find out they were available in a Multi-pen (I have an obsession with Multi-pens) was very exciting.  I have to be able to write in several colors as well as pencil for work, so it is nice to have them all combined into one beautiful, smooth-writing pen!  I got a couple other pens as well, and will try to do reviews of them all soon!  I have SOOOOO many pens in my pen collection that it will take me FOREVER to review them all!

Also in my order from Jetpens today was a Zebra Surari Emulsion Ink pen and a Pentel Vicuna.  Although I feel it is a bit blasphemous to say it, BOTH of these pens are going to give the Jetstream a run for their money!  They both are comfortable to hold, look pretty nice, and write smooooooth!  Possibly even smoother than the Jetstream, though my long love affair with them will not at this time allow me to say for sure!  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Last day of Nursing School

Wow.  It is really, finally over.  The past 2.5 years (longer if you count pre-req's) have gone by so fast.  It didn't feel like it at the time, but now that it is over.... phew!  What a rush!  

Today I took my last final exam.  While it was a horrible, horrible experience and I was sure that I failed it, I did not.  I have no idea how many questions got thrown out though, as there were a lot of funky ones and the original class average was apparently not so good from what I heard.  At any rate, I ended up passing it fine, and managing to still get an A in the class.  That leaves me with........... drum roll please............ a 4.0 GPA for the nursing program. I cannot believe I managed to pull that off!  

Tomorrow I am taking a much needed day of rest, and doing something fun with my daughter and hanging out with my mom.  Friday I have my final clincal day, but we are just doing Brunch for the nurses on the unit and going to lunch ourselves and doing our final evaluations.  Not real work.  :)

Unfortunately, Friday night I work, but then I am off the weekend.  It's going to be a fun one too - Aviation Day on Saturday and then our early Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday with the whole Famdamily over at Eva and Lou's.  

Monday night I start 3 crazy weeks of Preceptorship AND working.  I'm going to be so confused I might not know what hospital to show up at or which badge and uniform I need to be wearing, LOL.  thank goodness it is only for 3 weeks!  I have some long stretches of working/preceptorship with no days off in between.  Should be interesting!  

I just want to say a special thanks again to....

My wonderful family for putting up with me through all of this, stepping up to take care of things when I couldn't because I was working or studying (or both), or too tired from having been up for over 24 hours, and sometimes close to 36 hours.  And for helping fund my education, since I work for peanuts.  :)

Thank you to all the friends I have made for helping support me through this, studying with me, commiserating with me and just being there to understand what Nursing School is like.  I will never forget our friendship and I hope we keep in touch for many years to come.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Staples Sonix Gel pens

Quite some time ago I had a couple of the Staples Sonix ballpoint pens and I liked them.  They wrote nicely and had a nice line to them.  So, since I'd gotten more into gel pens, I thought I would give the gel version a try.  Sadly, I am not really impressed.  

These pens look just like the ballpoint version, which Staples does not even carry anymore that I can tell.  The gel pens came in a 12-pack of colors, each of which was supposed to be a different color.  That is mostly true...  There is a black, Pink, Orange, Purple, 3 shades of blue, 3 shades of green, and 2 shades of red.  

The black is your typical black gel pen.  Writes nicely and has a nice 0.7 mm line that lays down cleanly.  

The "pink" barreled pen is more of a violet/magenta-like color IMO.  That's fine with me, because I like the color.  But the barrel is pink.  It also had some strange white, chalky residue on the barrel, though it wiped off fine.  

The purple barrel lays down a nice, dark purple ink.  Since I love purple inks, I don't care that I now have 2 different shades of purple.  :)  

The orange is a bit too light for my tastes.  I have only ever found 2 Orange gel pens I like - the Uniball Signo 207 and the Papermate Gel.  Both have a nice, dark orange ink.  The orange Sonix pen also skipped a bit, and that annoys me.  Because the ink color is light, i always feel like I have to press hard with it or that it is constantly on the verge of running out of ink or something.  

The reds are a "typical" red and a dark burgundy red.  The typical red got off to a slow start and I wasn't sure it was going to write at all.  The dark red pen skipped in a few places, and overall is scratchier and lays down a narrower line than the others.  Odd.

Of the greens there is a light almost yellow-green that I cannot really ever see myself using, because it is way too light and hard to read, a "typical" bright green which I could barely get to write and it skipped all over the place, and a very dark green that reminds me of the car my mom had growing up whose color was called "black emerald".  I like that one, and it wrote OK.  The barrel color of the medium "typical" green and the dark green however is almost identical, and it's hard to tell which one is which.  

On the blues I'm totally at a loss.  The lightest blue barrel I expected to lay down a light blue line, but instead it is a blue-black color.  It's very dark and while I like the color, it was not at all what I expected!  The brighter blue barrel is the typical blue gel pen, and writes nicely, as did the black one.  The dark blue barrel appears to be the same color ink as the light blue barrel, but it is a thin, scratchy line that skips all over the darn place.  Good thing I guess that it writes the same color as the other one, huh?  I wonder if that was a manufacturing error on the light blue pen, and it really should be a lighter ink?  

Anyway, overall I am not happy with the way the pens write.  Way too much skipping on several of the pens, inconsistent colors compared to the barrel (so don't tell me the ink color matches the barrel), too hard to tell the ink colors apart based on some of the barrel colors (the greens), and inconsistent line widths & writing smoothness from pens of the same package.  I took these back to Staples. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Uniball 207 Premier with JetStream Refill

So, for whatever reason tonight I decided to see if the refill from the Jetstream RT would fit into the barrel of my Uniball 207 Premier.  I love the super-cushy grip of the 207 Premier, and it is a nice-writing pen.  However, I still prefer a ballpoint pen over a gel or rollerball most of the time.  I know, I'm weird.  Most people prefer the gels and rollers. 

At any rate, it fits.  The Jetstream refill itself is a bit narrower, thus, the 207 refill does NOT fit inside the Jetstream body.  But because the Jetstream refills have that wider ring at the end, it gives the spring something solid to fit against and makes it fit quite nicely into the 207 Premier body.  I'm stoked.  The JetStream sport is a favorite pen of mine because of the way the grip fits my hand nicely.  They are nearly impossible to find locally however and when I can find them, I can only get the 1.0 mm.  I prefer the 0.7 mm, which leaves me having to order them from Jetpens, which is fine, but I don't order much online and prefer to shop locally when I can.  At any rate, the Jetstream RT isn't as comfortable for me to hold.  Now I can just take the refills out of them and stick them in the 207 premiers!  :)

It's so easy to make me happy.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It Feels too Surreal &

OK, So, this past Friday was my last REAL day of Clinicals.  All we have left is the brunch for the nurses on the unit we were on and our final evaluations this coming Friday.  Before that, I have 2 final exams - Mental Health and Adult 2.  I start preceptorship (GASP) a week from tomorrow!  I am a little nervous about that, but not overly so.  The only part I am really concerned about is trying to work and do preceptorship at the same time, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!  I am really still more worried about passing the NCLEX than anything else.  

I just really cannot believe that it is almost over.  The past 3 years have been a long road, yet it has flewn by at the same time.  I am starting to feel like I'll be a real nurse soon.  I can't wait!  I've been saying all along I can't wait until it's over.  Now it's almost here and I am so excited!  

The weather here has been WONDERFUL the past few days also.  Living in Florida, we have 2 "seasons" - January, and Summer.  Last year we had a nice winter with more cold snaps (and COLDER snaps) than usual.  I was hoping this year would be the same, and the prediction is that it will be.  It is early November now and already we have a cold spell - down in the 40's at night and high's in the low-mid 70's.  It is currently 63 at 8:30 pm, and is supposed to be in the 40's again tonight.  That awesome weather also excites me.  :)

On another (also exciting) note, I finally broke down and placed an order from   I have a total love affair with both the Uniball Jetstream series and Multi-pens, so the fact that a Multi Uniball jetstream existed has been nagging at me ever since I discovered it.  I just absolutely had to have one.  Hey, at least I didn't order all 25 pages of my Jetpens wish list, LOL. I hope they really do ship as fast as I have heard, because I cannot wait to try out a new pen!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pen Obsession Confession

For those of you who do not know, I have a MAJOR pen obsession.  I have enough pens to open my own office supply store.  However, that would mean I would have to get rid of pens, and I don't want to do that, LOL.  In all seriousness, I probably have over 1000 pens. 

Until very recently, I did not realize there were other people who shared my pen addiction.  Then by following a series of links I found the Pen Addict.  I have since found several other blogs I enjoy reading (right now in my very limited time, because of school), and websites such as Jetpens!  I cannot wait until I have some money and I can order some pens from them!  Not like I need to add to my stash any...

I only wish that I had thought of starting a blog to review pens like the Pen Addict.  What better thing for a pen addict to do???  Not to mention that people send pens!  LOL.  Seriously, I may review some pens.  I wonder how long it would take me to review 1000 pens?  
I am an equal opportunity pen owner.  I don't care if they are fancy or plain, cheap or expensive.  I used to love fountain pens, and have not had one in years.  I plan on buying one soon, as I do miss them.  Aside from my love for fountain pens, I had always been a hardcore ballpoint pen lover.  This was mostly because rollerballs of yester-year did not write properly with the unusual way in which I hold my pen most of the time.  Neither did the original gel pens.  This has changed however, and it seems pretty much all decent pens will write for me regardless of how I hold it.  This opens up more pen opportunities for me!  :)  Thus, I have relatively recently gotten into loving gel pens and a few rollerballs as well.  

Like most hardcore pen loves, I also have particular things I like about some pens more than others, prefer a certain type of grip or barrel, a certain line weight, etc.  I absolutely prefer a retractable pen over one with a cap for example. 

I can also tell you I would much rather write in blue or some funky color like purple or green than in black (too bad in Nursing you can only chart in black!).  I prefer a 0.7 mm line weight in the majority of pens.  I have a few pens however that are less or more, and they also have a place in my pen jar/box.  I have certain pens or types of pens I like to use for one purpose or another.  And because I often have to write in several different colors in a night for work, I have a SERIOUS love for multi-pens!  I did not realize until I found the Jetpens website that there were so many multipens available! 

My all-time favorite pen is the JetStream Sport.  I have a serious love affair with this pen.  They are incredibly hard to find locally, especially in the "original" model, which had a slightly thicker grip, the traditional 3 little ovals on the clip, and was a 0.7mm nib.  Thank goodness I found you can order them from Jetpens!  The new ones I can sometimes find locally have a thinner grip and a 1.0 mm line.  They are still nice to write with, my not my FAVORITE pen.  Jetpens even has a multi-pen version, and I just cannot wait to get my hands on one.  I will be in absolute heaven....

New Blog and School

So, we used to run our own server.  My blog was housed on that.  We no longer do that anymore, so, alas, I am starting over with a new blog.  I am sure that my old blog posts still exist, somewhere.  At least I hope they do.  Will have to try to remember to question Hubby about that one.  

So anyway.... After 2.5 VERY long years, I am finally almost done with school.  One final exam down, 2 to go for next week.  I have 3 more days of clinical left.  Then all that is left is Preceptorship.  In just over 1 month I will be graduating!  It is surreal at this point.  I can't believe it is almost over.  I am very, very excited, and a little sad at the same time.  I am so used to going to class, working, doing client care paperwork, care plans and care maps, studying for tests..... I will miss seeing friends I have made every week.  

There are friends I have made in this program that I will never forget.  We will always be friends, no matter where we go or what we end up doing with our nursing careers.  We will always remember the things we went through in this program.  The good times and bad, the easy times and tough, the happy times and sad.  There are things we went through together as nursing students that other friends in other careers just don't understand.  Likewise, I'm sure they all went through things I don't understand.  

I am grateful to all the new friends I made in this program.  I know we could not have made it through this all without each other.  

I am grateful to my friends I had before this program for sticking by me even though they have barely seen me for 2+ years.  

I am grateful to my Hubby for picking up our daughter when I couldn't stay awake anymore, cooking me dinner when I hadn't eaten all day, listening to me rant and rave about a mean nurse I worked with at clinicals or a crappy exam I took at school, doing laundry when I forgot my clothes needed to be washed the next day, and putting up with me all the times I cried and said I couldn't do it - and for telling me that Yes, I could do it!  

I am grateful to my mom for being there through it all - every rant and rave, every tear, every paper I needed proofread, every question I had.  I am grateful to her for picking my daughter up at least once a week, and this last semester often twice a week, and for keeping her over the weekends when I had to work and/or study.  I am also grateful for our weekly lunches, since there were periods where Thursday afternoons were all I looked forward to when everything else felt like it was falling apart.

I am grateful to my dad for helping me pay for school, or I wouldn't be here at all.  

I am grateful to the nurses I work with as a tech/CNA for listening to me when I needed to talk, caring about how my school was going, helping me learn how to do new things, LETTING me do new things, making me think for myself, and putting up with my incessant studying in the middle of the night.