Thursday, August 30, 2007

Clinical Simulations

Today I got to meet the simmulated manequins in our clinical lab. There are nine of them and believe it or not they each have their very own name, personality, and voice. They can do just about anything - vomit, breath, cough, urinate, deficate. They have a pulse, can yell at you, can receive injections and IV's. They are absolutely amazing.

Today I actually learned how to use the stethecope that I was given. We performed respiration assessments and listened to different breath sounds. They were very exciting. Our manequin was able to exhibit different respiratory abnormalities, so we were able to listen to pneumonia, wheezing, rattles, a patient with decreased inspiratory volume, etc. It was interesting. Some of the sounds resembled the log ride at the local amusement park - I know weird analogy.
We also learned how to suction patients today using the Yankhauer suction. It was okay, but I can honestly say that I was very happy the manequins didn't actually have any mucus.

This first week of actual classes has been good. On Monday and Tuesday I sit in the same room for six hours and listen attentively along with 125 other students. It's not too bad since we get frequent breaks. Our classroom has been recently remodeled and it is great (for a classroom). It's wireless, has power acess at every seat, and has very comfortable seating. The whole room is state of the art.

Overall, it's been pretty good. I've felt somewhat overwhelmed at times this week. The amount of reading we have to acomplish for every class day is excessive. At times we have to read 3-9 chapters a night. One text book is a great read, the rest are mediocre. Early on this week I thought, what have I gotten myself into??? But as the week has gone on I have settled back down and feel good about everything. We'll see how I feel after the first test.
So for now, I'm reading and focusing on sims.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Orientation: Day 3

Today was day 3 of orientation. I am feeling more confident today, feeling more like I belong here. The reality of the whole cituation is starting to set in. I worked so hard to get here, that I didn't actually think about what it would be like to not have a job, to commit two years of my life, and to be back in school. I'm excited though. I feel very prepared for the upcoming semester. Already having some knowledge and experience in the medical field is going to help a great deal. Some of the other students I have met have backgrounds in Spanish, Education, Graphic Design, etc. I'm amazed at the variations in the people coming in. There are 41 different States represented in our class; many people moved this past weekend to be here.

Someone stated during orientation that something was missing in our lives and that is why we were all there. We wanted something more. I know my own story and it makes me wonder about everyone else's. What is it that is missing in our lives? Will becoming a nurse fill that void?

While practicing as a Registered Dietitian over the past 3 years I have felt that I wasn't living up to my potential. I felt that I had more to give. I felt burdened to do more. I wanted to be more involved in patient care. I wanted more responsibility. I wanted to make a bigger difference, a bigger impact in my community. I believe that being a Dietitian is an incredibly noble and important profession, but I haven't always felt that it completed me. So I continued working and began taking night classes to refresh my transcript and meet some prerequisites. Taking classes was tough, especially after working all day. I would often think to myself why am I doing this, why am I killing myself?? And a little voice deep inside would whisper back to me, "because you want something more, because you have more to give, because you can do more than you are".

So here I am, 3 days down - doing something more. We had a stethescope ceremony today, comparable to a medical student's white coat ceremony. They discussed the function of the stethescope and the value it would give us in assessing our patients. Then they discussed the importance of listening to our patients not with just the stethescope, but with our hearts and minds. They instructed us to use our new tool as a reminder to listen to our patients and not just assess them.

So I'm armed with my stethescope, now I just need to learn how to listen and what to listen to.

Monday, August 20, 2007

My First Day as a Nursing Student

Today was my first day of school. I was understandably nervous, which is unfortunate because when I get nervous I mumble.

The day was compiled of orientation activities - lectures mostly, (though they did feed us two excellent meals: fruit for breakfast and chicken salad for lunch). I expected the lectures to be filled with Vanderbilt propaganda and how lucky we were to be enrolled there ... blah blah. But what they filled us with was pride for desiring to be a nurse.

The faculty and staff expressed their passion and joy in calling themselves nurses. They discussed their excitement for us as our journey was just begining. They told us what we should expect over the next two years and what was expected of us. Questions were answered over the course of the day that I didn't even know I had. I briefly felt overwhelmed and fearful, but throughout the day I was reminded why I was there. Clinical words were tossed around and I was reminded of my patients of over 2 years. In my heart I know that I'm headed in the right direction. This is what I will have to remember and focus on over the next 2 years - the patients, the purpose, the goal.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

So, What's an Advanced Practice Nurse?

There are different levels of nursing: CNA, LPN, RN, and NP.

CNA are certified nursing assistant's or nursing technicians. They assist nurses by getting vital signs, changing soiled patients, feeding patients, bathing patients, etc. This requires a two week course and passing a state exam.

LPNs are Licensed Practical Nurses for the sick, injured, convalescent, and disabled under the direction of physicians and registered nurses. Usually it takes 1-2 years of schooling at a technical or community college.

RNs are Registered Nurses regardless of specialty or work setting, perform basic duties that include treating patients, educating patients and the public about various medical conditions, and providing advice and emotional support to patients’ family members. RNs record patients’ medical histories and symptoms, help to perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation. The three major educational paths to registered nursing are a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, and a diploma from an approved nursing program.

NPs or Advanced Practice Nurses are advanced practice nurses who provide high-quality health care services similar to those of a doctor. NPs diagnose and treat a range of health problems. They have a unique approach and stress both care and cure. Besides clinical care, NPs focus on health promotion, disease prevention, health education and counseling. They help patients make wise health and lifestyle choices. NPs have graduate, advanced education and clinical training beyond their registered nurse preparation. Most have master’s degrees and many have doctorates.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Vandy Tour

I began preparation to attend Vanderbilt this fall last August (2006). I was working full time and taking night classes, writing letters, filling out applications, requesting references, etc. There was a great deal that I needed to do in order to make this dream come true. I found myself focusing on the small tasks at hand in order to reach my main goal of getting accepted into Vanderbilt. However, once I was accepted the small tasks were not complete. I was still taking night classes and then I had to tell my boss that I would be leaving in July. That meant that I had to begin interviewing someone to take my job and then train them how to do it and all while continuing to take classes.

When all of these "small tasks" were finally completed, it finally hit me, I was going to be quiting my job and going to Vanderbilt. Then I got to thinking, I don't know how to get to Vanderbilt, I won't know where to park, what if I can't find my classroom, where do I buy my books...... Yes, it seems silly that I would be concerned with all these things, but the truth is no matter how old you are you still have worries, fears, and concerns.

So in response to these concerns I spoke with a good friend of mine, who works at Vanderbilt and she gave me the Vandy Tour. I now know where to park, where my classrooms are, how to get to Vanderbilt, and where to buy my books. I can now say that I am ready to go to school, to start classes, to start my new beginning.