Watch out my lovely readers. I have spunk today, and I think I know where I got it from. I’m rockin’ a bold new haircut, and it’s rubbing off on my writing. So prepare yourself for spunk. Lots. Of. It.

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There are a lot of people out there that don’t understand the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that to pursue an associate degree after receiving a bachelor’s degree is moving backwards. Let me tell you this:  I am moving forward, I am pursuing more, I learn new things every day, and this path is the right one for me. So please listen more and judge less.

Nursing programs are not like a lot of other programs, so I can understand why the whole thing is confusing to people. There are so many routes to becoming an RN, and it’s nearly impossible to know all of them. You can go straight for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Sweet! Or how about becoming an LPN first and then becoming an RN? That sounds good, right? Sure! Paramedic to RN? Right on. Teacher to ADN to RN? You rock, too!

Well, my choices eventually led me to the ADN route, and I am here to dispel some of the myths about that particular path. There are a few of them, and they are obviously misguided!

Myth #1. “So, you only have to go to school for two years, right?” Have you noticed that I don’t call ADN programs two year programs? Well, that is because ADN programs take longer than two years to complete. Say what? Yep, you heard me right. ADN programs require pre-requisites to get into the nursing specific courses. And they aren’t easy either.

The college I attend required seven communication credits, microbiology, anatomy and physiology 1 and 2, developmental psychology, medical terminology. and biomedical ethics. That’ll take you at least a year.

Also, students that attend a university (BSN program) are not spending all four years learning about nursing, so to think that they have two more years of nursing knowledge is nonsense. They take general education courses just like all of the other students attending a university. Most of those courses have little to do with nursing. I am still trying to figure out how Latin American History would have worked into a career as a dietitian.

And since nursing school is highly competitive these days, many students (including me) have previous degrees and have taken insane amounts of science courses such as genetics, organic chemistry, biology, biochemistry, pathology, and many other nightmare-ish sciences.

So do ADN graduates go to school for only two years? Ha! That’s comical.

Myth #2. “It must not be an RN program if you will be done in two years.” First of all, do I need to remind you about myth number one? It’ll take more than two years. I guarantee it.

Second of all, ADN graduates and BSN graduates sit for the exact same boards. It is the exact same hideous, straight from the pit of hell, yucky, puke-y test. I even heard that the ADN NCLEX test has the same amount of select all that apply questions. Pure evilness.

Back to my point though. If the BSN graduate passes the NCLEX exam, he or she will be an RN. And if I pass, I will be an RN.

Myth #3. “ADN graduates are not prepared to be RNs.” Let’s be honest. Is anyone fully prepared to take on the complexities of human life right after taking the NCLEX? Because that is exactly what RNs do. They have to know, through head knowledge or instinct, when something is not right and then act on it. New ADN and BSN graduates may have SOME head knowledge (but we are always learning, right?) and a itsy-bitsy-teeny-tiny amount of nursing instinct.

It is pretty unrealistic to expect an educational institution to teach you absolutely everything you need to know before you graduate. However, I DO believe that my ADN program is giving me the tools to someday be a competent nurse, and I am very grateful for that! I will have over 500 hours of direct patient-care experience by the time I graduate in May. I will know the basics, and I will know where to find answers if I have questions.

So wherever you are right now, whether it’s in a BSN program, an ADN program, an MSN program, waiting on your acceptance letter, or WHEREVER else, don’t judge another’s path. Try to understand it, but don’t judge. Be where you are and keep learning.

 

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Hey y’all! It’s been a wild month, and some day I might elaborate on that. But for now, I am just glad it is over.

I had two exams so far this semester, and I want to tell you all about a book I purchased that has helped me prepare for the exams. The book is Mosby’s Comprehensive Review of Nursing for the NCLEX-RN® Examination, and I am kind of in love.

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The book is broken down into units and sub-units. I am going to lead you through the Childbearing and Women’s Health Nursing unit to give you an idea of what this review book has to offer.

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Each unit is broken up into categories, such as the prenatal period, intrapartum period, and postpartum period. And each category includes sub-categories that explore complications, assessments, etc.

What I like about the review section of this book is that it gives you the important information in a concise and organized manner. After you have studied all you can from your lecture recordings, notes, and book, this is a great tool to turn to for a quick review.

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It has great pictures and diagrams, too!

After I review the content, I can answer NCLEX-style questions directly related to the content I am being tested on by my nursing program. So, if my test covers the prenatal period but not complications during the prenatal period, I can choose to only answer questions about the uncomplicated prenatal period. Pretty cool, huh?!

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The last positive note I want to make about this book is that the rationales are actual rationales! You know what I mean! How many times have you read the rationales in an NCLEX study book and realized that the rationale is just a restatement of the answer? It’s unhelpful and just plain pathetic. Mosby’s is not like that. The rationales are actual explanations! What?! No way!

The only beef I have with this book is that the answers are not on the same page as the questions. Instead of putting the answers in a column right next to the questions, you have to continually flip back and forth while reviewing the answers and rationales. Not a HUGE deal, but this book would be absolutely perfect if they would make this change.

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I’m so ecstatic about this book, I might just do my first giveaway. Stay tuned for details. In the meantime, I want to know your stand-by books or tools for intense exam cramming (not that we ever cram for exams, right?). 😉

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My great grandma Ada turned 97 today. Happy birthday to the lefse queen!

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It’s been a busy week! I had my first test on Monday, clinical on Tuesday and Wednesday, and class and clinical paperwork to complete on Thursday. Needless to say, I spent the majority of today watching Gilmore Girls reruns and trying not to let me eyes shut for too long.

I have accomplished a lot and have faced a number of challenges in my first three weeks of clinical. I inserted my first Foley, called a rapid response, suctioned a few trachs, and gave meds through every route imaginable.

With so much going on, I needed to go into each day with a game plan. This is how I manage my time before, during, and after clinical:

1. I try to complete the readings and assignments for class before my clinical. I have class on Mondays and Thursdays and clinical on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There is hardly any time on Tuesday or Wednesday to read for Thursday’s class because I am busy with clinical and the massive amount of paperwork it involves. So, completing the readings on Sunday or Monday is really helpful.

2. I print all of the clinical paperwork for the entire rotation during the first week. We have 5 weeks of clinical, so I printed 5 weeks of paperwork and organized it so I could just grab and go on clinical day.

3. Michael Linares’ (Simple Nursing) “Most Common Meds Guide” and “Patho Bible” have been enormously helpful in completing my paperwork and knowing what my patient is dealing with before I even enter the room. In order to access these documents, you need to pay $34.99 for a “cancel anytime month-to-month” subscription. With this subscription, I have access to 17 PDFs and 900+ videos. My recommendation:  Save the 17 PDFs to your computer, skip the videos, and cancel after one month. Many of his videos are on YouTube or the content is explained elsewhere on YouTube and other websites.

4. During my prep time at the hospital, I get my patient’s info as fast as possible. I check the important stuff first just in case I get hung up on something. Important data includes:  code status, allergies, reason for admittance, other active diagnoses (look them up if unfamiliar), recent labs, MD orders (unfortunately, I do not have access to these at my clinical site), and current medications.

5. My clinical instructor has us write out the top three things that could go wrong with our patient during our shift based on the data we collected. Even if your instructor doesn’t make you do this, I think it would be a great thing to start doing. It’ll give you an idea of what to focus on and look for in your patient.

6. I try to go into my patient’s room with confidence. The initial assessment is crucial. It guides you in the direction you should take during the rest of the day. Be thorough, build trust, and be kind! You’ll do great!

7. When my first patient’s blood pressure was low and she stopped responding to me, I knew it was time to call in my nurse. If something doesn’t seem right with your patient (even if it is a little change in status), do not hesitate to call for help. It might be nothing, but wouldn’t you rather it be nothing and feel stupid than it be something and you didn’t tell anyone?

8. Find a way to relax after clinical. Take a bath, have a beer, watch reruns of your favorite non-medical TV show, …whatever floats your boat!

Clinical can be rough, so please share your tips on making it go as smoothly as possible!

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I have my first exam of third semester on Monday! Yikes! I needed a little break from the studying this afternoon, so I decided to come up with relaxation tips I use on the morning of an exam.

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Reviewing the highlighted portions of my readings to prep for the test.

Here are my top 5 tips to remain relatively calm.

1. Wake up 20 minutes earlier than usual and do a yoga stretch routine. Focus on your breathing because this will stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and oppose that nasty sympathetic nervous system that you don’t need right now. It’s just a test. It’s not like you just called a code blue, so chill out!

2. Do not do any additional studying if at all possible.

3. Whenever you feel anxiety creeping up, do some deep breathing until your vital signs are within normal limits. Again, you want to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system so you can remain calm.

4. One of my favorite teas is Yogi calming tea. It contains chamomile and lavender which have soothing and calming effects. Try some before the morning of the test to make sure it doesn’t make you tired, because you don’t need that during a test!

5. Put a dab of lavender oil on your hands and breathe it in deeply. Take this with you to the exam room and do this immediately before you sit down.

Good luck on your first exams everyone!

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The story of my day begins at 6:12 AM. Of course I wake up before my alarm goes off. I didn’t really need those extra 3 minutes after all, right? Wrong.

I made the coffee, took the shower, and ate the Wheaties. I came back to my desk (which won’t be a dining room table for another 9 months) to review the common medication dosage conversions for my med dosage exam at 9 AM.

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My desk after a frantic night of studying. It’s not very pretty, I know.

I fed the whining cat, grabbed a snack for class, and ran out the door. I spent the 20 minute car ride to school singing at the top of my lungs. This time it was with the Cranberries. Who cares what people think, right?

I had an 8:30 meeting with the Nursing Club officers. Look at us getting stuff done!

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Not posed at all.

The meeting concluded at 8:56, giving me 4 minutes to empty my bladder and get to the first floor for my medication dosage exam! I made it, and I even had time to pick a wedgie before I sat down (I’m sorry you had to see that, Dave).

I answered the 15 questions carefully and slowly handed the exam to my instructor. I needed to get all of them correct to pass the exam (our school is not okay with medication errors…at all). I watched her as she went from answer to answer. My heart rate and blood pressure were skyrocketing. Can you go any faster? She looked at me and nodded her head slightly. I passed. Phew!

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A look of relief.

After passing the first exam, we were all ready to learn about postpartum care. I mean, who doesn’t want to talk about the uterus, breasts, lochia, and afterpains at 10 o’clock in the morning!?

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At least I get to see these lovely ladies!

I guess it was too much for Bri though…

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I got home around 1 PM and put the BBQ chicken in the crock pot. I re-listened to my lecture, created a Facebook page for the blog, and I ended the day by pumping some iron at the gym!

I’m curious if others started school this week. Is this your first year as a nursing student? Final year? Please comment below! Tell me what you are excited about in the coming year.

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You guessed it! I spent the weekend preparing for a busy semester by making 20 crock pot freezer meals!

It all started with a little inspiration from my brother and sister-in-law. You see, they had an adorable little girl recently, and they got this crazy good idea to make a bunch of meals BEFORE the little one arrived so that they could spend as much time with her as possible. Because who wouldn’t want to do that?! Seriously.

I began to search out options and came upon Mixing with Michelle, which is a wonderful food blog that showcases many healthy recipes! She created a list of 10 crock pot freezer meals that looked delicious. Not only did she provide the recipes, but she also provided the shopping list and prep list. She sure made my job as easy as possible, and for that I am very grateful!

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Thank goodness for Aldi! I ended up spending $159.22 on all of the items shown in my previous post. That’s less than $2 per serving! And did you see all of those veggies?!

I went shopping on Thursday and prepped the vegetables and meat on Friday. I needed a box of kleenex for all of the onions I had to cut up!

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I started stacking all of the onions I was planning to chop up and noticed how cool it looked. I guess I am an artist. Who knew?!

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Onion snowmen

After I was done playing with the food, I moved on to the celery, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, red peppers, green peppers, acorn squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and turnips. Somewhere around the garlic, or maybe it was the carrots, I began to regret spending so much time being artsy with the onions.

It did not take very long to pack the refrigerator, and every time I opened it, my nose reminded me that I purchased a ton of onions.

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After the chef’s knife and wrist were worn out from a day of chopping, I decided to sit back and relax a bit.

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Assembly began early Saturday morning. The food started looking so good; it took a lot of self control to keep putting the meals in the freezer.

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Bacon wrapped chicken anyone?

It took some finagling to fit all 20 meals in my freezer, but I made it work! Proof that you don’t need a chest freezer to do this type of thing.

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I took my first meal out of the freezer last night because third semester begins in only two hours! How does jambalaya sound?! Come on over if you’re in the neighborhood!

What are your favorite foods during nursing school? Have you found it difficult to eat healthy meals on a budget? Please share your tips in the comment section!

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I have an exciting blog entry that will be posted by Monday, and I am going to give you a couple hints about the post.

1.  I do not have a lot of extra time to cook during nursing school, and I do not have enough money in the bank to order take-out every night (I guess that is a two-for-one hint).

2. The second (ahem…third) hint comes in the form of a picture. Check. It. Out.

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What do you think my next blog post will be about? Any guesses?

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I have listed my learning process step-by-step below. This is what works for me. Take from it what you wish!

1. First, I print all of the PowerPoints or lecture outlines. I place them in my binder and divide them by the week. This really soothes my anxious soul by making me think I really have it together.

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2. I read through the assigned chapters and highlight the information that I think is important or information that helps me understand a broader concept. I find that highlighting is helpful because I am basically re-reading what is most important when going back to highlight. You can’t highlight too much, right?

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3. After reading the chapter(s), I flip through the PowerPoints. This gives me a good idea of what my instructor thinks is the key information. I answer the questions that my instructor poses in the PowerPoint. If there is information from the text that I find helpful to my thought process, I insert it in the PowerPoint print out on the appropriate page. I recommend that you use blue ink for notes that you take prior to class (I will explain this later…stay tuned!)

4. I record the lecture with a free app on my phone called Smart Voice Recorder. I use ES File Explorer to compress the audio files so that I can transfer them to my laptop. Once it is on your computer, you can unzip them and use them as is, but I like to use Audacity to edit out all of the breaks.

Smart Voice Recorder for Android

Smart Voice Recorder for iPhone

5. During lecture, I take notes using red ink. This is important because it allows me to quickly see what the instructor noted in class versus what I think is important from my notes on the reading (in blue). I can guarantee that what your instructor says is crucial. It will likely show up on the next exam, especially if they repeat it, shout it, or wink while saying it.

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6. I re-listen to the lecture as soon as I get home (or at least the same day). This is an opportunity to write down anything I missed. Use blue ink again, or choose a third color!

7. I create a table for the topic discussed in lecture. I cannot stress enough how helpful this tool is to my learning. Try it. I know you will like it!

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8. After I create a table, I use it to study for the next test! No note cards, no lecture notes, no book…I only use my tables (and some good friends, too)!

9. Time to start all over again with the material for the next lecture!

What works for you? I would like to know! Please comment below with your thoughts on learning.

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I met Grant six years ago at a party hosted by my roommates at the time (Mike and Chantel). You see, we had a chestnut tree in our backyard, and being the people that we were, we needed to find out how they tasted when roasted over an open fire (ahem…grill). I met Grant and a few of his friends that night, and I knew that we would be good friends someday. I am such a dork, I even wrote it in my journal.

The only problem I had with him was that he brought Swisher Sweets cigars. Being the cigar connoisseur that I am*, I told him that our friendship would not last long if he kept bringing them to parties.

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Well, Grant and I were married exactly three years ago in Albert Lea, Minnesota at a park on the lake (so you know how the cigar situation turned out). My dad walked me down the aisle to “Fly” by Sara Groves, and by the time I reached Grant, I was dripping with sweat (it was at least 90 degrees, 100% humidity, and about as still as it could be). But hey, we still got married, and we enjoyed having all of our friends and family in the same place.

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We lived in Menomonie, Wisconsin for the first six months of our marriage. I worked at the ARC of Dunn County while he finished his last semester of college. In December of that year, Grant got a job in Blaine, and we quickly packed our bags because we were thrilled to go back to Minnesota.

I prepared for nursing school by taking a CNA class and working full-time. I applied for nursing school in January 2013, was accepted in May, and I started in August.

I am so thankful to have Grant as support during school. He often takes over the cooking, pretends to be my patient so I can learn my nursing skills, helps me with my projects, and is always there when I need to take a break from the madness.

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This is one of my holistic symbol projects before I added my patient’s personal information to it (this girl does not violate HIPAA). Grant helped me immensely!

We plan on celebrating our anniversary at Punch Pizza tonight and then heading on over to the budget theater for their $1 showings on Tuesdays. We know how to party!

Happy anniversary, Grant! Looking forward to what another year brings. I love you.

 

*For all of you concerned about my health, I want you to know that I do not smoke cigars any more. 🙂

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