Tag Archive | nurse

Nursing School Entrance Exam

This morning, I took my nursing school entrance exam. The program I will be applying for requires at least a 75%, but it is a highly competitive program and the average score of an accepted student is a 88% with a 3.6 GPA. I was very nervous about the math portion, because I don’t like math at all. I have to stop saying that I’m bad at it, because apparently, I am actually decent at it. My last position before leaving my job was a supervisor in the Accounting department, of all places.

The next things on my list are to officially apply for the RN program and to finish my scholarship application. There is an essay component, so I’ll be heading to campus this week to have someone from the Writing Center take a look at it and see if I am missing anything. Another set of eyes doesn’t hurt. I don’t know what the official application entails, but I have finally met all the criteria. Here are my stats:

GPA: 3.8 at my school, probably somewhere like 3.6 total

Entrance Exam score: 94.5%

Anatomy and Physiology grade: A

I’m hoping these are good enough to get me into the next cohort. I also hope there is an essay portion, because I do love a good essay. 🙂

 

Wish me luck!

 

School as a “Returning Learner”

As I have mentioned before, I am returning to school in pursuit of a career as a NICU nurse. Currently, I am taking Anatomy & Physiology I, which consists of a lab and a lecture. Having already been to college once (for a Bachelor’s degree in English Education), and being slightly older than the average first-time college student, I am classified as a “returning learner” for student purposes. Among other things, my background means that I do not qualify for FAFSA (free student financial aid), but it does mean that I have already experienced college, which I am beginning to see is a huge advantage.

This semester has been an interesting ride so far. From new online programs for coursework that didn’t work, to only using an online version of the book (until I bought the paper version last weekend), to my professors not knowing how to use the online coursework site, it was a rough start. I am already a very Type A person, and I prefer my schedule to be organized and itemized as much as possible. Knowing that this is the first “make or break” class of any medical program, I began preparing before the semester even began. I took a one week prep course that covered what you should know going into Anatomy & Physiology. I took notes and printed them out as a reference, sticking them in the back of that binder I use for class. When the textbook listing came out for this class, it included some study aids. After determining that I would actually use them, I purchased them–a huge set of flashcards and a coloring book (more on this in another post). I have heard from several people, some of whom are now nurses, that Anatomy & Physiology is a divergence point in the coursework of becoming a nurse. I was taking no chances.

The first lecture class was similar to most of the others I have taken. The professor lectures off a PowerPoint and posts the slides for the students to print and take notes from. Neither of the two students on either side of me had printed them. Instead, they were frantically scribbling down every single word on each slide, unable to focus on what the lecture was covering because they were trying to transcribe slides that they already had access to. Every so often, they would glance at me with a “what are you DOING?” look in their eyes. I was taking occasional notes to clarify or expand on a topic, perhaps highlighting something. I actually sat in a different seat at the next class because they were making me feel anxious with their frantic scribbling.

The most recent class was similarly notable. The professor couldn’t go two slides without someone asking if this would be on the test, or if we had to know this for the quiz. I gave up trying to hide my irritation after about the fourth time someone asked the same question. During the break, a few students were complaining to the professor that this was too much to learn, that they couldn’t memorize the book, that they didn’t know where to start, that they needed a study guide. When she finally lost patience, her reply was that this is an upper-level class for people who want to go into the medical field. We need to know ALL OF IT.

My lab class has different students, but similar attitudes. When our professor said that spelling would count on the lab tests, there was an audible reaction from most of the class. Her reply was that, as nurses, spelling something wrong can have huge repercussions, even cause an error that costs someone their life.

 

I think my favorite quote related to the mindset of going to nursing school is that we should be trying to become the nurses we would want to have if we were patients. I can tell that some of the students have this mindset, and are determined to learn as much as they can. These tend to be the older students, maybe the “returning learners.” The rest seem to want the answers for the tests handed to them. If it isn’t going to be on the test, they don’t want to hear about it, don’t want to learn about it. I figure that this class is the basis of every other class I’m going to have in nursing school, and I want to be prepared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Miss Minion’s 4th Gotcha Day

4 years ago today, Mr Minion and I watched as the wires and stickers that had monitored our baby’s heart rate, oxygen levels, and respirations for the past three months were removed. We could see her whole face clearly, without the tube that had gone up her nose and into her stomach. We could pick her up and walk more than a few feet from her crib, something that would have been impossible due to the wires that monitored her vital signs. I vividly remember holding her carefully in my arms and slowly spinning in a circle near the large window in her room in the NICU that we had called home since May.  

As we waited for the discharge paperwork to be signed off on and for our nurses to go over instructions with us, I kept expecting the next person to come into the room to tell that there had been a mistake. That we couldn’t take our daughter home yet. We packed up her tiny preemie outfits, the mobile we had brought her to put on her hospital-issued crib, and her bottles. We also packed the jars of protein powder that we would have to supplement her bottles with for the next several months, and the diapers that were only slightly smaller than my cell phone. We packed her special issue Ultra Preemie bottle nipples, since she was still unable to handle the regular Preemie ones that were available in some stores.  

When our nurse finally came in and asked us if we were ready to head out, I could feel my eyes burning with terrified, excited, nervous, and overjoyed tears. We had arranged Little Miss Minion in her car seat and strapped her in, using rolled up towels, blankets, and washcloths to make sure she was secure. I carried her through the door of her room in the NICU and we walked through the unit, with Mr Minion and our nurse helping to carry the rest of her stuff. As we waited for the elevator to arrive, I waited for someone to run through the double doors with the news that we had to stay. The elevator arrived and the doors remained closed. We walked through the lobby of the hospital, seeing other parents leaving with their two day old full term babies as we left with our 3 month old, 5 pound miracle, who had already survived a Group B strep infection, meningitis, sepsis, and one surgery to implant a shunt to control the hydrocephalus she had developed as a result of those illnesses.  

When we made it to the front of the lobby, I tilted my head to look away from the Maternity Welcome Center, something I still do each time I visit the hospital for my volunteer work. We turned to walk through the vestibule that led to the parking garage and my daughter felt fresh air on her face for the first time since she had been born. We packed her things in the trunk and snapped her carseat into the back of our car. I rode in the back with her, and we stopped to get McDonald’s on the way home for lunch. The packaging was Minion-themed, and I still have a picture of it somewhere.  

While the memories of her birth and the immediate time before and after are fuzzy, thanks to the magnesium I was receiving by IV to prevent seizures or strokes, her Gotcha Day is carved into my memories with a chisel and I will remember every tiny detail of that day for the rest of my life. I will also remember how, when we took her for her first pediatrician visit a few days later, I got a compliment from a woman in the lobby who saw my ridiculously tiny baby and assumed she was a newborn, and said that I looked amazing and she couldn’t believe I had just had a baby. Since Little Miss Minion was three months early, I hadn’t really ever definitely looked pregnant, so after she was born, I looked mostly the same, except less puffy and swollen from the preeclampsia. I had only gained about 15 pounds, and between the stress of the NICU and exclusively pumping, I had lost about half of that. I just said thank you, laughed a little, and darted into the well-baby room to escape from the germ-filled waiting room. 

When I look back on where we started, I am amazed all over again at the tenacity of a 1 pound 14 ounce baby, born 3 months too soon, and the marvels of modern medicine that allowed us to bring her home. It solidifies my yearning to return to the NICU as a nurse, and makes me treasure my time spent there as a volunteer, speaking with parents who have found themselves in the NICU.  

Happy 4th Gotcha Day, Little Miss Minion. I’m so proud of you and everything you have overcome.

 

Hard Core Class

It looks like I’ll be headed back to school a little earlier than I thought. My next class is Anatomy and Physiology I, or A&P I. I got a little pamphlet in the mail this week from my school that offers an online, pass/fail intensive review course for one credit hour it lasts for one week and, according to the stats of people who have taken it and people who haven’t, this class improves your grade by an average of 3/4 a letter grade. Since I’m into my required classes now, I have to get a B or higher, or the class doesn’t count. Since I’m a nerdy perfectionist bookworm, I prefer to get As. Either way, I’m now headed back to class at the end of this month. My last biology course was the very first one I took in my return journey to academics, so that was fall of 2017.

I’ve heard that A&P I and II are the hardest of the pre-nursing classes, and that’s all I have left! A couple weeks ago, an acquaintance who went to nursing school gave me all of her books, so I have tons of reading to do and lots of extra material if I need help. I’m also hoping to be able to arrange more time to study and attend review sessions. In my fall of 2017 class, I got a B. And that was after getting a zero on a test because we were on a cruise. Hoping that bodes well for these two classes. Wish me luck!

May is an interesting month…

I was skimming through social media this afternoon and saw several interesting tidbits that I thought I would pass along.

Today is National Nurses’ Day and the first day of Nurses’ Week (at least in the US). I would like to send a huge THANK YOU to Little Miss Minion’s nurses in the NICU, as well as the nurses who have taken care of her during her various hospital stays and doctor’s visits. I also want to say thank you to the nurses who took care of me when I was inpatient before her rather early arrival. A particularly large thank you goes to L&D Nurse J, who was the nurse I told about LMM’s slowing movements two hours before she was delivered. Thank you for listening to me, for checking out the monitor, and for IMMEDIATELY calling the ultrasound techs who got to the room so fast I think they may have already been on their way up to me. Thank you to NICU Nurse J, one of our primary nurses, who taught Mr Minion and I how to give LMM a bottle for the first time, how to wrap her like a burrito to keep her warm once she got out of her isolette (without tangling her multitude of cords), and invited us to volunteer with the March of Dimes as family advocates in our stats. Thank you to overnight NICU Nurse S, who helped us bathe LMM without dropping her body temperature. This tiny task made me feel more like a parent more than I would have thought possible. Thank you to daytime NICU Nurse S, who was also one of our primary nurses and walked us out of the hospital on our 84th day.

The month of May is also Preeclampsia Awareness Month. Preeclampsia is the reason I had to have the emergency C section that saved my life and saved LMM. Without immediate delivery, my blood pressure would have continued to climb, causing strokes or seizures, and my kidneys would have continued to shut down as a result of narrowed blood vessels. The HELLP syndrome I developed as a side effect of the preeclampsia would have continued to destroy my platelets, causing a hemorrhage, and would have continued to damage my liver. Basically, I was lucky. Many women aren’t so lucky and many women DO die from preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. About 60,000 women die annually worldwide as a result of this condition. There is no cure. The only way to stop it from progressing is delivery of the baby, and even then, the mother can still develop post-delivery preeclampsia for like six weeks after delivery.I guess I find it interesting that these two awareness events take place in the month I had Little Miss Minion. Fate? Maybe. Divine intervention? Probably. I’ll take it!

An Announcement

I cannot believe that Little Miss Minion will be 4 in a few weeks! Looking at her now, you would never guess that she started out fighting for her life at less than 2 pounds. Our journey began four years ago today in 2015, when I was admitted to the antepartum ward for observation of suspected preeclampsia. I remember being torn between complete denial that anything was wrong and terrified at the idea that something was. When Little Miss Minion arrived at 28 weeks, weighing one pound and fourteen ounces, my life was put on hold. Every day, Mr Minion and I would go to the hospital, scrub in at the NICU, and spend as much time as we could in our room there with our daughter. After 84 days, we were able to take our multi-million dollar baby home and I never wanted to see the NICU again. 

 

After about a year, I started to feel like I needed to give back to the place that had given me back my daughter. I began volunteering at the NICU that Little Miss Minion spent her first three months of life. I go into the unit, visit each room and speak to any parents who happen to be around. I’m also a board member of the organization. It’s something I’m very passionate about. 

 

About a year and a half ago, Mr Minion and I had a long talk. As corny as it sounds, I had been feeling a calling from the NICU. Not just to visit the parents and drop off goodie bags. To actually become one of the nurses who make such a difference in the lives of these babies and their parents. I’m proud to announce that I have been taking classes at our local community college in pursuit of a degree in Nursing. I have two more semesters to go before I can begin nursing school, which will take about two years of full time classes. After that, I hope to get a job working as a nurse in the NICU that started this journey for me. 

 

I would like to give Mr Minion a digital standing ovation. He has been so supportive of me during this venture and has willingly taken on the extra slack I leave from being in class and studying. Between books and fees and tuition, this little adventure isn’t cheap either, so it has been stressful trying to make the finances allow for it, especially for the upcoming period of nursing school. Little Miss Minion deserves some credit too. I take evening classes right now, so sometimes I only see her in the mornings and she doesn’t get to see me before she goes to bed, since I come home a little after she is asleep. 

 

Once I am accepted into the nursing program, I will qualify for nursing scholarships, which should lighten the financial load considerably. I applied for general scholarships this semester, but there are a lot more available once a person is accepted into the program. I’ve got Anatomy & Physiology I this fall, A&P II in the spring, and right now, I am finishing up Microbiology. I took Chemistry before that, and my first class in this little adventure was Human Biology. The rest of the degree requirements transferred from my Bachelor’s Degree in English Education. I only had 5 classes to take in order to shift my Bachelor’s in English into an Associate’s in Nursing. I’m just taking it 1 semester at a time. 

 

Sooooo, that’s my little announcement. Surprise! I wanted to really commit to this path before I announced anything, so very few people in real life actually knew about this. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to call me Mrs. Minion, RN. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

Preemie Christmas Part 6

On the sixth day of Christmas, the NICU gave to me: six nurses charting, five needle sticks, four brain surgeries, three minute scrubs, two blood transfusions, and a micropreemie in an isolette. 
The nurses are the heart of the NICU. They make everything tick. Eighteen months later, I still remember how they showed us how change a credit card sized diaper without disturbing the wires, tubes, and IV ports coming out of our one pound fourteen ounce preemie. I remember how they taught us to rub her back if she had apnea and forgot to breathe. I remember how they helped us hold her and arranged her oxygen cannula and monitor leads and IV lines. How they took the first picture of the three of us. How they noticed the slight temperature shift and mildly increased heart rate that was the meningitis and sepsis starting to take hold. How they reassured us that she would be ok. How they shared our joy when she was moved to the step down unit. And I will never forget how they cried with us after her first brain surgery. And how I will never be able to say thank you enough times for everything that they did.