Wednesday, April 18, 2007

CC, Psych, Students, and Looking Forward

Hm, seems I haven't posted at all this semester. That's probably because this semester was insane. I'm in the last leg of the race, so I'll have to gloss over a great part of my experience. But to bring you up to speed, here's the digest version:

Psychiatric Nursing

I had the same teacher for psych clinicals as I did for First Level. I really like her, so that was nice.

Despite this, I have decided psych is not my thing. While meeting really crazy people is interesting, I feel like I'm not busy enough up there. Sitting around and watching people... talking about feelings... ugh. For one, I am naturally pretty empathetic. When we study communication techniques, all I can think is "Duh, this is so obvious", and become quite bored. For another thing, psychiatric medicine isn't going to change any time soon. And if you go into it, you stay there. Your skill set is totally different from every other part of the hospital. The longer you're on the psych unit, the more outdated your general knowledge becomes.

I've learned some interesting things though. Did you know 1 in 100 people is schizophrenic or has schizoid characteristics? That's a devastating statistic. All those homeless dudes, the freaky people wandering the streets with shopping carts and talking to their demons. I've met a lot of those people. I am thankful for that... not many people have the chance in our society. It's really amazing to talk to someone who used to be well-adjusted, then sank into a paranoid, hallucinatory mental illness. What happened to them to make them that way? Sure, genetics is some of it, but we all have the potential to go nuts inside of us. It really makes me aware of my own coping mechanisms. I think I am, if nothing else, more self-aware after being around the mentally ill.

Just shows that everyone has something to teach us. Even people who are 100% positive that they are Jesus Christ.

Critical Care

I have absolutely loved Critical Care. I relish the challenges; everything about it is awesome. I can definitely see myself doing it, and listed all the ICUs as my first choice for preceptor placement.

That said, most of the class is failing Critical Care lecture. (I'm talking consistent class averages of 70%, where 80% is the lowest passing score). It's so bad that they've actually had to provide some additional opportunities for people to bring up their grades. Not bonus points, no, nothing like that. But they've adjusted test scores to omit "bad" questions more than once. That NEVER happens in nursing courses. It's shocking. I'm glad they're adjusting scores, but damn. I hope my friends pass.
Luckily, I was passing before the scores were adjusted. But then, when they gave multiple answers to some questions, my grade shot up to like a 90% (Which is fine by me. Most everyone I talk to is failing with a 78% or so).

My clinical instructor for Critical Care is like a younger and less experienced version of Instructor Fantastic. This is only her second semester of teaching, so she still has some things to learn. She tends to take on too much work and take some things too personally. But overall I think she's going to be a really great asset for that college; smart, passionate, but really dedicated to helping students learn.

I have a lot of respect for teachers who manage to prove they have all three of those characteristics. It's a rare combination, and is the reason I look up to Instructor Fantastic so much. One day I hope to go back to grad school. I hope to have my own chance to make those quiet affirmations about why we nurses must be ethical, excellent, and compassionate. How can we call ourselves moral human beings if we don't carry out our professional honorably? How can we expect anyone to treat us better than we have treated others?
(Of course I wouldn't say it in so many words. No one likes to toss around words like "honor" in casual conversation. But I'd hint at it in the way it has been hinted to me.)


I always get so irritated listening to students complaining after an exam.

I'm lucky in that I've never had a problem with test anxiety. If anything, I have test apathy. I always go into exams cold and leave equally unruffled, even if the test was ridiculously hard. Perhaps I'd worry more if I actually failed exams? But I digress; my point is that I don't feel any particular reason to become unhappy with my instructors after I take a test.

All around me I hear such negativism. Everyone talking about how the teachers are unfair, how they should be teaching differently, how they should mention what would be on the test more specifically. How the teachers should "give them" more points. I usually smile amiably to this and nod, but inside I'm always thinking "Wtf? Give? Your grade is nobody's responsibility except your own. You aren't a victim of fate."

This mentality is even more astounding since we have discussed it explicitly in psych class. Viewing oneself as a victim is an unhealthy way of coping with life. It only makes you depressed and prevents you from fixing your problems. I'm not saying I never get pissed off when I miss a question. But the person I get pissed at is myself for not studying more. Everyone can study more. Everyone can always do something more for a class and making a higher grade. If you think you can't, you're fooling yourself. (Especially if someone else in the class makes a 98%. You at least know it's possible then.)

Anxious to Stay, Anxious to Go

Summer semester starts May 14th and ends in the first week of August. And then that will be it. I will graduate Aaahhh! I have no idea what I'll be doing after that. My boyfriend graduates from UT in December, and I can't figure out what I'll be doing between August and the time he settles into a job. We've been apart for a couple years now, and frankly I'm eager to move to Texas and get on with my life.

At the same time, I don't want to build my life around another person. I want to begin my career and stay in a place long enough to become a strong member of the team. I want to save my money. I want to buy a car that doesn't scream like a dying cat as it wheels down the street. I want to learn and grow and be good at my job. I do not want to start work somewhere and suddenly pack up a few months later to go live in whatever city in which my boyfriend finds employment.

But I also don't want to be apart from the person I love any longer than I have to. I've been waiting such a long time... such a very long time.

I am introspective by nature, so I often question what it means to live a good life and be a worthwhile human being. It is difficult to weigh things like careers, money, love, family, and time while gazing out into my future. I can't say which takes priority right now, which pathway is the wisest.

I can only hope it becomes clearer in the next several months. I have found that having too many possibilities can be just as paralyzing as having none.


Hi there! Been waiting to hear from you this semester. I'm another second career nursing student - semester two of five in an ADN program - and I completely agree with what you wrote here about student complaints and their projecting responsibility to our instructors about their grades. If some of us are able to earn good grades on the exams then the issue lies within the student body, not in the instructors techniques of teaching. (Drives me crazy to listen to the non-sense!)

On an off topic from nursing ...

May I add something I learned the hard way? Following after another person, building your life around their life, or forcing circumstances ... it wasn't good for me in the long run. I wish I'd have followed my gut from the get-go. That means doing what was best for me regardless of what was best for him. Also, after my hard learned lesson, I met and married a fantastic man who is worth all the trouble I endured. So there you go. It will all work out in the end. Trust yourself. You know what to do.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, April 18, 2007 at 5:00:00 PM PDT  

Thank you very much.

Right now my plan is to continue living here and accept the job that is available on my floor... UNLESS my boyfriend gives me a definitive answer about where he'll be working.

It's just a matter of picking the right place to start out, since my goal is to remain in one place for a minimum of a year. If there's any doubt, I'm staying here. I'm certainly not moving after 6 months.

By Blogger esunasoul, at Wednesday, April 18, 2007 at 8:08:00 PM PDT  

You're so close to getting done.

I agree on the clinical instructors and stundents bit too.

I think you should talk to your bf about it but above all listen to your heart and follow your instincts. I know I'm going to be in the same dilemma come Dec b/c my bf is going to aviation school and he's graduating this year too and we'll have to settle on something because one thing's for sure I don't want to keep getting hauled wherever his job takes him. I want to be a team player and stay somewhere for a min of i'd say a year or slightly over but then again am flexible b/c one thing I've learnt for sure in nursing school is staying open-minded.

Good luck in everything!

By Blogger Student Nurse, at Friday, April 27, 2007 at 10:37:00 AM PDT  

Good teachers never give points- students earn them. Because my students are still in high school, I choose to thoroughly explain to my students what will be on exams. If they choose not to study enough and to not ask questions when I am reviewing it is their fault alone.

Also, your thoughts on victim mentality are well stated and right on the money. ~jzayara

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, April 30, 2007 at 11:02:00 AM PDT  

One thing's for sure: it WILL become clearer. My advice: go where you want to be geographically and aim for the job you really want. In some ways, hospitals tend to court graduate nurses more than veteran nurses; you may find that you have your pick of shifts/training.

The 2 career issue is always tough; personally, compromise is not my favorite companion. However, my SuperHubby is worth compromising for with regard to location. I feel your pain.

By Blogger The new Third Degree Nurse, at Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 8:19:00 PM PDT  

Thank you so much for expressing so clearly the victim mentality and it's place in nursing degrees. I believe nurses that go on to further study tend to be those that take responsibility for their learning. I will certainly be far more aware of my own sense of playing victim after exams from now on and choose not to commiserate with others. There will forever be 'faults' that we can find in tutors teaching knowledge, method or assessments but until we look at ourselves in the overall picture we won't be able to find any solutions. Thank you for the ephiphany. I'm sure my grades will be ever so thankful.

By Blogger Sam, at Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 4:42:00 PM PDT  

Hey Heather, just found your blog through NursingLink. I just graduated in May and was excited to see how you like to blog! It's tough balancing school and writing isn't it :) I'm a blogger myself, although focus more on political stuff @

You have a lot in store for you! Let me know if I can be of any help!

-Jason, RN BSN

By Blogger Jason B., at Wednesday, July 11, 2007 at 9:06:00 PM PDT  

where ya been? update us!

By Blogger Prisca:, at Thursday, July 19, 2007 at 8:29:00 PM PDT  

Very good blog, all the things mentioning are reality and it is happening everywhere.Keep the nice work any way if you are interested in nursing jobs in detroit have a look on our site

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, July 21, 2007 at 3:08:00 AM PDT  

Hi Heather.

As a retired nurse I've enjoyed reading your blog and congratulate you on your graduation. It's interesting to read how different and also how similar some things are across the pond.

Regarding your psychiatric experience, I just thought I would chip in and say that not all of us freaky people are homeless dudes wandering the streets with shopping carts. Some of us still live at home with the care and support of amazing and loving families.

Best Wishes

By Blogger Mo, at Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 6:36:00 AM PDT  

Get out of nursing period, you lack empathy.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 5:48:00 PM PDT  

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