Friday, February 25

Fun Survey

Let me take a moment to invite you to take a little survey! I'm collecting info from all fellow nursing students about what it means to YOU to be successful. Check it out here:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Thursday, February 24

Size Matters

Size matters. Yes, I said it. The size of your dreams matter, but so does the size of your wallet to help you reach them.

As I continue my forward momentum toward the NSNA 2011 National Convention in Utah, I'm pleased to say that my own SGO has decided to honor my request and help me financially. It is a huge help, but unfortunately, nowhere near the total I'll be spending. I just learned today that the hotel alone will now be almost $1,000 for the 5 nights, because the tax there is 12.73%! And due to the price of gasoline, the cheapeest airfare I can find is running about $650. With campaign materials, food, and more, it will take more than I have for me to get there.

I'm finding myself worrying about the money more than planning the actual campaign.

So my rational, realistic, earthy husband says, "Well, why do you really need to go? What are you getting out of this?" Even if I don't know what the future holds, I KNOW that this process will be one of the most influential on my future as a nurse leader. I'm excited to be an official NSNA Candidate for Imprint Editor for 2011-2012, and to represent Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing (on our 50th Anniversary, no less) at the national level. It would be an honor to serve my fellow students as our voice, bringing a fresh outlook and perspective to Imprint...if I can get there.

So my question is...how do we find the creativity to match the size of our dreams with the size of our resources?

Friday, February 18

Psychiatric Nursing, anyone?

The rotation I'm completing right now in nursing school is psych, which I hear is one of the least common areas of nursing that students plan on specializing in...When we started our lectures and were preparing for our first clinical, I was nervous. What would I say, and what would I see? Would there be violence? I had no idea what to expect.

It quickly became apparent that through therapeutic communication, nurses and physicians or psychiatrists can quickly build a trusting relationship with these patients, and help them reflect...or begin to process. It was intimidating at first, but honestly it's all about being real. They are real people, just like us! It wasn't so scary after that "real"ization.

The nursing process looks very different in a psych environment - most all of the interventions have to do with communicating. It's almost easier to learn a skill like starting an IV line, with a very specific process. With communicating, it's all spur of the moment, by the seat of your pants. But in a way, even more rewarding! By planting the seeds of hope, we can see the wheels start to turn and really get a sense that we're helping our client in an important way.

Early in this rotation I learned about ECT - electroconvulsive therapy. I had honestly never really heard of it before, and was shocked to see that it was on our report for almost half of the patients on the unit that first clinical. What in the world? I started asking questions and doing research...and learned that this treatment has been used for nearly 70 years, and while we don't really know how or why it works, it DOES. It is used primarily in patients with severe depression, and depression that is unresponsive to medication. One of my clinical instructors shared that she's seen patients so depressed that they were unable to eat or care for themselves, almost comatose, and after one treatment of ECT were up, walking, eating, and talking. While the treatment needs to be repeated every so often, it does seem to be very effective for these patients.

When first used, the ECT would actually induce real seizures, and this was extremely painful for the patients. Not fun! But with the advancement of medicine and use of various meds, we now do the procedure in the OR under sedation and is not traumatic for the patient at all. In fact, it only takes about 30 seconds for the whole treatment. I believe they are intubated to protect the airway, which would take longer than the actual treatment itself.

ECT has been controversial lately, as the safety of this procedure has been questioned. The APNA's statement on ECT concludes the following: "It is the position of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association that ECT is a proven therapy and that further clinical trials are not necessary to establish its safety and efficacy. APNA urges the FDA to classify these devices in an appropriate manner to assure that patients have access to ECT while at the same time assuring that ECT devices function safely and in manner intended. APNA believes that ECT operated by properly trained professionals and in circumstances of medical necessity offers patients with severe depression an option that would otherwise be unavailable."

Overall, this rotation has been eye-opening. I've learned so many skills in working with folks that can help not only with patients, but in all of my relationships! I'm more patient with my kids and husband, and even more aware of my body language and expressions every day. I'm especially intrigued by substance abuse and recovery, which has just been covered at the end of the course. I'm thankful for our exposure in the various clinical sites during this course, and look forward to our next rotation...on to OB!

Friday, February 11

I'm Making Time?

Happy Friday, and happy weekend!

When I started using this blog as part of the campaign process, I originally thought I'd only write something about once a week...but I've come to find that I really enjoy it! In some weird way, using this kind of media is cathartic - and helps me process my own thoughts. I think that's why Facebook is now such a phenomenon, too!

What I'd like to share with you today is a thought about the name of this blog, Medora Making Time. I have a philosophy these days, and I literally think about it every single day...We make the time for what we see as priorities, not find the time. Isn't that profound? I can't take the credit - I think I heard it somewhere, but it has definitely become my mantra over the last few years. With so many things going on all at the same time, how do we manage to cope, and actually accomplish some of it? We make the time.

Making time can also be interpreted as catching up - and that's another way to look at life, but it feels like that means I'm behind in some way. "Catching up" is a motivating idea, but at the same time feels more difficult. "Making the time" is more of a choice, and is up to ME. I love the freedom of making my own choices and prioritizing my life in the way I see fit. It's up to me! Of course, I make all of my choices with my husband and family in mind, but that is also a choice of mine. I've always been a stubbornly independent girl; the freedom is intoxicating.

What kind of daily choices are you making? Did you know that you're already Making Time, or choosing not to make the time, for the things that are top on your list? Now, we don't really need a list on a piece of paper to know where our priorities are, but recognize that in order to see the success we hope to achieve, we have to make the time to take those required little steps to get there. Are you hoping for a higher grade on the next test? Are you hoping to land your dream job? More time with family? Or perhaps hoping for something internal, such as a heftier self-esteem and self-confidence? Make the time to do what it takes to head in the right direction, and I just know that when you get there you'll be filled with love and pride.

One last thought is that another side of this freedom of choice is the freedom to change your list of priorities. Our goals are allowed to change! If a loved one becomes ill, it shifts our entire life. Or if our academic goals change, that's okay. Life is fluid, flexible, and FUN - just pay attention to the big picture and keep heading in that direction. A little bit every day is all it takes.

Today I'm working, playing with the kids, and getting ready for tomorrow's birthday party at our house! Molly will be four tomorrow, and I'll be 29 on Sunday! (For the 4th time.) And with a test on Monday (Valentine's Day??), I'll be studying all weekend as well...So what are you making time for this weekend?

Tuesday, February 8

The Juggling Act

From a 2009 blog post in the Wall Street Journal that I recently found, Naomi Schaeffer Riley states:

"'There's no such thing as work-life balance.' That's what former General Electric chief executive Jack Welch recently told the Society for Human Resource Management at its annual conference. 'There are work-life choices,' he said, 'and you make them, and they have consequences.' Mr. Welch's comments reverberated across the Web as women (and men) argued over whether it was possible to rise to a high level in corporate America and take time off to have a family."

To a point, I agree - there is a balance, but it is all choices. And as we know, all choices have consequences. Do we know where our priorities are? I love the Mary Kay philosophy of God first, Family second, and Career third. Taking care of our spirituality or our inner selves is of utmost importance in maintaining our mental and physical health, and I personally feel that Family is a priority... a tough mix comes into play, though, when Family and Career intertwine; we need the ability to provide for our Families.

A lot of my friends are just now starting to have babies, or are adding to their families these days. I, on the other hand, have gotten used to the constant gasping and surprised expressions when I share that I'm already a mom of 5 (and I'm going with "young" mom of 5). I'm so proud of my big family, and they know they are always number ONE with me...and they also know that in order for us to stick together, have money for groceries and treats, and have our lovely home, Mommy and Daddy work and/or go to school. The kids are unconsciously learning a valuable life lesson; things will not just fall into your lap in life, so if you have a goal, make it real! Make it official by setting that goal in place and start taking the little steps to get there. And just as importantly, make sure you are creating a strong support system of friends and family to help you get there. If it takes a village to raise a child, it definitely takes teamwork to reach a goal.

Just a few years ago, when my kids were babies and I was a stay-at-home Mom, I remember complaining to myself that I needed a CHALLENGE. I was looking for more in life, without really knowing what I was looking for. Never being one to follow the social norms, for better or worse, I had the big beautiful family BEFORE having the solid career.

So here I am, a "young" mom of 5, living and breathing the daily juggling act. I work full time and have amazing benefits for our whole family, wear my Mommy hat for a few hours, and then head back for lecture or clinicals as a full time student in the evenings. I often have to be in three places at once, but I know where my priorities are, and at the same time, I'm allowed to have GOALS ~ and I'm taking the little steps every day to reach them. Do I have a thousand things on my plate? Sure. And when I hear, "I don't know how you do it," I just laugh because I don't know, either. I just have a goal, and every day take a few little steps that might bring me, or us, a little closer. Just like you do.

As Riley states, "At times it is hard not to think that the 'work-life balance' is like the Loch Ness monster -- there are lots of sightings but no one has ever found it, and no one ever will. More important: Is it possible that so much agonizing and discussing may make life harder rather than easier? In short, is it possible to lose your balance, so to speak, by overthinking the work-life balance?"

I "think" yes...no pun intended.

Sunday, February 6

State Convention Reflections


What a great event. I was impressed with first, the sheer number of nursing students that attend - record numbers for VNSA - and second, the caliber of the speakers that participated!

Stephanie and I, both members of our school SGO Honor Council, decided to make the drive together in the morning before the event. We got up and ready at 4am, and met to ride together at 4:45! It's been a long time since the alarm went off THAT early. We made a coffee run (even Starbucks isn't up that early!) and headed out.

The drive was foggy and rainy, and we weren't sure where we were headed. I didn't bring the GPS from my hubby's truck, thinking that my mapquest printout would be all we needed. Looking back, it's kind of a metaphor for our careers, isn't it? We are dressed for the part, prepared, and excited about what the future might hold, but at the same time we were going 60 miles an hour in the foggy drizzle, with only a vague idea of our destination. Silly comparison, but the further we drove down those long, dark, narrow roads, the more I wished I knew where I was going.

Well, the drizzle subsided and the roads opened up, and before our deadline was up, we made it to Lynchburg to Liberty University! VSNA had done a great job placing small signs directing us to the correct building, and once we found a parking spot we headed on in. The foyer of the large building our lecture hall was in is breath-taking. Tall grand columns, large portraits hanging on the walls, and the vaulted ceiling all made it feel like we were in for something great. Once we were registered and signed in, we grabbed bananas and scooted on in for the opening session, and we were right on time for the 8:15 start.

Throughout the day we were treated to speakers from all different parts of the healthcare and education industries, and we were able to choose which "breakout sessions" we wanted to attend. I was very happy with those that I chose - including a Critical Care lecture with the Dean of Nursing at UVA! And an amazing Nurse Anesthetist lecture with the Chief Nurse Anesthetist from DUKE! I just couldn't get over the caliber of the speakers at this convention. GREAT JOB to all of those who helped put this together.

We had a large exhibitor's hall with rows of tables from colleges and universities around the country, as well as health systems vying for new nurses. Our own Whitney Malone and the HR department from Bon Secours was even there! We were treated to lunch in the dining hall down the road, and dessert halfway through the afternoon.

I learned a lot, but honestly the most powerful message was that the hospital systems here in our country truly NEED us. They NEED quality graduates to join them in the hospitals and help care for their patients. They NEED new Nurse Practitioners to help them open their new ICU beds. They NEED us to be successful, and they are there for us now if we need help or motivation.

It's not about how perfectly we can start an IV or hang a bag of fluids, it's about doing these skills well while we CARE for the whole patient. We see the big picture and help everyone work together. And this is why we need to keep pushing forward to get our careers in gear - it's time to get out into the world and CONTRIBUTE!

If the nursing community is desperately ready for us to join them, shouldn't we?

Thursday, February 3

Let the games begin!

Hello, fellow multi-taskers! Regardless of your personal story, if you are in nursing school, you ARE a multi-tasker. If you are a mom, you ARE a multi-tasker. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. Welcome!

Let me take a moment to share with you what I'm doing these days - Work is going well here at the College of Nursing, and the kids are doing well, too. In fact, Elijah was just notified that he was chosen for honors courses when he gets to middle school this fall! The little ones are wild and doing just fine. We are about to have a princess birthday party just before Valentine's Day, for little miss Molly, who will be 4 already!

As a nursing student, I've decided that having a voice in the community is not only acceptable, but necessary if we are to help guide the field of nursing into the future. My own nursing career is off to a good start, and I'm feeling confident in classes - even though it is an extremely demanding schedule, I can envision myself at the end, as a Registered Nurse! It's a great feeling. And while I don't know exactly which way I think my nursing career will go, I do have a strong connection with pediatrics...I've even started preparing for the possibility of continuing school beyond this program! Whew, it's hard to imagine...but just in case, I'm adding a few things to my plate to help me prepare. What would help make the foundation for a wonderful Pediatric Nurse Practitioner? It's the combination of everything that leads up to that moment.

In light of all of this, I've been active with our own Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing SGO over the last year, helping represent the Honor Council as well assist in other capacities. As a member of the National Student Nurses' Association (NSNA) I'm able to take advantage of discounts and other benefits, and enjoy the publication IMPRINT that is the only nursing-student-driven newsletter today. If you know me well, you know how much I love desktop publishing, and all things creative, so when I learned that the national positions with the NSNA are elected annually, I was immediately curious! I gathered my confidence, completed a long application process, and lo and behold, I've been officially added to the slate...

...as a Candidate for IMPRINT Editor 2011-2012 with the NSNA!

My national "campaign" will be now through April, when I will travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend the NSNA Annual Convention - a 5 day, whirlwind experience that will be like nothing I've ever done before!

I'm so excited to share all of this with you, and to drum up YOUR excitement about the coming months. Even if you have nothing to do with the nursing community, healthcare affects us all, and we all have a voice. Running for this national position is just one way I can share my views, expand my knowledge, and gain leadership experience as I use my voice...How would you use yours?

In the coming posts, I plan to talk a bit about what IMPRINT is, what the Editor does, and why I'm running for the position. What does it have to do with me? I'll share! And of course, the funny tidbits will be there as well, as I figure out how to mesh a national campaign with an already overflowing schedule...Speaking of which, I think I have a parent-teacher conference today at 3pm...