Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Long time, no post

Geez...it's really been 2 months since I was last here? *sigh* I'm a bad blogger...

In my defense - if there really is a defense - I've been busting my ass at work lately. I swear every pregnant woman in the general area has been due the past 2 months because we have been swamped! And it's been worse lately because of the impending hospital move (I plan to write up a separate post about this very rare experience) since most doctors are getting their patients' scheduled inductions and sections done before the "no elective procedures" window closes.

But I am now off orientation, now the real deal. I still ask a ton of questions, still ask a lot of advice on how to handle certain patient situations, but I've noticed that I'm starting to figure out what to do on my own, I just ask for validation. I'm much more comfortable in the OR for c-sections, doing much better getting induction patients admitted and going on their pitocin, doing much much better finding that elusive not-in-labor-yet cervix that's way posterior and at a -3 (or -5...) station. I've had patients on mag, observation patients, postpartum patients when Mother-Baby is full and we hold them in L&D, inductions, sections both pre- and post-op, can get and give report much better, can talk to the docs on the phone much easier (even at 3am when I have to wake them up)....I'm getting there!

So this is the last week we'll be in our current building...I have only 2 more shifts before we move. And I work the very last night shift in the current building before it closes. That is going to be kinda weird...since that building is where my 2nd daughter was born, where I went to nursing school, where I did my clinicals, where I've worked the past almost 5 months...and after next Saturday, it will be just an empty building. Yes, the new building is beautiful and will have so many nice upgrades that will be fantastic once we get used to them...but still... (ok, gotta save stuff for the dedicated hospital move post!)

Until then, I'm going to enjoy my nights off this week and hope we all get through the craziness next weekend as we move patients, equipment, EVERYTHING from our current building to the new building. YIKES.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sleep shifting

FINALLY preparing for night shift!

I've been at my job for 10 weeks and I guess I'm deemed OK enough in my skills and such to be able to go to nights. I'm ready to be on nights...days just do not jive with my sleep-wake pattern. Plus I'm ready to have a bit of a slower pace so I can focus on learning the WHY's of what I'm doing and start gaining some confidence. There's just no time to really do that on days, especially as busy as we've been the past few weeks.

Anyway...job still going well. I've had a few days where I came home and felt completely inadequate, but most days I've had at least one "Hey, I did that right!" moment. I served out my 2-week OR rotation where I learned how to circulate, chart, and do recovery for c-sections. I'm not really a fan of the OR, but I will admit I've really caught on to that whole routine. There is a set routine and you don't really deviate from it...in the room, prep the patient, surgeon cuts, water breaks, baby out, placenta out, close wound, do instrument counts, clean up patient, go to recovery. But it goes at a really fast pace (some OB's are faster than others...) and I don't have much time to think, just follow the routine. And I'm always afraid I'm going to miss something or bump into the sterile field area and screw that all up...it's nerve-wracking!

One interesting highlight was spending a day in outpatient surgery to get practice on IV starts. It was kinda cool to be on a different unit and see how their days go, plus I really rocked the IV's. Over the course of the day I attempted 6 and was successful with 5. The one I missed...an 89 yo tiny little patient with tiny little veins the size of a human hair. The nurse tried but didn't get her, so IV Team was called. They told me not to even count that as a miss, since she was an almost impossible stick. So yeah...I had a pretty good percentage that day  :-)

Other things I've been doing have to do with the new hospital. I've had several training sessions...department tour, whole hospital tour, device training, phone system training, monitor training...with lots more to go. I know I have 2 sessions scheduled in April already, with more to come, I'm sure. We're getting closer to move day...62 days! 2 months!

Anyway...I've killed a little time here on this all-nighter night. I'm staying up until about 7a and then sleeping all day so I can hopefully be awake and functional for my first night shift Sunday night. I know I'll adjust to my night schedule once I get used to it, but it will take me a week or so to really get back to it.

Happy weekend...or what's left of it!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Interview Questions

Ask and ye shall receive!  Even though it's a couple weeks later...

In my last post, I mentioned that I had gone into my interview with a list of questions. I'll admit that I didn't come up with them all on my own...Google was my friend in that I searched for some questions to ask in an interview. I skimmed over the lists I found and picked some that I thought were relevant to my situation. And I didn't ask all of them, because most were covered when the interviewers were speaking. But I did get a chance to ask a few, a couple of which turned out to be "really good questions" in the words of the interview panel.

Here are some that I had prepared and asked:
  • How do night shift and day shift differ as far as workload and keeping busy?
  • What happens when census is low? Are L&D nurses floated?
  • What is a typical day like on the unit?
  • (asked to nurse manager) What is your management style?
  • (asked to the 3 other panel members) How do you like working on the unit? Is it a good job, do people work together and get along for the most part?
So there you have it. Just 5 main questions, but apparently they were impressed with my interest based on the questions I asked.  It also helped that I was already familiar with the hospital and the mission/outlook/etc. and that I was able to give examples of what I had seen and liked/didn't like on other units as compared to the answers they provided about the L&D unit.

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On the job front...I'm now a quarter of the way through my orientation period (eeek!) and I am still loving it! I've learned *so* much the past 3 weeks on the unit! I'm able to do some basic stuff on my own (without direct supervision, but my preceptor or another nurse is always nearby in case I have a question or need help), I'm doing more charting, more interventions, interacting with the patients more. I'm starting to feel like an RN and not just a student...but I'm still a long ways off from being really comfortable doing stuff. That's completely normal and expected, though  :-)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

First RN job!

As indicated in my last post, I passed NCLEX, I'm now a licensed RN. Which means I can legally work as an RN. And as of January 21st, that's what I'm doing! :-)

So backstory...

I started applying for RN jobs back in late October, just kind of finding a position that I thought I would be interested in and applying - Medical floor, Telemetry floor, Labor and Delivery unit... Fast forward to early December, and I get a phone call from the nurse manager on Labor and Delivery for an interview! WOOHOO! Interview scheduled for December 21st.

Fast forward through graduation...interview time! I was pretty nervous, but I knew I could handle an interview fairly well, plus I had armed myself with some questions that would look good for me to ask as well as give me an idea of the overall feel of the unit. It was a panel interview - the nurse manager, 2 of the night shift clinical supervisors, and a night shift RN. The interview lasted maybe 20-30 minutes, but I walked out feeling like I did an good job at it. I answered their questions to the best of my ability, plus I asked 4-5 questions of my own (finding out later that the questions I asked were some kick-ass questions that impressed some people on the unit).

Now fast forward to December 27th...phone rings, it's the HR department from THE hospital! My name was sent to them after my interview and they needed to start the background check process. OMG! Now, this wasn't a formal job offer at this point, but I was thinking that the fact that I was moving on to HR, that had to be a positive sign! I consented for the process to go forward...and then just went back to studying for NCLEX.

January 3rd...phone rings, HR from THE hospital...offering me the L&D job! I accepted, and after a few minutes of formalities and further instructions, I had determined my start date of January 21st. I wanted to go ahead and get NCLEX taken and out of the way before I started my job, because I knew I'd rather not juggle job stuff with studying...so now all I had to do was study and pass NCLEX (no pressure!) and wait until January 21st.

Over the next couple of weeks, I got stuff in the mail and had forms to fill out, paperwork to turn in, accounts to activate online, etc. My main focus was NCLEX, though (see previous entry for those fun times)...but once I found out I passed, I had a few days to relax and enjoy my last days of freedom.

January 21st - so begins my 1st day as an employed RN! I won't lie...that whole 1st week was hospital orientation, patient services orientation, and then general nursing orientation. Long 8+ hour days sitting in conference rooms and classrooms, but at least I was getting my RN pay.  On Wednesday afternoon of that week, I actually spent a few hours at the hospital in L&D with the educator, going over department stuff such as a tour and checking off on some of the general orientation activities (uristix, sure step blood glucose testing, unit safety, etc.).

January 28th - my 1st day on the unit, as far as dressing in surgical scrubs, following a nurse, working with patients. I spent the whole week doing this same thing, and saw and did a variety of things: put in Foley caths (probably 4 or 5?), learning to do cervical checks as far as dilation, effacement, and station, watched the CRNA do a few epidurals, charted some vitals, hung some IV fluids and meds, assessed external fetal heart monitoring (determined baseline, variability, presence of accels or decels), saw an amnioinfusion, and was in on 2 deliveries. Can I just say that I totally *love* my job?

So that's it...my job as of 2 weeks in. Even though L&D wasn't my actual 1st choice, mainly because I was looking to get a med-surg job before going into a specialty, I am so not disappointed! OB is the reason why I went to nursing school, and the fact that I got an L&D job as a new grad with no previous experience in the unit...maybe this is where I'm supposed to be. I intend to get in there, learn as much as I can, do the best I can, and work my ass off to be a damn good nurse. Baby steps, but I will get there!

And now that my transition from student to working RN is complete, I suppose I need to change the name of the blog, here. I'm not having adventures in nursing school anymore...so I guess I need to ponder this change and get it taken care of soon!

Also worth noting...this whole thing of clocking out at the end of my shift, coming home and being able to relax without having homework or studying or reading to do...FABULOUS! :-)

Monday, January 21, 2013

My NCLEX Chronicles

In my last post, I mentioned that my NCLEX Day was January 15th. Looking at the calendar and seeing that it's January 21st, it's obviously past my NCLEX Day. So...? Pass? Fail? Loved it? Hated it? Is my signature now Kendra, RN? Answers coming up...

December 31st: Study Day #1. I had intended to start studying during the day...but I ended up getting other stuff done, so I started later that evening. I grabbed a notebook and the borrowed Hurst book and just started reading and writing. Over the next week(ish), I literally wrote notes on the whole Hurst book, pretty much copied it word for word. A few nights I went to the local college and studied in the student center for several hours, other nights I just made my space at the kitchen table at home.  My opinion on Hurst, based on just the book, not actually taking the review course or having access to the online materials - not bad. It was a pretty decent comprehensive review of content.

January 9th: Study Day #10. Started working through my Kaplan book. I read the chapters on how to interpret and answer different types of questions, then did the practice questions at the end of each chapter. My opinion on Kaplan, based on just the book, not actually taking the review course - not bad. It was good for strategy and teaching a different way to look at the questions.

January 10th and 11th: Study Day #11 and #12. I met up with my study buddy/partner in crime from school and we studied together.  He had a Saunders book, I had my Kaplan book. Over 2 nights, we went over probably 100 or so questions - 1 from Kaplan, 1 from Saunders. We'd each read the question out loud, read the answers out loud, then discuss rationale for answering together, then check the answer. Thankfully, we were getting more right than wrong...GOOD SIGN! We went our separate ways after those 2 nights and I spent the next couple of nights just doing practice questions in the Kaplan book, reviewing some of the Hurst notes, then doing more questions.

January 13th: Study Day #14. My final night to study, just spent hours going over practice questions, 10 at a time. Answer 10, check answers for 10, answer 10 more. Still getting more right than wrong.

January 14th: Mental Break Day, no studying. I spent the day doing my own thing...I went for a run (despite the temps being in the low 20's with a windchill of 12 degrees), ran a few errands, relaxed...then went to my parents' house for the night. They live 15-20 minutes away from the testing site where I was registered as opposed to living a good hour away, so I stayed with them. I didn't look at a single book or question that whole night - just watched some Duck Dynasty re-runs and relaxed.

January 15th: NCLEX DAY. Woke up early enough to get a good shower and eat a snacky breakfast before it was time to head to my testing center. I got there a little earlier than my 8:00 testing time and met up with the 2 classmates who had the same test date scheduled.  We got all checked in - including fingerprint scans, palm vein scans, picture taken (yowza!) - and along with the 3-4 other people there who were taking exams, we waited until we were called back to get testing instructions. Exam started before 8:00 am (not sure of exact time). Questions...yes, there were questions, I answered a few...question 1, question 2...question 25...question 38...question 68...OMG, getting close to 75...question 74...OMG NEXT QUESTION IS 75...question 75...*clicks Next, holds breath*...BLUE SCREEN...OMG IT SHUT OFF AT 75, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN, DID I PASS OR DID I FAIL?!?!?  AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!

Did my exit stuff and left the testing center...only to wait by the elevators for my 2 classmates who were still taking the exam. One classmate walked out about 5-10 minutes later...she had 75 questions as well...and we were both thinking not-so-great thoughts about our futures in nursing. We decided to try the Pearson Vue trick on our phones while we waited for our other classmate to come out...and after a small amount of panic at exactly how the whole trick works, we both got the pop-up saying that we couldn't register at this time. PROMISING NEWS! Other classmate came out  - 75 questions as well - and we had him do the trick...same results. Looks like we all passed, but we were all waiting until we got official results before we could really relax and believe it.

Fast forward about 24 hours...I was furiously checking the Kentucky BON website to see if my license had changed from a provisional license to an RN license. The 9ish AM check showed provisional still...but then I decided to check at 9:40 AM....OMG, IT SAYS RN! DOES THAT REALLY SAY RN?!?! AM I REALLY AN RN?!?! OMG, I'M AN RN!!! I PASSED! I PASSED NCLEX! Later that afternoon, I got the official e-mail from KBN stating the same, that my RN license had been issued. KENDRA PASSED NCLEX, KENDRA IS NOW AN RN!

So there is my NCLEX adventure in a nutshell, from studying like it was a full-time job to the absolute WORST STRESS EVAR waiting for my results. But it's over, it's behind me, and I never have to do that again.

BUT...I passed. With 75 questions. Without having taken a formal review. I did it on my own, studying on my own. It can be done!

Kendra, RN  <----this is so cool. I'm really a nurse. All my hard work has paid off  :-)


Thursday, December 27, 2012

NCLEX

As I mentioned a few days ago, I would put my NCLEX ramblings into a separate post...

My ATT arrived less than a week after I had graduated...and I was shocked that it had come that early! I figured I wouldn't see it until sometime in January, so I was planning on enjoying the holidays and the time off, then would worry about studying after the new year. Well...the early ATT kinda changed that, but it's OK, I worked it out.

I took a look at my calendar and figured out my schedule and looked at when I could devote a good 2 weeks to studying, and then the approximate date that I would want to test after a 2-week study session. I knew I wouldn't get any studying done this week of Christmas, based on holidays and traveling and kids being home from school, so I looked at starting my 2 weeks on December 31st (yeah, I know...NYE...but I have no life, so I have no plans...lol). So my first choice for test date was January 14th. I logged onto the Pearson Vue site, logged in, found my testing center, then took a look at the dates in January. January was pretty full already! The earliest date was January 2nd, which is WAY too early...and then the next earliest date was January 15th. Perfect! Just a day after I was hoping for. The only downfall is it's 8 AM, and I have to drive an hourish to get there. That will make for an early morning for me, but I'll be done early, not worrying and pacing and being all anxious all day before a later test time.

So...studying starts December 31st. Hardcore reviewing Kaplan, Hurst, ATI, content, questions, questions, and more questions. Will go through January 13th, then I take the 14th off to decompress, take a breather, relax a bit...then bright and early on the 15th, I seal my fate. I can do this, I know I can do this. I'll just be real glad when it's over!

So pardon me when I disappear for the first couple of weeks of 2013...when I return, I'm REALLY hoping it will be as Kendra, RN! YAY!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

GRADUATED!

Well, it's really over. I have graduated from nursing school! No more pencils, no more books... and all that jazz! :-)

I spent a couple days in Louisville for graduation activities last week. Wednesday I drove over so I could pick up my cap and gown and then attend the graduation rehearsal at the Fair and Expo Center. This proved to be a little stressful, as I'm not familiar with Louisville at all, definitely not knowing where I was going on the Belknap campus to find where I needed to pick up my cap and gown. I'm really not used to a college campus right in the middle of a large metro area! Thanks to Google Maps (absolute GODSEND the whole time I was in Louisville!), I found where I needed to go, picked up my graduation garb and checked my eligibility for honor cords. I was *STOKED* to discover that I was graduating MAGNA CUM LAUDE (woohoo!) and got to wear pretty red honor cords (see dorky graduation picture).  After I got all that figured out and made my way back to my car, I had some time to kill before I had to be at the fairgrounds for rehearsal, so I zipped back downtown and visited the Health Sciences Bookstore and shop for some official UofL Nursing swag.  Walked out with a sweatshirt and a window cling for my car!

I then headed back down to the Fair and Expo Center to go through rehearsal. This whole deal was rather lackluster, probably could have made it through the ceremony without having been through rehearsal, but whatever, I was there. Once that was over, it was time to head to my lodgings for the night - my friend's parents who live near Louisville were kind enough to offer me a place to stay, saving me the hassle of getting a hotel room. Before I went there, I made a trip to Hobby Lobby to pick up some supplies so I could decorate my mortar board. Yes, I was just like a little kid playing with fabric puff paint...but I thought I turned out a decent nurse-themed decoration.

The next day I had to be back at the Fair and Expo Center for pinning and graduation. I got there plenty early and took some pictures with my classmates, then we had to line up for pinning. To cut to the chase, I got my pretty BSN Nursing pin pinned on me by my program director, who told me that this was just the beginning for me. More pictures, more visiting with friends and classmates, then it was time to line up for graduation! The whole ceremony took a little less than 2 hours, and nursing was the last batch to graduate. I was, quite literally, the 2nd to last person to walk across the stage! "I declare you graduates of the University of Louisville"...moved tassel from right to left...and that was it!

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So now what? Well, watching the job postings for jobs that interest me, for one thing. Haven't seen anything lately, but I'm sure that will changed. Also still waiting to hear from the jobs I have applied for, hoping to get an interview.

Oh, and there's this little thing called NCLEX..and I'm all scheduled for it, test date noted and countdown started! But I'm saving that for a separate entry. Graduation is such a big thing that it deserves its own billing!

*sings* I'm finished with nursing school, I'm a BSN graduate nurse... :-)