nursing

Fourth Semester of Nursing School

Dear Nursing student,

So you are in your fourth semester? For some of you this is your final semester and for others you might have one more semester to go. For me, fourth semester was my final semester and man was I ready to be done, as I’m sure you are too!

So what does fourth semester look like? My final semester of nursing school was full of stress, testing, and making friends while preparing for a new career. During fourth semester you are taking some of your final test before you get ready for NCLEX. You are studying like crazy for not only your testing but also for you NCLEX. Everything you have been preparing for is about to become a reality. For most nursing schools you are taking med-surg two, learning about Intensive care. You’re probably doing a lot of talking about obtaining your license and and consequences if you break a law. My school also did a big pharmacology review.

But what is just as important as the class room, clinicals. Many schools assign students to a unit or a specific preceptor to follow. I followed a nurse in a stepdown unit and I got to function as a nurse, not just a student during this. This was the most exciting part of the semester for me. I got to see what it was going to be like coordinating care for more than one patient at a time. This was really important for my future career. How excited are you for the clinicals?

Now lets look at our check list of things that need to be getting done as graduation comes closer.

  • First of all, have you applied and accepted a nursing position yet? Many place start the application process about 6 months before you graduate. I applied for a job in June and graduated in December. I accepted a position in an intensive care unit (ICU) for my first job, however this is not a place for everyone to begin. So of you will start on a medical surgical floor, some in labor and delivery, others may even be on a mother baby floor or pediatrics. Through your nursing school semesters you have learned about all of these nursing practices but not everyone has found exactly where they want to be, and that is ok! Find a place that gives you learning opportunities but won’t be to overwhelming while you are just getting started and growing.
  • Second this on our list, after you have a job lined out we need to talk scrubs. Will your position require you to wear a certain color or style scrub set, or will you be able to wear whatever scrubs you want? I got to opportunity to wear whatever scrubs I wanted in my unit. I went down to my local scrub shop and tried on so many styles, brands, and colors. I settled for 3 pairs to start. I got the brand Infinity by Cherokee but now after I have been working for a while I own a lot of Figs. My best suggestion is to start by going to a local store and trying on scrubs to see what feels best.
  • Third, make sure you have a work bag that is totally stocked! I bought a Thirty-One bag and filled it with the most important things for work. My stethoscope, a notebook to write all the advise in that I am given at clinicals and the beginning or my days in my new nursing position. I kept a bunch of pens, all colors and brands but my favorites were the erasable pens. I also carried pencils for school and work as a back up if my pens didn’t work. I also always carried post-it notes so I could add notes to my report sheet, or write down when a doctor came in the room. You will learn what all you need in your back for work and school as time goes on.

This is just the beginning of the list of things that need to be done prior to graduation. Make sure you pay close attention in school to figure out how to apply for your NCLEX and your license. Your nursing school will point you in the right direction for these steps at the end of your program.

As always, best of luck this semester, your have almost eaRNed it!

Holly Renee

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nursing

Third Semester of Nursing School

So you’re starting third semester, or you are in third semester.  YOU ARE IN THE HOME STRETCH!!!!!!!  Oh my goodness, I remember getting to this point and knowing that I was in the upper class, I could see the finish line, I had it, it was going to be a breeze, and I thought I was going to find someone to mentor.  WRONG!  This didn’t happen for me at all.

Third semester is not the time to slow down and chill out! Third semester is the time to kick it in high gear, get those HIGH grades, strive for deans list before that final semester gets here.  Third semester was my semester of projects as well, LOADS of projects.  I really got to know my class during this semester.  We had daily projects, weekly projects, and we had a few projects that took  months, nuts right, I block out those memories.

So what do we study in third semester?  Specialty!  Third semester I began learning about OB, babies, Labor and Delivery, Cancer, Stroke, Blood clots, and Myocardial Infractions.  This was right where I wanted to be!  I had some really cool clinical experiences, a day in ICU, a day in Neonatal ICU, some med-surg clinical days as well, but I didn’t want to focus on those.  This is a semester you should really enjoy, you will get to see and learn so much!!! BUT YOU HAVE TO STAY FOCUSED ON THOSE GRADES!!!!

You know what else this is prime time to start doing?  Thinking and preparing for NCLEX.  So this is the time to really start practicing those NCLEX questions EVERYDAY if you haven’t!!! I mean it, EVERYDAY!  I practice 15 questions everyday in third semester, I just grabbed my Saunders NCLEX review book and got to work!  You can even just flip right to the subject you are studying and there you go!!! You are knocking out your questions and you are studying for your test!

So in review, don’t give up now, its prime time to push yourself.  Look forward to all your specialty clinical experiences, and buckle down and do those NCLEX questions!!!!

 

Your Nurse friend,

Holly Renee

nursing

To my Second Semester Nursing Students

Dear second semester nursing students,

This is probably going to be the most informative, time consuming, and maybe even the hardest semester for you.  I will tell you know that second semester was the hardest for me (read my post about failing).  Yup, you read that I failed my second semester the first time I took it, we wont get back into that, read the post to see all about it!

Second semester is so difficult due to the concept that is covered.  This is the Med-Surg semester! Oh yeah, the semester where you learn all the big basic information you need to know for the rest of your nursing career.

  • diabetes (sometimes covered in first)
  • hypo/hyperthyroid
  • blood pressure control
  • IBD/GERD/Digestion
  • Pain/fractures/back problems/comfort
  • Ashtma/COPD/emphysema

The list goes ON AND ON AND ON!!!!!  But, many programs have you do ALL of your pharmacology class through this semester too.  Lets all talk about stress right?  My program didn’t do pharm in one semester, we did it over three so we wont talk about pharm today, but we will talk about second semester and med-surg.

So how do we survive all of these subjects in a short 8 or 16 week program without panicking?  Well, you will panic, that is normal, and it is OKAY!!!! My best advice to lead with to help with the panic attacks that you may have, find a day each week and take off studying, find something fun to do.  Go for a jog, go to the gym, go shopping, go to dinner, go pain pottery or canvas, play video games, SOMETHING that you enjoy!

Now, studying.  NCLEX questions, do all of them, as many as you can find in any form you can find!  Sarah RN on youtube has amazing videos that usually has links to NCLEX questions.  Many programs provide you with a NCLEX book, use it, go buy a Saunders NCLEX review book!!!!!!! BEST BOOK ON THE MARKET!!  Also, find out what kind of learner you are.  I personally was a kinestetic learner meaning that I needed to do to learn.  I took notes, again and again to help me retain the information I needed for the test.  I wrote down anything I questioned through out all of nursing school.  Some people needs to read more to learn, re-read the book or your notes if that helps you.

DON’T GIVE UP THOUGH!!! It will all get better!!!!

 

Your new nurse friend,

Holly Renee.

nursing

Since Graduation

Looking at the title you now know what I have been holding out on.  YES! I did finally graduate from Nursing school, December 13, 2018.  This was a day I had been waiting for longer than you can even imagine, and it was so magical, okay the ceremony was boring as heck but the feeling of being done, that was the magic!

46423387_128910074778518_1685568943529357291_nYeah, so here is little baby nurse Holly all happy, not knowing what the next few weeks will hold for her as she starts her new career (we will get to that).

 

So I will cat you all up now as to what has happened since we last talked (my first week of 4th semester).  I finished nursing school (another post), obviously, graduated (not a big story), quiet one job, started my career, and here we are.  Okay, okay, a little more detail right?

So I will just tell you about leaving my nurse tech job.  This was a job I started at 19 years old.  It was the most amazing job I think I could have ever came to in my pre-nursing life.  I worked with some of the most amazing people ever, I also got to work night shift and day shift, so I got to know EVERYONE!  I got to learn so much in this position, from foley catheter insertion/care/taking it out, I learned about drawing blood, Vital sign assessment, reading telemetry, and a lot more!  Leaving this job was really hard for me, along with making the decision to not take a nursing position here.  I feel like the people I worked with here were family, but sometimes you have to grow up and move out, that doesn’t mean I wont stay in contact with them all!!

 

So the real tea is the new job right?  I took a job in a Neuro-Trauma ICU and I started working on the floor on January 27.  The first week was a roller coaster (without breaking HIPPA), needless to say, things didn’t go as planned for my patients as I hoped, but I learned very quickly that death is part of being in ICU.  This came quickly, but was easy to accept for me.  I have now been on the floor for almost three whole weeks and all I can say is I am in love with making a difference in the patients lives!  I am making new friends in this new job, but I have to say it is so weird to ask a PCA to do something for me still.  Delegation is still something I am working on.

2531760_0  OH YEAH, did I mention that I PASSED THE NCLEX!?!?!?!

 

Your new Nurse,

Holly Renee.

nursing

Nursing School, week in review

So I have now completed 2 full weeks in my last semester of nursing school and wow have they been crazy! Lets just review!

Week one was a little out of the normal for a week in our school.  Lecture starts Monday morning at 0800.  I get to class about 0730, have to get the best seat, and we sign in by 0745.  We made silly name tags, and got right to the point.  Reviewed the quiz we had to take before class and started notes on dysrhythmias.  Class is over by 1200, no lunch break.  Pretty easy day.  Day 2 was pretty much the same thing.  Day 3 was the start of clinical days.  We were at the school building though because we had those fun skills checks, math tests, and of course HESI exams.  None the less, I ended up with a fever of 103.2 before my HESI, making it really hard to take the exam.  Don’t worry fourth semester only gets better for me in the second week.

Week two comes around, on to coronary artery disease in lecture.  Pretty normal lecture day.  Take notes, ask questions, go home at noon and eat and review.  But this week we started clinicals at the hospital!  My group is on a trauma/tele floor.  I got a patient that was pretty confused, and somehow ended up with pee IN MY SHOE, not on my pants, not on my shoes, IN MY SHOE!!!! WHAT?!?!?!?! This was crazy to me! But it totally happened.  I then had to pass medication to my confused patient.  45 minutes later, this task was complete and it was on to my second patient.  The second patient was not confused at all.  They only had an IV piggyback medication, so super easy prep, super easy pass.  The day was nice and long having a confused patient to take care of.  But day 2 was just as strange.  I had a different patient.  Got to pass medication through an NG tube, for the first time, I LOVED THIS.  But then my new patient became confused! DO WE SEE A TREND!?  Will this be my new black cloud of the semester?

 

I will keep you posted,

Holly, the confused nursing student….

nursing

Studying 101

Most of you have probably survived at least a week of nursing school now, so lets talk about that first exam that is coming quicker than you expect!

Nursing school is much different than all of you pre-requisite classes that were taken to get into this program.  I spent a lot of time making a reviewing flash cards when I was in A&P, Biology, Chem, so-on and so-on.  But in nursing school I have yet to have time to make any flash cards to review.  But I have found some other helpful ways to help me study the information for the test.

1. DON’T CRAM

This is super important.  Do not cram before the test.  I learned this first hand.  Cramming is a sure way to get a C or lower.  Spend time learning the information.  Start by reading the chapter/material the weekend or night before the lecture.  Take some notes before the lecture on things you understand, or questions you have.  Then remember the day after the lecture START REVIEWING!!! Take your notes, review your notes, answer your questions, or find the answers if you didn’t get an answer.

2. COLOR

Use color when taking notes.  This makes it much more interesting to review your notes.  I know some people in my class take their notes in black, but when they rewrite their notes they will write them with a color code.  THIS INCLUDES THE HIGHLIGHTING.  I type my notes in class, but I come home and WRITE them in color, and highlight my typed notes with a color code.  My color code changes from time to time so I don’t get bored.

3. NCLEX question

This is my FAVORITE way to study!!!!!! I love practice NCLEX questions! This doesn’t just prepare you for you test coming up, but this will prepare you for the biggest test coming up at the end of nursing school!  If your text book comes with an online text book, these often come with a test bank as well.  This is a good source for NCLEX style questions geared to the material you are studying for the test.  Another great source of NCLEX questions are NCLEX review books.  Some schools require you to order one with you text books, mine did but I found one I liked much better.  I love my Saunders NCLEX review.

Image result for saunders nclex This not only has NCLEX questions in it but it also has review material to help study and the understanding of the material.

Another test bank would be HESI, if you have access too it, use the case studies that are provided in here with the questions.  This is a great sources even if you get them wrong.  READ EVERYTHING!!!

4. READ READ READ

Finally, I would like to say don’t forget to READ!!!!!! Always read your material.  This is so important! Your instructors may give you assigned reading pages, DO IT!!!! My instructors are known for not lecturing on these pages, but pulling LOTS of questions out of these pages of material.  READ THE MATERIAL, ask questions if you don’t understand, and review the material until you get it!!!!

 

I hope these few study tips will help you while you try to find a good study style to helps you succeed in nursing school.  You will become adaptable to school and the way you need to study to succeed.  Good luck everyone, I hope you do amazing on your first test!

 

Just another nursing student,

Holly

nursing

Failing

So when we get into college we are all told, failing isn’t an option.  Let me tell you something, FAILURE HAPPENS!!!!! I want to share the HARDEST time in my nursing school journey that I have yet to face.

I started nursing school in August of 2016.  This was a 2 year program, putting me on track to graduate May of 2018.  But here I am August of 2018 going into my 4th semester.  So as you have guessed by now, yes I failed a semester.

If you read my blog about my first semester you know that I had some personal struggles, but still came out on top and passed with flying colors.  Now come my second semester, things took a different turn.  Spring semester of 2017 will haunt me forever.  I started the semester with, you guessed it, A LOT OF FAMILY DRAMA!!!! Now, the mistake I made was letting it all get to me when I should have removed myself from the situation and focused on my goals.

My school is a little different than some others, so in order for this to make since I will give you a quick break down of the semester.  Each semester is made up of 2 courses, and these courses are divided into 8 week blocks.  This being said, there are 2 chances at failures, the first 8 weeks or the second 8 weeks.  So in each 8 week block there are 2 test and then a final, leaving very little room for messing up.

In my second semester I failed in the first 8 weeks.  There were actually 36 of us that originally failed, but 30 people got to retake the test, and I was not one of them sadly.  The craziest part of this whole thing was the first test I got an 88% on, then the second test I received a 64%, but the final test was the one that hurt me the most, I got a 74% on the test.  In order to pass the course I needed a 75% overall in the course and some how between these test and the very few assignments I had to do, I ended up with a 74.6% in the course, and nursing school doesn’t round.

The second 8 weeks of the course was spend in a remediation class, where I sat in a lecture for 2 hours on Monday mornings and then did nothing the rest of my week, well nothing school related.  This is where I started having problems. I went into a terrible depression.  I started drinking more, going out with friends (things that looked like normal college kids do), but this is out of character for me.  I stopped engaging with friends I’ve had my whole life, I became more reserved, when we weren’t out, I did work more often to keep my mind busy.  All things that are not like me at all.  I totally lost myself.

Crazy thing about that last paragraph, I think I am just now finding myself.  There are days I still think I am lost and not sure when the real Holly will be out, but I think I am where I need to be.  Somewhere between failing, and not dropping out, I learned how to take test better, I learned how to study, I even participated in some therapy to help me get back on my feet and out of my depression.

I guess, the point of this post is, don’t lose yourself.  If you fail, it is NOT the end of the world, DO NOT give up, KEEP GOING! It will all be worth it in the end!

Keep pushing on,

Your 4th semester Friend.

nursing

Nursing School Supply List

So when I first started nursing school I cannot even express to anyone the number of times I googled, amazon searched, asked around, and googled again the supplies I needed for my first semester of nursing school.  First off, we have established that nursing school is nothing like any other schooling ever done, so why would the supplies be the same as other college classes, right? Don’t worry, I am going to give you my simple Go-To list of things I bought for my first semester of nursing school, outside of what was required for us to have (Scrubs, stethoscope, pen light, and black shoes).

1. Colored Pens

I like colored pens because they help me keep things more organized.  In note taking colored pens help breakdown important information and help to highlight things that are most important.  I also use my colored pens in my planner to help me organize due dates, appointments, class schedules, blah blah blah.  My personal favorite pens are the papermate inkjoy retractable gel pens.

gel pens.jpgYou can literally find these pens anywhere, Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreen, Amazon, you name it.

2. Highlighters

Okay, this one was super important for me.  I use highlighters for everything still.  I highlight all over my book, my notes, my hand written notes, my SBAR, EVERYTHING!!!! Highlighters are so important in making information really stand out to the eye.  I am not picky on my highlighter brand.  Recently I have been buying the sharpie brand, whatever the store has.  I go through so many sharpies in a month it isn’t even funny (might want to buy stock in these). Again, highlighters can be found anywhere just like the pens.

3. 2″-3″ Three ring binder

Yes, you want a big one! One of two things will happen, you will either be given a lot of hand outs/print a lot of stuff, or you will take so many notes.  This is a perfect place to keep all of your notes and papers together.  The bigger the binder the more you can fit in it (DUH).  I personally like ones with pockets on the inside to store things I need to hole punch or put in clear pages and store away in the binder.  I also like the binders with clear pockets in the front so I can put custom things in the front.  I have 5 nieces and one of them likes to draw me things, this is something that helps me smile through school when I see them.  Find a binder that makes you happy to see, but is also functional.

Image result for 3 ring binder

4. Planner

This is super important in nursing school.  Your schedule changes so rapidly in school that it can be really hard to keep up with.  Having a planner saved my life.  I started with just a boring planner from Wal-Mart.  The cheapest thing I could find, just enough I could write every assignment and due date down in.  Now days I use an Erin Condren planner and LOVE IT SO MUCH!  Now, I’m not saying they are a must have, or go out and spend $60 on a planner like I did just because it is pretty.  An Erin Condren is not a must have, but a planner is a must have! GET A PLANNER, GET SOMETHING FUNCTIONAL! If you want something pretty that doesn’t cost as much as I chose to spend, go to a Michael’s and see the planners they have, and if you don’t care, just go to Walmart, no one cares what your planner looks like!

Image result for erin condren

6. Paper

Now, this I will leave to you how you want to buy it.  I use notebooks.  But I know a lot of people who use loose leaf paper, some people use graft paper.  I just like my notebook paper, a lot.  I think it is easiest for me to keep my notes together this way.  I paper clip my pages together per unit, and I have no chance of them falling out-of-order when I drop everything (because it will happen).

7. Small Calculate

This one might sounds crazy, but remember your instructors are expecting you to do some denominational analysis, and dosage calculations.  If your school is anything like mine, your cell phone is an automatic GOODBYE for the day!  I got mine at Wal-Mart for a dollar! It is cute, functional, small, and works!

Image result for small calculator

8. A Clipboard with storage

This is really important for clinical.  I use this EVERY CLINICAL! I keep my extra SBARs in here, my pens, my pen light, my highlighter, my calculator, extra paper for notes, and a pencil.  Here is the cool thing about these clipboards, you can get a plain one at Wal-Mart for a good $4 or so (depending where you live), or you can get on amazon and get one that has many nursing references on the back (my favorite!) I paid $20 for mine on amazon 2 years ago, but they go on sale sometimes too.

Image result for storage clipboardsThis is the one I have with references

Image result for storage clipboardsBut I also have this one with no references.

Both are very useful, and I highly suggest getting one for school, because it has been a HUGE life saver!

 

I hope this helps,

Your fourth semester nursing student.

nursing

My First Semester

Now that I have wrote a letter to all the incoming nursing students I want to tell you my about my personal experience in first semester of nursing school.

So we all know going into nursing school you are going to learn all of the basics in the first semester.  Basic PO medication administration, basic disease process (basically an A&P review), NG tube insertion, Foley catheter, so on and so on.  And of course I was super excited about all of this just like all first semester students are.  But what was happening at home is what was really on my mind during my first semester of nursing school.

The may before school started my Grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer.  It wasn’t too bad at first, of course.  She was fighting a strong fight, but went agreed to move to my mother’s house to have help when she started getting weaker.  That first month of school was just normal.  Grandma living with mom.  I was working nights and doing school.  I stopped by the house everyday to check on her after school, in the morning after work, before work, and of course on my days off too.  But I watched her get weaker and weaker day by day.  I started using my nursing skills that I was slowly gaining in school as she got sicker.  Things got harder on the family, and eventually my sister (who is a nurse) and I began taking care of my grandma at night.  I started calling into work to help take care of her as goodbye came closer.

This got to the point that she was in bed all the time.  She was on many medications that made her very weak.  Her kidneys had failed, and her body was shutting down.  I had to continue to focus on school while this was happening, but had to be emotionally there for my family as well.  This was one of the hardest things to do, and of course all at the start of nursing school.

A month after nursing school I had to say goodbye to my grandmother.  After spending a long Saturday night taking care of her with my sister and studying for a test that I had on Monday.  That Sunday evening she passed.  This was something that was really difficult for me and made me question even wanting to continue going to nursing school.  But I had to remember not all patients will be my grandmother, even though I need to care for all of them as if they are because there is no telling what family they do or don’t have around.

I spent the rest of my first semester studying really hard and getting straight A’s.  I spent a lot of time focusing on school and nothing else going on around me, because I had a really hard time dealing with the first women in my family to complete school and become a nurse, to pass away.  This was not the first time I had seen someone die, and it wont be the last, but it was the first family member I watched die.

No matter what you are going though, it is not worth giving up.  Keep following your dreams, and make something of yourself!

 

The hopefully Nursing student

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To the First Semester Nursing Student

Dear first semester nursing student,

Welcome to the biggest adventure of your next 2 years.  I sure do hope you are truly ready to sign your life away for 2 years.  Maybe, kind of- sort of, totally, how ever you really want to feel about this.  But lets real talk.

You are probably feeling so many different emotions right now.  You are excited because you have been working so hard for this, you are scared because the worst possible thing that could happen is you fail out, you are worried you aren’t prepared enough for your first class (you aren’t), and so many other things.  Well I am here to do one of two things, help you feel a little better, or confirm all of your emotions.

You have every right to be excited, YOU HAVE WORKED SO HARD TO GET INTO NURSING SCHOOL!!!!! Please be excited, you deserve this!

Be scared.  Yup, you need to be scared.  You never want to fail in nursing school.  There are so many different ways to study in nursing school, but you will find away that works for you.  One way that I personally study is NCLEX practice questions.  This has been helpful in allowing me to mentally prepare on breaking down these questions without over thinking.  I know girls that have been making flash cards, I don’t personally feel I have the time for that.  Other record lecture, rewrite notes, type notes, draw mind maps, and even teach their friends and family about the concepts being studied in class.  But most importantly remember you need to find something that works best for you and stick to it!!!

You are worried you aren’t prepared enough? Well, you probably aren’t.  No one is ever prepared for any nursing class.  Even going into my fourth semester I can tell you, I do not feel prepared enough.  Have a binder for important papers and even notes.  Have a way to take notes that works for you, I like to type mine so I bring my tablet to type on.  Make sure you have a planner, this helps with organizing all things, class and clinical even personal life.  And of course have the things the school requires you to have.

In nursing school you need to focus on your schooling, your future, you career, and the goal you have set for yourself.  Do not let ANYONE or ANYTHING get in your way of you and that nursing license!  You have worked this hard to get into school, its only 2 (or 3 depending on your program) more years until you have a career started for yourself and you will NOT regret this long, hard, and heart filling journey.

Your Fourth Semester Mentor