What Nursing School Taught Me

On Saturday I cared for my favorite type of patient and he happened to be a member of the KKK.

I prefer my patients to be intubated and sedated. They are less mean and more challenging to take care of. I like a good challenge and puzzle. I like critical patients. I love titrating medications and having labs and diagnostics to look at. I understand that portion of medicine.

I also do not like people who are prejudice and overall poor human beings. So, caring for my favorite type of patient and least favorite type of person was difficult.

I wrote a post a while back about how nursing school beat me down and why I don’t think nursing is where I want to STAY. Not that I never wanted to be an RN ever, only that it isn’t where I see myself in 20 years. Let me be clear, Nursing is a WONDERFUL and STRONG profession. Nurses are SMART and CARING. Nurses are who save people’s lives and make them better. Nurses are the eyes and ears in the hospital, but nursing school taught me that it isn’t where I fit. It isn’t where my passion is and to some, that means that I am not able to whole heartedly care for my patients. Turns out, I can, I do, and I will continue to as long as I am an RN.

Nursing school taught me that I am SO MUCH better at pathophysiology than I ever will be at patient care. It taught me that I am good at quick thinking and taking care of critical patients. Nursing school taught me that I would rather look at labs and diagnostics, because I find them more interesting.

Nursing school taught me how to care for a patient who has the same views as me and those who don’t. It taught me compassion and care in the face of hate. It taught me that no matter your background, when you are intubated and in the ICU, you are SCARED. Everyone is on equal ground in a hospital.

Nursing school taught me how to be strong when I don’t want to be. It taught me to show compassion to people who have views I don’t agree with. It taught me that holding the hand of a KKK member when they are coming out of sedation IS caring for my patient, WHOLEHEARTEDLY, regardless if their views contradict mine.

Nursing school taught me how vitally important it is to talk to your patient and their family. I taught me how important education and patient teaching are. Nursing school taught me the true importance of self-care and the difficulty behind it. I taught me how difficult it is for patients to dig themselves out of that hole of poor health in a way that only someone who has been there too can understand. It taught me that can related to a diverse on a variety of topics. It taught me to step back and think about the patient from their point of views, rather than from mine.

I have talked, at length, with various nursing instructors, preceptors, and family members about my decision to advance my degree away from nursing. For a long time I fought it. I felt like I was turning my back on a very noble profession and other nurses would feel the same. I felt bad. I convinced myself that I wanted to get my DNP and become a nurse practitioner and that would be enough for me. I was wrong. I met Pressy. I talked to Pressy many times about my future. I respect her more than really anyone that I have had the honor of learning from. One day, I asked her why she didn’t go the Medical School. I hadn’t made up my mind and that semester left me confused about where I wanted to go. Pressy told me that it was her biggest regret and spent the rest of the semester encouraging me to pursue medical school. So, I made up my mind and decided to accept the fact that I want to spend my life in a lab looking at slides and performing autopsies. I sent days determining what I really wanted to do and when I admitted to myself and others, I got nothing but support from my fellow nurses and my current clinical group. When I admitted it to myself, I felt happy. I felt like I had finally found my fit of where I wanted to go in life.

Nursing school taught me that I am not made to be a nurse and it taught me that it is OKAY. It taught me that while I am pursuing the education that is fit for me, I can still work as a nurse and care for patients, wholeheartedly. I know that nursing is not where I am going to end up, and I fought with that for a long time, but that DOES NOT mean I won’t be a good nurse. It means that I recognize that I can better help my patients from a different field.

I would LOVE to be able to switch my major now and a pre-med program to apply to medical school sooner. However,  it turns out that I just spent thousands of dollars on nursing school and funding a new $200,000 degree is going to require me to make and save a little money. I am not going to waste my nursing degree. I am not going half ass my training and the care of my patients because I am going into a different field. That would be super dumb. Instead, I am going to use this degree and profession to learn as much as I can. I am going to use the training and education on the job to help me in my future practice, research, and care of others. I am going to care for each one of my patients wholeheartedly regardless of background, social history, ethnicity, illness, attitude, or demands. I proved this to myself this week and I will continue to prove it to anyone who tells me that I can’t, just because I have realized my true passion isn’t nursing, but pathology.

I learned a lot in nursing school, but nursing school taught me much more about myself than I could ever imagine.

 

What I Actually Learned in Nursing School

“I don’t have time.”
“I have a test this week.”
“I need to study.”
Three years of my life has been devoted to teaching others on how to be healthy. What the correct diet looks like. How frequently you should exercise. How to cope with stress of life and illness. How to moderate drinking and sweets. I know what the book says. I know the science. I also know that it is far from how I have dealt with the stress of nursing school. Nothing prepared me for the hole that I find myself in now. And I am trying to get out. There is dirt under my nails, my fingers are bleeding, and there are tear streaks down my face. I am trying. But the anxiety I have experienced in the past 3 years is greater than I have ever had before.
I graduate in a little over a month and I should be ecstatic about starting to work in my job, but I am really only excited about not being in nursing school.

I gained 20 pounds. Pounds that I had lost a year before starting. Pounds that haven’t helped with my poor body issues. Pounds that have only increased my anxiety. I would love to sit here and say that it is okay, that my mental and physical health are just fine, and that once I finish school it will all get better, but I would be lying.
Nursing school wrecked me. It took away my physical health, my mental health, and it hurt my relationships. Too often I put everything on the back burner in order prepare for the tests that I take to prove that I can be responsible for anthers life. I stopped working out, I stopped going out, I stopped putting aside time to call, Skype, and relax. I put ALL of my time and energy into maintaining my 3.9.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE what I am learning. I love learning about the human body. I know that sacrifices had to be made to get me where I am, but I am tired. Tired from the papers, care plans, tests, readings, and clinical time. Tired from all the personal things that the last three years have brought. Tired from the anxiety attacks. Too often my coping mechanisms have been crying in shower and stuffing Klondike bars in my face (hence the 20 pound weight gain). Too many times I have found myself in a fight with my fiancé over where my time is best spent and my desire to continue my education in a more straining master’s degree. Too many times I have found myself waking up in the middle of the night with fear about forgetting to take a test. Too many times I have found myself waking up after falling asleep studying at 2 a.m. Too many times I found myself with migraines from lack of sleep and then an inability to sleep because I am too anxious about not studying.
We need nurses, but I keep finding that we are breaking them before they get to be nurses. I know the schooling has to be tough, after all we have people’s lives in our hands. However, in this past semester I have had more than a handful of people tell me they don’t want to be nurses. They did all the schooling to realize they don’t want to actually be nurses and, let’s face it, I don’t want to be a nurse. I went through hell the past 3 years and I am not super excited about going through it all over again when I start working.
I spent last Saturday on a CIC floor for my last rotation. They were 4 nurses short. FOUR NURSES SHORT on a unit of some of the most critically ill in the hospital. My nurse had two patients that should have each had their own. I am not looking forward to the disrespect and downright mean patients. I am not looking forward to spending 90% of my time charting rather than doing the care that I am trained to do. To quote my CIC nurse “I can’t do any critical thinking when I am dealing with two complex patients and spending all my time charting.”
My recent anxiety is not about school, it’s about the job. It’s about dealing with patients who tell me that they will sue me every time I need to draw blood to ensure they are stable. It is because I am fed up with being told to be a waitress, cleaning lady, T.V. guide, AND a RN for multiple people. It is about having too few nurses to safely cover a floor, leaving me liable. It is about spending all my time charting and not putting to use what I am learning. It is about all the cost cutting measures that send patients home with less than adequate supplies and education to manage, because the quicker they are in and out the cheaper it is for the hospital. My anxiety is about the fact that I don’t want to deal with any of it.

This was right before I started Nursing School.

Nursing school has drained

This was today. The bags under my eyes are from lack of sleep and I didn’t have time to brush my hair.

me. It has made me

want to spend all day in my sweats and not get out of bed. It has made me have anxiety attack more frequently than I care to say. It has made me not want to stay a nurse. You can tell me all you want that nursing school is about learning how to care for patients, but you will NEVER convince me of that.
Nursing school is about learning how to survive on 3 hours of sleep. Nursing school is learning how to chart well enough so if a patient sues you, you can prove you provided care. Nursing school is about developing thick skin to deflect mean patients and nurses who too often forget they were us at one point. Nursing school taught me that you can’t maintain your GPA, physical health, and all relationships while still having good mental health. Nursing school taught me that your anxiety and poor body image issue will come back with a vengeance. It taught me that people don’t care if you have to spend money on items you will literally only use once. Nursing school taught me that you have to look the part to be taken seriously. Nursing school taught me that it isn’t really about patient safety, because if it was then floors would be staffed adequately, nurses wouldn’t have mandatory overtime, and there would actually be time for nurses to take a lunch. Nursing school taught me that feeling down and out is not an option because you have to pass the test. It taught me that nurses are some of the most unhealthy people I know.
Today I had an anxiety attack. It was bad. I sat there rereading the same sentence five times still not comprehending what I wrote down in my notes. It was a simple sentence, but I still couldn’t tell you what it was about. I had one yesterday and the day before. Three attacks in three days will drain you. I know. I coped with chocolate, but today I coped with a run. I still feel like crap. I want to sit in my room with a blanket and sleep for about five days, but I can’t. I have to study, I have to write my notes, take my quizzes, and write my papers. So, I put my anxiety energy into a run. I ran for the first time in months and it felt good, but I feel like I should have spent the past hour studying. I’m not the happy nursing student I was when I started. I was better. I had made it through the problems I enter college with, but they come back harder the second time.
My advice for anyone going into nursing: Be prepared to be tired. Be prepared to run on fumes 90% of the time. Be prepared to cry and scream and gain weight. Be prepared to live on coffee. Be prepared for the anxiety and burnout. Hopefully, at the end, unlike me, you will still want to stay a nurse. Hopefully you will somehow have the strength and motivation to continue caring for patients who are mean, rude, and unthankful. Hopefully you will be like so many students I know now who have made it to the end, see the light, and still love nursing just as much as when they went in. I however, am not that person. I don’t think I ever was going to be, which is why my current professional goal is to work with the dead.
Nursing taught me a lot of things about nursing and a lot more about the amount of stress my body can take.

What Two Weeks of Journal Writing and Self Reflection Did for Me

In the past two weeks of my Christmas Break, I have done very little, but it feels like a lot. fullsizerender-3

I slept around 12 hours a night. I kept my usual bed time of midnight, but I woke up around noon everyday. I ate food that was bad for me, I watched A LOT of Netflix, I wore sweats almost everyday, and I spent most of the time with my aging dog. I began to clean and pack my bedroom. I created a large bag of trash and a large bag that goes to Goodwill. I have baked cookies and made buckeyes. I found a few last minute Christmas gifts and wrapped (poorly) presents. img_5358I drank many cups of coffee and tea. I have been able to forgive old grudges and recreate friendships. I picked up yoga again and started to better my eyeliner skills. I created an inspiration and motivation board. I spent time with nature, my parents, and my many animals. I had Christmas with my family (I got a lot of books and Calligraphy things). img_5275Finally, I did a lot of self reflection that I wasn’t really prepared for, which is the main purpose of this post.

My journaling used to consist of me just discussing my day and the feelings that followed. However, in reading a “self help” type book (which I really never read), I began to start every journal entry with “3 Things I was Good at Today,” “3 Things I am Grateful for Today,” and I recently started “1 Thing I Learned Today.” I was very skeptical at first when I began this. I have never been into “self-help” type things and I didn’t really expect these little practices to do much for me. img_5220

My entries in my journal were sporadic and sparse (kind of like my blog posts!). Once a month was pushing it, let alone everyday. However, after I started, for lack of a better word, “forcing” myself to write each day, I found the benefits tremendous. My self confidence, which is poor, has started to increase. I became more aware of my surroundings. Finding three things I was good at each day was and still is harder than I thought. It forces me to look back on my day and look at all things I did or didn’t do. I Some are simple like “make coffee for my grandpa” or “make an egg and cheese sandwich.” Other days, I find myself writing “making my friends smile” or “self forgiveness after eating a lot of sweets.” img_5170Several of the things are harder to accomplish than others, and I am proud of myself at the end of the day when I think back on it. When writing about what I am grateful for I found the same thing. It is either “my dog” or “the odd, but useful, advice my father gives me” and “the car ride talks with my mom.” These two practices that I end my day with increase my awareness of myself and I have started to find that I reflect on my day, during my day. This allows me to really enjoy and make sense of what is going on in my head and feelings. I have started to build myself up instead of tear myself down. By focusing what I was good at during the day, I focus less on the things I did wrong or messed up. Each entry takes 30-45 minutes and I spend a lot of time really thinking about my day.

I am still going strong; I haven’t missed a day in two weeks. My journal has started to house more thoughts and less complications in my life. I have filled out so many pages, I have had to purchase a new journal. I am better able to sort out what is going on in my mind when it is written on paper. Let’s face it, the chances of me keeping up the everyday writing is slim, and once school picks back up I am hoping to write at least once a week. However, I will still strive for an entry a day. I still will try and write my 3, 3, 1 practices. I am going to try to continue to better connect to myself and reflect on my actions and thoughts, regardless of whether or not I write in my journal.

I didn’t imagine that writing in a journal would have such a large impact on my life in just a couple of weeks, but I feel better. I feel more self aware. I feel more confident. I feel more ready to face my future and adulthood.

The past two weeks, I have really been focusing on myself and not pleasing other people. Journaling has really helped me with this process. It allows me to look inside and articulate what I really want. I am still not entirely sure what that is, but I feel closer to an answer and more confident that I will find my way, wherever that is.

So, I encourage anyone who reads this, whether or not you are on the fence about journaling, to try it. If you are having problems writing, try the 3 practices I mentioned. They will be more helpful than you think.

This Year in Review

Hiya!

I started this year with a vow to keep up with a blog. Needless to say, that img_4834didn’t happen. It feels like it has been AGES since I wrote, or at least a while. I have gained tattoos an piercings, friends, and family members. I never imagined that the second semester of nursing school would be more stressful and exhausting than the first. Little did I know, semesters 3 and 4 were far worse. I have grown in the past year, but I will get to that later. More than just nursing school has occurred in the past year. I can’t remember if I have written about this in the past, but my freshman year of college, we moved one of my grandfathers in with my parents. In the past 11 months he went from semi-knowing who I am. By this, I mean he knew my name and could most of the time place me as a grandchild. Now, I am no where in his mind 99% of the time. I am just another person, or “woman,” that walks in the house and sometimes feeds him. I, long ago, accepted that dementia was taking over his mind and he would forget who I was. My mother and father have accepted it and my brother is coming to terms. However, some of my family is in denial mode. This is the hardest part to me. Denial is a dangerous thing. Denial has put all of the responsibility of care for my grandfather on my parents. I have never seen caregiver role strain at such a devastating level. I come home as often as possible, but lets face it, nursing school doesn’t really give a damn about personal lives. So, while you are reading through this, keep in mind a lot of stress of nursing school is occurring along side family stress.

 

IMG_0220 (1)
Look at me all happy to start nursing school, before I knew what it would be like (Aug. 2015).

I started my Medical-Surgical nursing courses back in January, but it feels more like I started it years ago. It was tough and it was mentally and physically taxing. I quickly fell out of my healthy diet and exercise routines. I gained weight, then got back into my health and lost it. I was geared up to keep it off over the summer. Yeah, right. Honestly, looking back now, I can’t believe it was only a year ago. The spring is a blur of class, clinical, tests, and finally finals. I was on a stroke floor and MDU (Medical Diabetic Unit). I learned a lot, but in hindsight, it actually wasn’t that much.  My clinical instructor, while tough on us, was nothing  would encounter later on. Through this semester, I was also in my Mental Health rotation and was placed in a Richmond. I learned very quickly that Psych was NOT for me. I was also taking a cultural anthropology class, stats, and medical terminology class. I was fortunate to spend spring break with my Fiance in Virginia before he was transferred to Georgia.

I had once thought that I would really miss my old clinical group, but looking back, I never really felt comfortable with them. There was always a bit of edge when it came to testing and grades. There was never really a cohesiveness that I found in my next two clinical groups. I thought that nursing school couldn’t more stressful. I thought I knew where I would go in nursing. I thought the year would go smoothly. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After my first semester I had a week off. I got a new tattoo, tried to rest up for the new semester, and I spent time with my family. I was prepared for a jam packed semester and I thought I was prepared. Turns out, it is really hard to prepare for less sleep, increased stress, 15 pound weight gain, and 2 month underway trip where I wasn’t able to talk to my best friend.

Okay, this summer I was in Medical-Surgical/Adult Health 2, Pediatrics, and Research. Med-Surg was mainly surgical based. I was on a Ortho and ABD surgical floor, and I got a one day observation in surgery. I had the fortune of watching a double mastectomy. This was emotionally a bit tough, seeing both of my grandmothers suffer from breast cancer made this surgery hit close to home, but I am grateful that it was the surgery I was able to observe. I had a clinical instructor who was more demanding and expected more from us that I could have prepared for. I wasn’t too worried, seeing I am generally over-prepared for everything (thank you crippling anxiety caused by fear of being seen as not smart enough). She continuously told us that she was preparing us for if we had Pressy in the next semester. Chances of that were 20% but lucky me, I got her. Anyway, over the summer I was challenged more than ever. I took 16 weeks worth of content in 10 weeks times 3 separate classes. While I knew I never really wanted to do pediatrics, this summer solidified that. I did however enjoy several aspects of the clinical rotation. The class had the opportunity to attend Riley Children’s Hospital four times. I found out that the burn unit is somewhere that I could see myself working. While Riley’s was sad and emotionally tough, I realized that I enjoyed the severity of the conditions. I liked that I had to know more, watch the patients more closely, and I liked the overall complexity of the care. NICU and PICU are not places I want to work, but I do think the CCU, ICU, and PACU might be a place for me. While in the “real clinical setting” where were cared for patients, rather than just observing, I had the opportunity to observe another surgical procedure. I was excited for my research class this summer, but it was not what I wanted in research. Okay, background moment here: I have always been drawn to research. I love the idea of having a problem and finding a suitable solution. Micro, Chem, and Physio were my favorite classes I have ever taken. I was excited about looking into research, writing research reports, and looking into it as an option for my future. This class was NOT that. It was how to read research. This is needed in order to implement evidence-based practice, it was not what I was hoping for. I also found that nursing research is not the type of research I am drawn to. It is more theory based and a lot less labs and microscopes. This was the first time, in almost a year, that I allowed myself to start thinking about Med School. I had made a promise that I now realize I was not able to to keep. I once told my significant other that I wouldn’t look into Med School based on the fact that it would be difficult on the already long distance relationship. The personal growth that happened during this semester was huge and also discussed later.

Somehow, by the grace of God and the support of an amazing clinical group, I passed the summer semester. My clinical group in this semester was made of 6 people. We went through a lot with clinical instructors, class, and finals. I was closer to this group in the 10 weeks we were together than my other clinical group I was with for 32 weeks. They were kind, supportive, and we were all in the boat of stress and seriousness about nursing school. We shared more stories about personal lives and ate lunches out between classes. During the fall, we even got together a couple of times.

This fall was stressful. I finally came to terms with the fact that I want to go to medical school. I had one of the most demanding clinical instructors who helped me realize my potential.  I entered yet another clinical group. I had more self growth than I have ever had and I am still learning more about myself each day. My classes were only nursing. I took Labor and Delivery, Adult Health/Med-Surg 3, and Community Health. OB and Community were only eight weeks and felt more like busy work. Most of my semester was focused on Med-Surg. For my clinical we were on MTU (Medical Telemetry Unit), CPC (Cardiac Progressive Care), and PCU (Progressive Care Unit). All of which are mainly focused on cardiac. I also had an observation day on oncology in the outpatient infusion room. I ended up with Presswinda as my clinical instructor and she was the first clinical instructor that I had to tell me that I needed to go to Medical School. She is an NP and one of the smartest people I have met. Throughout the semester she continually challenged me at a level I had never before had. She required us to come to clinical each week with a level of knowledge that was amazing. Not only did we have to really know our meds, but we also had to know a lot of physiology. This, to me, was not a great burden. Cue my crippling anxiety and LOVE of pathophysiology.

Pressy was who I needed at a moment when I was very unsure if nursing was the right fit for me. In the middle of me having an internal battle, I asked her why she choose NP over MD. She told me “it is my biggest regret.” At the moment I knew that I had to do what was in my heart. I have known since my firs semester of college that I wanted Med School, bu I denied myself to think about it to make is easier on others. But, I know deep down, that I want to go to Med School and possibly pursue pathology. I know deep down that is what I am most drawn to. Pressy was there to encourage me and be a unbiased supporter of me. At he end of the semester when I told her I had made the decision that I planned on going to Medical School for possibly Pathology, she gave me a hug and said I would be great that. I never imagined a demanding and tiny lady could have had such a huge impact on my future.

The past two semesters have been emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally taxing. I graduate in less than 6 months and I have recently realized I really don’t know what I really want to do. After this semester I have come to the conclusion that my future probably does not sit in nursing. This realization has put a lot of stress and strain on myself and my close relationships. By changing my future plans, I have severely upset everything my Fiance had planned. Have skewed my time lines and have come to many realizations in life.

I am so excited to take the next 4 ish weeks of my Christmas Break and the time it will give me to do some serious self reflection and research into what I really want to do and who I want to be (and spend time with my dogs). I have grown so much in the past 3 years that sometimes I don’t think I am the same person. This past semester was a whirlwind of change for me and I am hesitant (and a little anxious) to finish schooling because for the first time in my life, I don’t know what I really want, in schooling or for life in general. I am learning more about myself and I am trying to get in touch more with my feelings. My mental health hasn’t been the best this past year and I am constantly putting it to the side in order to prevent upsetting others. I have recently discovered things about myself that are scary, game changing, and anxiety inducing. However, admitting things, that I have for so long tried to ignore, has lead to me feeling more at home in my skin and in my mind. I am slowly accepting that change and confusion at this point in my life is okay. I am more than thankful for my wonderful support systems that I have and their continuing encouragement for me find my place in this world. 

I go into this break knowing it is okay that I don’t know what I want and that I still have time to figure it out. I know my future lies somewhere in the vicinity of medicine and science, I am just not sure where yet. My nursing degree was and is not a waste and I intended on using my current and future experiences to aid in my continued eimage1ducation and practice. I do plan on working as a nurse through my future schooling (Medical School isn’t free, after all). There are so many people telling me that I should do this or I should do that and this has made it difficult for me to really figure out what I want, without
pleasing everyone else. I am stressed and I am exhausted from this year and I finally finished my finals and this past day I have done nothing. I know I will figure my life out someday and I know I have an amazing support system rooting for me, regardless of the decisions I make. I have made so many good, kind, and caring friends and I am so glad my college journey lead me to them.

Iimg_4955 know that once I graduate, I will have more schooling ahead and that makes me excited and scared. Emotionally this semester has been draining and the stress of everyone needing to know what I am going to do is extremely draining. The anxiety of feeling of failure that comes with the looks people give when you I say “I don’t think I am going to be a nurse forever” is honestly terrible. This is my life and I am responsible for my own happiness. I am realizing that I need to start standing up for my self and the things I want in my future. So, I ask of you to not expect me to know what I am doing or going to do. I ask that you keep your judgments and feelings about my choices to yourself until you understand why I am doing the things I choose to do. No, I do know what I want in life, and for the first time, I am finding that to be an acceptable response to many questions. I am scared for what he future holds, but I am also ready for it to begin. I wrote a blog post a while back about why I choose nursing. I don’t know why I choose it and I don’t think I will stay in nursing. It happened to be a stepping stone to assist me later in life and I am so grateful for its experiences, lessons, and its knowledge.

Isabelle Yazel

 

Why Do You Want to be a Nurse?

Today I was asked this very simple seeming question: Why do you want to be a nurse? In my almost 3 years and now 7 semesters in pre-nursing/nursing school, I don’t think I have ever really been posed with this particular question. I have often been asked what kind of nurse I want to be, where I want to work, and if I am going to get my masters. I am sure, somewhere along the line, someone has asked me. I probably responded halfheartedly with one of the following reasons:

My grandmother was a nurse, several of my aunts and other family members are, so it seemed right.

I want to be a trauma nurse because I grew up around the emergency service action and stories my father told.

I love that I can go into a lot of different fields and I will constantly be learning.

In reality, today was the first day I actually thought about it. Up until my senior year of high school I wanted to be a vet. I usually tell people that I dropped that dream because I didn’t want to do the schooling, but if you really knew me you could probably tell that was a lie. In all honesty, it was because I didn’t think I was smart enough. I figured I was smart enough to be an RN (not that nursing is easy or simple). It seemed logical. Follow in family footsteps and I already knew I liked the stories and gore of emergency services.

Once I got to college, I really fell in love with what I was learning. The love I felt when first started taking my science classes in high school, the love I felt when I talked to my dad about the emergency runs he had been on, and the love I felt in learning again. My first freshman semester of college was the first time I had ever thought about doing something other than nursing, something more. I was ding well in my classes and I really liked what I was learning. I guess that should have been a warning sign, because I still couldn’t tell myself why I was doing what I was doing, other than that I loved what I was learning.

Today was the first time I really told anyone that I went into nursing because I wanted the knowledge. Everyone else stated a family history of nursing, knowing since they were a child, or a friend/family/role model that inspired them to be a nurse. Quite honestly I felt embarrassed that I didn’t have a semi-similar story. I went into the health care field because of pure curiosity. I just wanted to know. Of course, deep down I always knew this was the reason but I didn’t want to admit it because, well, that isn’t usually why people go into nursing. I don’t think I ever had a defining moment that made me want to go into nursing. I don’t really know if I have had one yet, or if I ever will. However, I do know that I went into this field for curiosity, and that is also why I don’t think I will stop at an RN.

While I love what I am doing and learning, and I respect the field of nursing greatly, I think I want more. I want more knowledge. I am curious at my core. After talking to several clinical instructors and a lot of long conversations/anxiety attacks with myself, I am still yet to decide what I really want to be when I grow up, but I am not sure that it is to be a RN.

I went into nursing because I was curious and I think that reason alone will be the death of me. I don’t know that I will ever stop wanting to know. My dad always said that when I was a kid I asked a lot of questions, so I blame my curiosity on my parents. They always encouraged me to know more and I never stopped learning as a child. I don’t know if I can stop learning now. Medical School has been tugging away at the back of my mind for the past 2 years. I have done a pretty good job of suppressing it, but as my nursing school career nears and end, that thought has over taken my mind. I made it though the torture named nursing school, so why wouldn’t I be able to battle the beast of Medical School?

Of course, I haven’t made up my mind and I am planning on working for a year as an RN before I make any decisions, but I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that if I don’t continue my education it will be a big regret in my life, and I don’t want to live with that regret.

An Introduction to My Life

Up until this point all my posts have been an assignment for one of my college English classes. However, since beginning this “assignment” I have really wanted to truly keep up with a blog. The following posts will most likely be regarding my journey through nursing school, my struggles with being in a long distance relationship, and my journey to being a healthier me. I may also include book reviews (I am an avid reader when not overwhelmed with course work) and other content too. In the rest of this post I am going to touch on several of these subjects, just to give you a background to help explain future posts. I hope you enjoy what I write and thank you for following me on my journey!

My journey through nursing school is already halfway finished. (YAY!) I will begin my first semester of my junior year in the Spring of 2016. I can honestly say I am super excited. I will begin the classes that I have been waiting for since I started high school. I can’t wait to grow closer to my clinical group and

Here is a picture of my lovely Clinical group taken on the last day at our agency. Dylan is standing in the back on the left and Tazia is in the back on the right. The next row, left to right, is Joi, me, Nikki, Hanna, and then our instructor Marcy. The front row is Ashley, Taylor and then Ali.
Here is a picture of my lovely Clinical group taken on the last day at our agency. Dylan is standing in the back on the left and Tazia is in the back on the right. The next row, left to right, is Joi, me, Nikki, Hanna, and then our instructor Marcy. The front row is Ashley, Taylor and then Ali.

learn more about myself in the process. This past semester I have grown more in-tune with my own emotions and those that I express around my patients. I have learned the value of compassion and how critical it is in the medical environment. I also learned how important it is to have friends and family rooting in your corner and supporting you all the way. I also learned about the importance of proper time management and finding the right studying method. The stress was overwhelming, and I know I will be in even more stress this semester, but I am more than ready for it. I plan on becoming an Emergency Department Nurse following graduation and then becoming a certified Trauma Nurse. Later in my career I want to volunteer for medical missions and obtain my Flight Nurse Certification. I want to attend grad school to become a nurse practitioner, but I am yet to decide when I want to do this. My relationship plays a large role in these decisions.

Being in a long distance relationship, as many will be able to tell you, is tough. I am going on year three with the love of my life. We knew each other for five years before we finally began dating in 2014 and then became engaged on January 4, 2015 (Exactly a year since we began dating).

Me and my love.
Me and my love. 

Cole (my fiancé) in is the NAVY and is not stationed in Indiana, where I am in school. This means that we get to see each other between 20-30 days a year. This is broken down to ten days at Christmas, seven at Spring Break, and the rest is fit in around the summer. In order to really remain close to each other, we call and skype for about a total of an hour and a half a day, around five days a week. There are few “dates” we go on, mainly because when we are together, we would rather stay at his apartment and bake, read, cook, and catch up on T.V. shows we both love. Each trip I make, we create a new menu to try. I usually bake about four to five different treats and he cooks the same amount of meals. Baking and cooking are passions we both have outside of our jobs (or schooling in my case). This gives us a sense of what it will be like in a year and a half when I can move out to where he is.

While many think that a long distance relationship is full of those involved being sad and pining all the time, which is not the truth. I miss Cole all the time, but I like being in a long distance relationship while I am in nursing school. It gives me time to myself to grow as an individual separate from my future husband. Being in a long distance relationship also enables me to really focus on nursing school. Nursing school, as a mentioned above, is stressful. Because of this, I need a lot of time to myself to study. I love being with Cole, but I also think that being in my long distance relationship has been a great experience for us to have.

The final topic that I will most likely end up talking about in my blog will be my health. I used to be a fairly large individual. In high school I was obese until my senior year when I made a change. Not all of my weight loss methods were healthy, and at times I catch myself falling back into the unhealthy ways. Since beginning college I have found a love for running and weight lifting. Now, I run around 20-30 miles a week or three to eight miles a day depending on my time. I also try to lift weights twice a week and I attend the campus marital arts club two to three days a week. Since beginning college I also started a much healthier diet. College is this amazing place where they offer a lot of foods. During my freshman year I started adding more healthy foods to each meal. Since beginning my health journey in the last year of high school and into college I have felt physically, emotionally, and mentally healthier and happier. I am not a health nut, and I don’t force my lifestyle on others, but I really do believe that a healthier lifestyle leads to a better life.

Since the New Year has just begun, I might as well mention my “New Years’ Resolution.” Unlike many, last year I kept mine. I did begin running, eating healthy, and becoming a healthier individual. This year my resolution is pretty much the same. However, instead of focusing on weight, as I did this past year, I am going to focus on measurements. I want to lift more weights and eat even better.

My old (and very dead) running shoes and my Yoga mat. These have both seen many hours of use and love.
My old (and very dead) running shoes and my Yoga mat. These have both seen many hours of use and love.

I want to grow my yoga practice (I want to do a crow pose!), self-awareness, and mindfulness of my actions and others.  There are places where I am lacking in my personal health goal and I want to fill those. I want to fit into size ten pants and feel confident in a swimsuit. Some of these goals are going to be very hard to accomplish. I am going to need to work on my self-love and confidence a lot. There is no time like the present and I am super excited to begin! Tomorrow, January 4th is my anniversary and also the beginning to my “Healthy New Year.”

I hope you will join me on my various journeys through this year and the years to come.

Isabelle Yazel

A Review of my First Semester in Nursing School

Wait, this semester is almost over? Already?! It seems like it was just yesterday I was walking into Cooper Science building for my first day of clinical lab! I had no idea this would be where I would spend so many hours practicing and the first seven weeks of the semester. In the labs my clinical group and I learned the fundamental skills and assessments that we would later apply on real people. I was very nervous and having an anxiety attack. I was so worried about doing something wrong. I was nervous about meeting the people in my clinical group that I would be spending the next year with. Would they like me? Would I like them? Were we going to help each other out? I was nervous about meeting my clinical instructor. Was she going to be mean? Was she nice? How much help would she offer when I had a question? I was a mess. Then I tripped, ripped a hole in my scrub pants, and I knew the day couldn’t get any worse or more embarrassing. I picked myself up and walked up the three flights of stairs to meet the people I would soon call some of my closest friends.

I wish I could go back to beginning of the semester me and tell her that Marcy

Here is a picture of my lovely Clinical group taken on the last day at our agency. Dylan is standing in the back on the left and Tazia is in the back on the right. The next row, left to right, is Joi, me, Nikki, Hanna, and then our instructor Marcy. The front row is Ashley, Taylor and then Ali.
Here is a picture of my lovely Clinical group taken on the last day at our agency. Dylan is standing in the back on the left and Tazia is in the back on the right. The next row, left to right, is Joi, me, Nikki, Hanna, and then our instructor Marcy. The front row is Ashley, Taylor and then Ali.

is the best instructor I could have, I would make great friends, and the semester was going to be a very successful one. Marcy was probably the most helpful clinical instructor ever. She offered words of advice and encouragement throughout the entire semester. I don’t think I would have survived without her. I knew that any question I had, I could ask. My friends are amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better support system to help guide each other through nursing school. However, time travel hasn’t been invented and walking in on my first day, I didn’t know any of this.

The semester started out stressful. I don’t remember sleeping a whole lot the first few weeks. It took me longer than I would like to admit to fall into a working groove. I was busy with lecture content, skills, assessments, and other classes. On top of that I was trying to stay healthy (which is really hard to do on five hours of sleep a night and a ton of classwork). Like I said, stressful.

Coffee was my best friend until I eventually made friends with those in my clinical group. It didn’t really take as long as it felt like. By the third week we were all pretty close.  The more time I spent with my clinical group, the closer we grew as friends. I soon came to realize that once you wipe butts, shower, and clean up patients with these people, you are pretty much the best of friends.

On the second week of clinical, we had our first check off. This is where we present a skill that we learned the previous week to our instructor. We used each other as patients and we were all nervous. Even though it was only a check off on vital signs, it was still nerve racking. You only get three chances and then you fail the course and are asked to leave the nursing school for that semester. On top of these skills being stressful, we had tests fast approaching. For these we are required to score an average of 78% or higher in order to stay in the School of Nursing. Even with all of the stress, late nights, cups of coffee, and yes, some freak outs, I managed to survive all my check offs, course tests, and eventually the semester.

Fast forward to week eight, this was our first day at the clinical agency. This was our first day working with real patients instead of mannequins and each other. Talk about nerve racking. I was scared to touch, transfer, feed, dress, and preform assessments on the patients. Looking back, I find it funny how nervous I was. The residents really don’t mind you working with them. Many are just sweet elderly people that are waiting for time to nap. They answer your questions and let you do assessments as long as you promise to be done soon. Some of the residents are funny, whereas others can be mean. I learned to just let the mean ones be mean and smother them with my kindness and smiles. After about the third day working with them you learn a lot about them. I had on patient who wouldn’t go down for lunch until The Price is Right was over. Another patient never smiled so I smiled at her every day. By the end of our time there he smiled at me whenever we saw each other. I learned many peoples coffee order preference. A skill II thought I would be done with once getting out of the food service industry.

By far my favorite part of being at our agency was watching wound care and passing medications. I LOVED it. Several of those in my clinical group followed around the wound care nurse for several of the weeks. Even though it was mainly observation based, on occasion we were allowed to hold a limb here or place a patch of gauze there. These were the times when I was really able to feel like a real nurse.

This past Thursday was our last day at the agency and it was bittersweet leaving. I created a connection with a few of the patients. I had grown accustom to feeding particular patients, showering certain patients, and working with particular CNAs. By this time in the semester, we were able to transfer, bathe, toilet, and help dress patients as long as we had another student or CNA present. I was starting to feel like a real nurse. The last day was also my day to pass medications, give a breathing treatment, and flush a G- tube. It was a great last day, and it made me even more excited about becoming a RN.

I have learned a lot this past semester and I don’t just mean content. I learned a lot about how to care for patients, I learned a lot about compassion, and I learned that a smile can change someone’s day. I also learned that coffee is the best breakfast, carry in lunches are the key to happy friends, and that nurses really don’t find anything gross. I learned that having a group of friends that have your back is great, some sent out weekly reminders of assignments that are due, others ask questions that we are all wondering about, set up library rooms for studying, and some just send funny pictures to keep up moral when we are all stressed.

We had to do a fun one to end the semester!
We had to do a fun one to end the semester!

I couldn’t have asked for a better semester to kick off my nursing school career. Four more semesters to go and then I will graduate. It doesn’t seem like four semesters ago I was moving in and beginning pre-nursing courses. Time moves really fast, but I can’t wait for next semester and what it has in store for me. Of course, I have to survive finals first. As I dive head first into dead week and then into finals week, I know that there are seven other girls and Dylan who are in my same boat. I know I can count on them to keep me grounded and help me de-stress.

 

Good luck to you on finals!

Happy Studying,

Isabelle Yazel

If you want to look at some more nursing blogs you can look here for a list and here for another blog!

Enjoy!