Survival tips for a future student nurse

Many of you found my blog by googling something along the lines of “Will I survive nursing school?”  I know school is beginning soon, so I have some advice:

~ Stop freaking out.  Yes, nursing school will be challenging. You are going to learn more than you can imagine, and some skills will be difficult for you to master. But as long as you take it one day at a time, you’ll get through it.

~ Stop watching medical shows. They will not prepare you for school, they’ll just make you even more nervous. “Did that nurse just shove a needle in that guy’s neck? I don’t know how to do that!” Of course you don’t, you haven’t even had your first day yet. You have my permission to watch some trashy reality shows instead.  Or read a book. I recommend Texts from Bennett.

~ If your school provided you a list of your textbooks, get them used from sites like bigwords.com.  However, don’t spend the rest of your summer memorizing the first few chapters of every book. Your study time will be much better spent in a few months when you actually know what material your instructors want you to cover. So don’t burn yourself out now!

~ Start a blog. I started this blog during nursing school, and I can’t describe how much it helped me survive. When I found myself in embarrassing situations, I kept thinking, “I can’t wait to write about this, I bet everyone finds it hilarious.” It helped me laugh at myself in the moment. Trust me, being able to laugh at yourself (and being okay when others laugh with you) is the key to surviving clinicals (hands-on patient care).

~ Find other nursing students to talk to. There are a ton of websites with nursing students posting questions and sharing their stories– join a few! Once you’re a few months into school, you’ll have close relationships with your classmates and will have them for support as well.

~ Don’t focus too much on getting perfect grades. Whenever I’d get overstressed about a test, my classmate used to ask, “What do they call a registered nurse who got all B’s in nursing school?” The answer: A registered nurse.

~ And down the road, remember that your patients are more scared than you are, so always treat them with respect and genuine kindness. When you get little thank-you notes from patients in the future, they aren’t going to say, “You checked my breath sounds perfectly!” So don’t concentrate so much on the technical side of things that you forget you are dealing with human beings.

~ Feel free to ask me any questions!

Good luck!

Katie

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Nurse Mom

I had a very sheltered childhood. My mom was a former nun and my dad was a pediatrician, so everything I wanted to do was either morally wrong or dangerous. I always swore I’d do things differently, but have recently started to notice the effect that my nursing career is having on my own daughter…

~ Last week, Samantha insisted on taking my CPR mannequin to the park in her toy stroller. This was the first time none of the other kids tried to steal her “baby”–  probably because he’s nothing more than an upper torso with an open mouth.

~ A boy told Samantha that she shouldn’t try to cross the monkey bars because she would fall and bump her head. She replied, “Nope. I’d fall and fracture my radius.”

~ When Samantha’s friend, Kaitlyn, came over for the first time, her mom told me she was allergic to peanuts. I instinctively replied, “I’ll grab her an allergy band.”

~ Samantha was at the park with her dad when a man in his forties rode by on a scooter. The man wiped out and hit his head, hard, on the pavement. Once he was sure the man was okay, my husband pretended not to have noticed the fall. But my precious just-turned-three-year-old shouted, “That’s why you should always wear your helmet!”

~ From working in a pediatric ER, I know exactly what happens to newborns (less than 2 months old) who get a fever. It’s horrible. Because of this, our ONLY visitors until our children were three months old were their grandparents, who practically had to bathe in sanitizer before being allowed in the house. In those first few months, our kids didn’t even go to the grocery store or meet their cousins or other relatives. Overkill? Probably. But considering that the flu and other illnesses are highly contagious before you even have symptoms, we felt it was worth a few months of isolation.   Now, when we’re out somewhere and I see someone with a newborn in public, I do everything I can to keep my kids as far away from them as possible. I don’t want Samantha’s sudden sneeze to cause a stranger’s baby to have a needle in his spine.  Poor Samantha probably thinks I’m keeping her safe from the babies, and will possibly develop a phobia of strollers.

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DIY Easy Mac from Kraft blue box

I’m tired of paying almost $1 per container of Easy Mac, and all the “mug of macaroni” recipes I found on Pinterest resulted in cooked noodles with a blob of cheese on the side. My toddler refuses to eat leftover macaroni, so I needed to figure out the easiest way to turn the regular blue box of macaroni into toddler-size servings. From the regular Kraft Mac N Cheese box:

Pour 1/4 cup of noodles into a large microwave safe mug

Add 1/2 cup water

Microwave 3 minutes

Stir

Microwave 2 more minutes, then drain.  The mug will be really hot, so please don’t let your toddler help take it out of the microwave!

Measure out 2.5 teaspoons of the Kraft cheese, pour on top of the drained noodles

Add 1 tablespoon of milk

I didn’t add any butter and it was great, but you could add a tiny sliver (maybe 1/8 tbsp) if you want.

Now I don’t have to deal with cooking on the stove, or with all the weight gain from eating the rest of the macaroni before it goes bad. :)

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Sleep deprivation

After working night shift for several years, I thought I’d be able to effortlessly handle the sleep deprivation that comes from having an infant. I was wrong.

Although I can’t stand the idea of hunting, I took my two year old to Bass Pro Shop to see Santa last week. The store is huge, with a waterfall in the middle that flows into a large fish tank. The walls are lined with taxidermied deer heads, and while Samantha watched the fish, I looked from deer to deer. I felt terrible for them– did they know they were about to die to be hung on a wall? Did they have friends who missed them?  My gaze moved on to the taxidermied geese hanging from the ceiling. Those poor geese! Were they shot down while flying, or killed at close range? Next to the fish tank were two stuffed coyotes. Aww..  coyotes are so similar to dogs, and dogs are such loyal animals! There was a hunter posed near the coyotes, his thick fur hat partially hiding his face. That poor man! Did he have kids and a family?

I shook my head and grabbed Samantha’s hand, guiding her towards Santa’s Village. We’d only made it a few steps when I froze and looked back at the taxidermied hunter. It was, of course, a mannequin. How had I not realized that before? And most importantly, how could my brain just accept the fact that it thought there was a stuffed human standing in the middle of a store?

I need a nap.

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Things that made my toddler mad

~ Some crazy teenager was driving too fast.

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~ I explained that the round pellet I made her drop was not, in fact, goat food.

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~ This was the last time she was allowed on Skype.

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~ I caught her sniffing the cart wipes.

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~ I refused to put her in the pool to pet the penguins.

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Don’t worry, she got to hug this statue.

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~ I took too long making her lunch.

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~ After five minutes of her whining, I let her eat butter on its own. She wasn’t mad until AFTER tasting it.

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~ I let the dog help her find her ball.

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~ I took her cart away after she rammed it into my heel three times.

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~ I wasn’t pushing “Baby Paul” high enough (he’s in the swing on the left).

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~ She wanted to be the pig.

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~ The fireman refused to turn on the firetruck.

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I wouldn’t let her climb this playground Ultimate Ninja Warrior training apparatus on her own.

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~ I told her that this didn’t “count” as going pee on the potty.

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~ I told her the cat was done playing.

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~ I called her boat a “toy.” It is NOT a toy.

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~ She realized the nail polish bottle was empty. But not until she’d done all ten toes.

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~ I told her she wouldn’t fit in this box. She proved me wrong.

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Same with this one.

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~ I didn’t stop her from eating the paint.

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Or from putting yogurt up her nose.

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Or from painting her face with spaghetti.

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~ I found her top-secret hiding place.

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This one too.

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And this one.

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~ I stopped her from riding the cat.

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~ The cat didn’t get a timeout for biting Samantha, but Samantha did for biting me. Don’t worry, I made it right.

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~ I wouldn’t let her go to the store wearing only her Dad’s shoes.

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Or mine.

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~ I told her she had to share her cake.

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~ I pointed out that her glasses were on upside down.

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~ Made her do her own dishes.

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~ I explained that not everyone is a Jayhawk fan. She told me she was too young for such devastating news.

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~ She had to take turns driving the car.

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~ I wouldn’t let her hug the other end of the goat. She tried, twice.

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Comments

I try to respond to all comments by email (instead of in the comments section of my blog), so if you haven’t received a reply from me after a few days, please post your comment/question again.

Thanks!

Katie

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Reasons nursing school is worth it:

1. You get to wear scrubs to school. Scrubs! The only thing more comfortable would be pajamas.

2. It prepares you to be a parent. Not because you learn how to diagnose and treat common childhood ailments, but because you learn how to function effectively on little to no sleep.

3. It will provide you with the opportunity to diagnose yourself with countless conditions. Don’t worry, 97% of the time, you’ll be wrong. The other 3%? They’ll come from your psych classes.

4. You’ll rediscover your childhood sense of humor (if you ever lost it). If you can’t laugh at farts and poop, you won’t survive.

5. You’ll make lifelong friends. You’ll think they’re crazy, until one day you realize that your mutual insanity is what makes the bond between you so strong.

6. Your non-medical friends and family will LOVE how you’re able to point out every inaccuracy on medical TV shows.

7. Gory movies will no longer bother you. That zombie tearing through someone’s carotid can’t compete with the abscess drainage you assisted with this morning.

8. Getting shots won’t bother you anymore. Not because being a nursing student somehow dulls your sense of pain, but because it’ll actually be a relief to be on the other end of the needle for once.

9. You’ll be prepared for anything. Well, until your first patient codes on you and you won’t even remember how to open the ambu bag. But don’t worry, it WILL come back to you. Just remember to breathe (between the cursing).

10. In the end, you’ll be a registered nurse. And NOTHING beats that.

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