Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Hardest Part of My Week.

This moment right here is the one I dread most. 1030 pm the night before clinicals. I picked out my patient at 11am and have been preparing most of the day. But no matter when I pick out the patient or how much time I give myself to prepare, I never manage to get to bed before 11pm.

That's usually not so bad, but I have to be up before 5am in order to get ready and commute. I pity my classmates that have to drive over an hour. After 10 pm, I start thinking of the time in "possible hours of sleep remaining".

I have just completed a pathology card, a bunch of drug cards, and a ridiculously meticulous set of care plans (that aren't nearly so strictly categorized in real life). I am ready to give a report on everything in the morning from memory. I am very tired. I am going to take a shower in about 3 minutes, then climb into bed and hope I fall asleep quickly. Sometimes that's hard to do, because my anxiety about needing to fall asleep as soon as possible keeps me from my goal. I get stuck in a quasi-conscious mental loop. Only thing to do then is get up and pace for a while until my brain untangles.

I'm not a bad student. (I ended up making an A on that last Patho test by the way.) But I feel like there is no way to be fully and comfortably prepared for any given day at the hospital. There aren't enough hours. Even if you start early, your requirements somehow expand to fill the time. (I admire those working-mom-students. How the hell do they do it?) I can only hope that I retain everything that I cram into my brain on nights like these, so it eventually becomes less work. I have the suspicion that won't happen, however. Just when you get comfortable in school, they start pushing you more. Instructor Sarcastic pushes me daily.

So. Bedtime. I could talk more, but I'd be cheating myself out of sleep.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

My vein runneth over

Another day at the hospital. I've given tons of insulin sofar, handed out pills, hung fluids. Nothing new. But I'm super-jealous of my classmate; she got to start her first IV today!

The lady she stuck was such a good sport about it too, what with the five students and teacher all hovering over her. Very obvious we hadn't done it before. FYI, anytime someone asks if it's your first time to start an IV, you always say "Oh no, I've done this lots of times in the lab", which is true. (Or, like Carter on ER all those years ago... "I'd be disgusted to tell you how many time's I've done this." Ha.)

Plastic arms are great and all to practice on; you keep sticking them over and over and no one complains. But actually sticking a person's arm is very different. For one thing, blood comes out. Gotta push down on the vein or it will spurt all over the place. Which happened. Yipes! Also, needles hurt real people, veins roll, and those stupid safety needles can be cumbersome. But anyway, I'm just excited about the whole "new experience" thing. And after seeing someone else start the IV, I don't feel nearly as apprehensive about starting one myself. My classmate did really well.

Well, I have test on Friday. I'm about halfway through making my "study scroll". The process of rewriting things is helpful. Hopefully I'll make an A this time.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

The Mysterious Scrolls

First test in each class went well enough. I did very well in Pharmacology and Lab, but only made an 84 in Med-Surg. (Not acceptable. Everyone always says C=RN, but I for one won't stand for less than B's. Going to have to change my study strategy.)

Everyone came out of the classroom with their eyes bugged out. "It was so hard!" Instructor Sarcastic grinned mischievously at these comments. She told me she was proud of my score, seeing as it was such a "good test". Argh! I asked my classmates about their grades. More than a few failed, and everyone else was in the 80's or so.... except for one of my good friends. She made a 104!! I was shocked, but very proud of her. I had to know her secret... how had she gained the advantage?

She and her partner looked at me with grins. "Butcher paper", they said.


I came over to their house later that evening to study. My friend went to the back to retrieve a tube of paper which she unfurled before me. The entire surface was covered in tiny, hand-written class notes. Drugs were organized by category and lines connected important information in a kind of hierarchy. The thing must have been 24 square feet. I was impressed. I can't see the thing being a useful reference in the classroom, but the very act of copying and visually organizing the information presented in the books and slides created an interesting mental map of the subject.
I laughed and asked if they planned to build an entire library over the semester. "You should hand them down to other students when you graduate. Call them the Mysterious Scrolls of the Second Order" (By which I was referring to the second level of clinicals). Of course, I have now purchased my own expanse of white paper to write notes on. It'll be an experiment for the next exam's material; can scroll-writing and diagramming help a visual learner like myself? We'll see.

I'm going to be honest, I have more than one motive for wanting to improve my grades. Sure, I want to be good at what I do. But part of me also wants to prove myself to Instructor Sarcastic. Most instructors say things to upset you once in a while. But when Instructor Sarcastic says them, I can really tell she's trying to push me, not discourage me. I just... like her. I don't want her to think of me as average. Whether or not she likes me back isn't such a big deal. But I want her respect. I want her to have confidence in me. She's one of those people you just want to please.
If I can earn her respect, I know I'll be a good nurse. If I set my standards at her level, I can't go wrong. Have any of you had a teacher like that before?