Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Ever since I started nursing, many RNs have tried to discourage me into going into the field of nursing. They complain about having to work on Christmas, being injured/having a bad back, getting no respect from physicians, patients, or from the public, and working 12 hour shifts (especially night shifts). I have no idea how to respond.

And then I get the non-nursing people asking me: Why didn't you go into the medical profession? Are you planning to go to med school when you graduate? These are the type of people that think smart kids become physicians, less-smart physician-wannabes become nurses. I try to explain to them that medicine and nursing are really different fields, with entirely different approaches to care, but I don't think anyone really understands.

I'm really lucky to have a Mom that loves nursing. She never complains about her job, and always talks about the positive aspects of nursing. When she worked in labour and delivery, Mom voluntarily chose to work all nights. She always loved hard work, and never complained about doing 12 hour shifts. And when I was eighteen and told her I thought I was doing nursing, she was really supportive. She never tried to talk me out of my choice. And it's so nice to get advice, or to be able to practice with hospital equipment at home (especially the IV bags, and needles that she borrowed from work).

Negative attitudes about nursing from nurses definitely doesn't help recruitment or retention of new nurses. Nurses command respect from the government and the public, and yet they don't seem to have much respect toward their profession themselves. I hope when I am forty years old, and have twenty years of nursing down my belt, I'll have nothing but positive advice and things to say about my job to future nurses and nursing students.

14 days until preceptorship...I'm so excited/scared!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And so it is, just like you said it would be.

I worked a twelve hour shift the night before last at a nursing home. The money is great, but the work is exhausting. Extremely physical. I work as a Patient Care Attendant, and I assist mostly LPN's. This job really makes you appreciate the work of LPN's. I know there is a stereotypical power struggle between nurses and physicians, where nurses have traditionally assumed a subservient role assisting doctors. I think this relationship very much also exists (and maybe more so) with LPN's and RN's. I know when LPN's in Canada expanded their scope of practice, most notably with giving medications, nurses kicked up a big fuss. Yet, nurses expected physicians to be supportive when they expanded their scope of practice (for example, when nurse practitioners were allowed to write prescriptions).
My preceptorship is in two weeks! Very nervous! I start on May 13th with two night shifts. I like starting with night shifts because I heard it isn't as busy as during the day, so it would be good to get used to how the floor works. Apparently there are hemovac drains, which we haven't even covered in school, and chest tubes, which we only covered briefly in one skills lab. I hope I learn a lot and it is a good experience! We shall see I guess.
Things are pretty stressful with my boyfriend. He's going away in September, to Osgoode Law School in Toronto which is realllyyyy far away from my home in Newfoundland. I'm hoping to go up and do my independent clinical up there in February, and then eventually move up there when I am graduated. I will be sad to see him go. We are really close, and have been going out for almost six years. I've never been in a long distance realtionship before.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sort of Seeing the Light at the End of the Tunnel.

So I bought an RN exam book yesterday for the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination that I will be writing next year. Other bloggers from the U.S. talk about the NCLEX exam, I am thinking that is the American version of the CRNE. I figured that I would review it over the summer when I had some free time. Since the multiple choice exams in my nursing school are extremely difficult (Answer A, B, and C are all correct...however Answer A is a little bit more correct than answer B, but answer C is the most correct), I thought that these multiple choice questions would be hard too, but they weren't bad at all. Actually, most were common sense. I guess I know a lot more about nursing than I thought I knew. Apparently the pass rate for first CRNE writers is 96%, so I guess the odds are in my favour.
I can't believe I am graduating next year. It is a very scary thought. I still feel really unexperienced as a nursing student, like there is a ton more skills I need to know first before they let me loose on all the patients. Hopefully, after my eight week preceptorship course, I'll feel a bit better about it. Next year, my boyfriend is going to York University in Toronto for law school, so I am going to tag along and do my ten week clinical (hopefully) up there with him. That would be a good experience I think. Especially since I've been living with my parents for my whole undergraduate degree. Which is pretty rare for most 22 year olds.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Top 10 Traits Every Nurse Should Have?

This list was compiled by another blogger named Ryan Winter from I found it really interesting, so hopefully he doesn't mind me borrowing it. Here it is:

1. A Caring Nature:If a person cannot care about the people they are serving, they will not excel as a nurse. Nurses deal with the sick and injured and their families on a daily basis, and they need to be able to show them that they truly care about their situation. (I definitely think this is true. And Jean Watson would definitely agree, haha).

2. Be Empathetic: Nurses regularly deal with people who are scared and in pain. They must be able to put themselves in their patients’ shoes if they are going to give them the quality of care that a good nurse provides. (I agree with this one as well. It is important to connect with all your patients, although this can be emotionally taxing if taken too far).

3. Be Detail-Oriented: Nurses must remember to write everything they do on patients’ charts. They must also remember to bring medications at the correct times. Being an organized detail-oriented person is therefore crucial for someone in this career field. (I need to work on this one. Nurses need to balance a million different things, all at once. I think I'll need years of experience before I am really organized).

4. Be Emotionally Stable: Nurses feel the joy of seeing a new baby born, followed by the pain of losing a long-term patient who had become a friend. Emotional stability is crucial in order to survive the roller coaster ride of emotions nurses must endure on a daily basis. (This one I need to work on too. Nurses definitely need to leave their work at the floor, and not bring the emotional aspects of the work home with them. They also need to be in charge of their emotions to care effectively).

5. Be Adaptable: No day is quite like the next when you work as a nurse, so they need to be able to adapt to circumstances. People are unpredictable at the best of times, but under stress become even more unpredictable, so a nurse’s typical workday will require flexibility and adaptability. (And I definitely need to work on my ability to be adaptable too. I like routine. And I despise change).

6. Have Physical Endurance:Breaks for nurses are few and far between. They are on their feet all day, sometimes for 12 or more hours at a time, so nurses must have good physical endurance to succeed in nursing. (I can handle this. I like to be active. And of course, having a really good pair of Nursemates always helps).

7. Be a Quick Thinker: When a nurse notices something is not right with a patient, they need to be able to make decisions quickly and put their plans into action instantly. Nursing is not the career for someone who needs time to think about a situation before responding, because even a fraction of a second can mean the difference between life and death. (Ah, critical thinking. I believe nurses only truly become skilled at this with lots of experience).

8. Have Great Judgement:A nurse must be able to look at a patient’s current state and accurately assess what is or is not needed. This must happen quickly during emergencies. Nurses therefore need sound judgment and maturity. (Again, I think this is a learned skill, that really only comes with experience as well. Really good judgement comes from years of studiyng and years of clinical experience).

9. Be Hard-Working:Nursing is a never ending job. Someone is always ill and in need of some sort of aid or attention. Its also unusual for a hospital or medical centre to be overstaffed, which of course means more workload on each nurse in the unit. Being a hard worker is therefore a very important trait. (I think I am okay with this one. If nurses are really lazy, someone's health could be seriously compromised).

10. Have Great Communication Skills:Nurses communicate with each other, doctors, patients, and patients’ families on a daily basis, so being able to communicate clearly and effectively, and to read people is necessary for people in this career. (I think I need to work on this one as well).

I don't think everybody is perfect or possesses all of these traits. I really think most of them comes with lots of experience on the floor. But the best part of nursing is that it is a continual learning process, and I think every nurse grows throughout their career in their skills and in their abilities. No one is perfect once they graduate.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


So, you think if I have been in nursing school for three years, I am probably an expert at getting a hang of this student thing.
Studying comes easy for me. All it requires is a large Tim Horton's french vanilla cappaccino, a good comfortable chair (preferably my leather living room sofa) and a lot of patience. And a lot of time. When test time comes, I regurgitate whatever I have learned...word for word from the textbook, or my professor's lecture notes and then, tada! Hopefully, my mark comes back stamped with a big red A.
My biggest problem is, five minutes after the test is written, mostly everything I've learned exits my brain. And if I don't continue to think about the lecture material, or if it is not applied to any of my subsequent is erased forever. Which is really scary because: A. I need this information to be a good nurse (which is the most important reason, of course) and B. I need this information to pass my RN exams (which is also a pretty important reason as well). Last summer, I almost had a heart attack when I realized I didn't really remember what the function of the liver was. What patient wants a nurse who doesn't know what the liver does?
Most people don't understand the volume of knowledge a nurse must have to practice her jobs. It seems like each of my courses try to condense and squeeze pages and pages and pages of information and dump it into our minds as quickly as possible before our three month semester has ended. And then, two years later, when my clinical instructor asks "So Laura, how does heart failure interfere with the afterload and preload of the heart?", I'm supposed to spit it out two seconds later. I think I am going to buy a NCLEX book, and review it a little bit every day, and hopefully it will jog my memory back to a lecture I had on dilated cardiac myopathy three years ago.

On a random note, I was studying chest tubes for my upcoming clinical on thoracic surgery. Chest tubes act as a one-way valve to remove air or fluid. The patient should avoid lying on the tubing, and the nurse should ensure patency of the tube by assessing for kinks. The nurse should document the amount and color of chest tube drainage. Assess the patients respiratory status often. The water level in the seal should rise with inspiration and fall with expiration.

P.S. this tote bag is so cute! I want one.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

About Me

Hi, my name is Laura. I am 22 years old, and am nearly finished my third year of my Bachelor of Nursing program in Canada. I live at home with my parents, my sisters, and my two year old dog. Nursing has definitely been an awesome experience so far, with lots of intense studying and crazy clinical experiences. I find it rewarding but extremely challenging. I am much better at exams than I am practical, so I have to work really hard when learning hands-on skills. In a few weeks, I will start an eight week preceptorship program in a thoracic surgery unit, and I am really excited but also really nervous...especially when it comes to dealing with chest tubes.
A lot of people ask me why I choose nursing, and wonder if I will do a medicine degree sometime in the future. However, I believe nursing is a unique and independent health care profession that is lacking respect and the recognition it deserves. I love meeting new people, taking care of complex patients and interacting with other staff.
This blog with chronicle all my clinical and nursing school experiences prior to my graduation. My hope is that all potential nursing students will have a greater understanding about what nursing is really about, because it really is more than making beds and changing bedpans. I hope that other nursing students and registered nurses can share their experiences with me as well. Please leave lots of comments and give me lots of feedback.