Plotting the course

I had mentioned in my last post that I was unsure where I wanted to go from here in terms of the big career picture. And in terms of the big career picture, who the heck knows? However, in terms of the more immediate, small-scale picture I have started to feel as though things are coming together.

First off: the maternity-neonatal experience, both in class and in clinical, is fabulous. It’s like I finally remembered why I’m doing all of this and I’ve felt my passion for nursing renewed. I was worried that maybe I’d get into the clinical setting and say, oh, this isn’t what I thought it would be, never mind. But it’s better than I expected. I haven’t seen L&D yet, but postpartum has been fun (if boring, at times). I like the fact that the patients are, in general, very open to the education that nurses can offer. I like the fact that so much of the care IS teaching. I like the opportunity to really assess the patients’ family status and what’s going on psychosocially. Yes, this from the one who disliked psych nursing. I guess I like it better when it’s packaged with something else. And I enjoy caring for the little ones. This sounds totally sappy, eewy-gooey, something I would never say aloud, but it’s like each baby that comes in is a little miracle. S/he survived a zillion things in those ~9 months to make it out into the world and now the future ahead with “no mistakes in it yet” (Anne of Green Gables). On the frivolous side, I love tiny things, so little BP cuffs and emery boards make me go, “squeeee!” (Again, I try to keep this inside so I don’t look like a blithering fool to everyone around me, but inside, “Squeeee!!!”).

This week we also had a meeting with our advisor and one of the other faculty members regarding our immersion experience next semester. I started to get a bit nervous when they mentioned that, unlike our undergrad counterparts who will also be doing their immersion experience, we will be expected to start using our budding clinical nurse leader (CNL) skills in the clinical setting. This initially gave me a fair amount of apprehension. I’m lucky I remember how to do basic stuff right, and they’re expecting us to go in to a setting and tell experienced nurses our ideas for how they could do it better? Ack! But as I was starting to look at potential clinical placements I had a bit of an epiphany. I was looking at NICUs and had checked out the website for the major hospital in our state–not planning to go there because it’s easier to commute to the big city south of the state border, but I wanted to see what they had to say–and I found mention of a nurse residency program that they’ve recently started, which includes use of simulation situations. The hospitals I was looking at in Big City didn’t mention having such a program, but I’m guessing that they’re at the very least considering something like it seeing as they’re major teaching hospitals associated with a Fancy University. Coincidentally, my research proposal that I’m working on for my reseach class is on the use of maternity simulation mannequins in clinical teaching. I was initially thinking of this in terms of pre-licensure education, but I could easily adapt it to include the use of these in new grad orientation/residency education. The neurons were snapping here as I finally began to see how I could integrate my research in with my clinical experience to utilize CNL skills and that if I was lucky and was able to get a full-time job out of my immersion experience I could turn this into my capstone project. Of course all of this is speculative at the moment, relying on a lot of “what-ifs” to work out to my advantage. But it felt good to at least feel like I was finally understanding what the point of all of this is… why I am getting a masters degree out of all of this, why I’m focusing in clinical nurse leadership, realizing that I’m not just going to be an over-educated nurse, but that I can actually use the things I’ve learned to improve nursing. Wow.

In terms of classes… Physiology is still going well and I’m impressed by the professor’s ability to make online learning effective. She has a recipe for each module: readings from the textbook, PowerPoint presentations with notes that act as the lectures, small-group discussion board case studies, ungraded learning exercises, a graded learning exercise, and a quiz at the end. I enjoyed the initial pathophys/pharm class we took first semester, but I feel like this is an even more effective way to learn… between the repetition and application I’m finally getting a handle on things that I might have felt were over my head before.

Research is also going well as a predominantly online class. Most of our work in the online portion is utilization of discussion board, which can get tiresome in some cases, but I feel that it works well here. We each have time to synthesize the information we read and to consider our postings and responses to others and I think the dialogue has increased our understanding of the topic and has helped when it comes time to do our actual research work. I’m also relieved to see that my classmates seem to have dropped some of their gleeful antagonism of the professor. We had our second in-class meeting and while there were parts of it that seemed to drag people were actually talking about the subjects that came up in class on the walk back to the parking lot. I live for goofiness like that, just waiting for a college viewbook photographer to jump out from behind a tree to take a picture of a group of students walking while engaged in animated discussion of the usefulness of qualitative research.

I already mentioned the maternity-peds class. We had our first test this week, still waiting to find out how I did on that. Partnered with one of my classmates in clinical to care for a couplet this week. The baby had the same name as the baby we cared for last week. Weird. It was interesting to see the interaction of the family. That dad was over the moon about the baby and really sweet to the wife, too. Mom looked like she was kind of annoyed by the whole event. But I’m no one to judge… I’ve never had my belly cut open and a baby yanked out of it. We did have some fun styling the kid’s hair. She was in the nursery when we noticed some goop on the top of her head, so I washed her hair and my partner styled it into a little twisty mohawk thing… luckily dad thought it was cool when he came to get her from the nursery! There was another baby in the nursery that had a full, thick head of hair with, get this, highlights! How does someone who has never seen the light of day before get highlights? We were all insanely jealous.

Public health is okay. I wasn’t expecting this, but it’s my least favorite class of the semester… I think the topics are interesting and clinical is interesting, but for me it’s more just a class to get through. I am hoping to spend some clinical time in some of the other areas that my agency serves (telehealth, young family, hospice). That might make it a bit more interesting.

Other than that, kits are driving me nuts. One of them has been persistently naughty for the past few days, climbing the screen door, jumping on the counter (despite the fact that there’s nothing there of interest), attacking my leg any time I walk past. Both of them have found the philodendron on top of the fridge and are eagerly giving it an unneeded pruning. Stupid cats. On the funny side, though, one of them likes yogurt and apples. I was especially surprised by the apple thing… I had a core in my hand the other day and she kept licking it and trying to bite it. The next time I ate an apple, there she was again. I never expected to see a cat so excited about fruit. The other one kinda sniffed it and gave it a halfhearted lick, but I don’t think she got what all the fuss was about.


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