When I got out of nursing school, like many, I felt pretty prepared. I knew I still had a lot to learn, but with my drug book in hand and a few other little pocket books, I was ready to go. I read up on things, learned about new drugs, tackled ACLS and overcame my fears one day at a time. But, what I was grossly unprepared for was the art of nursing. Sure, school taught me how to calculate medications, do assessments and manage diseases – all the science stuff. But what it didn’t prepare me for was the sadness I would encounter, the deaths I would see and toll this would take on me. I hadn’t tapped into the art of nursing while I was conquering the science of nursing.
Ok… I have a confession to make. I have been a nurse for over 16+ years and have never worn compression stockings or nurse socks. Nope, not even through my pregnancies when everyone warned me that my legs would look like old oak trees from all the varicose veins I would acquire. You see, I hate socks and shoes. If I could go to work in flip flops – all would be perfect in the world. So, the thought of tight, ugly socks on my legs for over 12 hours gave me tachycardia. Like a stubborn nurse, I took the risk.
Well, the other day, I was starting to notice some some bad, ugly stuff showing up on my tired old legs. I started to realize, I think I should have worn those ugly compression socks… the oak trees are starting to sprout! I also had noticed my legs were swelling more at the end of my long shifts. Ok, being the good nurse that I am, I finally started to heed my own advice! The quest began…
Well, here I go again…. another highly contagious health scare hits the headlines and I find myself doing research. Yup, talking about measles this time.
No, I am not paranoid, but as a nurse, I feel its my obligation to stay abreast of current health care concerns – I find it even more important as a nursing instructor. So, I am sharing what I know with all of you!
Now, what’s the big deal about measles? Well, considering it was virtually eradicated in the US due to vigilant vaccination programs, most are not familiar with this highly contagious disease. In fact, in 2000 the CDC declared measles eradicated from the US. Unlike the flu, pneumonia or heart disease, we are just not familiar and need to re-educate ourselves on a disease we don’t deal with on a daily basis. (On a more personal note, I do not titer for measles, so that just makes my concern level a little higher…and personal!)
One of the biggest challenges nursing students face is the new style of testing. This is often the first time they face tests that consist of more than just recall, comprehension and fact retrieval. Exams now consist of higher level thinking to assess the assimilation of knowledge. In other words – you learned a bunch of stuff, now how would you apply it? Ultimately, this is what you will do as a nurse – applying all that knowledge in the hopes of helping patients. And lets cut to the chase, you need to pass the NCLEX exam to even get to that point. The purpose of the NCLEX exam is to ensure you have the basic knowledge to be a competent nurse who is safe to take care of the public.
Each group of students I have the honor to work with, I ALWAYS advise them to get some test taking book to assist them in developing strategies to tackle their exams and especially the NCLEX exam. When I was studying for my boards years ago, I collected test books as I was advised that practice makes perfect. Sure, I read a lot of questions, but I did not have a good strategy in how to approach the questions. A few weeks before taking my board exam, a colleague lent me a test strategy book. It was revolutionary!! It gave clear instructions on how to analyze the questions and answers. I just kept thinking, ‘I wish I had these through nursing school!’ So, as I mentioned, I try to help my students out with that advice.
This past week I had the opportunity to do the renal lectures for our Med/Surg 1 students. They had just reviewed their first med/surg exam and lets say….happiness and joy was not abounding! So, I gave them my advise on finding a good test taking strategy book. And being the smart group of students they are, they wanted some titles. So, as promised, I told them I would put together a list of my suggestions – here you go!!
So you arrive on time to clinicals – good job! You are in dress code – awesome! You have all your supplies, a pen, your stethoscope – ready to go save some lives! You get up to the floor, find your patient assignment and BAM – you find out you have to work with “Nurse Ratchet” today! So what do you do? Run for the hills? Cry? – no, there’s no crying in nursing school (at least not in public)! Instead, you are going to figure out how to manage a challenging nurse!