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Light at the end of the tunnel...

In more ways than one. I finish classes July 18, which is only 7 weeks away! So far I've only made 90's on my first two exams of the summer, but considering they told us we'd ALL fail, I think I'm pretty satisfied. Plus my 90 in OB was the day after coming back from a Memorial Day weekend spent getting plastered in New Orleans. We went back for our friends Ron and Sarah's wedding, and the wedding itself was over on the Best Bank, but it was all of 12 minutes long - just the way we like it. Then we went to the Pub for a few, since the reception didn't start for two more hours. It was down at Generations Hall (AKA The Metro) and it was actually fun. I don't usually stay at receptions for more than an hour or so, but we were there until they kicked us out! Tom and Emiko were down too, so they were cool to see, and Mike and Annie, Ron's kids who we know. Good times were had by all. 

This summer I have Peds, OB, and Community for didactic courses, and all have a clinical component as well. I also have to do 120 hours of preceptorship in an area of my choice, should be Neuro or Cardiac ICU. I've finished my Peds clinical already, including all the assignments that go with it. I start OB Monday, and finish next Weds (4 days of staring into vagina! Woohoo!!). I finish Community on Thursday of this week. The didactic portions run all semester, but the only clinical I'll have to do will be in an area I actually enjoy! I've applied for a couple of jobs now, since I'm starting to realize that my top choice might actually not hire me - they're apparently facing massive budget cuts, so they're hesitant to hire any new grads into critical care since we're so expensive to train. I was told this happens every election year in the wonderful state of FL - they cut funding to all the "nonessential" services, like schools and hospitals, so they can lower everyone's taxes by a dollar fifty, or give us a gas tax holiday for a week so I can fill my tank once. Silly me, I thought that getting straight As in nursing school would be enough to at least get me an interview pretty much anywhere, since there's supposed to be some kind of nursing shortage going on...

That's OK though, because there really is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it might not even be a train! All I have to do is get my critical care experience in. I need two years in a high intensity ICU environment, and then I can apply for CRNA school. Monte pinky swore that if I can get through that program and start making a shitload of money, we can move back to NO. I need to pop out a kid during those two years before my masters program starts, and Monte volunteered to play Mr. Mom. He can work from home remotely in NO and probably take a little pay cut, but if I'm making high 6 figures it won't matter. Plus, CRNAs usually have "normal people" hours, which is more conducive to the whole family thing anyways. Maybe take call once a month or so for emergent cases, but most surgeries are scheduled to be done in the daytime. He even told people at work already that this is what we're planning on - he'll have 13 years with the company by the time I finish my masters, so they really shouldn't complain too much. Now I actually have a goal, and a real incentive to accomplish it. On that note, I do have a Peds exam Tuesday, so I'll get back to work!

USF Bullshit

I'm more than a little irritated with the lovely University of South Florida. I take my last final of this semester on May 1, and I expect to maintain my perfect GPA there (well, not if I spend too much time on procrastination) for another semester. We head to MN for the week I have off to see my family, then come back here and start my summer and final semester May 12. Summer semester is short - 10 weeks instead of the usual 16. I realize that. We're taking two core classes, one online class (they're usually time-consuming but fluff), and we'll have clinical about 30 hours/week. In order to graduate, we also have to pass a national standardized test that is supposed to predict how well we'll do on the NCLEX (boards)- the only reason for this is that schools' funding and accredidation are based entirely on the percentage of its graduating class that pass the NCLEX on their first try. If only half the class graduates no one cares. Well, this is all fine with me, because we've had to take subject area versions of this predictor exam (the HESI) a few times already, and I've scored in the 99.99th percentile - I guess that's acceptable. I take two more as my finals for two of my classes this semester. 

None of this is a problem. I've known it all since day one, and it's exactly what I signed up for. What is a problem is the attitude of faculty towards us. Administration designed this program, accepted 48 students into it, and then tried to go back on it and force us all to put off graduation until December. Someone got a lawyer, and all of a sudden they have decided to fulfill their obligations to us and allow us to graduate on time. Instead, the faculty seems to have banded together, and they are pulling students aside individually and  bullying them into slowing down. Now, some students chose to slow down of their own free will - they weren't pulling the grades they wanted, or they had family issues, whatever, but they decided it was in their best interest to slow the pace down. I'm glad they have that option. However, I don't want it. My friend and I got the bully treatment last week, from two different instructors on the same day. We're both essentially straight A students, a little older, married, and with decent heads on our shoulders. We're sick of being unemployed, don't have parents who can pay for another semester, and ARE going to graduate in August. 

It ruined that entire day for both of us. An instructor who we both really liked and trusted essentially called us stupid for even attempting to graduate ON TIME (not early) and even told my friend that she would probably fail and get kicked out of the program. The other instructor at least spoke to us rationally and privately, and I can respect that if she just wanted to offer some, albeit unsolicited, advice. It just really turned me off from the program in general, and made me realize how little support any of us will have this summer if anyone slips up even once. What this does to me, of course, is gets me even more fired up to graduate #1 in my class, with my 4.0 intact (well, I have a non-4.0 from Tulane, but since I started UNO in 2004, I have one). I did find out that I'm eligible for Greek honors again, which is nice. I think that if the majority of us succeed, they'll have no choice but to allow future students the option to graduate on time - that's what really pisses them off. I mean, maybe they're all right. Perhaps every single one of the 20 of us who are still trying for it will fail out this summer. I guess it's possible. It just doesn't seem very likely. In 7 years of college I got a C+ once, and that was only because I hated the class, I was working full time, and I was at the bar pretty much every night.

I was planning on making USF my first choice for grad school, since it's inexpensive and I thought I was having a great experience so far. This one day might be enough to make me reconsider, even if the only other local option for a CRNA program is three times as much money. I was going to apply to both anyways in a few years, but I may rank them differently if both accept me. 

I guess I've been using this journal to rant more than anything else, so I apologize - I'll post something happy after I graduate and some of the stress I've been under dissipates. Life is actually going just fine, school's just been getting under my skin. Hopefully I'll have a job lined up in another month or two, and then really all I'll have to do is get my degree. It'll be nice to see my mom and them in a couple weeks, and hopefully I'll be able to make it back to NO Memorial Day weeked for Ron and Sarah's wedding bash - I haven't bought tickets in case I have two exams the next day or something, but barring that, screw school, I'm going. Then I want to take a kickass vacation between the end of classes and graduation, and if we can afford it some of my classmates are planning a Key West trip too. OK, there's some silver lining. Now I can go back to work...

Waiting on the coffee to brew

I couldn't possible start getting any work done until I get a few cups in me, and I slept in today since our clinicals were canceled for some unknown reason (and they assured us it wasn't an April Fool's joke). I am proud of myself the last few days. Despite fitting in some misbehaving - went out to the bar a couple of nights, caught the last Twins spring training game, watched the KU games with Monte - I've managed to finish all of the reading for the rest of the semester in my Med-Surg book, which covers my two most important classes. Considering we don't start exams for another three weeks, I'm proud of myself. Of course, the only reason I read so far ahead was to put off starting my Leadership paper, but I only need a 75 on that to keep my A. I don't care for that class, or for its instructor, and my paper topic is boring and dry. I ditched my more interesting topic after rereading his incredibly stringent paper guidelines, and picked a topic that half the class is already writing about. Maybe I'll get lucky and he won't actually read mine. 

Coffee's done! Aside from my paper, I have a couple little bullshit assignments for Leadership left to do, a couple hundred pages of Psych reading (which goes pretty quickly), and then my two PATs ("Patient Assessment Tools" - AKA nursing care plans) and three SOAPIEs (notes on one specific patient problem). That's not bad, for an entire month. I also have to type up all of my class lecture notes and make my study guides, but I do that for myself and I ought to have time. Oh, and finish my BDLS (Basic Disaster Life Support) course online. Today the plan is to do a BDLS module until I fully wake up, read the articles I found for my paper, and start on a PAT. If I could get all of my articles read, find any others I might need, and outline my paper tonight, I think I'd be pretty satisfied with myself. I would love nursing school if it weren't for all the paperwork. I guess that's training for real life though, one of the biggest complaints of working nurses is that they feel like they spend more time on legally mandated paperwork than they do on actual patient care. 

In non-school activities, I went to see my neurologist again yesterday. My right foot, which has been numb for three and a half months now, is apparently getting a little better. It's hard for me to tell, since it's healing so gradually, but she can tell from her notes from six weeks ago that I am making some improvement. She received my test results, and they confirmed that I have HNPP - Hereditary Neuropathy with liability to Pressure Palsies. It's certainly a less serious disease to have than MS, which I was convinced I had in December. The bad thing is that it's autosomal dominant. For anyone who's forgotten genetics, that means that if I have children, each of them will have a 50/50 chance of inheriting it. It also essentially confirms that the symptoms that both my mother and one brother have experienced are a result of the same crappy gene. The neurologist said something about talking to a genetic counselor, and considering IVF when we decide to try to get pregnant. Apparently since they have identified the gene, they can select against embryos that have it before implantation. I think I'd be afraid we were selecting for something much worse that they just can't test for. There are people with HNPP who have much more severe presentations than anyone in my family has had up to this point, and according to the literature severity doesn't depend on inheritance. I'd feel like crap if we didn't even look into it and my kid had the worst case imaginable, but I also don't think that it's anything that insurance will cover. Kids are expensive enough without laying out ten grand just to attempt to get pregnant. It was actually good news, because now I know what has caused all of these strange symptoms I've had throughout the years. There's no treatment, of course, but it's a good sign that I'm improving. I know the steps I can take to try to prevent recurrences, and the meds that she gave me last time do relieve the majority of the pain (and they're not opiates, so there are no worries about going to work/clinical high, or failing a drug test). 

That's enough public disclosure for now, I'm not really used to talking about myself on a public forum, especially with my real name on the page. However, I did just try to google myself again, and I got the usual zero results that were actually me.

Procrastination

Well, I have an exam tomorrow, but in the course of my procrastination of studying for it, I thought I'd go check out George R. R. Martin's site and see if he'd posted anything new about Dance With Dragons (because I have SO much time for pleasure reading). I wrote down a list of some authors that he recommended, and then I thought about the last long list of authors I got from my old friend Nathan. He has a livejournal blog, so my next stop was to go read what he'd posted lately. Then I thought about posting a comment, but of course you have to have an account to do that. Then, I thought that while I was here maybe I should actually post something, so that in case anyone actually cares how I'm doing, they can find out without having to get me on the phone. I wonder if I'll actually get results for myself on google now...

As mentioned in the bio, I'm still in nursing school and graduate on August 9, 2008. I'm excited, can't wait to try having a "real job" for the first time in my life - of course, I'll still probably work nights and weekends for the differential pay, but I'll actually get an hourly wage above minimum! And benefits! So far I've enjoyed my clinical experience, so I think nursing is something I can get into. I definitely want to work in an ICU, and thankfully, several hospitals in this area accept new grads directly into critical care. I'm definitely going to grad school at some point, very possibly for anesthesia, but I'm going to work for a few years first. I can take a few general graduate nursing courses without applying to a specific program, and make the load a little easier when I do go back to school. Monte and I are going to do the kid thing pretty soon after I graduate too, as long as things work like they're supposed to. I don't know if it's the "right time," but I've been told that if you keep waiting for that you'll be 45 and wondering why you missed your chance.  

We just got back from New Orleans, we spent nine days there for my spring break. It was fantastic and Owen's wedding was beautiful - the Columns is always a nice place to have one. Thanks Beth, Greg, and Karn for putting us up, we really appreciated it! Of course, nine days is way too short of a time to visit. We'll have to go for 18 next time (actually it'll just be probably three, for Ron and Sarah's wedding in May). We ate at Sake Cafe, Houston's (yes, Houston's is back open on St. Charles!), Bayona (oh my God amazing dinner), La Crepe Nanou, Jacque-Imo's, and Dick and Jenny's. There is no good food in Tampa. We asked Susan Spicer to please come open a restaurant here, and she said she'd think about it...I think I told her I'd eat there every day. We drank at the Avenue, of course, as well as Fahy's, the Alibi, the Rendezvous, 45 Tchoup (Frankie and Debbie from Parasol's bar), the Kingpin, and the Half Moon; and of course caught the Patty's Day parade on Saturday. Great time - can I go back again tomorrow?

I think I have to get back to my studying now, hope that's enough of an update for anyone who's adventurous enough to find it.

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maura37
Maura White

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