The Life and Times of a Busy Woman

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Beginnings

Wow, the last few weeks have dragged, but a lot has been accomplished.  My State Board of Nursing finally made me eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN (Board exam) on January 3rd.  The holidays and a snow storm that shut down the state offices didn't help my cause.  Plus, they made some mistake with my stuff anyway and it took 19 hours (and a phone call that they got mad at me for) to get it fixed.  I was eligible on the 2nd per the State website, they just hadn't sent that to Pearson Vue - the company that does the testing nationwide.  I scheduled my exam and the week went on.  I took our daughter skiing with my mom for a Saturday afternoon, I was on call for the fire department on Sunday.  I have been weeding out stuff that can go away to needier people and also preparing for our cruise. 

Disney Fantasy ... T-Minus 14 days!

I took my board exam on the 9th, first thing in the morning.  I was overcome with nausea and only had jell-o for breakfast - and I nearly lost that.  I do not take tests well ... I never have.  I end up with good/great grades, but the testing process itself is my nemesis.  Plus, this exam costs $200 each time it is taken, and I know a few people that took it 4 times.  Granted, they went to a different nursing school than I did, but still.  Even people at my own school have had to take it twice ... that's still $400.  I don't have that kind of money.  To increase anxiety, the NCLEX is a CBT (computer-based test).  It has a minimum of 75 questions, a max of 250.  If you do too poorly or well enough in the first 75 questions, it will shut off - your exam is over.  The computer has already calculated your success or failure.  You may also get randomly chosen to take the full exam.  Pleasant, right?  Mine shut off at 75.  Oh crap.

Self doubt .. BEGIN!

It takes 24 hours after the exam for the State website to say whether the candidate has earned their RN license.  For those 24 hours, I was a ball of nerves.  I went home, made pizza, and went to sleep.  I could not function beyond the everyday.  My daughter came home from school, she had dinner (I couldn't eat), worked on homework, played on her iPod, took a shower, then went to bed.  At this point, I was second-guessing myself.  "I couldn't have done that badly.  Oh yes, I could have."  I really only spent a total of a couple hours going over stuff in the week before taking the test.  An hour at two of my daughter's karate sessions.  I hadn't opened a book since I graduated in December.  I am a prime example of a slacker.  In my defense, since grade school, if I read it, I retained it.  I've hardly studied a day in my life.  It's more like reading.  I love reading.  I read it, I retain it.  My classmates were scheduling their exams weeks out so they could study.  Screw that, just take the exam.  Oh wait, now was that a mistake.  Am I screwed?  Probably.  But, but .... (yeah, that's what was going through my mind)

Maybe I needed this book?

I woke up the next morning and I didn't want to move.  I found my iPad within arm's reach, with the State's website already up on it.  I touched my name and it loaded.  I cried.  License status was "ACTIVE" with a license number and first licensed date as the 9th.  I could barely breathe.  My husband was working away like usual and sleeping with his phone off for about another hour.  I called my dad.  Conversation:

"Hey, Dad.  We need to get you a new shirt."  Referring to the "Proud Dad of a Nurse" shirt I got him.
"Why?  Did you mess up?"  (Thanks for the confidence!)
"NO!  It needs to say 'Proud Dad of a REGISTERED Nurse.  I took my Boards yesterday and I just found out I passed!"

I sent my husband a text that said CALL ME.  He replied with my license number.  So he WAS up ... and called me.  I called some others to let them know and my day got markedly better.  The stress was gone ... just like that.  I did have a pre-employment physical in the afternoon (scheduled even before I knew I passed), but even out of shape (er, round is a shape, right?) I knew I could pass that.  I start on Monday ... hallelujah!

Our daughter had a spelling bee on Thursday night.  She didn't place, but we celebrated anyway.  She has issues being the center of attention (i.e. on stage) so I consider it an accomplishment that she participated. 

Mmmm, ice cream

I had the best nights sleep in a long time on Thursday night.  I can go on vacation and know that the NCLEX is not looming over my return.  I am finally at peace and ready to move forward with the next stage - orientation to my new job, new co-workers, and new role ... as a Registered Nurse.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Cost

5.5 years of college (part-time then full-time) ... $40,000
316 cups of coffee (only including class days - minimum) ... $489.80
Nursing Pin ... $55.00
Someone to officially pin it on me ... $40.00
ATI (Practice NCLEX-RN) ... $42.00
NCLEX-RN with State Board Licensing fee ... $275.00

Finally reaching my RN, BSN goal through blood, sweat, tears, and determination ... PRICELESS

Did I mention tears?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sitting Still is NOT my Forte

So Pinning happened, as did the night out afterward.  Alcohol, nachos, pizza, and billiards ... now that's a night.  Some friends had to work, but others who didn't have to joined in.  I also played a game of pool against my dad, and that hadn't happened since I was 15ish. 

As I've anxiously awaited my grades all week, I worked my last two days at my ER job.  Ironically, I have never trained anyone in my 52 months working there ... but I spent my last 2 days training a newbie.  I LIKE HER!  A LOT!  She'll make a great replacement. 

My (now former) Director acted like she'd never heard of such a thing as my last day.  "Oh, well I'll need your resignation then."  Um, guess what ... your intelligence (lack thereof) did not hire me as a Nurse, there are no more shifts available prior to my paperwork being official, DUH, I'm done.  I was so stunned with her attitude.  That's what I get for 52 months of never calling out, being late once (by 20 minutes), and rearranging my life for that department.  Plus, I worked the equivalent of a FT employee as a per diem.  Wow, awesome Director right there.  I wanted to give her my best wishes on retaining dedicated employees, but my mom taught me better than that.  Ha!  My mom!  Wow, what a woman.  On that subject, she brought me an arrangement of flowers on my last day.  Her sole purpose was to make me the center of attention (when everyone asks why the flowers, etc) because she's more than livid at that Director.  She made sure the card said my name and "NURSE GRADUATE" in BIG letters.  I don't particularly care for being the center of attention, but with the silent back story I didn't mind.  My mom .... ;)

One of my Doctor friends brought her son in so I could meet him, and brought me a bottle of wine as congrats.  Luckily, the wine was wrapped up, but as soon as I felt the bottle I was like, "I don't think I can have that in here.  Oh wait, I don't care!  Hahaha!"  I still hid it in my bag, just so the Director wouldn't raise a stink over it.

I got to have lunch with one of my best friends on my last day as well.  My friend happened to be filling in for his boss that day, so we got to sit down and have lunch like we used to when we worked Sundays together.  It was so nice.

I've now been spending more time on my house work.  I found parts of it, then it got cluttered again during Pinning weekend ... so now I start over.  I did multiple loads of laundry today.  I think tomorrow I will attack the dining room and kitchen (again).  I'm also weeding out crap that can go away (either paperwork trash or clothes that can go on to people that need them). 

It's weird being in limbo while I wait for the paperwork to process.  Granted, I'm pulling shifts on the fire department, but it's not like getting up and going to a hospital each day.  It's an adjustment, and hopefully won't last long.  Sitting still is NOT my forte (which is one reason I got hired by the new hospital ... my work ethic). 

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Light Has Arrived

You know ... that light at the end of the tunnel.  It's here in all its' glory ... yet, I don't know how to describe my feelings right now.  I realized the last time that I posted was November 8th.  That was a roller coaster day and the last weeks haven't found the end of that hellacious ride. 

I finished writing my last papers of my college career on November 17th.  What a relief!  It was a day of no calls again so I just got the last two papers done.  Then, I proceeded to pour a tall glass of wine (after I was officially off duty), drink the whole thing, and dance around my kitchen and dining room.  Hey, I never said I wasn't crazy.  I work in an ER and in EMS, we're certifiable. 

We got approved for the project I was feeling rushed about.  It went well, as good as can be expected with High School Seniors.  They reminded me why I never wanted A) any more children, and B) to be a teacher.

I finished up my Partnership hours ... and cried as I walked out.  My partner got me a gift that just pushed me over the edge.  It was supposed to be a good thing that hours were over, but I couldn't help missing the place and the people.

I had a job interview the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  I kept getting bumped up in the interview process, all positive, and to this day I cannot get anyone to return my phone calls.  Not impressed.

Thanksgiving came and went uneventfully.  I was on duty that day, no calls and had lunch with my EMS family.  Had dessert with a friend and her family.  They live close by and were supposed to have dinner late, but of course that got moved around.

Mmmmm, pie

I contacted my Director to get it "straight from the horse's mouth" ... I will not be employed as an RN after I graduate.  "Go work on a telemetry floor for a year and come see me when you have experience."  The range of emotions right then and there was amazing.  I'd never felt so betrayed in my life.  With all my aforementioned departmental experience, and the history of hiring current employees when they "level-up" it seemed I would have a job.  Apparently, my loyalty for the past 52 months did not count for diddly-squat.  All the times I've "bailed them out" of staffing situations, rearranged my life for them.  It was more than a slap in the face.  Of course, I'm not burning that bridge outwardly ... but I've already torched it multiple times over in my mind.  I will not work for someone who cannot recognize loyalty and reciprocate.  I started saying my good byes to co-workers and their reactions have soothed some of my heartache of the situation.  There are many that are mad and that at least tells me I'll be a little missed.  Many Doctors offered me recommendations/to be references when they found out. 

A co-worker who became one of my best friends (and pretty much my work mom) over the last 52 months made me an afghan.  When I say made, I should say crocheted.  An intricate afghan that is almost as tall as I am (and I'm 5'8").  She's got some "skillz."  It's one of many different designs she has made.  I'm not quite an RN yet, Board test date to be determined, but I will be.  I won't be working with her anymore, but I'll still have her close by.

I worked my last shift with my favorite doctor of all time.  That.was.hard.  I walked out at the end with my dignity intact, but if he would have tried to hug me when he said good bye, I would have lost it right there.  I did, by the time I got to my car.  I immediately called a friend, a very dear friend, on my way home (UConnect Phone is great in my car).  I asked him how he was, how his new house was, etc.  He could tell something was wrong by my voice.  "I just worked my last shift with Dr. _______."  Him, in only the way he can say, "Oh.  OH!  So, yeah."  Then he proceeded to talk about anything and everything that came to mind, which ended up making me laugh and cured the tears.

A few days later, a classmate of mine ended up in the hospital.  No one knew what was wrong, Doctors couldn't find a source of her pain.  After emergent surgery and coding twice, she passed away.  They still haven't told us what actually happened, but the funeral will be on 12/12/12.  Coincidentally, that was also the date of our last final.  After much rearranging, they ended up offering the final in multiple different sections, but we still had to do our Senior Leadership Poster Presentation later that day after the funeral.  Lots of puffy eyes, but we made it through.  At 26 years old and after all that hard work, to pass away unexpectedly in the last week is more than tragic.  We'll be honoring her at our Pinning ceremony. 

I worked my last shift with the weekend crew this past Sunday.   I couldn't ask for a better work family.  My work mom bought me lunch, much to my surprise.  I had actually brought my lunch, but luckily it was in the freezer.  Besides, the pizza we ordered was amazing and partly tradition.  Her husband picked her up early from work, much to my objection.  I still had 45 minutes to harass her, but they carpool and he was out of work early and her relief had already showed up.  I went out to harass her husband, partly because I could, but the main reason was that I was trying not to cry.  Focusing on "being angry" at him was helping hold the dam.  Wow, I've been so emotional lately.  Luckily, again, she didn't try to hug me.  I would have lost it.  Instead, she climbed in on her side of the car and didn't see the tears I was trying unsuccessfully to hold back.  I'm going to miss her more than words can express.

Monday, I had another job interview.  Amid the snow and ice, I went.  The Director called and asked if I wanted to reschedule.  "If you're not planning on going home early, storms are a part of working in a hospital and I'll just start early and give myself plenty of time to get there."  Almost 7 years at one hospital plus working as a Mail Carrier earlier in life has taught me plenty about driving in snow/sleet/ice.  The interview began with, "I really want to hire you, but I had to meet with you and have you answer at least a couple questions before I could officially do so."  Wait, what?!  It lasted all of 20 minutes.  I walked out with a job, plus I can start as soon as I'm "paperwork-official" as a nurse graduate.  So I don't have to pass my boards to get my first paycheck.  What a RELIEF!  The Director had been a night Nursing Supervisor during my partnership there in their ER.  She knew how I worked and loved it.  She spoke with my Partner whom only had praise for me.  I AM EMPLOYED! 

Pinning is t-minus 23.5 hours away.  I should be bouncing off the walls.  Instead, my facebook newsfeed is filled with more tragedy.  Between CT and China, today is a yet another day that will go down in history.  Due to my work in the ER, Psych Nursing Clinical, and EMS, I know that there are some seriously ill people out there.  Today's proof is beyond tragic.  My thoughts go out to the families involved. 

In the midst of writing this, the UPS man came.  I was expecting some stuff, but not everything that was addressed to me was ordered by me.  My husband ordered me a Vermont Teddy Bear that's wearing scrubs and has a pin with my name, RN on it.  What a guy.  I sent him a pic to his cell saying, "I found this guy traveling via UPS and he was cold.  So I thought he needed warming up."  Well, I guess the bear should be a girl since it's supposed to be me ... hahaha.  I took off the scrub cap and the mask.  Vermont Teddy Bears make a RN version, but it's with a white dress and cap which we don't wear anymore.  After calling to thank him, my husband said he figured removing the cap and mask was better than the one with the white dress anyway, so that was his plan if he intercepted it before I got it.

15" Scrubs Bear
Oh so cute and snuggly!
Well, my 1.5 daughters have arrived home from school.  The "0.5" is the neighbor kid who gets off the bus everyday here since her dad works till 5pm.  She calls me mom (hers isn't involved in life).  Time for snacks, homework, games, and to surprise her with an early Christmas gift.  Found a set of drumsticks on Etsy that I had laser engraved with her name, in a flame font.  Hahahaha, what tom boy drummer wouldn't like those?  My daughter is going to her Grandparents for Christmas out of state and won't be here after the 19th, so she might as well open them early. 

Only 1.5 hours left until the end of my duty day.  I vacuumed, checked all the camera batteries, SD cards, and wrote this LONG synopsis.  Time to start making enchiladas, put together my outfit and other clothes for tomorrow, and hug my child (even tighter than I do already). 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bad Day

Wednesday was a roller coaster ride of a day ... and not a fun roller coaster either. 

First off, the second med-surg exam was at 9am.  This one was primarily endocrine and I found my weakness.  No matter how prepared I thought I was, my grade was not what it could have been.  I still walked away with at least a B- ... that could improve if she accepts 2 answers for certain questions, but we won't know until she has the analysis from the University testing center.  It's over and mathematically I can get a 53 on my final exam and still pass the course.  That makes me feel better since a 53 is unheard of in my testing history.  Graduation is so close, I can taste it.

Second, went to Senior seminar.  Our class of 38 is divided into smaller groups with multiple instructors for this class.  I ended up with the same instructor from med-surg.  She's crazy, we all know it, but she's likeable.  The next hour was a continuance of her craziness.

Third, lunch, would would normally be good except that my group was meeting to run through our Senior project.  Oh wait, the room in the Union we were going to use was locked.  We had no place to meet that was quiet and we could also eat lunch.  So we agreed to meet at our next classroom after people picked up food (since that room doesn't have anything in session).  Two people didn't show up till 10 minutes before our class was to begin.  WHAT?  Plus, the person that's supposed to have gotten our presentation approved by the Principal on Monday, "Decided I wanted to meet with him in person," so we still don't know if we're approved yet and she doesn't have an appointment with him yet.  Our presentation is November 19th ... I hate feeling rushed if we have to change anything.

Fourth, our afternoon class involved a presentation from our State Board of Nursing.  That's when my day really got worse.  "Although there's no law against it, we do not encourage employers to hire people as CNA's that have passed their RN boards and hold a license."  The reasoning is, if someone such as myself is providing patient care and something happens to a patient that my RN skills could have prevented (but I didn't use them since I'm not hired as an RN), the employer could be legally liable for a lawsuit.  Great.  I'm currently employed as a CNA with no job prospects, not even an interview.  That will be covered in the Sixth highlight of the day.

Fifth, I got a 97 on a paper I wrote for Community.  That was nice.  I'll actually miss that rotation when it's over.  It's been so much fun being a School Nurse one day each week.

Sixth, I checked my job application at my current employer for a "Transfer/Promotion" to RN.  Nope, they don't want me.  "Feel free to apply for other positions."  Hmmm, not even a phone call to discuss the fact that I've worked there 6 years, what could we do to keep me part of the hospital family.  Just, nope, you're not qualified.  I met all the minimum requirements to apply.  I just don't understand.  So, as soon as I pass my Boards, which will likely be January - whenever I can get a testing date - I'll be unemployed.  Fan-freaking-tastic.

Sorry for all the negativity.  My husband is away for work, like usual, so I just haven't had someone to really vent to.  He's worked away from home for the last 3 years because of me and college expenses/class load vs available working hours.  Now, I'm about to graduate and cannot even find a job.  It's terrifying.  I've been working since I was 15 years old, over half my life thus far.  Six of those years at one hospital, and they don't even want to retain me (with multiple openings posted).  Nursing is supposed to be in demand.  I'm confused.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

It's amazing to think that in only 6 weeks ... *6* WEEKS ... I will be a Nurse Graduate.  The ultimate end of 5.5 years in college.  It's amazingly terrifying.  I have confidence, yet I don't.  I have so much to learn and it will only be the beginning of my career.

First, I will have to find a job.  I had thought my current employer was game with transitioning me from CNA to NG to RN, but now I have my doubts.  My Nursing Director has been very evasive and vague with answers.  The Medical Director of my department, as well multiple Providers and Nurses, are expecting me to be hired, but unfortunately I don't have an answer for them.  I don't want to stir up controversy if they start asking my Director "WTF?" but I cannot control what they do.  I do have to say, that it would be nice if they rose to support me on their own.  They have been there to support me all the way through school and I would like to start in a place that I am comfortable while I take the leap from Student to RN.  We'll see.  One Nurse did offer to write me a letter of recommendation for my job search.  That will be greatly appreciated.

Meanwhile, I have sucked it up and started applying elsewhere.  It's been a week since I submitted an application to another hospital and I haven't gotten a phone call, so that makes me nervous as well.  I'm going to take the opportunity on lunch break between lectures today to call their HR Department.  It's been a long time since I've been in this position and it's more than a little nerveracking.  I've been at the same hospital for over 6 years, and like I said, I'm comfortable there.  I have built a great rapport with Medical, Nursing, and Ancillary staff that I would be greatly saddened to leave behind.  But, one thing at a time ... I just have a tendency to jump to the worst case scenario.  It's a hazard of working in EMS.

This week won't be all that eventful school-wise.  I have an exam 1 week from today and a paper due a few weeks from today.  The paper is almost done, it's a self assessment (and I DETEST those).  I have 6 shifts left with my Preceptor.  She's amazing and I have to say that I hope I make her proud as a Nurse.  She's very concerned with my progress and how I feel about my work.

On a side note - I've spent the last few days watching the pictures roll in from my EMS family regarding Sandy.  Here I am counting my next 6 weeks while NYC was flooded and burned (in places).  A fellow nursing student's family is on Long Island and their home is now condemned.  I never watched "Jersey Shore," but I cannot help but hurt for those affected.  All of this right before the holidays.  So as I sit here counting down, I'm also counting my blessings.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Adventures in Nursing

Just a quick blurb about Partnership progress.  I am now officially over halfway through my 16 shifts, I have 7 remaining.  I spent my first "stretch" there since it was the first time my partner worked the weekend in a few months.  I worked Saturday/Sunday/Monday nights ... and didn't we have fun!  Okay, that may sound sick since my job revolves around people not being well, but it's a fact of life.

Sunday night was the most interesting.  A patient wasn't doing well that was already admitted into the hospital.  The floor called the ER, my partner and I went up since we didn't have any patients, ended up taking over care of the patient, then turned over care to an ICU Nurse (and still assisted) ... all while still in a Med/Surg patient room.  The patient was then transferred to a higher level of care facility about an hour later since our ICU was full.

All the while, it was movie/song innuendo night.  I have dubbed my Nurse partner "the female version of Tony DiNozzo of NCIS."  During key times of the night, she would say a line from a movie or, at one point, even sing-song "it's getting hot in here."  That phrase abruptly gained a simultaneous response of booty shaking by both myself and the ICU Nurse (all without stopping what we were doing with the patient).  It will give you a better picture if I tell you the ICU Nurse in question was a man. 

By the end of the night, two phrases had been born:

1)  Welcome to the Med/Surg wing of the ICU.

2)  "It's Med/Surg.  No!  It's the ER!  NO!  It's I-C-U!!" (inflection of "it's a bird, it's a plane ...")

Wow, what a great Partnership.  I'm loving it!