Balance…or something like that.

So I just thought I’d give a little description of my week for those moms who are considering nursing school.

Each quarter we have a 5-6 week clinical rotation, which includes 2 eight hour shifts per week.  During those weeks in addition to clinicals, we usually have 1-2 days on campus with lecture and/or lab.   After our clinical shift we have LOTS of paperwork.  Right now it’s a few hours of writing concept maps and researching drugs when I get home from the hospital.  Needless to say, my home slowly unravels during the weeks we have clinicals.  On average, during clinicals, I usually spend 30-35 hours on school/clinicals/studying–about 24 hours of that away from home, and the remainder doing paperwork and studying at home.

When we are not in clinicals, we usually spend more time with labs and lecture.   My time commitment those weeks is probably closer to 15-30 hours, depending on the week, with half of that on campus, and half of that studying at home.

I still make dinner 4-5 times a week, albeit much simpler meals.  My kids have friends over after school a few times a week at my house, but I try to limit their extra-curricular activities like rockclimbing and soccer to Friday afternoons and the weekend so I’m not driving them around midweek.   (That’ll change this Spring when swimteam begins again).

My house is somewhat presentable which means all the public rooms are tidy, but the non-public areas get worse and worse as the quarter progresses.  I’ve bought more socks/underwear/jeans for everyone so we can get by on doing laundry only on the weekends.  I do grocery delivery.  Funny guy gets the girls to school 3-4 times a week, which means their hair looks…interesting sometimes…but nobody seems to mind.  They eat school lunch.  I try not to think about that.  I try really hard not to think about that.  Shudder.  I am there to pick them up after school 7 times out of 10.  (That could change when I get an evening clinical rotation).  I jokingly said to a classmate that  I’ve had to lower my  expectations for myself this year, but it is actually true.  And it’s working for me.

We still entertain occasionally.  We still ski on some weekends.  There’s still plenty of time to hang out, as long as it’s not a weekend before an exam.  And I do usually get in 4-5 hours of studying on the weekends, much much more if there is an exam on Monday.

Overall, I would say that nursing school is not as tough as I expected. As far as content, I thought A&P and Microbiology were far more difficult.  But the time commitment, as a mom, is tougher.  Every day is different, so I’m always having to check my schedule and juggle things around.  I’ve had to get used to not getting my kids off to school.  Funny guy has really stepped up, and I think his support is crucial to our survival.  And I’ve had to get used to not being there for everything like I always was before–I’ve missed the girls’ field trips and class parties, I’m no longer the room mother, I don’t volunteer in their classrooms as much.  But we’re all getting along fine, for the most part.

Almost 1/3 of the way done!



I knew it was coming.  I had a rough patient this week, and difficult nurses, but neither in the way I expected.

My patient was someone who was (or thought he was) perfectly healthy three weeks ago.   He was admitted to the hospital last week, and by the end of my second shift he was discharged to hospice.  He was young.  He had children.  They didn’t expect him to make it to this weekend.  It was one of the most heartbreaking situations I’ve ever had to deal with.

My nurses did not handle this situation the way I hoped.   They rarely set foot in his room, relieved I’m sure that the student nurse would have to deal with him and his anguished, overwhelmed family.

So I didn’t learn a whole lot from my nurses this week, but I learned from him, and from his family, and from my own reactions to the grief that surrounded me.  The first day was completely overwhelming for me.  I gave IV push meds for the first time, and was shaking so badly (more from emotion than nervousness) that I almost couldn’t do it.   I cried for hours after I left.

The second day was much better.  It was still incredibly sad, but it felt good to know my patient and his needs.   It felt good to be helping and advocating for my patient.  I was doubtful I had the bawls to be an oncology nurse after day one, but I cried it all out, gave myself a little pep talk, and did a good job on my second shift.  I think I just might have it in me.


Today is officially the middle of the quarter for us, which would be a nice feeling, except we’ve only had one exam, and we have three left.

Clinicals continue to go well.  I was on the orthopedic floor this week, and I think all of us ended up with patients with total knee replacements.    Fascinating stuff.  I had no idea you could have a total knee replacement  in the morning and walk to the bathroom that afternoon.  Obviously, I hope I don’t ever need one, but it makes me worry much less about ruining my knees with my running!

Next exam is on Monday, so I will be spending Super Bowl Sunday at Starbucks with my books.

Med-Surg, week 2

Oh my GOD this is so much better than last quarter!!!  Today was our first day with our own patient, and it was so much fun!  Obviously, I wasn’t on my own–I had another great med-surg nurse to keep an eye on me and help me out with things I was unsure of or wasn’t trained to do yet, and my clinical instructor was around checking in on me.  But I actually surprised myself with how much I could do for my patient.  I passed meds, gave a subcutaneous heparin injection (my first injection!), did my assessments, helped her get out of bed to walk, did a lot of teaching, and did a lot of charting.  Holy shit there’s a lot of charting.

I was very nervous going into this clinical rotation, but so far it has been great.  I feel very comfortable in this setting, and I’m amazed at how much we’ve learned so far.

Some of my classmates have had rough patients and/or nurses (the ones we’ve all heard about who eat their young)  for two weeks in a row.  I’m sure my turn is coming soon.

Hell yeah.

This week we started med-surg clinicals.  THAT is what I had in mind when I wanted to be a nurse.   So much fun!  I have a great clinical instructor this quarter, and the floor nurse I was assigned to today was fantastic.  Her patients adored her.   She was great with them.  It was a bit crazy, but the time flew by.  I loved seeing all the pieces we’ve learned in lecture and lab come together today.  I am REALLY excited about clinicals this quarter.

And today I performed peri care for a patient with a cath who was recovering from prostate surgery.  This is something I’ve been terrified of doing for the first time on a real patient.  How did it go?  Easy breezy.  We chatted about golf the entire time.   (I just channeled all the midwives who have checked my cervix or done a pap smear while chatting with me about decorating/gardening/child-rearing).  Next stop- actually inserting a foley!

So that’s what everyone has been talking about.

We had our first exam today on cardiac (heart failure, CAD, HTN, etc.) and pain management.  I’m still in shock at how tough it was.  I passed with an 84, which I feel okay about since at least 1/3 of the class failed.   It’s a far cry from my scores last quarter though (my low last quarter was a 96).  The problem with this exam is that I came away from it clueless about how to study for the next exam.  I did 200 cardiac NCLEX questions last night after finishing my studying and I did well on them.  But the test today was another beast entirely, and I can’t quite figure out how or why…

This instructor had 11 students fail last year during this same quarter.  Ugh.

Como se dice parenteral?

Okay, this is driving me CRAZY!  Please tell me how ya’ll pronounce the “parenteral” part of TPN?

I say it like I read it:  pair-en-tair-uhl.   Just like “enteral” with a prefix.  Because that’s what it is.

My instructor last quarter pronounced it “parental.”

And then today my new instructor for this quarter said it too!  “Parental.”

So what’s the deal?  How do you pronounce it?  Is it common to pronounce it both ways?  Am I saying it wrong?  Are they saying it wrong?