Saturday, December 18, 2010

And I'm Done

After 18 long months, it is over. Now what? I think I'll start with sleeping in and catching up on reading. But while I contemplate what I really want to do, I'll leave you with my speech from the other night that I delivered to a group of nursing alumni from my alma matter.

As I sat and attempted to write this speech I struggled with how to organize my thoughts. In-between submitting my paper on global health financing initiatives and another paper on cryptosporidium, I realized that this was the first non-academic or work related thing I had written since finishing in this past Tuesday. How could I possibly write something with no formatting guidelines, no page limit, and no profound questions to analyze? What is a girl to do? But then it came to me….SBAR.

Here we go.

I’m a xx year old Penn graduate, now 3 ½ years out of getting my BSN. I work full time as a senior staff nurse in the Burn Unit at BigNameHospital. As of this past Tuesday, I completed graduate school at Columbia earning and MPH with a concentration in health policy and management. Despite, two fancy degrees I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

I don’t know about all of you, but when I applied to college I questioned if I really wanted to be a nurse. In all honesty, I was choosing between architecture and nursing. (Yes, clearly I had some internal conflict). But then I went to an open house at the Marriott hotel in Newton, MA and met M.S. who sold me on Penn and nursing. So I guess you can blame her for having to listen to me this evening. But I also have to thank the Hillman foundation for it’s integral role in my transformation from country bumpkin (as my mother affectingly liked to call me) to city lover. I don’t know if I would have chosen NYC on my own, but I can't imagine living anywhere else and I’ve had so many amazing experiences here. When I tell people that I work in the burn unit, I get one of two responses: “ WOW! You are a saint. or Eww! Why did you chose that?”

Here’s how I got there. During college I spent one summer living at home working the ED at BigTeachingHospitalBoston and I was hooked on the adrenaline rush. I loved the train wrecks, the codes, and drunks (they really did have the best one-liners). The following summer I externed at FancyChildFocsuedHospital on the surgical trauma floor and realized that although I loved the kids, maybe I didn’t love their parents. But then came my senior year of college and I had to make a big decision, where to do clinicals? Of course I chose the ED at BigNameHopital. I walked in the first day to mass chaos. I was assigned to preceptor who wanted me to dive right in. He told me that I better learn to walk the walk and talk the talk. And I did just that. But when it came time to get a job, working in the ED would mean getting into the ED nurse residency program. I thought it was a sure thing. I mean, I was a student there. They loved me, right? And I had a degree from Penn! Wrong. It wasn’t in the cards. But that’s okay. After I cried for about a week thinking my life was over, I got a call from the recruiter asking me if I wanted to interview for the Burn Unit. I hopped on the train and interviewed. A few days later they offered me the job. Now here we are 3 ½ years later.

I must admit, I secretly thought that by working in the Burn Unit I’d meet a nice firefighter for a husband. I’m sad to report, though, that hasn’t happened YET! But back to being a nurse. Orientation was rough. I had 38 different preceptors, yes I said 38. The one on the first day called me useless. The second day I passed out during wound care of a patient whose extremities had been blown off in a 3rd rail electrical accident. I was off to a great start. Somehow I made it through my 16 weeks of orientation. And then it happened, I had got my first big admission. A 5 year old kid with 60% TBSA. He was a mess and we thought he was going to die that night. I was there when his mother saw him for the first time and helped catch her as she collapsed into hysterics. However, the worst was yet to come. That night, the kids father was escorted to the bedside from Rykers shackles and all. I listened to him say goodbye to his son. But somehow he made it through the night and the countless surgeries, bouts of sepsis, and the rehabilitation that occurred over the next four months. And then I came into work one day and experienced a true gift. I found out that he was going home and I had the privilege of discharging him. I felt like everything had come full circle.
I could tell more stories about patient miracles and tragedies, or the frustrations of the being the charge nurse, or the comedies precepting, but we all have those. That's the beauty of nursing--something new and different everyday--even if some of them make you go prematurely gray!
When I decided to go back to school full-time last September (and stay working full-time) everyone asked me why and called me crazy. To be honest, I wanted to see where else I could apply my nursing background and in what other ways I could influence both patients and healthcare. I did gain some valuable skills in the classroom, but it was my experiences outside of the classroom during my summer internship and doing consulting work for clients that gave me the most fulfillment. This past semester with two classmates we developed an evaluation strategy for all ambulatory care network programs at BigHospital and last spring I evaluated a multiplayer data reporting project for the NYBGH. Did you know that nurses are involved in disaster planning? Me neither until this summer when I was asked to join the taskforce. But what is my point? My time at the beside has provided me with not only an invaluable set of skills, but also real world experience that gives me a unique perspective to healthcare and health systems issues that can be applied outside the 4 walls of a hospital room.

Keep an open mind. Don’t close yourself off to opportunities. Absorb as much as you can, but there will always be more to learn. Be proud to be a nurse.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ooooo, my password still works!

One day shy of eight months since I last updated. eeks! But fear not, in 24 days I'm graduating, returning to civilization, getting my life back, getting a haircut, going to the dentist, picking up clothes that have been at the dry cleaner for 7 months, cleaning out my closet, returning to cooking, training for a marathon, and oh yeah and returning to the blog world. See ya then. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Becuase I Don't Have Time....

to write the long elaborate posts that are brewing in my mind, I've decided to add an "Only in New York" feature. Briefly, it's a recap of all the ridiculous things I hear and see on a daily basis while minding my own business. Maybe someday I can turn all of these sights into a book that will make me rich and famous, but for now they will be published purely for your reading pleasure.

Only in New York
While waiting for the train at 168th street at 9pm a woman is screaming at the top of her lungs that all cops should "suck her b@lls." (Didn't make sense to me either!) Then she gets up in some man's face and yells some more, except she acts the expletive "f*ck*ng". Turns out this man was an undercover cop, because he whipped out his badge and handcuffs. Arrested her and then chained her to the stairs while he waited for backup. During this whole time, the woman continues to scream, but starts demanding her second amendment rights (really, lady???) and is clanging the cuffs against the stairs. When the cops arrived, she got carried up the stairs by three officers because there was no elevator and she refused to walk. I could hear her yelling even as the train pulled in........

Sunday, February 21, 2010

i'm just saying...

Your friend asks you to be in her wedding. (YAY!) It's supposed to be in July in 2011. But then said friend and fiance decide to to buy a house and realize that it's much cheaper for them to fill the house with wedding and shower presents, and they proceeded to move the wedding to July 2010.

You are still working full-time and going to school full-time, free time left your vocabulary along time ago, but you will be present for all shower and wedding festivities. Oh yeah, minor detail: this is all taking place in Massachusetts.

When said friend called you up two days and told you that the date of the bridal shower just happened to be in smack in the middle of final exams, like on a Sunday afternoon at 2pm, you lied through your teeth when you said that the date was great and you were super excited.

But surely the best part of all of this is the bridesmaid dress, right? What girl doesn't love dress shopping? Because you live out-of-state you had to order yours over the phone. Well, you were told that the dress is bright pink, strapless, and chiffon. That would be great if you were tall, tan, and even slightly busty, but maybe it will look good on a petite, pale, flat chick. I'm sure I'll get lot's of use out of the dress, right? Isn't that what bridesmaids always tell themselves.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

hello 2010

Oh my poor, neglected blog!
Oh my poor, neglected readers three people who read this blog in an attempt to assure I have not gone off the deep end!

It's been so long (three days shy of three months) since I last logged in I forgot my password. But I am back. At least until next week when classes resume.

You are surely giddy with excitement over my return and eagerly awaiting the updates of all the wonderful and exciting things going on in Nurse Kelly's life! Without further ado, or in the words of Captain Sully: "Brace for Impact"...

I made it through first semester! I won't discuss quality of my life these past few months, you would all need a prescription for Prozac after reading about it, but I will tell you that I got straight A's (still waiting on the grade for one class) and got a job promotion (now I'm senior bed pan changer staff nurse). I'm pretty impressed with those two accomplishments given that I'm working full time and going to school full time.

I decided that I don't like Columbi@, but that I'm going to stick it out. I actually realized my dislike of the school my first day of orientation, but was in denial until midway through the semester. At that point, I marched myself into the office of dean of students office, sat in his chair, and very articulately, but respectfully expressed all of my concerns with the program and the inadequacies of some of the faculty. Essentially, I don't feel like I am am developing a skills set that I can take away from the program and I'm very troubled by the fact that I sit in a seminar class for three hours, taught by the "best professors in the field", yet they are unable to engage the students in discussion. It's painful. I should be excited to there! I told him that I wouldn't hesitate to leave and change schools. I think he was shocked, but he actually thanked me for my feedback. I'd like to mention that now, whenever I have a question or concern, administration is much more approachable and willing to work with me. I didn't go to the dean for special treatment, I went out of genuine concern for me and my classmates. We are spending a lot of money ($55,000) to get an education. Second semester starts next week, we'll see how it goes.

I didn't have to work on Christmas this year so I went home and celebrated with my family! It was the best Christmas present ever. I didn't realize how lonely it had been these last two years coming home to an empty apartment on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Spending the holiday with my family was the highlight of 2009!

I rang in the new year in my sweat pants after a long day of work. It may not have been a night full of glitz and glamour, but I was able to sit back and relax and a night like that was LONG overdue.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I have not fallen of the face of the earth (yet)

Phew, I managed to post befre a month passed. I don't know where to begin, but I guess I'll start at the most logical place...
where did September go? Furthermore, how are we already halfway through October?

I've given up any semblance of a normal life. Here's a recap of the previous week:
Monday- class 12-2;
Tuesday- class9-1:30, work the night shift
Wednesday- class, and meeting with my advisor, get home at 5pm and go to sleep after being awake for 36 hours.
Thursday- class ALL DAY till 9pm; biostatistics project due
Friday- class in the afternoon, work the night shift
Saturday- class 1-5; in bed at 6:30pm
Sunday- class 9-1, study for midterm on Monday

Ah yes, this is my life.

Today I took my first midterm, not too bad. Three hours to write type four essays; technology is so awesome.
I was't going to write about this, but I think it's important. Everyone is asking me if I like school; I tell them this: I'm still waiting for that "ah-ha!" moment when I realize how and when I will be able to use all of this information. Don't get me wrong, I like most of my class (Health Policy and Management Seminar, Policy Analysis, Epidemiology), with a few exceptions (Biostastics and Economics) but I don't find the administration very helpful or organized. Actually, they are so UN-organized. It's a 180 from PENN who was so organized that they sometimes anticipated my problems before I did....yeah, that was freaky.

However, one thing I must credit Columbia with is their impeccably clean bathrooms. I'm not kidding. Even at the end of the day, trash barrels are emptied, toilet paper is stocked and there is never any "tinkle sprinkle" on the seats. I know you know what I am talking about! So if nothing else, for my $55,000 a year, I am gaurenteed a clean bathroom.

But in all seriousness, life isn't that bad. I cannot compare my experience in graduate school to my experience undergrad. Back then, I lived on/near campus and school was my job. My weekends and weeknights were full of friends, going out, class board meetings, sorority events, drinking (sometimes too much), and making bad decisions gaining life experiences. Now, I'm a working professional, a real grown up. I have a beautiful apartment in a great neighborhood, brand new furniture, a fantastic employer, amazing friends (even if I never see them), things are shaping up. It will be pretty great to be 26 years old with two Ivy League degrees.

I can do this. I can do anything for 16 months. One day, one class, one paper, one test at a time.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

because I've got nothing but time

Friday:Class 2-5,
Saturday: class 2-5,
Sunday: class 9-1, work 7:30p-8a
Monday: off work at 8a, class from 12-2.

That was my weekend. To top it all off, that night that I worked was horrible. I was in charge, plus had an intubated ICU patient, plus another patient coded and died (that's what happens when you have necrotizing fasciatis on 65% of your body), plus another patient who was crazy. And by crazy I mean, screaming at the top of his lungs that we should call him MARY and then screaming that he wanted to leave despite just having had a fasciotomy to one of his extremities. Psych had to come up to the floor and declare him incompetent and then every-time the patient threatened the nursing staff and/or tried to leave we had to call security. They came to the unit 7 times in 12 hours. By the time the morning rolled around, I couldn't wait to leave. I surely miss my night shift coworkers, but I DO NOT miss the insanity.

Now, I'm sitting on my couch watching Live with R & K waiting for my new furniture to arrive. No, not another new living room set, but a new bedroom set. You see, given the amount of school work that I have and the lack of table space I have (we don't even have a kitchen table) I needed to get a desk for my room. Problem: Where to put it? Solution: Thanks to a fabulous suggestion from O I purchased a loft bed for my bedroom. It comes with a built in desk underneath, so I maximize my space. Thankfully I have very high ceilings in my bedroom, so I can sit up without hitting my head on the ceiling.

I'm trying to think of more stuff to type, as I really don't want to start my economics homework, but I'm running out of ideas. Guess it's time to hit the books.