This week has literally been go,go,go,go. Since i’ve finished up my placement for the year, I decided it was a good idea to use those two extra shifts to pick up hours at my part-time job. Boy was I in for a surprise with how much time I lose out in other areas. On top of that with OSCE’s creeping up and our class not performing that great on the midterm test, a couple of peers and I thought it would be a great idea to book four extra hours in the lab to practice our clinical skills and interviews on one another.

I can’t really complain about long days though, I mean this is essentially what my life is going to look like as a future nurse. Although i’m excited for it, i’m also tired just thinking about it. The amount of work thrown at us to get there is crazy. 14 courses a year, without including the extra hours were expected to practice in lab. Honestly, I consider myself fortunate I was able to sneak out of some courses from my previous studies, but man even with a few courses less this is by far the toughest and most stressful thing i’ve done.

With first year nursing coming to a close, the introduction of second year was bestowed upon us. I’m pretty excited for my medical and hopefully surgical placements next year. I’m even more excited at the fact that McMaster has so many relationships with hospitals all across the province. I’d love to do my preceptorship in fourth year in a large centre (Toronto, London, Ottawa, etc)  and hopefully be able to enter a specialized field eventually.

However with only a few weeks left of level one nursing (hopefully), I thought I would write about some of the things i’ve learned about my program/myself and nursing in general this year:

  1. It’s Busy.
    And I know this is one that I’ve already stated like every time I talk about nursing school, but it’s not a lie. From before the semester even starts all the way through, there aren’t any lulls in the amount of work and preparation you have to do. You’re either busy busy most weeks, or lose-my-mind busy at certain points in the term. And during those lose-my-mind busy weeks, i’ve definitely questioned if I am even cut out for this. But those weeks pass (eventually), and I can definitely say you get through it, and you’re stronger for the next one.
  2. Nursing school is not like high school or really like anything else.
    I encourage everybody to get into good study habits before you get into nursing school. I know this has been a huge wake up call for me. I thought philosophy at  Master’s level was hard, but who was I kidding. This is 100x harder by far. I’ve never been a huge crammer. I’ve always started studying like, one to two weeks before something is due to come up. I can’t do that anymore because I just don’t have time. Half the time i’m so busy I have to use time in lectures to catch up for another class. The weekly quizzes aren’t blow off quizzes – you need to know your shit. Those “easy” attendance marks really save your ass when it comes down to it. And then on top of frequent projects and group assignments, community placements, readings, check-offs, discussions, etc. I just don’t have time to add on an assignment or test that’s two weeks away. I have to prioritize what’s coming up this week. You have to know your stuff. But i’ve also come to accept that if I need a mental health day, I take those few hours to nap or binge on Netflix or drink a bottle of wine or sometimes even just stare at my wall. Taking care of me comes first at the end of the day.
  3. Your grades do not define you.
    I know, cliche and i’ve talked about it before. But it’s so true and it’s something I’m still learning even after getting back some marks for anatomy and biochemistry. Getting an A in nursing school is hard. It is so hard. Seriously. The material is different, the questions are different. Sometimes you feel like you’re putting your full effort in and you’re taking advantage of everything you can in clinical or in class and you still don’t get an A or a B or even a C.
    It’s also daunting to talk to instructors sometimes, but i’ve learned to adjust my study habits and get a study group together. You don’t really need a 4.0 to get through nursing school, you just need to get through. Grades don’t determine whether you will be a great nurse. While that doesn’t mean blow everything off, because the information and experience are essential to being a competent nurse, i’ve learned to not dwell over that A.
  4. Lastly, just some random thoughts
    1) Don’t get involved with drama. Don’t do it. You’re with these people for the next three years. You honestly learn to get pretty comfortable with everyone quickly. I mean giving your peer a bed bath is still awkward, but there’s no one else you’d rather get to practice on because let’s face it dealing with actual patients will be incredibly nerve wrecking and exciting.
    2) Get in a study group with the super smart, type A student and freaking learn that stuff. Ask questions and truly understand things.
    3) Taking advantage of open access clinical lab. This year we’ve learned things like physical assessments, interviewing skills, cardiac/ respiratory/ abdominal/ musculoskeletal/ mental health/neurological assessments, patient transfers, and patient hygiene. Jump on these opportunities to refine your skills even if it means giving up a few extra hours a week.
    4) That at the end of the day, my sanity matters. Sleep, drink, Netflix, spend a few hours with friends need to be more prioritized in the coming years (which only gets more intense). If you have to put off an extra assignment for tomorrow so that you can take the night off, do it. If there’s anything I can vouch for it’s that regardless of what you choose to study or do in life, your mental health is so important yet so easy to ignore when you’re under so much stress. So take that time for YOU.

Aside from nursing school i’m having a pretty good past few weeks. I landed an awesome summer position with a company that pays me more than minimum wage and guarantees me set hours. On top of that I get to work in an office environment again (finally!) and (permitted I do well) I have a job for the next 3 summers! Even more exciting I got a second part-time job offer this week where I get to see cute dogs and cats all day 🙂 So basically my finances are finally looking up and the once daunting concept of student debt is now well….less daunting!

But I’m hoping to get back to updating my site with some of the exciting things and posts I have in mind.

Happy St. Paddies day!