Life Updates.

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It has been a crazy year to say the least. I think this is the first summer in at least 3 years where i’m not completely stressed about something. I don’t have to take summer school and finish my master’s while balancing full time work, i’ve moved into my third year of nursing, and my summer job is for the most part officially confirmed. I’ll have to say waiting to confirm my summer job has been one of the most stressful aspects of my year so far.

I’m pretty fortunate to be back working for the Government of Canada this summer in an exciting and challenging role, but the road to get here was long with the interview, security interviews, medical exam, security clearances, uniform fittings, and of course defensive tactics training. Having just successfully finishing the course, I am mentally and physically exhausted. I was honestly more stressed for this course for the past 6 months (knowing if you fail you lose your job) than nursing school exams. But alas, we still have 4 more weeks of in class training before I get to actually get to perform the job.  

Looking back it was an awesome course and the people who were with me for the past 8 days have been some of the most supportive and incredibly interesting people i’ve had a chance to bond with. Losing a member of our class because of failure was hard on all of us and while the majority of us passed, it was bitter sweet and just as stressful waiting for the rest of the group to pass their scenarios. For people who haven’t done a course like that it sounds like i’m complaining about something incredibly “easy”, but for the people that have gone through it, it’s awful. The majority of us couldn’t eat properly for a week, we all slept at like 7 because of stress, and every day it was an adventure to see if you’d be able to wake up and move around without having to take ibuprofen to get through having you arms twisted behind you back and being thrown to the ground by one of your classmates 100 times a day. 

It was nice to be able to spend all day working out and learning defensive tactics to protect myself but I have to admit I am so sore from all the push ups, squats, arm bars, sit ups, burpees, wall sits, and planks. Although, it does make me excited to get back out to start my running season, hoping to get into a 10k this year, but the school year and extended bad weather really through a wrench into my training for a spring run, so let’s just say i’m aiming for the fall at this point if i’m not overly exhausted from working.  

Nursing school has been another roller coaster of a year. I’m so glad to finally be done second year and get to start fresh in the fall without any disruptions. While i’m finally excited to be able to say i’m moving into third year and successfully passed pharmacology, pathophysiology, and microbiology with B’s, I lost a lot of my current friends this year because they will now be held back a year and not be in any nursing courses. It really sucks and i’m incredibly frustrated at the challenges this will present for many of them having only failed one course by less than 1-2%. There’s no difference between someone  with a 60% versus someone with a 59.2%. Multiple choice exams aren’t indicative of who will be a great nurse or even a great student. Exams are just a subjective selection of course material made by a professor. There’s no way to test everything in a 13 week course and some students are stronger in some areas than others, some students are great at multiple choice and others are better at short answer, oral, or essay style exams. You can have one bad exam and be penalized for an entire year. While I am working to help and advocate for those students in petitioning the faculty and senior administrators, I am hoping this will at least change the future for incoming students to look at students holistically (ie success in the entire course is reviewed and assessed) rather than on the performance of one final exam if they fail a course by less than 5% (aka 55%/100).

I’m also excited to say that I was confirmed into my role as the Education Chair for my nursing student council for my nursing site and regional nursing chapter. In this role I get sit in on all the administrative and faculty meetings and help bring the concerns and voices of students to the table. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to understand the decision making processes made in the program and to be able to help make changes for the future of the nursing program in helping maintain McMaster’s strong program. With this I also became acquainted with the regional nurse’s association chapter president and have been able to help take on a research role in geriatrics because of one of my favourite professors who introduced us. I am incredibly lucky to have had such a supportive professor who wanted to see the best in all her students and believed I would be well suited to work in research. With this I get to help a team of researchers look into chronic disease management in long-term care and understand the publishing process with a renowned researcher in this area. While I know research isn’t necessarily where I want to get into in the long-term I want to use this experience, master’s degree, and my floor experience to get into health policy and influence health on a wider scale. 

Third year will hopefully be a little bit less stressful, but with the addition of an 8 hour community placement and 12 hour clinical I know it’ll be stressful. Plus, we get to go for round 2 of biochemistry and pathophysiology so I can say i’m not super excited to have to review my pharmacology and biochemistry notes from first year to hopefully prepare for the upcoming term. I am excited though to get to select medicine-surgical, oncology, mental health, paediatrics, and maternal/obstetrical clinical placements though. Now is when things actually start to get more specific and really ramp up. I think i’m really leaning towards mental health for the transferability and paediatrics but to be honest they’re all great options and i’m excited for what lies ahead. Being in general medicine this past term was a huge confidence boost so it’ll be nice to work with more specific populations of people. 

The future is looking bright again. 

I should also make a shout out to all the current nurses, retired nurses, and students nurses making a difference and working hard each and every day to be the best they can be. Being a nurse, whether you are an NP, RN, LPN/PN, CNA, nursing student or psychiatry nurse, means you carry immense responsibility at all times. You step into people’s lives and make immense differences in offering the best patient care. As nurses we see people at their best and at their worst. We see life begin & end, and we also also see people’s capacity for love, strength and endurance. I can’t wait to join such an incredible family once I become an RN! Nurses deserve to be celebrated for all their hard work and unseen emotional, physical and mental labour looking after all sorts of patients, their families, carers and people!

I must also add it’s so cool to be an alumni of King’s College London, which is also where the first professional nursing school was set up by the most influential and respected nurse, Florence Nightingale (the founder of modern day Nursing). Hence, this post goes out to celebrating Florence Nightingale’s birthday on this day. 

So happy International Nurses Day 2018!

Cheers,

M.