The end of summer.

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I can’t believe I’ve already been back at school for a week. Four months literally flew by in the blink of an eye. I’ve been wanting to write an end of summer update post for a few weeks now, but I just haven’t had the time or energy. Honestly, I would think about updates that I wanted to post or articles I found interesting, but when you work a compressed work week it’s exhausting when you finally get your days of rest. As much as I wanted to update and work on my blog, sleep was also calling my name or I would make plans and be too lazy to go on my computer. I think one of the things I love most about summer is my lack of desire to watch TV or even turn on my computer. I really only used my computer to help out with a research project or to answer some long e-mails but other than that I rarely used it. 

Workwise, summer was awesome. I had the opportunity to connect with so many young people doing a job that not many people consider within the realm of “normal”. To be honest, I learned a fair bit including learning and improving upon my basic Spanish as well as learning to work with a variety of different personalities.

I was fortunate in the sense I worked 5 day on and 4 day off rotations. This allowed me time to pursue other initiatives I would never have had the time to pursue had I worked a standard Monday to Friday 9 to 5 job. I got to pursue some of my research opportunities under a notable geriatric researcher. I also had the opportunity to travel to a new country and actually take a relaxing vacation for once, rather than running around to different countries every few days. 

I also moved to a completely new city this summer and had the chance to catch up with someone from my past and make amends with this and build a new friendship. To be honest, it was weird to re-connect and meet them in person for the first time because inadvertently entered my life due to the decisions of someone else. But it was pleasantly surprising how nice they were in reaching out and welcoming me to the city. I feel like in that regard I was able to close one chapter and start a new one with this person. 

I have to say moving from Kitchener- Waterloo was one of the best decisions i’ve made in the past couple years. I finally feel free in a sense, mentally to be able to walk around my city and not be on edge that i’ll cross paths with people from my past. Even though it takes me longer to commute to school now, I enjoy the opportunity to explore a new place and finally live on my own. 

School wise, I took it easy this summer. The end of second year was mentally draining, both due to the fact I finished the exam season with a kidney infection and the fact that the college strike really threw me off balance for the year. Luckily, I was successful (for the most part aside from one mediocre grade) in moving into third year, but I realize not everyone was fortunate in this regard. I had the opportunity to advocate for my peers in what I feel are unfair grading policies and lack of transitional support for students to re-join the nursing program after staying a year behind. Luckily, this will be a task I hope to work on through the year with the school of nursing administration to improve upon for upcoming school years. 

As much as I started off summer with a kidney infection, I somehow managed to end summer with a severe case of strep throat (again). I’d never been so miserable on a course of antibiotics before, literally I could not even leave my bed or move my muscles without feeling severely nauseous or weak. I couldn’t even lift my arms above my head or walk for 5 minutes without feeling like I needed a nap. I’m pretty sure I slept for 14-16 hours for 3 days straight. Luckily, I was able to swap my antibiotics to something I could actually tolerate, but I have a new found understanding of medication side effects that my patients often complain about.

I’m excited to say that I ended up getting my paediatric placement for this term, which will hopefully help me achieve my goal of getting into SickKids next year for consolidation (hopefully). I’m lucky to have been able to get the placement I wanted since it’s completely lottery based and all you can do is pray you get the placement you want. I’m also happy that my placement is at a hospital i’m already familiar with, which makes me feel a bit more comfortable since i’m used to the charting system, hospital navigation, and medication administration piece. 

I had my first placement today and I have to say my heart is so full. I absolutely loved working with the nurses and support staff and more than anything having the opportunity to interact with the kids. I have to say my nursing skills were a bit shaky returning to clinical but throughout the day and support from my buddy student and nurse I had the opportunity to get a quick refresher and feel a bit more confident. I have to say having the opportunity to cuddle and learn to feed and burp babies was such an awesome introduction into the placement. I’m excited to learn more and hopefully grow. I think the one thing I love about paediatrics is how welcoming the environment is and the large age range of patients whether from 1 month to 18 years. It’s so different to the adult nursing world in terms of the language you use with the young ones to the normal ranges and administering medication based on weight or other formulations. I think the other aspect that is slightly intimidating, but also somewhat nice is how there is always someone with the child (including overnight), whether it be grandma, dad, mom, etc. It’s weird to be watched while doing assessments and administering medications (especially after a 4 month break and being so new) but at the same time it’s nice to be able to include the family in these tasks in helping me verify if my findings are normal. 

I think the other aspect of this rotation i’m looking forward to is being able to work and visit the NICU (my dream job) as well as attend a surgery. I’ve decided to focus my learning plan for this term on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, which is where babies experience withdrawal syndromes from things such as narcotics or other illicit substances. With the opioid crisis at a crisis point with a variety classes using these drugs, cases of this could increase in the future and it’s important to understand the process and the best course of action to care for these little ones. 

I’m excited for third year but also secretly terrified. I feel like each year of nursing school I tell myself “it will get better after this year and become easier, just get through this one day/week/month/term”, and it doesn’t. Literally every year gets harder and the expectations increase significantly (understandably with the importance of the job), but still nursing school is mentally and physically draining. It’s only been 1 week and i’m 1 week behind on work because it.never.ends. Whether is preparing for clinical and having to teach myself medication and IV math or watching online pathophysiology modules, tutorial assignments, or even finishing and taking notes on readings it never stops. I’m even so lucky that I don’t have to take electives and I feel swamped by work, yet I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have 1-2 additional courses. I know in time nursing will (hopefully) get easier, or so i’ve been told, but I know the next few years will be tough, especially as I get into the nursing world and am practicing on my own.

I admit, I already am counting down the days until next summer. But i’m grateful for the memories I made this summer with new and old friends. I’m happy to say I got to stand beside my best friend as she married the man of her dreams, while also celebrating big milestones with other friends and visiting new places both within Ontario and outside of Canada.

I’m excited for what this school year will bring (new adventure coming in the new year) and the opportunity to work on my work-school-life balance. Here’s to hoping for more good food and a successful first term of third year.