12 Hours.

A lot can happen in 12 hours. It’s crazy to think this is what my life is going to look like, i’ve never learned so much in anything prior to my first 12 hour clinical experience. The mental, physical and emotional high you ride through your shift. As a second year we don’t typically get 12 hours shifts, but because of the disruption to our clinicals we had last term, I was lucky to get three 12 hour shifts and the rest being the regular 8 hours.

It was daunting entering my first shift yesterday. Having spent the week prior in the UK for my Master’s graduation I missed the transition day of having a partner to manage one patients and get acquainted with the unit. I was nervous to be alone with a patient and not be in a familiar environment, but I SURVIVED. I am incredibly grateful to have had a pleasant patient who was understanding and the help of the fellow upper year student nurse who pulled me aside to teach me new things and help keep me on task. I am even more grateful to have had a tutor who believed in my capabilities of managing my own patient and who was there any time I needed them to double check my medications or answer my questions.

Post shift, I must say it is daunting. HOW DO NURSES DO IT? I only had one patient to take care of for the day (my first solo patient ever and first shift in my new hospital) but even just doing a head-to-toe assessment, vitals, charting, and preparing his medications took me until 9am.  Let alone the full-time nurses who have 3-4 patients each and have to have all those tasks done by 9 am so the healthcare team can do rounds. It doesn’t help when most of the patients are in isolation because of the flu/MRSA/VRE and you have to gown up each time you leave and enter their room (better remember everything the first time!). Black. Magic.

It’s crazy how much nurses have to keep on top of things, whether it’s 0800, 1200, 0500 medications, charting (can’t bring papers into isolation room), addressing emergencies that pop up or concerns, dressing wounds, health teaching, meeting with family to talk,  accompanying patients to appointments on different floors, bathing them and other personal hygiene measures, having everything ready for report, keeping on top of new orders/lab results, taking swabs, in some cases feeding patients by hand, getting them up and around, arranging a patient’s day and keeping on top of what goes on (how much they drink and output). It doesn’t seem like much, but when you actually see what goes on behind the scenes it’s baffling. By the end of my shift I was scrambling to chart everything, change dressings, and helping others with tasks like trying to get an IV into a patient who was delirious or finding a manual bed alarm for a patient who almost fell out of bed. I can see why nurses have such a high burnout rate or why moral distress is such a prevalent issue in the field.

I think one of the most important things that i’ve taken out of my Master’s degree is recognizing issues that don’t align with my values and how to slowly start to address them. More importantly i’ve come to realize the need for patient advocacy and my role as a nurse to help patients have their voices heard. I came across a patient yesterday who had a nephrostomy bag in which when I walked into their room during the start of my shift was in a bath basin floating in urine. I had never come across one of these bags, but I knew it wasn’t normal. What made me even more sad was after my assessments I was planning my day of how to get the patient up and out of bed and they mentioned wanting to go for a walk. Seeing the situation as a whole, it made me sick to my stomach to think this individual would have to lug this container of urine because the bag had been leaking, out in public, and not only feel uncomfortable with people watching them but also the fact that it was simply a hazard both physically (ie. slips) and health wise (ie. a super highway for infection). When I brought up my concerns to the overseeing student nurse she stated that in rounds they simply played it down to a behavior issue and blamed the individual for tinkering with it rather than making any effort to find a new bag somewhere else in the hospital. I’m incredibly grateful for my nursing tutor who came in to check on me and believe me when I mentioned that this was not normal and that he needed a new bag ASAP. Even to get a new bag was a mission and a half with one hospital unit complaining it would come out of their budget. Since when has it become acceptable to withhold healthcare from individuals? UTIs are prevalent in the hospital setting and seeing the state of this bag (which had been tapes with wound dressing rather than waterproof tape) was unacceptable. I can’t imagine how the situation would have looked had my tutor not been around to help me advocate for the patient in addressing the situation and scavenging the hospital for a new bag. Thinking of it was someone I loved being the in the patient’s position I would feel disgusted and angry to not have a voice in the care I receive because of my age or health condition (ie. depression, dementia).

Honestly in 12 hours, a lot can change. From patients developing delirium and becoming confused to patients dying. I experienced my first death yesterday and let me tell you it’s nothing as how the television perceives it to be. It’s cold, lonely, and in a way mechanical as in the steps are set out in hospital policy. It’s a strange feeling to look at a patient and see them lifeless especially when you had seen them in a better state the week prior, I mean as a healthcare professional we want all our patients to go home happy and healthy but the reality is some don’t and for many who do go home not at a optimal quality of life. I can’t really explain what the death process is like, but I learned a lot about how I can help make it the best it can be. Simple measures like washing the body, closing the eyes, putting on a pair of briefs and providing privacy are things I can do to help. Visiting the morgue was surreal in it’s blandness, it’s kind of unsettling to think about in that at the end of life you end up alone in a cold fridge waiting to be taken to a funeral home or be released for other measures.

It’s eye opening to how many people are death-phobic, I had a great discussion with a professor today about this phenomenon in nursing and how nursing schools do a poor job at preparing nurses to deal with death. Even within my own group a couple students found the patient’s death hard to deal with. I think nursing schools need to do a better job to improve our own awareness and understanding of the dying and death processes. How we can sort out or feelings from our professional duties and have them work together. I think death in itself is powerful, it’s inevitable, and the only I can do in the process is to respect the being that once filled that body and help transition it to the next phase. I can’t control or stop death (when medical interventions fail or are futile) but I can help by being respectful and giving the individual a respectful send off to the next realm.

I’ll be honest leasing the hospital that night, I now know what it smells likes and I also now appreciate sleep more. Being ‘on’ for 12 hours straight is a lot, but the learning experience I had yesterday was incredible. I didn’t think I would enjoy general medicine, but the variety of patients (age, health conditions, tasks) has been eye opening and a much more enlightening experiencing than my first placement at another local hospital. Honestly, i’m looking forward to my weekly clinical now and how much I will grow as a nurse through the term.

While entering the hospital before the sun rises and leaving long after it sets has it’s downsides, the work nurses do fills my soul, while the smell of hospital fills my hippocampus and nares. There’s nothing that I would change though or that a good night’s sleep, shower, and strong laundry wash cycle can’t fix.


Megan S

First Clinical Shift.

I’ve honestly never felt so overwhelmed in my life entering the clinical portion of my program. Friday was my first day as a level 2 clinical student! I finally reached a big milestone in working with actual patients :O

It’s crazzzzzy how much nurse’s know and the things that are expected of us. I mean I always knew it wasn’t an easy jbo, but when you actually see what goes on behind the scenes, it’s eye opening.

Don’t get me wrong, I was completely excited by the opportunity to finally be in hospital, but i’m also so nervous to be seen as incompetent by the veteran nurses on the floor.

I realize it’s pretty normal to have the experience be nerve wrecking, i’m grateful my clinical group and mentor are all very open about our feelings and are all eager to learn and grow from our experiences. I’ve been slowing trying to change my mind set from one of wanting to impress and be the “star” of the group, to one of which I want to try to use these rotations to learn as much as possible.

While I’m happy to have been given my first choice of placement, I knew my instinct it would likely not be an area in which I would want to specialize and focus on in the future. I picked the Chest unit, largely because of the exposure it would given to to common diseases like COPD, asthma, and lung cancers, but also because of the fact I would get to better understand and differentiate between lungs sounds. I wasn’t particularly fond of the respiratory assessments in first year, partially because I don’t really know what i’m supposed to be listening for. While simulated mannequins are great for understanding placements of the stethoscope and palpating, they don’t really give you a realistic understanding of what the lungs actually sounds like in practice. I mean sometimes when you listen the heart sounds can be distracting or sometimes if the patient is wheezing, you might not get a clear picture of the heart beating.

Regardless of whether I love the chest unit by the time December rolls around, I will be grateful for everything i’ve learned. I’m excited to make a difference in patient care. I get being the ‘baby nurse’ i’ll get delegated tasks that aren’t so glamorous (ex. bed washes, cleaning poop/vomit/pus/saliva, inserting catheters), but I do believe every aspect of nursing care has an important place in making a patient feel cared for. Sometimes the smallest things have the biggest impact, how great does it feel to sit in a clean night gown, have your hair brushed, or even have a cleanly shaven face? While I want to help provide the medical aspects of nursing care, the other aspects are just as or even more important.

They say life is what you make of it, well, it is my opinion that the same is true for clinical and preceptorship experiences.  I know mistakes will happen The important thing to do is to learn from them, and move forward. While I feel overwhelmed now, having never had the chance to perform many of the skills I learned in person (ex. catheter insertions) I know skills will come with time and practice.

While i’ve already had days where I’ve questioned if nursing is for me. I know in time these days will become few and far between, and I will feel the rewards of nursing.  I look forward to the day when a patient’s thanks me and this appreciation will make all the hard work of pushing through nursing school worth it.

While sometimes I want to believe that i’m a super hero and can do everything on the first short, I know everything won’t always be perfect, but with a positive attitude, I can hopefully make my experience this term a great and rewarding one.



The Power of Grit.

“Ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort”

Growing up I was always seen as the “weaker” student compared to my fellow peers. Whether it be starting off in French immersion school and being told I couldn’t handle it or starting off grade one having to be taught to read privately or even moving to grade 5 and not being able to keep up with my peers in math or writing. I was told with my grades I would never move on to university by my own parents.

However, upon watching this Ted Talk I realize how much the power of grit has impacted my own life. Whether it be the story of grade 1 me who not only learned to read, but learned to read at such a pace that I advanced beyond that of my peers to the extent on a standardized test only 4% of students would have surpassed me. Let alone move to grade 5 where with working with my teacher privately I surpassed everyone’s expectations and learned to write in cursive and improve my mathematical abilities. It was also that same teacher that recognized my potential and pushed me to do better knowing that I needed a bit of a push to get started.

It was the comparison have having friends that were all gifted or in advanced placement that pushed me to do and be better to not be the one that was always behind.  Even in comparison to my sister who spends hours studying, reading and perfecting her notes even today in a top law school, I was always seen as the “lazy” one because I never tried as hard or put in as much effort to get the same grades. Whether it be in music, physical education, or even school work I was determined to beat the expectations that were placed upon me by others. I would spend hours listening to lecture or practicing to be better than those around me and I was determined to try my best. While I don’t put in the effort most students do, I have developed strategies that work for me whether it just be attending lectures and listening or skimming over the text book a few times or even re-listening to lectures on my own time. I was and always have been determined to not settle for less and to get into not only some of the best schools but also some of the best programs. To some extent though I am lazy, I never had to try as hard as some of those around me to understand concepts or study for hours on end. I was also known as the stubborn kid by many teachers growing up who only put in her effort for things I wanted to do or to beat expectations.

I still remember sitting on the floor one day in my room back in gr.9 and flipping through books of university wondering how I would ever get in with a 71% average. To eventually graduating from a tough high school with and 87% average. Although I was often seen to struggle through high school with kids so smart it would blow your mind, i’m incredibly grateful for the determination, skill building, challenges it set for me because it prepared me well to compete in a university setting. Who would have thought I would spend 3 years on the Dean’s Honor list, with the one year me not making it was due to my major struggle with depression in my third year. Let alone go on to doing her Master’s at a top 20 school and competing with some of the best and brightest doctors and lawyers.

However, looking at things as a whole I never let failure stop me from achieving whatever it is I wanted to do. Anytime I experienced failure, I got back up and went to work in order to kick ass. I’ve had many setbacks in life whether it be emotionally, personally, or even academically but the one thing I can look at as a whole was my determination and oftentimes hard work set me apart from my peers. I was never viewed as the smartest kid growing up but you could ask any of my teachers and they would tell you I was often the most preserving and determined student. It’s amazing to think what grit can do to kids and setting a bright future for themselves.

Take a few minutes to watch this insightful talk 🙂


No to Trump.

You’re probably thinking, why do you even care since you’re Canadian. I care because I am an educated woman, a minority, and a global citizen.

I get it, Trump winning was not a surprise, I knew it was coming as soon as the debates began to start. Everyone keeps talking about how it was “unanticipated” that Trump would win. That because his campaign was misogynistic and sexist it would lead to his downfall. But when you followed the media and the voices of the people you could see the dissatisfaction at the bureaucratic level and the need to get rid of the “typical” lifetime politician.  We live in an age where mainstream media controls what we see in the sense that there is more negative news broadcasted than positive. It’s framed how society views things in that the media did a solid job at painting a bleak picture of why the economy was doing so poorly, why unemployment, natural disaster, and terrorism was on the rise.

There’s no justification in calling a woman “disgusting” for requesting to a break in order to allow her to pump breast milk for her young child. There’s no reason to publicly humiliate a woman by calling her a “big, fat pig” and there is absolutely no rationale to insinuate just because you have the power and fame you’re entitled to grab a woman by the p***y.  That with his new Cabinet many women may lose access to getting preventative reproductive care, whether it be access to birth control, pap smears, and abortion.

It’s completely frightening. How do I look at a young girl with big dreams to change the world and tell her that she will be reduced to just her looks and body parts rather than her intelligence. That in order to achieve power, money, and rank, you have to be submissive to the big man up top if you want to get anywhere. That a man who has the top role in one of the most powerful countries in the world and a large social media following can influence a large following particularly with views on women, the LGBTQ community, people of colour, and evidence-based science.

We need to do more to empower women across the globe and Trump’s influence can seek to impede or even worse reverse the social progress made in helping women succeed. In developing countries, women are often forced to play the role of “stay at home” mom, often locked in centuries of misogynistic power crusades impeding them from obtaining education and income. Even worse is the fact that because many of these women are not able to contribute “financially” to their household, let alone society it further cripples the development and economies of developing nations and keeps them locked in a vicious cycle of poverty.

Even more so we need to empower minorities, especially people of colour to seek greater opportunities. Often these are some of the most disadvantaged groups in our society, whether it be in access to healthy foods/activities, safe housing  and community conditions, adequate healthcare, stable employment, and importantly educational opportunities. These are the people least likely to get out of the cycle of poverty and have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to society.

One cannot look at how Trump has discriminated against black individuals or encouraged hatred of immigrants and fear of Muslims without understanding that his policies would almost certainly be discriminatory. With blatant racism protruding through his campaign (ex. Building a wall) how do we go about creating an inclusive society when his opinions and influence create a divided mindset. It’s not just in America, it’s happening in Canada and Europe as well. It’s not an issue about “immigrants” stealing our jobs, after all both our societies thrive on the need for immigrants to help be contributing members to the economy. We can’t blame these individuals who often come from more “stable/prosperous” positions in their respective countries and blame them for when things go wrong. To immigrate to a country such as the USA or Canada is not easy, you have to be able to “offer” something that cannot be done by regular citizens or have the financial resources to support yourself and your family as well as other factors such as level of education and linguistic abilities.

As a society, maintaining the economy is a group effort, we all have a part to play and it is our civic responsibility to seek change and accountability, hence the right to vote. Our voices hold enormous power as a group  but yet people seem to show little enthusiasm in becoming engaged with matters that pertain to them. It was not the “immigrants” that caused the recession in 2008, it was the failure of government to create protocol and monitor the major banks who often when after the most vulnerable in society in offering them the resources to “procure their dream homes” (aka The American Dream).

I don’t think Obama and Biden got enough credit for the work they helped partake in. Thanks to their roles, millions of Americans have access to health insurance which not only saved many from bankruptcy but also saved lived. Thanks to Obama, foreign relations were at an all time high helping to stabilize the world economy. Furthermore, because of Obama Banned gifts from lobbyists were not permitted to incentivize anyone in the Executive Branch with gifts helping to hinder direct influence on policy making. Even more amazing, he led an Administration that went 8 full years without causing a major scandal. By the end of his first year, the economy created and sustained 2.1 million jobs for Americans.  Signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, which helped millions of Americans avoid preventable foreclosures and provided $2.2 billion to combat homelessness and stabilize the housing market. Played a lead role in getting the G-20 Summit to commit to a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis and helping to maintain a stable world economy.

For more on his governments successes (there’s over 400 notable accomplishments) check out this site: http://pleasecutthecrap.com/obama-accomplishments/

Thank you to Michelle Obama to making it her mission to empower young women to get the education they deserve in not only the USA but across the globe with the Let Girl’s Learn initiative. Thank you to Malia and Sasha Obama for being role models for young women across the world, a task the both of you did not ask for when your father sought to become president.

Obama succeeded by taking a rigorous, evidence-based approach to government. So thank you Obama and Biden for your service to your country and to the world. Thank you for being the epitome of dignity and class. As a Canadian I wish you both well on your future endeavours and hope your desire to create social change never ceases.

I don’t know what the next 4 years will bring, but I hope for the sake of us all we don’t go backwards in creating social change not only in the USA but also on a global scale. As a Canadian we have the ability to help influence our relationship with our American neighbours and we need to make sure we protect our interests as partners.


Learning to Fail.

Today I arose from a deep slumber (perks of being sick) to the frantic texts of someone I care about, let alone to seeing them cry when I FaceTimed them.

It turns out they got a C+ on their one exam, when on their others they received a B and B+ respectively. While a C+ isn’t the greatest mark, it’s not the worst mark either. Upon trying to come up with a way to console them I decided the best way to go about it was to be honest and realistic. I’m not going to coddle someone and tell them life is all peaches and roses or even that life is always going to go how you expect it to, because in truth life has many unexpected bumps and blips and you can’t control that.

Marks don’t define who you are. Some of the most successful people in this world did not go to school or even if they did they did not complete their education, take for example Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Jobs, Elton John and even  Thomas Jefferson. These are all notable people who made significant contributions to our society who performed somewhat poorly in school but used their intelligence, passions, and tenacious ambitions to crush it in the real world and will leave a lasting legacy.

In the real world, your grades don’t matter, as a nursing student I know this. You also can’t change what has happened in the past, especially when it comes to exams, papers, assignments, or even presentations. What you can change is your mind set and how you look at failure. School can be quite hard and takes a lot of time and effort. However, that doesn’t mean that an individual isn’t ambitious and full of talent. We all choose to apply ourselves differently and to different things and in an ideal world that is how we would be measured. Not by the letters on a piece of paper from our time in school. In university, it’s all about grades. In the real world, it’s about experience, balls and drive. Because once you get past the first job, no one is ever going to ask you about your final GPA or how you did on that exam you bombed back in third year.

As a lawyer you are not going to win 100% of your cases, as a doctor you are not going to save every single one of your patients, and as a nurse you are going to miss signs and symptoms that could have potentially saved a patient from dying. But you know what? We are all human at the end of the day, mistakes happen, failure happens, and uncontrollable events arise. What we can work on is reflection, a concept i’m so glad has been emphasized early on in nursing school. We need to reflect on our experience, on our failures, and understanding what we did wrong or why something did not go to plan. It makes me angry to think that society has put such a negative stigma on things like bad grades or even failure in general. We shouldn’t be afraid to fail because success is really the ability to pick yourself back up from setbacks and how to we learn to improve things.

We can cry about menial things like not doing as well as you had hoped on an exam or a paper, but it doesn’t change anything. One exam is not going to decide your whole fate. As I pointed out earlier, marks DO NOT define you or what you know. They are often used as a gauge to see where you lie in comparison to your peers, but it doesn’t factor in some people can be better test takers or can simply read a textbook and not understand concepts deeply.We know now that there are is a variety of intelligences and grades only measure a select few, and do so poorly. A exam or paper does not measure a person’s emotional intelligence, nor does it measure their leadership ability, it does not necessarily measure their ability to think outside of the box and solve problems. It does nothing to evaluate a person’s ability to predict the needs of society, patients, or consumers. It does nothing to illuminate the ability of an individual to work with others and find middle ground in standoffs or conflicts. All of these things are vitally important to an individual’s success in the real world and in life in general and ironically almost none of them are measured by grades.

I’ve experienced failure many times, my first paper in my Master’s was 100% of my mark, I received a 48%. Was I crushed? Hell yeah, I was devastated, but the more I cried over it the stupider I realized it made me look. What I needed to do was understand why I got the mark I received, understand where I went wrong, and learn for future reference what I needed to improve upon. Turns out, I didn’t actually fail in the end upon talking with my supervisors about it and reviewing my paper to understand where and what I did wrong, but it gave me the grounding and fuel I needed to be successful on future papers in which I got a number of Merits and Distinctions. But what I took out of this situation was that a) in the moment I couldn’t change anything I could only change things going forward b) my mark did not define who I was as a person or speak against my intelligence (I was already in one of the top schools in the world) and c) failure is a part of life and in order to be successful you can’t take it personally and d) if you’re afraid to fail you are never going to grow as a person. I can honestly say i’ve learned more from my failures than I have from my successes and i’m so grateful i’ve had the opportunity to fall on my face because that allowed me to pick myself back up, learn, and move forward and into an even better spot.

What we can change and have control over is how we push forward and use our failure to better ourselves and learn! Life is all about learning and improving, there’s no point in sitting and crying over spilt milk. Use your failures and stumbles to become better, faster, and stronger and use it as fuel to reach what it is you want. What matters most is the ability to pursue your goals and dreams and having a sense of purpose. Learn from your mistakes as the cliche goes.


To All My Fellow Healthcare Professionals.

Yesterday I moaned and complained about having to go to my Community Service Learning class (albeit it’s once a month) because I felt it was completely redundant and useless. No other nursing school starts placement in the community until second year, so why did we have to sit through this? Shouldn’t this just be inherent knowledge? I mean it’s pretty obvious we’re all caring, intuitive, and kind individuals going into a profession that is often taken for granted.

The truth is, no one in nursing school, healthcare aide programs, or even medical school teaches you the skills of compassion or empathy. How can they? I spent the whole class wondering why we were talking about this or the need to embrace diversity in the healthcare setting, seem’s like common sense, no?  The answer to that is a big solid no, and I spent a long drive reflecting on some of the things i’ve come across whether on social media, in class, working with older adults, and even in a book i’m reading called ‘A Nurse’s Story’ by Tilda Shalof (I suggest this book to all!!! I have never laughed, cried, felt so overwhelmed by the job, and appreciated nurse’s as much as a should have prior to reading this).

There’s no memorization from a textbook on what to say to a patient who is dying, a script to cover how to hold the hand of a patient going through a violating and painful procedure on their own, or even a manual on how to console a family who just lost their loved one. There’s no instruction book on what to say to a patient who can’t bathe them self or when you’re cleaning them up after they defecated or threw up all over the place because they can’t control their bowel movements. How do you deal with a patient who is going through  dementia and becomes aggressive with you or starts shouting or trying to place an IV into the restless, frightened and tired child who was kept up all night from being ill? Putting in the IV is textbook, anyone could do it with skill and practice but there’s no textbook on how to interact or console the young child. I don’t find learning the skills to be hard, I mean all we have to do is practice. Anatomy all I need to do is memorize and review. I find the hardest part of nursing to be learning to interact and converse with a patient. How during my own OSCE sitting with a standardized patient going through the early stages of dementia, all I could think about was “what the heck do I talk to you about, I don’t know anything about you and how to comfort you????”, rather than how do I conduct a Mental Status Exam or collect the patient’s blood pressure, O2 saturation, and TPR (temperature, pulse, and respirations).

On another aspect, I came across a picture on Facebook a few days ago of a scantily clad young woman passed out at a party that had defecated herself, while her fellow partygoers mocked her and uploaded pictures to social media. It was incredibly in-dignifying, sad, and messy seeing the young woman in such a vulnerable state. What was even more sickening were the comments of people judging her and making fun of her, it made me angry to see people be so inconsiderate, soulless and cruel. We’re humans, we all make mistakes and this woman while likely made a poor judgement call should never have had her mistake uploaded for the world to see. One thing that did strike me were the comments of fellow healthcare aide’s and professionals because like them my first reaction would have been to find materials to help clean her up, whether it be finding something to dispose of her “waste”, some wipes to helps clean her up, and a fresh set of clothes, as well as checking in on her vitals to make sure she was okay. Regardless of how “disgusting” it is to see human waste coming out of her body, she’s a young woman who deserves the right to her dignity and protection of her privacy. But again, it wasn’t until today that I really appreciated having a lecture on diversity and empathy because I realize those are things that cannot be taught whether it be in a classroom or textbook.

To be honest, it’s scary working in such close quarters with a patients and learning to interact with them, but it’s also incredibly rewarding at the same time when you finally find that grounding. I’m starting to feel more confident in my abilities and willingness to learn to skills and continue to become an empathetic, kind, and compassionate healthcare professional but I also know it’s going to be a work in progress. It’s not easy though to not judge someone or feel like you don’t owe someone something, after all we are all human at the end of the day. As our society becomes more diverse, it’s going to be interesting learning to interact with patients of all ages, sizes, occupations, creeds, and ethnicities. Regardless of whether I agree or not with someone who does not share the same values as me (ex. “White Supremacy”), they are still entitled to a duty of care and respect even if it means putting aside my own thoughts and feelings.

Looking back at my own “practical experiences”, my first shift working at a Senior Care agency with an older gentleman going through the terrible and irreversible condition of dementia was my first eye opening experience. I was told the individual would be pleasant although a bit stubborn, little did I understand how in an instant dementia could change a person’s demeanour in the blink of an eye. I walked in, introduced myself, and sat down to eat lunch with the man, and the first thing the man did was shout at me telling me how much he hated it being in assisted care and wanted to go back to bed. Trying to convince the man to stay in a calm manner, he began to use his wheelchair to return to his room where much to my dismay went to sleep calling me “mean” because I was trying to encourage him to take a few bits of his pudding to get some food into his body. To some this seems like it’s not a big deal, but to any healthcare provider, it’s hard to stay compassionate or kind in situations like this but we do it because we care regardless of whether or not the individual takes a liking to us.

It’s funny because I remember my first day at Western back in 2011 and being asked who wanted to be a doctor that over 300 out of the 340 kids raised their hands and out of this 200 wanted to work with kids. I realize to obtain my goal i’m going to have to work incredibly hard to compete with some of the best and brightest and I realize even when I get there my work will be incredibly hard, depressing, but also rewarding. Like I said in the beginning of my nursing school journey, I would be interested to see where four years will take me in terms of where my interests lie, and it’s already been one term and i’ve started to find my niche. I thought I would never make it to this point going through the personal struggles and self-doubt I encountered late last year, but 2017 has brought a new found confidence and stride in me and I am ready to face the challenges that sit in front of me. I’m doing all of this for me in the hopes that someday I can make a difference in the life’s of people going through what is often a vulnerable, frightening, and tumultuous period in their life.

I’m not sure i’m cut out to work with an older population. I really struggle to find the ability to connect with patients and find common ground. Along with being a labour and delivery nurse, I always thought for some reason geriatrics would be an area that would interest me, after all that is where most of the patient demographic will sit when I finally enter the world as an RN. But after spending weeks working with young kids whether it be in a community hockey program, helping out with a hockey tournament, or even interacting with the children of fellow friends, I have found a new interest in paediatrics and it makes me so excited at the possibility of getting placements in this area in future years. After years of convincing myself I didn’t like kids, I have a new found interest, curiosity, and passion with working with them. I remember growing up being fascinated at working at SickKids Hospital and entering those doors everyday as a doctor saving lives and eventually telling myself I wasn’t good enough to work in healthcare. But now, I found a renewed passion in it and I must say I can’t wait to see what the future holds, but I hope to work my way to getting into a NICU or PICU and helping the sickest of the sick hopefully  be able to go home and grow up to be amazing individuals with all the potential in the world.

But in all honesty i’m incredibly proud to be part of a cohort of people looking to take care of others and for the most part striving to make a difference even though many people often take us for granted. Without these individuals putting aside their judgements and personal problems we would never have a healthcare system like the one we have now and for that I am incredibly proud of the people who put in many hours to take care of us and our loved ones as well as the hours of study and practice to become competent professionals.


Small Steps.

Today I finally was able to see a psychiatrist after waiting a couple months for this appointment. It’s really sad to think to gain access to such an important resource it takes booking months in advance to see one. To be honest, it was not what I had expected. Aside from taking my health history (#nursingstudentproblems), he didn’t do much talking aside from explaining what depression was and it’s causes and changing my medication to address both my depression and newly acquired anxiety. That evil gremlin that keeps me up at night, gives me racing thoughts, and makes me more depressed.

On a positive note, for the first time in a long time, I finally feel ready to go out and enjoy being around company. Even though it’s just dinner and a movie with a good friend who has been there for me through many things in life, it’s a big step for me after everything that’s happened the past few months. For once, I actually look forward to doing something and going out to enjoy myself regardless of how meaningless or insignificant it is to someone else.

It’s been tough struggling with my new found anxieties. On some level it hinders me from being able to participate fully in my life whether through social connections, work, and most especially school. To try to help control this, I’ve been slowly trying to get into the art of meditation. I think the one thing that can help me learn to cope with anxiety is being able to ground myself and control my breathing. After all, the one thing we can control is our breathing. The small steps. Breathe in and breathe out. I don’t want to live a life where I am relying on medication to help manage my symptoms. I feel like it would be completely redundant to do that because even though it helps “balance” certain neurotransmitters (namely serotonin and norepinephrine) .

It’s still a process though. I still have little motivation or energy to do anything really. Depression is basically just a vicious cycle. Being a person who is normally hardworking, gets results, and kicks ass to see myself become unmotivated, feeling worthless, and tired all the time takes a toll on things and my mood. Not being able to perform as well as I know I can in my first year of nursing school by having to post pone or defer things or participate in social functions because I couldn’t handle the emotions that come along with that. I wish there was an easier route but I know nothing in life comes easy and to get over something you have to get through it. It’s a journey to find yourself and live a life where you live for yourself and not the expectations of others.

On some level i’m looking forward to seeing 2016 end and starting a new chapter in 2017. But on another level it makes me sad to let go of 2016 and moving forward. It also kind of makes me sad to think about everything I lost in 2016 and how much I miss certain people that aren’t in my life anymore. The feelings I still hold for them and everything that’s happened has been something I still struggle with. I guess the only thing I can do is just take things one day at a time, there’s no use in continuing to fight myself or beat myself up for what did or didn’t happen or what I could and couldn’t control. It’s hard to let go though and it’s hard to stop myself from overthinking things in which I had little to no control over. As I said, one of the few things I can control is my breathing. When I get an anxious thought, just take a deep breath in and out, repeat.