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 🙂


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.


Nurse in Progress.

For someone that came out of one of the toughest years of her life, I must say I am pretty proud of myself for pushing through. The struggle of feeling left down, unconfident in my abilities, and personal struggle led me to believe I wasn’t worthy of good things. That because of all my struggle I would be a failure and wouldn’t even make it through the first semester of nursing school. But I did it and I did damn fine. The nights I spent crying and very much struggling to stay focused and motivated paid off. I mean anatomy and physiology is a completely different story (ask anyone I swear!), I must say I have a renewed energy this year and I want the best for myself and my future.

Talking with one of my roommates this morning, I realize I need to set some resolutions for 2017. I’m tired of putting myself last. This year I vow to put myself first and I vow to become the best person I can possibly be. I want to do something for myself, so academically I want to maintain a 3.7 GPA or higher. Personally, I want to make decisions for myself and not be worried about what other people think using my own morals, values, feelings, and experiences. For fun, I want to learn French. It’s been three days of self-teaching myself, but I must say I am having a blast picking it up and hopefully my goal in the long-run is to become working proficient in allowing me to expand my horizons in either travel or even one day branching out into governance and policy making. Health wise, I want to eat more at home and luckily with the help of my other roommate pick up a healthy habit, which we’ve decided will be weekly yoga sessions.

Nursing school is hard. There is so much expectation and work placed on you, for someone that did degrees in health science and a master’s in ethics, nursing is a whole new level. It’s everything combined, ethics, science, arts, and skills building. But i’m taking it one day at a time, it’s all you can do really. I’m excited to be one step closer to writing the NCLEX-RN examination in 3.5 years and excited to become Megan Simpson, RN, BHSc, BScN, MA. As many tears I may cry, as much bile, excrement, sweat, or any other bodily fluid I may find myself covered in, and as much doubt that I may inevitably find myself having at points in time, I know one thing is certain- I am going to make a positive impact on the world around me. Because no matter how hard my day is, i’m never going to forget the reason why I want to become a nurse.

When times get tough, the tough get going. While I still have my struggles and anxieties, I will conquer nursing school and I will kick ass. Time and time again I put myself in a position to believe I wasn’t capable or that I was on the wrong path, and you know what? I am on the right path.

So here’s to being 1/8th a registered nurse.


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.