The last post I made here was my first reflection on nursing school in…July?
Oof… it’s been awhile.
And a lot has happened in these last three months. I think a lot is kind of an understatement.
At the time of my first post, we were just a few short weeks from starting our clinical rotations and hitting the ground running. We were going into a long-term care facility, where LPNs typically work but depends on the area and facility.
Our facility is attached to one of the main hospitals here in Buffalo. It was just renovated within the last few years with patients from all walks of life.
Now, when people think of long-term care, also known as nursing homes, you automatically think of patients in their late 70s, 80s and 90s. Yes, we did have patients in that age range. But a few of my patients were in their early 60s. I took care of a patient who was in their 50s. Throughout the facility, I saw a handful of patients my age, some even younger. I took care of patients who are my age just this past week.
It became more than just taking care of the elderly. This became taking care of patients who could be my parents, or my brother, or my best friends, my grandparents. Their stories they shared, or couldn’t share, you just knew. I saw so much vulnerability but I saw a lot of happiness. I witnessed anger but felt hope. Every emotion on the spectrum I felt or saw in my 13 weeks at clinical. Life became more surreal and a huge culture shock.
You just don’t know unless you’ve seen someone in that state of being and have taken care of those patients. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself counting my blessings.
Most days I felt good about care I did. Some days I felt absolutely defeated. I’ve been emotionally drained just by reading through the files of patients I cared for. There were slight doubts that crept in on my hardest days. Here’s one in particular.
Halfway through my second rotation my father passed unexpectedly. I found out on a Wednesday after I came home from clinical. I was confused, shocked, quiet. But I went to clinical the next day, I had to. I had patients to take care of.
But my mind was not where it should have been. And one of the first rules of nursing is that it’s always important to have a clear mind when working. Distractions can lead to errors that could harm or put the patient in danger.
There was no harm or danger in my patient. I performed wound care on the wrong foot. The nurse for one side of the unit reassured me that I’m a student who’s learning and that it’s okay. To not be so hard on myself.
I was. And after that moment, clinical became a complete blur in the last four weeks of rotation.
Class started having multiple tests a day, my brain was starting to become a giant puddle of mush. I studied my butt of for each exam, some tests harder than others but I passed them all. I even ended my semester with an 86 average. Once clinical started in early August, anything fun went out the window. I didn’t go out with friends, let alone see my friends.
I worked almost every weekend. I worked after school. I did doubles more often than I wanted to. I made it work when it’s been a lot of work.
Second semester started this week and we’re halfway through this marathon to become an LPN. And if I thought I was going to be having any fun these next six months… Well, I’m wrong. Between clinicals, studying for class, studying for my boards, memorizing various drugs and all they do in the body on top of working 20 hours a week, I don’t have time for anything else.
But let me say this, I’m having the time of my life. Truly, I know my hard work is paying off. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be; I wouldn’t be putting myself through another year of school, let alone nursing school, if I wasn’t serious.
These last six months have been a roller coaster of new experiences, doing things I never thought I was able to do. I’m finding my way through this field all while finding who I am as a nurse. There are many similarities to nurse Zoe and regular Zoe but there are differences. I’m still getting myself acquainted and comfortable with nurse Zoe.
I’m learning quickly that there comes a certain balance with being nice and being assertive. Staying calm but being stern. But also continuing to find the joy and positivity during hard times. This job is all about balance and keeping everything fresh to avoid burning out.
I’m passing my second semester of nursing school. I’m passing my NCLEX exam in the spring. I will be a licensed nurse in 2020. I’m ready. I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Six more months of nursing school this round.
Cleansing breath, Hakuna matata. I’ll post another update soon! 🙂