Friday, September 12, 2014

What's nursing school really like?

I get asked this question a lot!

It's very different that anything I have done before on so many levels.

This is my junior year, so Lord willing, I will be graduating in May of 2016. I long for that day.

Here's the low down of what the nitty gritty for me looks like.

Monday morning, I am up at 5:45, ready to shower and get the morning going. I get the kids up, get breakfast going, and thank the good Lord that I packed lunches, signed papers, and set out school clothes the night before.

By 7:15 we are out the door, headed to drop one kid off at Polk, then the other kid off at Clute. I return home to grab all my work, a quick bit of food for lunch, a coffee or water, and I am back out the door, headed to school.

On Mondays and Wednesdays we have Skills 1 and 2 and Simulation Lab. All day. Our professor lectures, we grade papers, we work on chapter assignments, and we break for lunch. The afternoon is for lab...bathing patients, practicing our skills, making beds, talking to mannekins, feeling overwhelmed.

You see, Skills and Sim are deceptively difficult. Each week we are to read the chapters in the book ahead of class. We have hour long videos to watch that include post video quizzes we must get a 90 or better on and turn in proof of completion...each week. We must read chapters in the ATI Fundamentals book and copy and answer the end of chapter questions in a notebook that we turn in each week. She gives us Alternate Format questions for each chapter that are to prepare us for NCLEX. We have Prep U online quizzes for each chapter that must be completed each week. This week, we are learning 4 chapters, which averages out to be around 40-50 online quizzes. We have check offs where she watches us complete a skill and checks off on a flow chart if we pass or not. And then...we can study for the weekly exams.


So that is on Mondays and Wednesdays.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have Dosage, Pharmacology, and Health Assessment...all day. We begin with dosage, that we teach ourselves. We were given a book and each week we are to complete two chapters. Each chapter has several section practice tests that must be completed, end of chapter proficiency tests, and there are two quizzes each week. There are 8 tests and we have about 8 or 9 weeks to complete the course. Every semester before clinicals we have to take a dosage test to show competence and we must get 100%. Three strikes, and you are out!

Next is the lovely Pharm. Pharm...I have a love-hate relationship with Pharm. Ok so here's the low down on Pharm....

We have a book and a study guide. Each week we work on about 5 chapters. We are to have read and outlined each chapter prior to coming to lecture. She lectures over the chapter. Each week, the corresponding chapters are due from the study guides. They are graded based on completion. There are med cards that used to be a requirement but are now just considered a suggestion that need to be filled out for the drugs that include class, action, uses, contraindications, precautions, interactions, things to monitor, assessments, etc. We have an ATI book for Pharm as well that we are to read the corresponding chapters and complete the end of chapter questions. Those are to prepare us for the proctored exam at the end of the semester that is in addition to the final. We have weekly Prep U online quizzes to complete for this class, as well as weekly class quizzes for brand and generic drugs, and weekly exams. Oh, we have to watch videos for this class as well.

After lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays is Health Assessment. We have a book and a study guide for this class. We averaging 2-4 chapters a week, we are to have read and outlined these chapters prior to lecture, we have to complete the study guide chapters, we are to watch the online videos and take those quizzes, we have weekly class quizzes, and almost weekly exams.

Wednesdays we have Dosage and Health Assessment SI class at 5pm, which is a supplement to assist us.

Thursdays we have Pharm SI at 4pm.

We are off on Fridays. God bless it. By the time I get home each night, cook dinner for the kids, pull out all their work and help them with their homework, get the bedtime routines going, and have the boys in bed between 8:30 and 9pm, I drag myself into my closet office to get started on all the work. My limit is midnight. Whatever is not completed by midnight, is not completed. I throw myself into bed around 12:30 am and am up and at em again the next morning at 5:45am to start these shenanigans again.

It's not overwhelmingly hard, but the amount of work is overwhelming. When you are at school all day learning and taking notes, and then have to come home and get all the reading, study guides, outlines, quizzes, questions, notebooks etc completed...well, you really have to be super organized. The subject matter is serious. It's difficult. You cannot study the night before.

But my grades so far are good. We had three tests this week and three quizzes. I made 100 on all my quizzes. I made a 96 on my skills exam, an 86 on the pharm exam (that was later changed to 100 because many of the test questions got thrown out), and a 78 on the health assessment exam. Now the 78 was the highest grade in the class. Myself and a classmate each made a 78, and that was the highest. I am sure I will do better on the next exam because now I know what she is looking for and how she tests.

I don't have to have all A's...but I want them. I'm not going to freak out over B's....but 74.9 is failing. And by failing, you are out of nursing school. So I barely made it with that 78. Yes, it is the average at the end...but everyone wants a little wiggle room.

So, I have next to no time for anything else. I got a pedicure today since next week we are practicing pedal pulses on each other, and the whole time I was taking online quizzes on my phone and reading my pharm book. I spend entire weekends trying to catch up and even get ahead. This week I really have to get ahead because I am in my friend's wedding next Saturday, so school work and studying will not be an option for me.

Oh long rambling post, but it is just really hard to get across how draining and time consuming it really is to be in nursing school. But it is so worth it!

The first home Aggie game of the season, and the Texans season opener

So I haven't posted anything in almost 4 weeks and I blame it all on nursing school. It is intense. Like, for real. No joke intense. But more of that later.

Right now I need to catch up with other events going on in the Powell household. The definition of Fall in our house...football season.

It begins with my Fightin' Texas A&M Aggies. The kids and I took a quick trip there right before school started and got a first hand view of the new Kyle Stadium as it was being built. They are doing tons of renovations but the first phase is complete and it is ready for the first home game of the season.

I wish we could have been there. But what is the next best thing? Watching it from the air conditioned comfort of our home with free snacks!

My kids were ready. It was a great game. We won!

The very next day, it was time to get our Texans on! Another great game.

I had my JJ Watt jersey on, and we were ready to win this.

Thankfully, we won.

Nothing says weekends in Fall like football. We are excited to be going to the game against the Buffalo Bills on the 28th for the hubs' birthday.

That's the first thing on the list once I graduate with my RN and go back to work....we are reinstating our Texans traditions and purchasing those PSL's. :) I look forward to the 2016 season!!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

First day of school for all of us!

Getting organized for the first day of school is fun and super necessary. But unfortunately for me and my family, it never lasts very long. I am going to make the effort to keep it up for as long as possible!

Anyway, I packed the boys' lunches Sunday afternoon and got them in the fridge. My goal is to pack lunches the night before. Fingers crossed!

Then I set up a fun little table to greet them in the morning. School inspiration!

The boys were so tired, but they enjoyed it anyway. 


After getting dressed we took all the obligatory "first day" photos...but Jansen was starting to cry, so I didn't push it. Needless to say, he was less than excited about returning to school. 



They still looked cute!

Once they got to school, it was my turn. Headed to nursing school day #1 of the Fall semester. Ready to rock it. 

We even had check offs this afternoon for our PPE and hand hygiene. Aced it and had fun doing it. 

I will not get overwhelmed. I will not get overwhelmed. I will not get overwhelmed!!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Quick weekend getaway with my boys

My husband was going to be at a bachelor party this weekend and it was the final weekend of the summer, so I decided to take my kids to College Station for a little overnight trip. 

This will probably be the last free weekend I have in quite a long time since Monday not only starts a new school year for the boys, but another semester of Nursing school as well. 

So Friday morning, we woke up, grabbed breakfast and hit the road. By 11:30 am, we were in Freebirds in College Station enjoying some lunch.

Next we headed to campus. 

Jansen wanted to see the vet school
and I wanted to see the progress on the construction of Kyle Field.
With everyone moving into dorms and apartments this week, I thought it would be packed for sure. But we drove right into the parking garage and found a first floor spot. 


We headed into the Memorial Student Center and I talked to the boys about why this building was created. It was built to honor all the fallen Aggies that have represented their country in various wars. It is for that reason that everyone is to "uncover" by removing their hats, and are not allowed to walk on the grass. 

The kids were interested in some of the history, but really just wanted to go shopping for some new Aggie gear. I couldn't blame them. 

This almost came home with us. 

Instead they got some stuffed animals, pennants, hats, t shirts, and sunglasses. We could have bought so much more!!!

We walked a bit of the campus while the kids asked questions. 



We watched as they lowered a statue by crane into its new home in the front of the newly constructed/renovated Kyle Field. 

When it is finished, it is going to be beautiful and amazing. I had to come to terms with the changes going on at campus. You know how things are seared into your mind, exactly as they were when you experienced it? I remember the campus "just so" and when I left there 13 years ago, spending 3 significant years of my life there, I wanted to keep that nostalgia. But, times are changing. The campus is growing. Things can't always stay the same. 

I found myself saying, "When I went to school here, there was a totally different MSC building." and "Oh look at that...that is new!" and "My senior year, all of my classes were in G Rollie White and Reed, which they demolished to expand Kyle Field" and "Oh they tore down those dorms and replaced them with apartments".

Everything was so different yet very much the same. 

We went to the George Bush Library and Museum and watched a bio on George Herbert Walker Bush and his family. The boys were interested the see all the exhibits, and I must admit, I was pretty interested too. 

















And, might I introduce you to the future President of the United States....

Caleb is a big collector of bottle caps, so I thought he might enjoy seeing Bottle Cap Alley at Northgate. He loved it...and took some for his collection. 

By the way, can you see my Aggie Ring mixed in with all the caps????

We also saw this there...Kids, don't do drugs...


Then we went to dinner and ate the famous Double Daves Pizza Rolls, walked the mall for a bit, and came back to the hotel to do some evening swimming. By that time it had cooled down to a balmy 98 degrees. 

Caleb fell asleep quite early, and Jansen and I stayed awake to watch a special on surviving natural disasters. He was glued to the tv. It was so funny to listen to all his perspectives on things, his reactions to volcanoes, tsunamis, and hurricanes, and to just stay up and chat. I finally had to tell him that I couldn't stay awake anymore and I had to go to sleep!

So this morning, we had brunch at McDonalds and then headed to go bowling. 

It was an experience. 

We had a good time and then spent a bit of time playing a few arcade games. 


Then I stopped into one of my favorite resell shops and found two pairs of shorts for Jansen for a total of $7! Happy Mommy!! And we filled up with gasoline, and headed out for the 2 hour drive home. The kids were sad to leave and so was I. It was comforting to be back in the city where I grew so much. To spend years 18-21 there was amazing, frustrating, horrible, wonderful, and memorable. 

I  honestly can't wait to go back! Gig 'Em!!!!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

4th grade Meet the Teacher

Time for Jansen's Meet the Teacher. 

It went pretty well. 

He is my kiddo that hates school. The thinks he is dumb but in all actuality, he is a bright kid. He ended 3rd grade on the A/B honor roll and with a math award. Go figure. 


He ended up getting one of the teachers he wanted so he was happy about that. 


I cannot believe this is his last year in elementary school!!!

Sunrise, sunset....

Fishing trip

My in laws are back in town for a few days and they brought their camper. They invited us to their site for a little family get together and to teach the boys how to fish. 

Um, it was hot. Like over 100 degrees hot. Every time you stepped out of the camper, you instantly started sweating. Not cool!

But the kids had a great time. 

My husband taught them how to bait their hooks, cast, and reel it in. At first, it was a little boring. 


But they got the hang of it. 


Jansen caught a fish with the help of his dad. 

Caleb hadn't caught anything in about an hour, and was determined to stay out there until he did. In the end, he caught 4 fish...catch and release.



They had fun.

Good family times!