Happy St. Patrick's Day...

...he said ruefully. It is now about mid-point in spring break of what will hopefully be my last semester of nursing school. Most colleges have spring break a little later, I think, but mine used to be on Playboy's Top Ten Party Schools list in the '70s just for the huge St. Patrick's Day bashes that were thrown here. It used to destroy the community downtown, so the college made a policy of always having spring break over the week of St. Patrick's Day so that the jungen would be home.

For me, things could definitely be going better. I was hoping that spring break would afford an opportunity for me to catch up on sleep and have a week or two of regular exercise before starting the second half of the semester, but instead I haven't been to the gym yet and my sleep schedule has been erratic. Last night I was up until after 0500 and then got up at 0800, ate breakfast and fell asleep on the couch until about 1130.

The unhappiness I had coming into spring break didn't vanish this week like the mists in the sunlight. I am feeling bitter and detached. Perhaps this is what happens to all university seniors when spring arrives, but I think this is something different. I'm not looking forward to graduation, I am absolutely dreading it and reviewing the last 3 years with a sense of regret.

Looking out a year to a year-and-a-half from this point, I would count things a success if (1) I'm working in a place with a schedule that meets my needs, (2) I've provided safe care to my patients for my first year out from school, and (3) I've completed or am near completing my CCRN certification. Getting to this point will involve three aspects of my life coming together, but instead these are spinning out of control and breaking up.
  1. School. From my perspective, the whole point of schooling is to provide excellent bedside care. That's all I care about getting from school, but it's not what I'm getting at all. I've been on the Dean's List for several semesters, I've passed all my nursing courses, and I've gotten some A's along the way, too. Recently, we took Elsevier's HESI exam, and I scored in the top 15% of my class, met the recommended 900 HESI score, and am predicted to pass the NCLEX as a result. But I don't know anything! I haven't had a hospital clinical (I don't count Psych) in almost a year, and I couldn't tell you normal lab values, much of anything about meds, correct protocols for bedside procedures, etc. It's horrible. I wouldn't let myself take care of myself at this point, and I'm supposed to be graduating soon. I'm not safe. And what are we spending our time doing this semester? Building "critical thinking skills" by having to guess at what our syllabi mean (yes, we were told that straight-forwardly) and going over ethics and goal/objective setting. What a load of crap!
  2. Work. As I've written about on this blog previously, work is not going as swimmingly as when I started nursing school several years ago. My hospital has started recruiting, but as of now, no management has spoken to me about applying although they all know I'm supposed to be graduating this spring. In fact, of the management who have ever taken an interest in my school work, all three have been removed in the last year or so. I joined the local chapter of AACN as a student member, and I've been totally cut out of the loop. Moreover, I'm supposed to start clinical next week on the hospital floor where I work. And, as per my discussion of school progress above, I am predicting it will be something of a disaster. Some nurses are going to expect me to know everything already since I work on the floor, and honestly, having not had a clinical for almost a year, I'm back at the stage of feeling intimidated by bed baths. It doesn't help that my clinical instructor is one of these nurses.
  3. Personal. If the floor where I am now doesn't hire me, my only three other options are to try to get a position on a straight med-surg floor here, to look for jobs over an hour's drive away, or to move away from my town. Any is a losing proposition for me. My original plan was to start out on the telemetry unit and then progress to the step-down unit, where I would have at most only 4 patients. Right now, I'm not safe with any number of patients, but constitutionally, I am suited more to fewer complex patients than to more patients of low acuity, I think. I could learn and become safe in a step-down or ICU, but for me to have 7-8 patients at a time is just asking for a mistake to happen. The other option of trying to get a position on a cardiac floor a drive away is going to send me into a depression I think. Losing two or more hours a day commuting is a partial definition of hell for me, and I've never owned a car before and don't want one. To move away means leaving my family and also giving up on returning to the karate club I was attending before nursing school, where I met a lot of people I like. The two other times I have moved away from my hometown, I've ended up in deep depression, and I don't want to try it again right away.
Anyhow, tonight is corned beef, then a cigar, and hopefully to bed early so I can get a full night's sleep and be productive tomorrow. Happy St. Pattie's Day.

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