Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pressing on Toward the Goal

To all my peers in the nursing program who are (like me) growing weary in this last push before the end of the semester:

Keep pressing on! We are rounding the corner...we've almost reached the finish line. Keep up the pace. Don't lose heart. The race is almost over. The end is in sight. You can do it!

Keep up the good work! The reward is worth it :)

"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me" (Philippians 3:12).  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Study Methods for Junior Courses

Quite a few sophomores have asked how to study for junior-level courses. My advice is figure out what works for you and stick with that. Everyone learns differently. Some of my friends record the lectures and listen to them multiple times. I am more of a visual learner, so reading, looking at diagrams, and watching videos helps me the most.

My modus operandi has been to take very detailed notes in class. I bring my laptop in class and type information directly on the power point slides. Later, I print out the lectures in outline form. Then I take that print-out and go through the book with the power point and take notes in the margins. This helps me make connections as I relate the textbook information to what I learned in class.  

One nursing student asked whether I recommend relying more on the power point or the book. The answer is you definitely need to rely on both. I would recommend using the power point as a guide for your studies.  Take the information in the power point slides and go find it in the book. Our professors can only include so much information on a power point slide; it’s our responsibility to go to the book and learn the information they were unable to convey in class.

Don’t get bogged down in the details you find in your textbooks. Be sure to understand the nuances of the concepts, but pay special attention to the concepts that are covered in class. Those will be the most testable material as well the material you will be most likely to use in clinical practice.

The key to success in junior year is truly balance. Learn to manage your time, and your life will be a lot less stressful. Realize that it's important to study and get good grades, but it's also important to give yourself a break too. If you do, you will feel more refreshed and better able to tackle your studies. 

This post was a response to a comment on my blog. If any of you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment, and I will do my best to address any questions or concerns you may have. 

End of Semester Jitters

I know that as the end of the semester approaches, final exams begin to become less of a distant idea and more of a very present reality. I know that, for me at least, it’s easy to become overwhelmed as I focus on all the things I have to do before the semester ends. Focusing on uncompleted tasks is not helpful, though, if we allow it to consume us and take our focus off the Lord and Who He is.  Listen to what the Psalmist says in Psalm 103:11-21,

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on [his] children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are [but] dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer. But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them. The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. Bless the LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word!  Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will.

Who are we that the Lord is mindful of us? We are mere men, yet the Lord is faithful and is abundant in lovingkindness toward us. He is compassionate with us like a father with his child. Therefore, we have no need to worry, for our God will take care of us (Matthew 6:25-34).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Books and DVDs to Keep from Sophomore Year

There are three books you definitely need to keep from sophomore year—your drug book, nursing diagnosis handbook, and clinical skills textbook. I am not sure which books the current sophomore class utilized, but the ones I used (and am still using as a junior) are Mosby’s Nursing Drug Reference, Nursing Diagnosis Handbook: An evidence Based Guide to Planning Care, and Clinical Nursing Skill & Techniques.
During your junior year these books will serve you well as you write your nursing profiles. The drug book will aid you as you write the medication information as well as the patho portion of your profiles. Also, the Nursing Diagnosis Handbook will help you formulate cohesive careplans that are specific to the needs of your particular patient.

The Clinical Skills textbook will come in handy when you prepare for clinicals as well as serve as a study aid when you prepare for your junior-level Med Surg check-offs. I’m not sure if you received information about the clinical skills you will be checked off on during your first few weeks of Med Surg, but you will be checked off on various skills that you will be expected to perform during clinicals. These skills range from knowing how to set the flow rate on an IV pump to performing tracheostomy care. Unlike Health Assessment and Fundamentals, however, you will not have a lab portion to your classroom time. Instead, the burden will be upon you to learn the material and master it for your check-off with a senior.

The good news is that the nursing department has provided you with many resources to help you walk into your check-offs and, eventually, your clinicals competent and confident. One of the resources is the nursing lab coordinator who provides a once-a-week elective review of the skills on which you will be checked off. I highly recommend attending this informational session. I am a visual learner, and I understand processes much better if I am able to see them demonstrated rather than read a step-by-step guide to a skill.

Another suggestion I have in regards to preparing for check-offs is to keep your DVDs from Fundamentals (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced Skills). I found watching the videos helped me review skills I learned in Fundies (such as inserting a foley) as well as learn new skills (such as providing trach care). 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Lessons from Psalm 27: Encouragement for the Discouraged

Feeling discouraged about all you left to do this semester and the little amount of time left to do it in...? Here's some encouragement from King David:

I would have despaired unless I had believed that
I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:13-14, NASB

Today, the Lord has been using Psalm 27 to remind me that He is my light and my salvation (Ps. 27:1). When troubles surround me, He is the lifter of my head (Ps. 27:6). He is my fortress—my place of safety (Ps. 27:5). I have no need to fear or worry because the Lord’s plans for me are good, and He is faithful to accomplish them (Ps. 27:3; Jer. 29:11; Phil. 1:6).