Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Perfect Peace

How many of us wish we lived in "perfect peace" all the time? I know I do. Isaiah 26:3 says, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Now that's a promise! Over the past few days the Lord has been convicting me that I often allow myself to become distracted by the "cares of this world" (Mark 4:19) that easily crowd out thoughts of my Savior. Instead of continually renewing my focus on Him and devoting myself to Him "in body and spirit" (1 Cor. 7:34), I all too easily allow my focus to drift away from Him to things like homework, clinicals, and grades. 

I know that it the middle of the semester, and that this can be a difficult time with Mid-Terms and exams that just don't seem to end in Nursing School, but I want to challenge you, as I am challenging myself, to remain focused on the Lord. I was reading in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers this morning, and Chambers challenged his readers to "use your imagination to put yourself before God" (p. 42). What he meant by that was to use your imagination (your thoughts) in a way worthy of the Lord (Phil. 4:8-9). Instead of our imagination living in a starved state because it is set on thinking about whatever our empty impulses desire, we can instead set our thoughts to contemplate the majesty and the wonder of God. Where can we look for our inspiration? The beauty of sunsets artfully painted by God, the trickling or thundering waterfall pouring over the side of a cliff, the majestic scene of mountains overlaid with clouds of water vapor, the starry host of heaven twinkling in an inky sky--these are all launching boards for our imaginations to imagine God--to consider and meditate on His power, majesty, and grace in saving us mere humans. 

When setting our mind on Christ our King and Creator, we have no reason to fear the future, to worry about what will come our way, or to think for a moment that He might not come through for us this time. Instead we can rejoice with the psalmist who realized the majesty and the wonder of God and found "perfect peace" in Him. Psalm 8:1-4, 9: "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? . . . O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maternal Child Critical Care Program:Perspective of a Graduate

Warning: to all readers, if you are reading this I assume that you understand that you are about to enter the nerd-dom of Maternal Child Critical Care Certificate Program (MC-CCCP) NOT the original of adults in CCCP. This is the world of patients the size of teacup poodle puppies. This is NOT the world of ER re-runs and those ever-popular shots of scrub-bedecked heroes running down endless halls and pumping with all their might on the chests of unresponsive patients. This is the world of two-finger compressions, micro-changes in IV calculations, tiny bodies that require exquisitely careful care and much peace and quiet, inexpressible joy, broken hearts and messed-up homes. Welcome to MC-CCCP.

As noted, this is not adult CCCP. When I took it last year, we did not operate or run codes like the CCCP students. We spent more time in lecture and with guest speakers and less time running mock codes than our “adult” neighbors last year. Most of our practice was self-taught, with us designing and running our own scenarios. Considering the feedback we got from instructors after we all passed NRP and PALS, we were a pretty demanding set of self-teachers! All that to say, if you take MC-CCCP, you need to be motivated to learn. Like all of the nursing program, you get results in proportion to the effort you make.

If you do persevere and learn, it is a program you will never forget. I had the incredible privilege of working in a NICU. It was a small one and by weekend #2, my instructors were turning me loose to do basics on my own (with them only a few feet away in the tiny department). By the last weekend I was essentially put in charge of the patients assigned to my instructor and myself. I had the joy of watching the light bulb come on in a tiny child’s mind as he finally understood the idea of nursing from a special preemie bottle and took a giant step toward going home. I got to share that joy when his mom came to see him. My heart broke as I cared for and loved on babies only to meet their families, people unprepared for this responsibility. One had not even wanted the babies in the first place and could not make it into the department without crying. Then there was the one father who could win a smile from his tiny daughter and make her calm down and go to sleep against his chest, staying as long as he could just to be with her. Above all was the wonder and joy of working with some of the most beautiful creations God ever designed and sent to give us a taste of what unconditional love is and demands.
Fun epilogue: I do not currently work with any of the patient populations we covered in MC-CCCP. God has placed me for a time in long-term care and rehab. However, the skills of MC-CCCP have shown up here too! I was trained to face the worst, which makes it easier to prioritize and keep a levelheaded approach to a constant deluge of problems of all sizes. There are also basic concepts that apply to everyone: everyone must breathe, their hearts must pump and blood must circulate. And everyone is hungry for unconditional love. 

The above post was written by Elizabeth Houser, RN and graduate of the MC-CCCP

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Critical Care Certificate Program

Over the past year I have received numerous questions regarding the Critical Care Certificate Program (CCCP) from nursing students at Liberty University. Most often these questions revolve around what the program is and how it benefits students interested in critical care nursing.

The Critical Care Certificate Program gives students the advantage of taking three American Heart Association tests that nurses normally will not take until they have already graduated. These three tests are Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP). Taking these tests before graduation allows Liberty Nursing students to achieve more qualifications for a nursing job than most new nursing grads, in effect, giving students an extra advantage. This is particularly helpful for positions, such as those in an intensive care unit (ICU) or emergency department (ED), that require these certifications be acquired soon after being hired.

Another advantage of the CCCP is the numerous hours that are spent in simulation, running code blues, interpreting EKGs, selecting and administering the appropriate drugs to the simulation patients, performing CPR, delivering breaths with an Ambu bag, and practicing recording drugs and interventions given during a response to cardiopulmonary arrest. This provides the opportunity to learn in a low-stress environment by working through real-life scenarios that allow you and your peers to learn from your and others' mistakes as well as successes.

I am currently in the Adult CCCP and loving it! We start each NURS 465 class with two hours of lecture, break for lunch, then come back and run mock codes for three hours. An added benefit is NURS 465 (for the Adult CCCP) counts for the nursing elective required to graduate from Liberty's Nursing Program.

Another advantage of being a part of the CCCP (both Maternal/Child and Adult) is you will be given preference during selection for Leadership. This means that your requests for Leadership clinicals will be looked at first before your peers who are not in the program. The reason for this is that you will need to complete 140 hours of Leadership (NURS 490) clinicals in a critical care setting, such as an ICU or ED, which is greater than the 90 hours of Leadership required of your peers. If you get into the Adult CCCP, you will also have the opportunity to shadow in a critical care setting of interest to you such as the CVOR, flight nursing, EMS/fire department, etc. These are great observational opportunities that you may never have again after graduation.