Hello! I feel as if I should welcome you, reader, since this is my first blog. Bear with me as I try and organize my thoughts in a coherent manner. Funny enough, this is my first time typing anything that remotely resembles a paper since I graduated almost eight months ago. I’ve already re-read this paragraph several times and found multiple grammatical errors. Scary.
My story has a lot more to it than what I’m sharing in my first blog: including working as a camp nurse for 136 campers while studying for the NCLEX and turning down the offer to attend PhD in Nursing Science programs right out of college. I have a lot of thoughts about how nursing education could be improved, the woes of being a nursing student, the frustrations of working as a nurse, and the exciting possibilities of nursing that are being underdeveloped (in my opinion). Hopefully, after reading this, you will have an idea of who I am and where I come from, and I look forward to exploring some of these topics in my future posts.
I’m not sure exactly what this blog will look like as time goes on, but I’d like to share a little of my experience as a newly graduated nurse. So, let’s begin with the basics. My name is Morgan, and I currently work as a registered nurse in Boulder, Colorado. Unlike many of my peers, I work in an outpatient setting rather than the inpatient hospital. I quickly learned in nursing school that I do not love the acute patient setting; rather, I enjoy interacting with patients more in an “everyday” context. I’ve always liked the idea of educating patients and helping them achieve their health goals in the setting where they spend most of their time. I’m part of the float pool at work, which means my job is to learn all the different specialties offered so that I’m able to work wherever I’m needed. For now, this is a perfect job for me to continue developing my skills as a nurse and dabble in many areas of nursing before settling down in a certain specialty.
I think Boulder is a particularly unique location to work in healthcare, since it’s a popular training ground for world-class athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. Often people joke about how there’s a difference between being “Boulder fit” and “the-rest-of-the-country fit.” The high altitude and the endless miles of climbing draw the most determined of runners, bikers, and rock climbers. It’s a place that fills my personal soul, too, as I have the chance to go trail running, hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing on a regular basis.
I went to nursing school in Michigan at Calvin College, a Christian liberal arts college. To graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, one must complete two years of prerequisite courses (e.g. anatomy, physiology, English, religion, philosophy, nutrition) and two years of nursing-specific courses. Each nursing class accepts 64 students per year, so the application process is considered competitive but not ridiculously exclusive. Once in the program, nursing students go through a series of different semesters that focuses on varying areas of nursing: mental health, community health, pregnant women and infants, pediatrics, adult health, public health, and leadership/management. Calvin College has a strong faith influence that permeates classroom learning, professor teaching style, and paper topics. I felt challenged as a student to not only learn about the human body and how to care for it, but also how to approach ethical dilemmas in healthcare as a Christian. My personal undergraduate schooling also involved pursuit of a studio art minor, which allowed me to explore figure drawing and ceramics on top of my logic-heavy, science-directed curriculum.
Do I think that nursing school prepared me for “real world nursing?” What an interesting question. Yes and no, to be perfectly honest. While in school, I spent time in theory courses learning the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia and false labor; I attended laboratory sessions to practice flushing an IV and interpreting heart rate rhythms; I worked 12-hour shifts in the hospital under the guidance of my preceptor during clinicals. I studied (often over-studied) for tests so that I would know every side effect of propranolol and betamethasone. But did I feel prepared when I started working? Not at all, and I think it was a multilayered feeling of inadequacy. The labs that I took in school never addressed some of the most basic skills that I use now daily. When I work in pediatrics today, I give over 50 shots a day, and yet in school I was never taught how to give an intramuscular vs subcutaneous shot, which vaccines are administered into the muscle or into the fat, or the side effects of certain vaccines. When I work in obstetrics and gynecology, I put patients on machines to monitor fetal heart tones and educate women on forms of birth control, and yet I never learned anything about women’s health in the outpatient setting while in school. When I assist in the allergy and asthma department, I perform allergy testing on patients and administer nebulizer treatments, but I could not have told you what an allergy department even does as a nursing student.
One thing I did feel equipped for as I walked into my first nursing job was how to keep the pursuit of health in its proper context. With Boulder being an elite athletic training ground, I work with a lot of patients who see health as their primary goal in life. My faith-focused nursing education helped me wrestle with this idea, and I have come to the conclusion that it’s my job as a nurse to help people attain their health goals while also helping them understand the limits of the body. The thought that “we are all dying” isn’t a morbid one, it’s simply the truth of our finite bodies. As a nurse, I hope I can spread that message in some small way to the patients that I serve every day.
If you are a recent graduate of nursing school and not sure which setting is right for you, a travel nurse job may be a good fit. myRNStaffing Solutions has recruiters who specialize in placing nurses in a variety of settings. Reach out to one of our recruiters today or complete a Nurse Employment Profile and we will contact you to discuss your career goals.