Why I Became A Nurse

I had switched jobs — not only type of nursing but health system as well. I loved where I left and loved even more where I came to.  I started out my nursing career in an emergency department, which was where I had been throughout college, which is very different than the basic nursing we are all taught in nursing school, and very different than med-surg nursing.  Since you are with patients for a short time, you don’t get that one-on-one bonding with the family you get in med-surg since you typically receive the same assignment day-in and day-out as long as you are working.  That’s one of the big differences.  But there are always the instances where you have special encounters with patients and you realize that it doesn’t matter what type of nursing you do, you still come into contact with patients who you not only make a difference in their life but ones who make a difference in yours.

I had had a patient/family who was very emotional with new diagnoses and issues being hospitalized, so needless to say, she was very vulnerable.  I remember caring for them at change of shift, so all I mainly did was start an IV and draw bloods and do an assessment.  Within that 15-minute time frame, I was able to sit down at the bedside and interact with them as I did what I needed to do.  When I left, the patient’s wife was in tears and “had” to give me a hug “even though [she] wasn’t supposed to” just because of the compassion, time, and attention I had devoted to them during such a difficult time.

About 5 months later, I was at my new job on a night shift.  I was at the nurses’ station and someone had popped their head around and said, “Wait! I know you! Oh my goodness!” and put her hands to her mouth and got teary eyed.  We both remembered each other.  This time she was there with her father, so again it was another emotional time for her.  She proceeded to let me know how happy it had made her feel to see me during such a difficult time and continued to reiterate to all of my coworkers how amazing I was that first time I took care of her family.

This woman having remembered the impact I had on her and her family, along with praising me to my new coworkers about something so personal was a very fulfilling experience to reflect back on why I became a nurse.  Everyone hears people, particularly nurses, say how they’re always reminded why they chose this profession, and this is one of the simplest and purest examples of why.  I have been in the field of nursing for about 3 years (working as nurse for 1) and have experienced many, many joys and reinforcements as to why I became a nurse, but this interaction is the one that will leave a smile on my face for a lifetime.  People aren’t lying when they say to “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

Sydney Adelstein is 2016 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing. 

There’s An App For That!

What a time to be a nurse! You can have entire textbooks digitally compressed into the palm of your hand! There are several apps I use frequently- UpToDate, Figure 1, Sound Builder by Littman, and NurseGrid.

UpToDate provides the latest in evidence-based practice relating to all aspects of patient care- from medications to nursing interventions. It breaks down information by specialty and has a section for patient education. It’s very nifty. UpToDate even has a section that shows the very latest publications in evidence-based studies, giving you access to breakthroughs in medicine.

Figure 1 is like Instagram for health care professionals. Medical professionals from all over the world post anonymous (patient identifiers removed) photos of various cases. Followers are able to comment on the posts, creating a unique learning opportunity. This app is also sorted by specialty. I have mine set to show photos tagged with “critical care”, allowing me to test my clinical skills. For example, I can see an EKG strip, identify the rhythm, name the interventions needed, and then look to see if others agreed with that diagnosis and intervention. It’s really cool!

Sound Builder by Littman is a tool that allows you to hear all of the different types of heart murmurs. I wish I had access to this during nursing school because you rarely hear every type of murmur in clinicals and this gives you every type!

NurseGrid is an app that helps you manage your schedule. You can mark the days you work, mark days you are available to work, education days, meetings, and message coworkers (who are also on the app) to see if they can switch shifts. My favorite part of this app is that all of the scheduled shifts import into your calendar. It’s really convenient.

Technology has really given us some cool tools to use as nurses. These apps have really helped me- maybe they’ll do the same for you!

Kate Best is 2015 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing. 

Surviving the Night

As a young new graduate nurse, most of us know that we will be stuck working the night shift, as those are usually the only job positions open.  When I had my first nursing job after I graduated, I did get hired on the night shift, and boy do I remember being so anxiety-ridden for my first one.  It was different for me because all throughout nursing school I had worked at the same hospital in the same department, but on days; therefore, I did not know the people on nights, let alone what I was getting myself into especially because I was working in an ER/Trauma center.  It’s safe to say though, I fell in love with working nights and now that I am working days at my new job (rotating shifts to be exact, but more time on days), I prefer nights.  For starters, nights work better for us young nurses who have minimal responsibilities (I’m talking no children, no house payments, etc. that is if you live with your parents still) and our bodies can handle it at such a young age, in my opinion.  As to getting myself to the point of loving night shift, I had to start somewhere, so I most definitely can lend a number of good and plentiful tips to survive your first, and succinct shifts thereafter:

  • I found that I was turning the shift into a day shift – meaning, 7pm was 7am for me and dinner time (midnight usually) was lunch time for me.  Once I got used to that, I found that I was splitting the shift into three separate shifts, a chunk of 4 hours each, and I found that I’ve carried that over to working days as well, and it is a good trick for the students who do 12 hour clinicals as well.  It makes the day seem not so long, but as we all know, time flies when you’re having fun, which it most definitely does in this profession.
  • Sticking to a similar routine on your days off of work helps as well.  Stay up until 3/4am on your days off and sleep until 11/noon and go about your day if that is what will keep your circadian cycle on track.  For example, if I wasn’t working the night before I had a shift, I would wake up and work out early (around 9/10, noon the latest), get the things I had to get done for the day, and then come home and “sleep” until 5ish, wake up and go to work!
  • It also can’t hurt to pick up a few preceptor night shift clinicals while you’re still in nursing school (I know that’s what every senior nursing student worries about… getting stuck on the night shift clinical).
  • And lastly, and most importantly, EXERCISE!  When I work back-to-back night shifts, I get home and unwind in bed around 8am, sleep until 2/230ish, go to the gym around 4 until 530/6ish, go and get dinner for work and head back on to save some more lives and do what I love!  Not only is it important for us to exercise regardless, but in this profession, we all know how important it is to unwind and mentally stay on track, so it’s super important to find a way to squeeze in a good hour or two of self-care.

I know most people dread, even fear working nights, but I ended up being one of those people who loved the night shift (most of the people I work with have been on nights for YEARS).  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what shift or what day of the week you are scheduled to work; we are doing the career we have long worked hard for and doing what we love, and that’s truly all that matters.  Until next time CON’ers!

Sydney Adelstein is 2016 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing. 

A Letter To My Younger Self

Dear Kate,

Hey, it’s me, future Kate. I’m living in Columbus in a tiny apartment with two cats. Yes, cats. You were always a dog person! I also found a way to deal with our terrible fear of heights because I go rock climbing frequently.  I’m finishing up my second year as an RN in the ICU float pool and I just passed my CCRN critical care certification exam. Can’t believe it? It took a lot of work to get here. Looking back,  there are some things I want to share with you.

So, you’re a sophomore in college and just starting your first year in the nursing program. I know freshman year was crazy hard. It was your first year away from home, you struggled to adjust to the big city, and you had an impossible schedule of classes. Your hard work paid off and you’re now in the nursing program! Congrats!

I know it feels like you’re in the clear because you made it into the program, but it only gets harder. Don’t let that discourage you- you have all of the friends you made freshman year and a whole bunch of nursing professors to help you along the way. Your classes will be difficult, but just remember- these are things you’re actually going to use. They’re relevant to your career. All of the new skills that seem so intimidating at first (head to toe assessment, PEG tubes, dressing changes, catheters) will become part of your daily routine. It gets much less scary with time. Once you get those skills down, you’ll start on newer, harder ones- PA Catheters, chest tubes, and cardiac drips. Don’t worry- you’re never alone. There are so many seasoned nurses around you to help you.

There are going to be hard times.  You’re going to staunch bleeding and wipe tears. You will see traumatic, terrible things happen to people and work to fix them. How do you get through all of this- why would you want to put yourself through this?  Just remind yourself- if you can give comfort to help someone having the worst day of their life, it’s worth it. If you can hold someone’s hand so they know they’re not alone, it’s worth it.

There will also be great times. You’re going to see patients heal with a new lease on life. You’ll feel joy when your lung transplant wants to walk 15 laps around the unit. You’ll wipe away tears of happiness when a young trauma patient starts giving you thumbs ups when she previously couldn’t move at all. You’ll have so many great conversations with patients and their families and learn all of their stories.

So, yeah, we’ve accomplished a lot in five years. You had a lot of help and support to get here. You’ll gain so many friends- your coworkers will become a second family. You’re going to have a spectacular manager who fosters your inquisitive nature, working with your awesome educator to find you additional educational opportunities. Finally, you’re going to be happy. That depression that always lingered around you in college will break up and dissipate. Every patient helped, every small difference you can make to improve someone else’s day gives your life meaning. You’ve found your happiness.

Kate Best is 2015 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing. 

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Give Back, Get Involved

I always tried to volunteer and stay involved throughout college as much as I could.  Although I was in a sorority and held officer positions, it was too time consuming for me to juggle both, being in nursing school.  (Although I did partake in the PLAN mentoring group within the CON). So, I knew that I was going to carry that on during post-grad being a new graduate nurse.  I have stayed involved with the College of Nursing via the Alumni Society (I serve as a regional ambassador back here in Cleveland) and also by doing these blogs to share my experiences to other people who are soon following in my footsteps.  I’ve always been the type of student and person who enjoys sharing my experiences with other people, so this has always been a perfect fit for me.  Aside from being able to donate as a CON Alumni, being involved with the regional side of the alumni society enables me to stay involved specifically with the CON and speak on behalf of the new grads that come back to Cleveland or move here post-grad.  It’s a cool way to be a little bit more involved than just rambling on about being a nurse :).  If you are interested in checking out some of the volunteer opportunities associated with OSU CON, here’s a link to current opportunities.

Although these two opportunities are the only volunteer work I am doing at the moment, I plan to do more.  With the possibility of going back to NP school this coming fall, I hope to get involved with a committee or group for school.  I’ve always felt that being involved is a good way not only enhance your resume, but to also get your name familiarized within the community, because as we all know, a lot of the healthcare industry is about who you know!  Another good way to stay involved within the field of nursing, which I plan to do so as well, is to enroll in the ANA (Nurses Association) and if you work in a specialized department, like an ED for example, enroll (for $$) within that association as well. You’ll stay in the loop on medical and nursing practice as well as receive discounts on CE courses, etc.

There’s many extracurricular and volunteer opportunities to partake in during school and post-graduation, and it’s such a good way to keep busy in your time off from work, since we only work 3 days of the week anyways :).

Sydney Adelstein is 2016 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing. 

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Maintaining Wellness

I have struggled with stress for as long as I can remember. As many know, nursing school can be extremely stressful. When I accepted my job as an ICU RN, I became stressed about how stressed I imagined I would be. Thankfully, I’ve found several methods of calming myself and coping with this stress to maintain wellness.

Although I was eager to get involved in my new career, I was careful not to overbook myself. The first year of practicing nursing is very stressful and full of extra classes and meetings, so I waited to join unit committees and such until I had my feet on the ground and could handle the extra time commitment. Second, I began reflecting on my day each night before sleep. I think about my day- what I’m thankful for, what went well, and what I can improve on. This helps me be more mindful of myself. I also ensure that I keep time for myself. This can mean a lot of things- going to the climbing gym with friends, planning a hiking trip, or even a Netflix binge. When I have free time, I try to do stress-relieving activities to combat workplace stress.

Healthcare is a field full of stress. When I find myself in the middle of a particularly stressful situation, I always take time to breathe. I take deep breaths with my belly while focusing on the problem at hand. I’ve been incredibly lucky in that my coworkers and I are firm believers in teamwork, so when one of us has a busy and stressful day, there is no hesitation for others to come in and help. Remember your support systems- your coworkers, your family, your friends, and in my case, my cats.

Kate Best is 2015 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing. 


I had many thoughts before starting to prepare for this exam, and I like to think I had the same typical fears as most of us nursing students did: not having enough time to take it, what if I don’t pass, etc.  Specifically the day of the exam and the days leading up to it, I’d say most of my worries and fears related to the timing and what number I would get.  Almost everyone’s fear is when the exam shuts off, regardless of the number!

I always have been the type of student who bought every textbook needed for every class, which is pretty much what I did for the NCLEX too, regardless of whether they were used or not.  I started out buying a basic NCLEX book that explained the style and familiarized me with the exam probably beginning of senior year, and then slowly accumulated flashcards and more study manuals.  I really recommend Lippincott books and the Saunders Q&A and Comprehensive book. I called it my book of nursing school knowledge and I would use it as a basic reference guide when I would study a topic that I felt I needed to brush up on.

I studied using the main resource from one of the NCLEX classes I took and periodically took a practice exam. When there was something I wanted to freshen up on, I looked up in the comprehensive book, and just kept doing that until I felt confident.  I also would make flashcards of information that stuck out to me as something I’d want to review before my exam.  I remember Professor Donegan had said that you should be exhausted from practicing the NCLEX, as you should have at least done 50,000 questions come exam time.  Also, the good thing about taking the NCLEX classes is they likely recommend some books to use outside of the class.

Speaking of NCLEX review classes, I took the Mark Klimeck and the Hurst Review course.  I HIGHLY recommend the Hurst Review course.  It was what I needed the most – a content refresher with 24/7 access to the videos and materials covered in class, along with resourceful handouts on their web portal.

The number one test day advice I can give is to not overdo it.  Most people will tell you not to touch ANYTHING the day of, but I had scheduled my exam at 2pm so that I could wake up at a normal time and go over materials I had like flashcards I made throughout studying.  More importantly, take deep breaths and pace yourself during the exam.  The mental health and mental relaxation is key during test day.

I bought my results a couple days early which is a feature the Pearson website has so you can see your results online and not wait for the official email and license to come in the mail.

The number one advice I have for the seniors taking it this year, is do not wait until the last minute to study. Practice a chunk of questions every day.  I recommend the NCLEX Mastery App because you can keep it on your phone and use it on your computer as well and go over specific material questions, mini-exams, flag questions as “somewhat know, don’t know, or know” and review them as such. The app also has a NCLEX-style exam you can buy which tests your readiness.  In other words, practice every day!!

Sydney Adelstein is 2016 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing. 

Hammer Time

With graduation right around the corner, I started applying to jobs over Winter break senior year. I slaved over my nursing portfolio to include all of my clinical skills, certifications (Basic Life Support and National Institute of Health Stroke Scale), and updated resume. I was unsure of which area of nursing interested me most. I had thoroughly enjoyed my psych and postpartum clinicals, and yet I knew I should get a solid background in technical skills before going into either specialty. I then reflected on my past education experiences and realized that I learn best by diving in. I decided critical care would be an optimal field to immerse myself in to gain skills and experience. Evidence-based practice was also key. I wanted to be using the most cutting-edge and effective interventions to care for my patients.

I did immense research into Ohio’s top hospitals’ professional practice models (PPM), which identify the hospital’s mission statement and values. I starred hospitals whose PPMs included evidence-based practice, patient safety, and synergy. I started applying to positions at the top teaching hospitals in Ohio, especially the ones offering critical care fellowships and internships to ease new grads into the practice. I interviewed for critical care new grad residency programs at both Riverside and Cleveland Clinic. During interviews, I took advantage of the opportunity managers gave me to ask them questions. I’d ask what their newest evidence-based practice initiatives were, what their patient satisfaction scores were, what their new-grad retention rate was, and most importantly- what resources would they have for me as a new grad?

I knew that The Wexner Medical Center placed all new graduate nurses into a residency program, but was not aware of any programs specific to critical care. I did interview for several Medical/Surgical RN positions at an interview fair (similar to speed dating) at Wexner Medical Center because I was familiar with the hospital from my PCA/SNA (nurse’s aide) job. In addition, I liked that Wexner Medical Center was unionized and had excellent retirement and professional development benefits.

During this process, I met with my PCA/SNA manager, seeking advice and tactics for interviews. When I expressed my interest in critical care, she mentioned that she had been developing a program to introduce new grads to the ICU Float Pool. My interest was peaked, and I submitted an application and interviewed for the position. Shortly after walking the field for my graduation, I received news that I had been offered jobs at both Cleveland Clinic and Wexner Medical Center, including the pilot New Grad ICU Float position. I eagerly accepted the ICU Float position at OSU Wexner Medcial Center and have never regretted it.

Kate Best is 2015 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing. 

Thinking about graduate school?

Megan Alexander, Program Manager for our graduate programs, is our guest blogger. 

Chances are, if you are reading this post you have thought about furthering your education.  This is great news and you should be excited about making this investment for your future!  Graduate degrees in nursing can prepare you for many different opportunities: degrees that lead to advanced practice certification, promote leadership development, help you become a world-renowned researcher, an educator, or some combination of the above.  So, how do you decide if you are ready to pursue graduate education?  How do you decide when the time is right?  Here are some things to consider:

What is your ultimate goal?

It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but sometimes you have to start at the end and work backwards to figure out your path.  Once you know where you are going, you will better be able to plan.  Think about goals you have for your career at 5, 10, even 20 years down the road.  Consider your strengths and the kind of work you most enjoy.  Network and informationally interview people who are in roles that interest you.  The more you learn, the more specific you can be and better communicate the type of program you are looking for.  This information will also help you plan for any work experience required for your chosen path.

What other commitments do you currently have?

Graduate School is an investment, one that will require a significant amount of time and resources from yourself and from those who support you.  If you have family responsibilities or a job that requires a high level of attention, you will want to keep that in mind when considering programs.

What is the return on your investment?

You have likely heard that education pays, and in the nursing profession, it generally does.  With additional education and experience, some salary ranges can be double what you earn now.  Explore salaries of positions you aspire to be in one day and learn the approximate cost of your education. This will help you determine if your investment will be worthwhile in the end.


As a prospective student this is one of the most important steps, but should occur once you are able to articulate what you are looking for in a program.  You could be considering a few different paths, and that is fine!  Researching opportunities can help you refine your goals and learn more about what is available.  It is extremely important to learn about specific program deadlines for admission and what items will be needed to apply.  Some programs require applications to be submitted up to a year in advance and you will want to be prepared to meet the deadlines.  Finally, keeping a list of questions you would like answered by each program will help you stay organized and compare programs to fit your goals.

The decision to continue your education in graduate school should be one that is right for you.  You will be doing the work, after all!  When you are ready to discuss options available at the College of Nursing, visit our website, send us an email (nursing@osu.edu), or give us a call (614.292.4041).  We would be happy to help you and share what we have to offer.

Under Pressure

There have been numerous stressors that I have dealt with in my new job. The number one stress I find is patient understanding during high volume times. It may sound kind of funny to some people, but working in a trauma center emergency room, it can be a tough one. It’s frustrating for most patients when we are beyond busy.

Fortunately, we have a Spiritual Care team that frequently comes around our department and I have stocked up on their aromatherapy samples and I use those while unwinding after a long night shift before bed. Other ways to handle the stress on the job is just simply taking a second to myself and go in the break room, get a drink of water or something to eat and just relax for a quick second. That type of time is extremely valuable in the place I work, even if it is just for a second. Most importantly, in my off time, I work out, work out, work out!

If there was something I could have done differently in handling my stress, it would be to have prepared for it further in advance. In other words, take the classes that are meant to prepare nursing students for the real deal SERIOUSLY! I remember simple things like this were touched on in some of the classes and now I understand why.

I can’t stress the importance of self-care for young alumni. When that is under control, it makes dealing with stress much easier and the more practice you have with it, the more tolerable it will be. Even though our patients are our number one priority, at the end of the day, we are our most important patient to take care of.

My advice for students:  enforce and work on self-care now if it is not already important to you. Don’t take any of the information in the nursing classes that seems silly with a grain of salt – it all plays into hand. Also, most definitely find out what works for you with managing stress now and practice that as you engage more with your nursing career. I may have learned more so the harder way, but it is SO important to be able to manage stress properly because even the slightest “off day” or outside stressor may impact the patient care you provide.

Sydney Adelstein is 2016 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing.