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. 

NCLEX, NCLEX, OH NO!!

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.

Research!

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. 

Life After College

In the weeks leading up to graduation, I was very busy planning my post-graduate life. I applied to several different positions, arranged many interviews, and signed up to take the NCLEX at the earliest possible time. I met with my PCA/SNA (Patient Care Associate/Student Nurse Associate) manager to discuss interview tactics and was offered an interview for a position in the ICU Float Pool, the position I would eventually accept. Every new grad at OSU is placed in the residency program, which is a great resource. It meets monthly and allows time to speak with other new grads and discuss different topics relevant to healthcare.

I am currently entering into my second year as an RN and have several goals, some of which I’ve already met. I’m currently a ULC (Unit Leadership Council) member, organizing education, fundraising, and social events for my unit. In addition, I’m helping to educate and precept new staff. I’m studying for my CCRN (Critical Care Registered Nurse) exam, which provides additional certification in critical care.

I think it’s important to have a plan or a list of goals you’re hoping to accomplish. It’s okay if your plan changes frequently because you will change in the course of your career. Stay true to your values and have faith in yourself and your abilities.

Meet our Blogger: Kate Best

best-kateHey there! My name is Kate Best. I’m currently working as an ICU RN. I grew up in the small city of Chardon, Ohio, but came to Columbus for college. I graduated from The Ohio State University College of Nursing in May 2015.

Throughout primary school, I was a huge science nerd. I competed in Science Olympiad, which gave me and introduction to anatomy and physiology. When I was in middle school, my sister was hit by a car and life-flighted to a trauma center. The nurses’ critical role in her recovery inspired me to become a nurse.

The best advice I’ve ever received came from my father, as he quoted my German great-grandmother, who died before I was born- “gutes tun”. It means “do good” in German. Each day, I try to do good things for others, slowly making a difference.

In my spare time, I enjoy outdoor pursuits- hiking, trail running, and rock climbing. I can be found at the bottom of the rock wall with an extensive first aid kit, complete with oral airways and a c-collar to alleviate my irrational fears of someone falling and needing full trauma triage. Regardless of how stressful a shift or how tiring a hiking trip, I am lucky to come home to two of the cuddliest cats in existence. I’ll totally admit to being a cat lady.

I really enjoy working with students, so I’m really excited about this blog. I’m looking forward to hearing what my fellow alumni are up to as well!

Meet our Blogger: Sydney Adelstein

adelstein-sydneyMy name is Sydney Adelstein, I graduated this May – 2016, and I’m from Cleveland, Ohio.  Obviously I’m a new graduate nurse (yes that is a position title that is placed on my badge until I am no longer less than a year or two out of nursing school) in the ER at one of Cleveland Clinic’s regional hospitals.  To be honest, the number one reason that originally pushed me into the field of nursing was the idea that I knew I did not want to be working in a chair or some form of business-ey type job for the rest of my working years.  I always knew I wanted to do medicine, just wasn’t quite sure what right up until the week of my OSU orientation.  I switched from Pharmacy, to Athletic Training, to Physical Therapy and then finally to Nursing and have not wished otherwise ever since!  And obviously I have to give credit to my parents for the push into nursing as well.

The best advice I have gotten over my four years of college and nursing school is definitely to not be scared to get your feet wet, and as cliché as it sounds, hard work really does pay off – and that goes for a multitude of aspects of life, not just my career.  Going into nursing school, and the beginnings of my career, not afraid of what to expect has helped me become, and continue to become, the nurse that I have become today and see myself growing to be.  It makes a world of difference, and people notice it!  I am super excited to be able to share all I have learned, experienced, and am currently experiencing with fellow CON people.  It has been nothing but a crazy ride for me that I am very grateful for.