Wednesday, October 12, 2016

First Complex Exam...Check. Oh Yeah...and chronic fatigue!

I did exceptionally well on my first Complex Exam and am thus pleasantly surprised. The class average was also an 85%. We started learning to read EKGs this week and as of now my opinion is that it is insanely difficult. We don't have another exam until November 1st so I am not that worried yet but I am sure the freakout phase will ensue soon. Taking a deep breath is pointless because we take the NCLEX in 3 months! Complex clinical is also going well and I am learning more than I ever could have possibly imagined. Being one on one with a preceptor is an incredible experience because you have their full attention rather than sharing it with 5 other students at the same time. I pick my preceptor's brain like you wouldn't believe and she challenges me to think in different ways. I will totally miss her and the floor that I am on when the semester ends. I will be halfway done with my required hours by next Monday. 12 hour shifts add up really fast, so don't worry about fitting them all in when you get to this point. 

This is our last week of community clinical at site #1. So next week we will begin site #2, which will be in a different type of community setting. For example, if you were in a school the first five weeks you wouldn't be in a school again for the second five weeks. I am ready for a change. We handed in our first take home community exam yesterday. Take home exams are lovely but don't get too excited because they are far and few in between in nursing school. We have a group project for community that we will be working on and presenting to the class at the end of November. Each group will choose a specific population or facility and analyze statistics and put together a care plan geared for the population focus of your choosing. It is very complex and there are a lot of steps involved. We also have to do an individual process recording of any type of community meeting of our choosing. I am searching for a pediatric cancer support group for parents to attend.

Other than that I am still chronically sleep deprived and take naps whenever I get a chance even if its for 5 minutes. Tomorrow I have community clinical from 8-2:30 and then a 7-7 overnight into Friday. Crossing my fingers the neighbors aren't too loud on Friday morning/afternoon. 

- K.D.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Tonight's blog is called "Feelings" because I am feeling so many different things tonight and have been all last week leading up the what will be the first complex exam this Tuesday!

I am anxious, nervous, scared to death, tearful, angry (not sure why about this one), etc! I alter between feeling really prepared one minute to underprepared the next. One second I feel confident and the next second I don't. I was sitting there studying and all of the sudden stood up and started crying for no immediate reason. So far, Complex Care has gotten the best of me and has forced me to bring up a million "what if" questions. What if I fail this test? What if I fail this test and then have trouble bringing my average up to passing? What if I have to wait until next fall to re-take the class? I wouldn't call this negative thinking, but instead I think of it as anxiety. When I really take a second to think about it (which is hard for me to do right now), I realize that all of these thoughts are more on the unrealistic side especially for someone who has done very well in nursing school up to this point. But even when I can get to that point in my thinking, my anxiety has taken a 5 minute break and comes back saying "IT COULD STILL HAPPEN TO YOU!"

This blog is not intended to scare you away, but rather be honest with you about every aspect of nursing school. It is only the beginning of week 5 and I feel stressed, tired, worn out, and beaten down by nursing school. This semester feels like it is never going to end but naturally time keeps ticking by and assignment and test date are drawing nearer and nearer. How are we going to get all this done? I really cannot tell you how but we always somehow find a way. 

I would love to go to the gym and sprint it all off on the treadmill but darn Planet Fitness closes at 7pm on Sunday. Ugh that is inconvenient. Tomorrow is the day before the exam and while I probably should leave the apartment for a break, I probably won't because I will feel the need to continuously review and review the stuff that I know pretty well. This will continue until 5 seconds before we sit down to take the exam. Once the the semester gets going, I hope that I am doing well enough in the class to relax a little more and not be so anxious 24/7. But for now, it is what it is and I am coping!

- K.D.

Sunday, September 25, 2016



I slept 10 hours each on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night and I could not possibly feel more rested. I can say that I am fully recovered from that overnight last week that messed up my body clock. I am re-charged and ready for what this week brings, which is our first pathophysiology exam. I am not really worried about it because the material is a more in-depth version of A&P with an emphasis on physiologic functions, and I loved A&P!

Nothing new really happened last week. I haven't scheduled any more complex clinicals yet because I had an exam this week and wanted to use the time to study. That is the good thing about complex clinical; you have your preceptor's schedule and you have some choice over what days you will go based on their work schedule. I am trying to double up on weeks that I don't have exams so that I can have more study time on the other weeks.

I booked a mini trip to Las Vegas with my boyfriend for the semester's end. It isn't going to be warm when we go so that is a bummer but it will still be a nice getaway. Gotta love Groupon!!! All of my vacations and getaways begin with Groupon because I do not work aside from occasional babysitting. That's another thing worth mentioning. Working in this program, the direct entry program is not designed for people who work. While it is not recommended, that doesn't mean that you cannot do it. I babysit because it is flexible and I can change my schedule from week to week. I would not be able to handle the workload if I worked a regular job, but that's just me. I need my free time because with the intensity of this program, free time keeps me sane. I do have plenty of classmates who do work though and they seem to be doing fine. So it is totally up to you! Make sure you map out your class/work schedule and make space for free time/gym time/sleep if you are considering working while in this program. 

- K.D.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Rough Patch

Dear Readers,

I am having an extremely tough week so far and it is not even half over. Last night I had my first clinical for complex and it was a night shift. I had difficulty shifting my sleep schedule on Sunday and Monday to account for this and ended up being awake from 10 am Monday through 8 am this morning (Tuesday). I fell asleep in between every single stop only to be awoken by the old, rusty doors at each stop. This morning felt like nighttime and tonight feels like morning. I don't know what you would call the meal I ate during my 1 am break either. I had class at 2 pm today and despite my fatigue, could not fall asleep when I got home this morning to get some rest before class. I was so tired during class that I drank coffee for the first time ever...and I REALLY HATE coffee! Tomorrow is another long day and I will be at school from  9 am-8:30 pm. Then the following day is clinical and the commute back in the afternoon is ridiculous with traffic. I cannot wait until Thursday evening. I am going to watch Netflix and eat pizza and do nothing else!!! So you're actually going to get a chance during your preceptorship to work all different types of hours and get the true experience of what it is like to be a nurse. 

Anyways, now that we have had two complex lectures I can speak more to that. You actually listen to the "lecture" as pre-class prep and mostly everything in class is case studies and activities and games to help you learn the material. This is very different from professional nursing and acute where the class was lecture style only for the most part. There really is no other way to learn the professional and acute material, you just have to find a way to commit it to memory and make sense of it when presented with a patient situation question.

I am so tired and should probably head to bed so I don't look like a zombie tomorrow too!

- K.D.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Second Year of Grad School: Big Kids!!!

Here is the schedule for this fall:

2-4:30- Complex Care Nursing Lecture
5-7:30- Community Nursing Lecture

9-3:30- Graduate Assistantship
4-5- Complex seminar (meets 4 weeks out of the semester)
5-8- Advanced Pathophysiology

8-2- Community Nursing Clinical
3-4- Clinical post-conference

All afternoon and evening classes this fall. I would be lying if I say that I loved that because I like to have my stuff done in the morning and have the rest of the day to do whatever. However, it is what it is and on the plus side, at least I can sleep in late. The only thing missing from my schedule is complex clinical because I do not know my schedule yet. For all of your clinicals except for complex, you will be in a group of 5-6 students. For complex clinical, also know as senior preceptorship, almost everyone will be one on one with a nurse. There is an application process that you will go through during your first spring semester that consists of creating a resume, cover letter, and filling out a preceptorship application/preference sheet. You rate the geographic region (north, south, west (Springfield area), metro (Boston area), central (Worcester area) from 1-5 based on your preference of where you would like to be. You also get to choose three areas of nursing (examples- pediatrics, maternity, ICU, ED, etc) that you are interested in. Nobody is guaranteed anything and the selection is based on multiple factors such as GPA and the strength of your resume and cover letter. You will be notified usually sometime in August but some people find out in early summer or maybe even September. While they work hard to get everyone an individual placement, there sometimes is a small group (3-5 students) who will do clinical together. Unlike all other clinicals which run on a set weekly schedule, you will be following your preceptor's schedule for complex clinical. This means that if they work nights and weekends, you will be doing your clinical on nights and weekends. You have to complete 130 hours total for your complex clinical.

So the first week back was rather light. We had orientation for both community and complex nursing and also had our first full pathophysiology class. I think I am going to love patho because I loved A&P when I took it. I also think it is going to be so helpful to connect any loose ends that were previously confusing when thinking about disease processes. Community Nursing is all take home exams which includes the final exam. I feel extremely relieved because I know that Complex is going to be the killer class this fall (just like Acute and Professional were during their respective semesters). We are about 5 months away from taking the NCLEX and I could not be more excited. We took our first ATI comprehensive predictor test last week! Your test results will generate a focused review on areas you should study and work on and then at the end of the semester, you will take another ATI comprehensive predictor test hopefully scoring better than your first try. These tests predict NCLEX readiness and tend to be very accurate in how people perform on the real thing. I am sure I will have more things to say once the semester gets rolling.

- K.D.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Wrap Up Of Year 1

Year 1 is in the books! I cannot believe how much I have learned in the past twelve months and am amazed with my progress. My favorite course was Pediatrics/Maternity and my least favorite course was Mental Health/Psych. However, I loved each and every one of my clinical experiences and can honestly say that Regis clinical faculty will prepare you 110% for the real deal. My clinical instructors constantly sought unique cases for us to be involved in and they really work closely with each individual to make sure you master your clinical skills. Since several of my previous posts somehow went missing, I am going to post a quick recap of what my schedule was like this past year.

Fall Semester

8-12- Professional Nursing lecture
12:30-1:30- Math class
2-5- Pharmacology


7-10- Professional Nursing lab


8:30-10- Health Assessment lecture
10-11:30- Health Assessment lab


7-3- Professional Nursing clinical

Spring Semester

8:30-10:30- Acute Care lecture
2-8:30- Mental Health/Psych Clinical

8:30-10:30- Acute Care lecture
2-5- Mental Health/Psych lecture


7-7- Acute Care clinical

Summer Semester

8-12- Pediatrics lecture (first half of summer), Maternity lecture (second half of summer)
1-4- Care of Aging Adult lecture (first half of summer ONLY)


7-7 Pediatrics clinical (first half of summer), Maternity clinical (second half of summer)

I also had a graduate assistantship for the fall and spring semesters. Just a reminder, that an assistantship is 7.5 hours per week during which you work for a department on campus. In return, you receive $2,500/semester reduction in your tuition. This is available to full time students only and everyone will receive an email the spring before you are to start the program about how you can apply for one. The above scheduling may seem busy to you so you might be thinking how you could possibly add 7.5 hours on top of all of that? My answer: it is doable and it is worth it! However, you REALLY need to be organized and on top of all of your assignments. The best way is to get a planner and write down what you need to do each day. It may sound tedious but I swear it will save you so much time in the long run of things. 

The school incorporates ATI books for each nursing course and these are pretty standard and outline what you need to know instead of getting wordy and intricate like the textbooks. While you have textbook and ATI readings assigned each week, I found it was more worth my while to study with ATI and only use the textbooks for topics that I was confused about and needed more detail on. The textbooks will go into intricate detail on everything.

Here are some other tools I recommend purchasing before you start the program. They are not required but they really helped me get through the content. (1) Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination and (2) Mosby's Pharmacology Memory NoteCards. The Saunders book is based on the most recent NCLEX test plan and will highlight the important information for each topic that you should know. The NoteCards have fun little cartoons about different medication classes that will aid in memory if you are a visual learner. I am not necessarily a visual learner but they really helped me! There are some apps you can download for your smartphone and/or iPad to do practice questions in your free time: Lippincott Q&A Review NCLEX-RN is $25 but worth the money and NCLEX mastery is another good one. You can also follow NCLEX Mastery on Facebook and they post a question of the day with answers and rationales. This is a good way to get some practice in while surfing your newsfeed. Medscape is an app that is handy for medications and it is free of charge. You just have to create an account.

Lastly, you are going to feel overwhelmed at times, particularly with Professional Nursing and Acute Care Nursing. I initially struggled in both of these courses and came out very successful. You cannot give up and you have to seek help early and often if you are struggling. Once you get used to NCLEX style questions, you will perform better on the tests. And remember, when you feel there is more than one answer, there is always ONE that is the MOST RIGHT!!! If you don't remember anything else I said, remember this haha!!!

- K.D.