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November 26, 2018

THE NEW NURSE CHRONICLES: FINDING A JOB

Hi, Everyone!

I know it has been a while, and I have truly neglected my blog and for that, I apologize. I have been incredibly busy starting my new job! I graduated with my BSN in May and passed my NCLEX and started my nurse residency program in June! Now that I have been practicing as a registered nurse for a couple of months, I wanted to bring a new series to my blog- The New Nurse Chronicles.  This series will cover everything you need to know as a new grad! From choosing a job, how I organize my shift, talking to providers, etc.

I wanted to start this series off with a crucial part in becoming a new nurse- finding a job! When I started the senior year of my BSN program, I was so confused about when to apply for jobs and what a nurse residency program was. My best advice for you all is to start early. Most hospitals that have a nurse residency program have applications that open months before graduation! For example, I graduated in May and was applying to programs in December. The job  I accepted I applied to at the end of February, interviewed in March, and accepted the position in April, exactly one month before I graduated.

My advice to you is to research hospitals around your area. I personally created a spreadsheet with the hospital name, type of residency, and what time of year applications come out. When I applied, I crossed that hospital off the spreadsheet. It kept everything organized. If you're not sure when applications come out for that hospital, you can always reach out to HR or a nurse recruiter.

Another piece of advice is to have your resume and cover letter ready at the beginning of your senior year. This way, when you apply for jobs, you are already prepared. It will save you a lot of time and stress if you perfect it at the beginning of the year and touch it up as needed.

I hope this helps you all prepare for your job search! As always, reach out if you have any further questions! I am so excited to take you all on my journey of being a new nurse.

-Taylor


September 16, 2018

HOW I PASSED THE NCLEX IN 75 QUESTIONS

Hi, Everyone!

I know this is long overdue, but today I wanted to talk about how I passed the NCLEX in 75 questions! Before I talk about what helped me, I want you all to understand that everyone is different, and what worked for me might not work for you. This is just what helped me!

I began studying about 2 months before I graduated. I bought Kaplan, UWorld, and Saunders NCLEX review book. I'm just going to be honest here, I did not like Kaplan at all. I felt the Qbank was confusing to use and the rationales weren't helpful when I answered questions incorrectly. I only used Kaplan for about a week before I gave up and used only Uworld primarily.

I loved Uworld (not sponsored). UWorld broke down the questions by body system, was easy to use, and gave amazing rationales. Not to mention, UWorld costs significantly less than Kaplan. I went into the NCLEX completely prepared by UWorld. I did UWorld's Qbank 2x before I sat for the NCLEX. I used Saunder's intermittently if I felt I still didn't understand something with UWorld's rationale.

I really didn't follow a schedule, I just did all of the questions in UWorld's Qbank and went back and did them all again. I probably did around 200-300 questions a day. I kept a notebook and wrote down all of the rationales of the questions I answered incorrectly.

At the end of the day, it's up to you and your personal preferences. I have heard people who loved Kaplan, but it just didn't work for me. I'm sure there are people out there who didn't prefer UWorld, as well. Try out whichever you choose and study hard! You will all do great!

-Taylor

May 8, 2018

HOW TO ACE YOUR NEW-GRAD INTERVIEW + MY RESUME

It's graduation season! Which is shortly followed by interview season! I am so blessed to have secured a new-grad registered nurse position at a local trauma center near my house in the Step Down Unit! I have definitely learned a lot throughout my interview process and want to share my tips with you, including what my resume looks like!

My first tip is to do your research. Look up the program/hospital you are interviewing at online and find out their mission statement, values, and goals. Pay attention to if they are a Magnet status hospital or not. When the interviewer asks you why you want to work there (which they will!) incorporate these into your answer. 

My next tip is to prepare and practice, practice, practice! Look up common interview questions for new graduate nurses. Some of the ones I practiced with (that I also had asked during my interview) were:
  1. How do you work on a team? Tell us about a time that you worked on a team.
  2. What are your strengths/weaknesses? 
  3. How would your manager describe you?
  4. How would your co-workers describe you?
  5. Tell us about a time you had a difficult patient and how you responded. 
  6. Tell us about a time your co-worker wasn't pulling the weight of their position and how you responded. 
  7. Why do you want to work at our hospital? 
  8. In 3 words only, describe yourself.
Since I had prepared answers to these, it made me feel so much less anxious. I felt that I could confidently answer them because I knew the points I wanted to touch on with my answer. 

You also want to dress for success on your interview day! I always wear my pantsuit and flats. If you are going to wear a skirt, I would make sure it is at least knee length. You can wear shorter heels, but I wear flats in case the interviewer gives you a tour of the unit. Here's what I wore to my interviews: 


It's in your best interest to buy a leather folder with a notepad to bring to your interviews. The one I have pictured above is from Amazon! The notepad comes in handy when you need to jot down an email address from the interviewer. 

Inside your folder should be your resume (+ 5 copies at least!) and any other documents they may ask you to bring. I always bring copies of my transcript and recommendation letters. 

Here's what my resume looks like. I have blurred out names of hospitals and my university for privacy reasons. If you would like to use this as a template, just email me or PM me on Instagram and I will be happy to send it to you. 
The last and final tip is to always send a follow-up email thanking the interviewer for their time. In this email, you should always mention something that you talked about with them that will help them remember you. 

Good luck on all of your interviews! You will all do great :) 




May 6, 2018

HOW I AM PREPARING FOR THE NCLEX


I am OFFICIALLY done nursing school. Wow, that feels SO weird to say. However, I'm not done studying! I still have one more bridge to cross... the NCLEX. To find out how I am tackling this, keep reading!


I will be using three different sources for studying. These are the Saunder's NCLEX review book, Kaplan self-paced online review, and UWorld. At first. I wasn't going to buy Kaplan, but I really wanted a structured review with videos I could watch for content review. I also found a $50 off coupon for Kaplan that helped a ton! If you want to use it it's LIVE50 at checkout.

Here's my plan to use these materials:

  1.  Get through the Kaplan course (all online). 
  2. Do about 50 questions on UWorld until I am done Kaplan. 
  3. Once I'm done Kaplan I plan to break up my studying into systems which will include:
    1. Cardio, Respiratory, Onco/Hematology, GI/GU, OB, Peds, Neuro, + Musculoskeletal 
  4. Each day I will have a specific system to review on UWorld/Kaplan's QBanks. If I feel I need more review with something, I will read in my Saunder's book or watch a Kaplan content video. 
  5. Once I'm done systems review, I plan to do my last self-assessments on Kaplan and UWorld. 
  6. I will then do a TON of questions until my test date. 
I will definitely update you guys after I have taken the NCLEX to see if this works and what I would have done differently. I hope this helped some of you who are also going through the boards studying struggle right now! 

Happy studying! 

April 27, 2018

HOW TO STUDY FOR FINALS IN NURSING SCHOOL


So it's that dreaded time of year again, finals week. Studying for finals is one of the hardest things in nursing school because they are cumulative- which means you are tested on SO much material! If you are struggling with how to tackle this, keep reading as I will share my best tips for "ace-ing" your finals!

My first tip is to create a schedule with what you will cover each day. I color code mine based on the class and make check-boxes next to the material so that once I have studied that I can cross it off. I create this schedule up until the day of my final that way I know what I will need to study each day. Here's an example of one I have made in the past:
After I created this schedule, I would separate my outlines for each day and clip them together. This kept everything organized and saved me time because I didn't have to sort through all of my outlines to find everything! Here's what this looked like:

My next tip is to really focus on the areas that you struggled with on your previous exams! My university allowed us to have exam review sheets where we could write what areas we got wrong during our exam reviews. I kept all of these and reviewed the areas before finals!

The most important tip is to not stress out! I know that you are very overwhelmed with a ton of material, but don't try to re-learn all of it in detail because you won't retain much if you are very stressed out. Make sure you take a deep breath- you can do this! Good luck to you all!


April 22, 2018

HOW I PACKED FOR A WEEK IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC...IN JUST A CARRY-ON


I spent a week in a remote area of the Dominican Republic for a medical mission trip and I was told all I could bring was a carry-on. This is due to the fact that our checked luggage was to be used to bring supplies and medications. Packing a week's worth of scrubs, clothes, and toiletries in a duffle bag was a challenge, but with some creativity, I made it work- and want to share my tips with all of you!

Here's what my bag looked like:



My first tip is to pack all of your clothes in storage size zip-lock bags. This saves space, helps keep things organized, and in case of spills, will keep your clothes dry! Rolling your clothes instead of folding them also helps prevent wrinkles and saves room! 

The next tip is to wear the same clothes there and back home. Wear your sneakers on the plane, as well. This will save you a TON of room! 

I also only packed a couple t-shirts and shorts and just re-wore them throughout the week instead of bringing clothes for every single day. 

The BIGGEST challenge I faced was toiletries. Since we had to bring everything as a carry-on, TSA has such strict regulations with liquids. You have to bring all of your liquids in < 3 mL bottles and it all has to fit in a sandwich-sized bag. This made me leave some liquid shampoo at home and bring 2 mini bottles of dry shampoo. I washed my hair twice that week and used dry shampoo the rest of the week. I highly recommend the brand Batiste! 

A lot of my team members also brought baby wipes + face wipes instead of liquid soap. You can bring baby wipes in your carry-on! 

Since bug spray counts as a liquid, I recommend bringing those mosquito repellent bracelets! My team wore them throughout the week and we had no problems. You can find them here: Mosquito Bracelets

That's about all of my tips! Have you gone on a medical mission trip or plan to? Comment below! 









April 20, 2018

HOW I STUDY IN NURSING SCHOOL



This post has been very long overdue, but it's here! Within this post, I will be discussing how I study in nursing school. I am graduating in May with my BSN, and it took a lot of trial and error to finally figure out what worked for me!

A quick disclaimer: Just because this works for my brain, doesn't mean it will work for yours. Everyone learns differently- just remember that! 

The first thing I always do (or at least try to do...) is read the class materials before a lecture. This helps immensely because you are going to the lecture with a background on the topic.

After I leave lecture, the first thing I do is go home and make my outlines. I have a separate blog post with a detailed guide on how to make outlines like mine. You can find that here: http://thefuturecrna.blogspot.com/2017/05/how-i-make-my-outlines.html

Once my outlines are made, I just study those by covering one side of the paper with a sheet of paper and quizzing myself, almost like flashcards. Once I master something- I highlight that section in green.
It also helps me to write as I study. As you can see in the picture above, it's not always the most pretty handwriting, but it gets the job done!

Once I feel like I know a topic well, I do tons of practice questions. Some great resources for practice questions are the Saunders NCLEX review book, Evolve Adaptive Quizzing, and the Success books.

And that's about it until test day! Of course, there are liters of coffee involved in this process as well ;)

Happy studying!




March 24, 2018

San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic: My Reflections


Two weeks ago I, along with fifteen other classmates, traveled to the Dominican Republic for a medical mission trip. We stayed in the city of San Juan de la Maguana in a guest house through Solid Rock International ministry. Throughout the week, we set up mobile clinics in the barrios or poverty-stricken areas. My eyes were truly opened to a side of the world I have been privileged enough to never experience. These individuals had dirt floors, no electricity, and no clean water. If this trip taught me one thing, it's that we truly take advantage of so much in the United States. 
A typical day in the barrios consisted of four different teams: Triage, Pharmacy, The Providers, and Home Visits. We got to experience being on each of these teams at some point throughout the week. 
The first day we set up in a school. I was given the assignment of triage. This consisted of working with an interpreter and getting the patient's chief complaint, a list of medications they currently were taking, and getting an initial set of vital signs. I have about six years of experience taking Spanish in school so I could speak very basic phrases to the patients. I was definitely thankful for our interpreters! 
In triage, I really was able to see that a prevalent issue in this country is hypertension. Most of my patients had blood pressures well over 140/90 mmHg. Our team had one patient whose blood pressure was so high her vision was blurry. She thought she was going blind. When we took her blood pressure, it was 210/85. The providers were able to give her the proper medication she needed, and within a couple hours, she could see clearly again. She was so thankful and it really touched us as medical professionals. 
I had the opportunity to triage these two adorable chicas! 
Day two in the barrios was spent also in a school. I was able to shadow an NP student that day! Here I got to see how amazing and intelligent NP's truly are! In this part of our clinic, I really got to see what medications were being administered for certain diagnoses. Parasites are also a prevalent issue in this country due to improper handling of meat and unfiltered water. Therefore, every patient in the clinic-- whether complaining of parasite symptoms or not received Albendazole. 

Having an assignment with the providers also meant getting to hold the cute babies while their parents received their treatment. 
That night when we were done in the barrios, we got to see where Solid Rock is building their new guest house + clinic! The view was absolutely breath-taking. 
Bienvenidos! Welcome! 

We saw cattle on our walk through the village. 

A home in the village. They keep all of their doors and windows closed to try to keep their houses cool. 

The third day in the barrios, I was given the opportunity to go on home-visits! This was by far the most memorable part of the trip. There were about five of us students and a preacher who went door to door in the village. We took patient's blood pressures and referred them to the clinic if need be. We also did ministry work and told them about Jesus. 

The people of San Juan were so welcoming and grateful for our presence there. They offered us what they had, which was not much. One man even gifted us a chicken... which we politely had to give back because that would have never made it through customs!

We also met this sweet girl, Nicole on our home visit. We referred her mom to the clinic- but she wanted to show all of us how she could stand on the scale! 

 We also got to teach the school children about dental hygiene! Thanks to a ton of donations, we were able to give each child a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to take home. Our interpreters helped us teach them how to brush and floss their teeth! 

Where we set up for our last day in the barrios. 

The view from the street + our team/bus!


The fourth, and last, day in the barrios I was working in the pharmacy. This was by far the most tiring of assignments! This job consisted of receiving the piece of paper with the provider's orders on it and then filling the medications in bags. For chronic conditions, we would give them enough medication to last them for thirty days. Solid Rock constantly has medical teams coming so their medication can be refilled when the next team comes. 
Here were patients waiting for their medications to be filled in the Pharmacy. 

This was our "Med Box" which we had all of the medications stored in. We even separated them by type to help the process run a little smoother. 
There was a horse behind the Pharmacy! 
The views from the bus on the way to the dam. 




We ended clinic early that day because we had seen all of the people that needed care in that particular village! We got to see the dam located in San Juan. This dam had once flooded the entire city. It was an incredible sight to see. 
Our team! 


Our last day was spent traveling back to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, where we then flew home the next day. 
My experience in the Dominican Republic is one that has made a lasting impact on my life. This trip put so many things into perspective for me, but one primarily being that global health is something I have such a passion for.  To quote Mother Teresa, "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean but the ocean would be less because of that single drop." I am so thankful to have been a drop in the ocean for the people of San Juan de la Maguana.