So this is where I tell you about me, the Captain at the helm of KeepitRealRN.com. So why am I doing this? Inspiration came from reading a post on Allnurses.com titled, “YouTube Nurses and Nursing Students. My Top 10 List”. What they had in common was the target audience, nursing students and new grads. Any video that had NCLEX in the title was an instant hit. As I sampled videos from the writers list, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “I can do this too”.
Each nurse on the top 10 list had a schtick or “thing” as it were. I also have a schtick developed over the years, but when it comes to discussing the trials and tribulations of nursing school, it was so long ago I really don’t remember a lot of details. I do remember the nursing school process seeming all consuming and at times felt like it would never end.
In the beginning
The journey that led me to this point started with my very first job after graduating from high school. I had applied for a job in the dietary department at one of the big hospitals in my area. Funny thing happened when the phone rang one day and it was someone from HR. This person said “I see that you applied for dietary, but we have an opening in surgery. Are you squeamish about blood?” Up to this point I really hadn’t seen much blood besides my own. I told her “no”. So to make a long story short, I landed the job as a surgical orderly. The hours were pretty sweet too, 0700-1530 M-F, no weekends, no holidays. This worked out well with my other project, playing bass guitar in a band.
Back then there weren’t very many male nurses or “Murses” as it were. However, there was a concentration of them in surgery. Most of the guys were in their mid to late 20’s and considering I was only 18, they seemed way cool. Had I not landed this job, I don’t think I ever would have considered nursing as a career.
About a year into the job I was in the supply room collecting packs to stock the surgical suites for the next day and I thought to myself, “Self, do you really want to do this for minimum wage for the rest of your life?” The obvious answer was, no. It was right there and then that I decided that I would start taking my prerequisites for nursing school at the University of Minnesota, Duluth in the fall.
The road to academia:
That fall I quit my job and became a full time student. My journey to becoming an RN started the same year the band Journey had a top 10 hit titled, “Don’t Stop Belivin”, from their newest album at the time, “Escape”. I had that album on cassette tape and it was my driving music the whole semester. So take these clues and you can surmise that my experience with the institution of higher learning was a while ago.
Nursing prerequisites were done, Summer was under way and life was good. I was playing bass guitar in a band that was gigging full time. Nothing is better than having fun and getting paid well for it. One of those summer days I checked the mail and pulled out a large envelope from the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. Looking at that envelope I had almost forgotten that I applied because life was going so well. I had a decision to make, quit the band and go to school, or stay with the band and not go to school. Music is a lot of fun, but as a source of income it is feast or famine. I was feasting, but I remembered the famines, and the reality that another famine could be around the corner. Common sense dictated that I quit the band and go to nursing school. My plan would be to return to music after graduation using nursing as safe fallback position.
The real world:
Be that as it may. I survived nursing school at the University of Minnesota and graduated, and also managed to pass NCLEX which is a story unto itself. Jobs were tight at the time. Hospitals in my area weren’t hiring new grads. My first gig as an RN was at a nursing home. I did that for a year and a half and through some connections I landed my first hospital job in CCU. That was the big door opening for me.
Dealing with failure:
Landing a job in CCU (coronary care unit) at a major hospital was a big boost. There was so much to learn and it was exciting. Again, to make a long story short, about 4 weeks into my orientation I was called into the nurse manager’s office and informed that I wasn’t achieving expectations and recommended that I work med-surg for a year or two. I was devistated and felt like the biggest loser who walked the planet, and the shame was difficult to swallow. The details of this story will be a future blog post.
Learning from failure:
If I were to work in ICU again i would have to take the CCU nurse manager’s advice and get some eperience in med-surg. The only open position at the time was full time nights (5 eight hour shifts/week) on a general medical floor. Working the floor did not thrill me, and working nights thrilled me even less. if i were to remain employed at the hospital and ever have a second chance in ICU, it was what I needed to do. At the time the experience felt punishing. I had made a verbal agreement to stay in that position for a year and was literally counting the days.
There is a lot of truth to the saying that one learns more from failure than from success. During my year on gen-med, I took personal inventory and reflected on what I could change to succeed in the future. Looking back, I learned lessons that serve me well to this very day. That being said though, I was out of there at the first available opportunity.
Since the medical floor gig here is the list of experiences I have had:
- Cardiac surgery stepdown
- Full time agency work
- Moved to San Diego to work in CVICU
- Travel nursing
- Moved to Florida and worked CVICU some more, taught orientation classes for new ICU nurses, taught CVICU classes for new heart nurses, worked charge, and became a unit coordinator
- Clinical instructor at Palm Beach Community College
- Back to Minnesota for some more CVICU, teach IABP class 4 times a year.
- Currently working in eICU (enhanced ICU), and still doing some CVICU
What I’ve gotten out of all this:
I really enjoy teaching, precepting, mentoring, and public speaking. My nursing journey has blessed me with a deep well of stories to tell. I’ve had a lot of laughs and have met some really cool people along the way too.
So what now?
So now you know the birthplace of my nursing story, as it were. It has been interesting and at times unpredictable. This is the place where I will lay out the chapters in the evolution of my career, as well as some random thoughts about topics nursing related.
The ol’ learning curve:
When I started this blog I knew absolutely nothing about WordPress. Seriously, I started at ground zero. While the learning curve is steep, I am getting a real kick out of learning something new. What is so great about this medium is that it allows us to connect and share. I believe that one can learn something from anybody at any time. Just as a new grad can learn from an old timer, an old timer can learn from a new grad.
My invitation to you:
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As always, Keep it Real,