March 21, 2013

Notes on Nursing: Meet Jackie!

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I had an untraditional path to becoming a nurse. I received a degree in Music first, so I went through an accelerated BSN program at Quinnipiac University. I graduated in 2009. I have worked in medical telemetry, pediatric acute care, pediatric/adult home care, and pediatric private practice.

How long have you been a nurse?
I have been an RN for just over 3.5 years.

What was the toughest part about going from nursing student to nurse?
The transition from being an observer or limited hands on, to being solely responsible and learning the way of really being a nurse, is probable one of the most difficult adjustments. If you work in a hospital, that is what your orientation period is in place to help you with. That transition time has it's challenges because school and clinical is VERY different than becoming a staff nurse.

What area of nursing do you work in and what are some responsibilities unique to your job?
I am currently a pediatric nurse. I've been working in pediatrics for the past 2 years. You have to consider what a patient's age is and where they are at developmentally. Taking a blood pressure on a 3 year old, you can't say "I'm taking your blood pressure." They just won't understand, and it could frighten them because it is unknown to them. But, if you say "this is going to give your arm a little hug" it goes over better. And family dynamics are always present, but are definitely more prominent when working with children. I also do quite a bit of telephone triaging.

What is your favorite part of being a nurse? Least favorite?
My favorite part is the connection you make with your patients and the knowledge that you are assisting in improving their life. I would say my least favorite part might be the hours/working on holidays. 

What made you want to be a nurse?
I don't have a specific a-ha moment that made me say "I must be a nurse". It was more an overwhelming feeling that I can do something more and can help people and use my smarts. So, I guess I sort of fell into it.

What was your experience with nursing school and the NCLEX like?
Nursing school was crazy. Being in an accelerated program meant that my core courses were taken from my previous bachelor's degree and I only had to take the required nursing courses. My junior year courses were condensed to 3 months of time. My fundamentals of nursing course was 2 weeks of 8-9 hour days, 5 days a week. The entire program was 12 months total. It was insane, but I survived.

The NCLEX was...nerve wracking, but doable. As much as the test is about knowledge, it is also testing your critical thinking and problem solving skills. For example: I had a question on mine that I clearly remember. It was about a beta-blocker, but one I had never heard of. But because I knew that beta blockers ended with -olol, I was able to figure out the question.

The best way to study for the NCLEX is practice practice practice. For a month before my test, I basically set aside an hour and just did questions. I took a few real practice online tests, but overall I just did questions. At the beach, in the car, wherever. And it paid off, I got the minimum number of questions and passed the first time.

Favorite nursing skill to perform?
Hmm. I don't know if I have one that I'd say is my favorite...

Any advice for nursing students or new grads?
For new grads, who might be having difficulty finding a job, keep at it. The jobs are out there, you just might have to work a little harder to get to them. Consider doing something other than your dream job in the beginning, just to gain experience, then you can move into your preferred area. I started in adult telemetry, but I ultimately wanted to be in pediatrics. I did a year and a half of telemetry before I moved onto peds.

For nursing students, if any hospital nearby offers student nurse tech or assistant jobs, try to get one if you can. While it isn't the same as being a full fledged nurse, it gives you a better understanding of what to expect at graduation. I worked at the local emergency room as a student nurse when I was going to school, and I value that experience.

Thank you so much Jackie! This girl pretty much has my dream job: working with kids. In studying for the NCLEX, taking practice tests and doing questions really is the best way to study!

If you're interested in being featured as part of Notes on Nursing, leave a comment or e-mail me at with the subject "Notes on Nursing".

1 comment:

  1. Cute idea!! I love meeting and finding other nurse bloggers :)