April 4, 2013

Notes on Nursing: Meet Stephanie!

Meet Stephanie from The World of a Swilly Girl!

I graduated from University of Missouri's Accelerated BSN program in July 2011. I started my first job Sept 2011. And still work there!

How long have you been a nurse?
Only about 5-6 months! YIKES!!!!!!!

What was the toughest part about going from nursing student to nurse?
Not knowing ANYTHING. At least it feels like it! As a student, you always had a safety net. Also you could always say to doctors and patients "I'm just a student" Best EXCUSE EVER.

What area of nursing do you work in & what are some responsibilities unique to your job?
CARDIAC!!! I LOVE the heart! And like I said, I work in a progressive care unit so theoretically, half of our patients are discharged (to home or a skilled nursing/rehab facility) by us, and half need further care and are transferred to a more intensive care unit. But I'm not sure if that actually happens.

 We also are a step down for patients who no longer need an ICU level of care.
One of the most unique parts of my job to other nursing areas is probably the heart monitor aspect. Our patients are 100% monitor-oxygen-levels, respirations, heart rate and rhythm. So I have to watch an interpret those all shift. We also deal with a lot of chest pain-ers and have to follow protocols most other floors probably don't. We run our own EKGs and hand out nitro like its candy-without orders :)

What is your favorite part of being a nurse? Least favorite?
My favorite part is definitely when I feel like I make difference. When patients are truly grateful, or I feel like I really helped them. Compliments from patients really make every night worth it. Being able to explain things and answer questions for patients in also fun. I love the education side of nursing! And of course who doesn't love when they make a "good catch/save"? (of course I don't have that happen toooo much but...).

Worst part. EASY..drug seekers and people you can never make happy no matter how great and kind of a nurse you are. It is just so frustrating and frankly annoying!

What made you want to be a nurse?
This is going to sound crazy but I really always felt like it was what I was supposed to do. I tried a few other things. And I almost left my plans several times. But I could never shake the feeling.

I have always liked helping people. And the human body has always fascinated me too. So it seemed like the perfect fit.

What was your experience with nursing school & the NCLEX like?
 Nursing school was TERRIBLE!!! Busy and hard! My program liked to throw in surprise hoops to jump through too. Of course there were those occasional clinical moments when I had "yes I'm supposed to do this!!!". AKA the only reason I finished!!!!!

The NCLEX was the worst 48 hours of my life! I studied for about a month, thought I was ready, took practice tests that told me I was ready, and as I sat there taking the test--totally did not feel ready. And I walked out SURE I had failed. And so I hardly ate, hardly slept and got dehydrated from crying for the next 2 days. Usually when people pass a big test they celebrate. Scream and cheer ya know? What did I do???? Sat there speechless. Then I began to walk around the house saying over and over, "I passed. How the heck did I pass?" I was a HOT MESS!!!!

Favorite nursing skill to perform?
WOUND CARE!!! I love doing dressing changes. They are fun!
I also really like sheath pulls. I had never heard of them before I worked at my current hospital. Basically post-cardiac cath the introducing "tubes" remain in the veins/arteries of the groin for a few hours. And then we pull them out. And then hold AT LEAST 25 lbs of pressure for at least 30 minutes. This leads to very tired/shaky arms and numb fingers. But I never mind. I get 30 minutes to essentially do nothing and just talk to the patient. 

Any advice for nursing students or new grads?
Students, take a night off sometimes. I know you are busy, but a night off for a bubble bath and a good cheesy movie will do you some good! Also take EVERY opportunity in your clinicals. I shied away from some things that made me nervous in nursing school. But you can't do that in the real world. And it would have been nice to not have my first time be when I was a "big girl nurse"

New grads---I've only been doing this for 5ish months, so not sure I can provide advice. Other than this-if you feel like you sometimes have absolutely no idea what you are doing-you are not the only one!!!!!


I admire this girl because I am HORRIBLE at interpreting EKG's. Like so bad. And it always feels nice to hear good things from your patients. It's definitely what kept me going during nursing school.

If you want to be a part of Notes on Nursing, leave a comment below or e-mail me at friebr01@luther.edu.


  1. The drug seekers thing made me laugh. I had more CP admissions as a cardiac stepdown nurse because people knew it could buy them a 24 hour admission and pain medicine.

  2. Drug seekers were a constant when I was a telemetry nurse. I don't miss the "I have CP, can I have some pain meds?". I agree with taking every opportunity you can in school- even though I work in peds now, I got to see and experience the coolest things (I saw BRAIN SURGERY!).

  3. Hey Breanna, I would love to be part of Notes on Nursing if you have any openings! :) e-mail me: cmanzullo@gmail.com