Day 156 Nursing School Diary

During this clinical rotation, my “weekend” is during the week instead of the traditional Saturday and Sunday. Clinicals happen any day because hospitals never close! Instead of spending the day in class, I spent a few hours in the sun hiking with roughly a gazillion insects.

I LOVE being outside. I’m like a little kid who counts the minutes to recess. The closer I got to the trail, the happier I got.

Why do I hike? Hiking is a meditation. A prayer. A physical work that calms and organizes thoughts. It provides a sense of completion and satisfaction. Being immersed in the green things and dirt connects me to something bigger than myself.

As a side note. Being in green spaces is a form of recognized therapy. I know, do we need a study to tell us going outside is therapeutic? Apparently so, because with evidence comes providers “prescribing” it to patients.

I allowed a slow start to my day, so optimal hiking hours grew shorter, and the temperature climbed. I chose a shorter 5.5-mile hike with a 1200ft elevation gain as my first act of self-care on my day off. The moderate hike got my heart pumping, worked my legs, sweated out stress, and freed my mind from anxious thoughts. Content and endorphins pulsed through me at the end of the trail. I wanted to continue but the rising heat of the day and UV intensity sent me to my car.

Sweaty and covered in grit and dust, I drove back to my school apartment with a lightness of spirit and a few insect bites.

I confirmed my therapy appointment as my second act of self-care. At 20 years old, during a period of night terrors and severe panic attacks, I found a therapist. Since then, therapy has been an integrated part of my life whenever I need it. Between appointments, there can be months or years, but it is always available.

Studying and doing the work of life presented few obstacles over the rest of my day.

I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings. Until then, please enjoy some wildflowers from my hike.

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Day 155 Nursing School Diary

It’s day 155 of nursing school. Accelerated nursing school is a daily adventure. The volume of information is education by a firehouse. The labs and simulations feel weird and awkward. The clinical rotations delve into the unknown. However, all of those things are the expected norm.

Since returning from the break between the first and second semesters, life outside school is challenging. Loneliness and isolation have set in, accompanied by anxiety and intermittent feelings of depression.

My school experience is somewhat unique. I’m more than 15 years older than all the students in my cohort, leaving me lacking in an age-appropriate peer group. Although I get along well with my classmates as one of the group, the differences exist.

Living away from my family also adds stress to the situation. I have an apartment local to the university and go home as I’m able. Alternately, my husband visits regularly to take the pressure off me. Even though we video chat daily, being on my own is difficult. Thankfully, my cat Butterscotch is along for the ride, taking the edge off.

I’m an introvert who gets exhausted by groups and is prone to overstimulation. I’m also a person who values intimate social interaction. Spending so many hours alone without personal socialization is a detriment.

To keep this post from being a whiny “woe is me” rant, I’ve devised a plan of action to improve my experience and mental wellness.  

Action Plan

  • Contacting my therapist for a check-in/reset appointment.
  • Inviting others to join me hiking on days off from class and clinicals.
  • Reaching out to friends in the area and making plans.
  • Performing self-care.
  • Accepting this is the reality for another 5.5 months and knowing it will be worth it.  

Expectations vs. Reality

Nursing school is a ride expected to be a fast, furious, challenging, and brain cramming experience. It is all that and so much more. I freely admit tears and anxiety rule some evening study sessions.

What I didn’t expect.

My group of 30-odd people is unexpectedly funny, supportive, and accepting. I am not the typical age of a student entering a nursing program. I’m pretty sure I am old enough to be the mother of every other student. Yet, never once have I felt ageism rear its ugly head. Although I have stories from clinical days directly related to my age, those are stories for another day.

NCLEX-style questions are absolute mind-benders compared to common test questions. I should’ve investigated and practiced tests before beginning nursing school. Being a “good student” isn’t enough to translate facts to the all too often torturous variety the NCLEX-style offers. I challenge you to do a web search on your own and let me know what you think about the questions you find.

Finally, I didn’t realize how this process deepens my passion and love for community-based care and working within a community of peers. Every day, clinical hour, and new nugget of information is a vehicle for future application in my practice.

I’m fired up!

I hope I get off this ride in December intact, joy-filled, and ready to take on the credentialing exam.

Hello World!

Welcome! It came to my attention recently that my website had been co-opted by someone else, much to my aggravation. Now I’m back with a new site and more brain squirrel wrangling from the corners of my mind and the world as I experience it.

My posts will cover an array of topics as I am a multi-faceted human just like you.

My current status is as accelerated nursing student, coffee enthusiast, and lover of cats and the outdoors.

See you soon.

Pax.