I got into the University of Michigan-Flint / Hurley Medical Center Nurse Anesthesia Program!

official.umflint.logo_I’m really excited to say that I got into the University of Michigan-Flint / Hurley Medical Center Nurse Anesthesia Program. I am proud of my accomplishments and thankful for everyone who has encouraged me and helped me along the way.

I’m inspired to write about my journey — past, present, and future — by other blogs about Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) schools (such as http://studentcrna.blogspot.com/ and http://lifectent.blogspot.com/) and the Umich Med School blog written by multiple students. My hope is to give insight into this career path and encourage those who may be interested too.

Like many others, I have varied interests, but healthcare was always in the forefront of my mind. I grew up knowing that I wanted to heal the sick and that I wanted my presence to truly make a difference in people’s life everyday.

I first went for a biology degree for pre-med. But unfortunately, as I started to explore medicine as a career, I was put off by it. Sure, a lot of friends continued on and I’m proud of them. Some decided that it wasn’t for them either. I started to explore other healthcare fields. I found my place in nursing. I was most excited when I found out about the accelerated nursing programs because it truly changed my life. Before I finished my biology degree, I took several prerequisites for nursing schools that I was interested in (because unfortunately they all differ).

After I graduated from nursing school, I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school. I took a couple of graduate courses through NYU’s dual degree program while I was working on telemetry. I was interested in nearly all the graduate nursing fields — nurse practitioner (acute, primary, pediatric, family), nursing informatics, nursing administration, and nurse anesthesia. But it wasn’t until I entered the intensive care unit before I started to really take my preparation seriously. At this point, I debated becoming a primary NP or going into nursing informatics or nurse anesthesia.

I already saw what a difference nurse practitioners do but I didn’t know if I really had it in me to do anesthesia. Life in my hands– day in and out. But I met a few UM alumni who told me that I would do a great job. I shadowed them over the summer, and saw their autonomy and teamwork abilities. I had almost all of the credentials to apply and their encouragement made me believe in myself.

I started my process of looking into schools to apply.

  1. Where is it located?
  2. Do I meet the requirements? If not, which ones are still missing?
  3. Is there an information sessions to learn more about the program?
  4. When is the due date? When does it start? How much does it cost?

I started attending information sessions in July. I went to UM-Flint information session in October. My advice is to bring transcripts. This kills two birds with one stone — (1) an opportunity to speak to the head of admissions and (2) to find out if your prerequisites meet the school’s standard. Learn how the school chooses students. Some may emphasize that three years of critical care experience is essential and any ‘outside of work’ experience is crucial. Others say that ‘you may pass all of the didactic courses but if you fail the clinical aspect, then you’re not cut out for CRNA.’ While that’s true, when I hear that comment, I feel that the school is more hostile rather than helpful. Just as you’re interested in becoming a CRNA, it is important to learn more about the school’s culture.

At the University of Michigan-Flint, admissions is based on a points system (as are many schools). For the application, objective data such as the science GPA, overall GPA, and GRE score is scored. Thankfully, I was able to submit majority of the application before tackling the admissions essay. In the essay, it is crucial to answer every question in detail. And while the CCRN is not required, it is highly recommended to take it. It shows that you take your education seriously and it helps you prepare for the interview.

At UM-Flint, there are 2 due dates: Early (10/1) and Regular (2/1). I submitted my full application a week before the due date. There was a website to check if all of your required paperwork is submitted and which ones were not completed (I loved this!). The admissions team was easy to work with and answered all my questions. Sometime during the first week of February, I was offered an interview for either February 19 or 20. I picked Friday the 20th. I made some work schedule changes and booked a flight back home. The 3 part interview (exam, panel interview, and OR with CRNA) is also based on a point system– 10 points for each section. The purpose of this is to make admissions as fair as possible (rather than getting in because you know someone on the admissions board).

  1. The exam is composed of multiple choice, fill in the blank, and essay comprising mostly of CCRN and ACLS material. Apparently, I have to work on the cardiac section.
  2. The interview is a panel interview asking typical questions as well as some ethical questions. I highly recommend practicing saying them out loud. I recommend getting the All CRNA School Guide, going over common questions.
  3. The OR time with a CRNA is comprises of short clinical questions on what you’d do in certain situations.

When I walked in, I saw that I was the last person to be interviewed. After the 3 hour interview window, I was driving back home and got the call. I was shocked that they had reached their decisions so quickly, especially since I was expecting to hear back a week or two after the interview. It may be because they’ve already interviewed everyone and scored them on a points system already and they simply picked people starting from the highest marks going down the list. But regardless, I was definitely excited.

Of course, getting in sparked another list of questions to solve. That’s what I’ve been working on since then.

  1. Where will I live?
  2. Who will I tell?
  3. When is my end date at work?
  4. How will I end my lease?
  5. How will I manage my relationship with my sister and boyfriend?
  6. Will my boyfriend stay here or move back with me?
  7. My car lease is almost up. Should I lease or buy another car considering the number of miles I will potentially drive?
  8. Taxes need to be completed. FAFSA needs to be completed. In-state or out-of-state residency needs to be determined.

I also looked up all the clinical sites and put them on Google Maps.

It’s about a nice 1 hour radius circumference from Flint, Michigan. As of right now, I’m planning to stay at home in Ann Arbor but for clinical that is more than 1 hour away, I’ll stay closer.

As for my boyfriend, he will stay in NYC. He’s doing well with his career here. And we’ve had a long distance relationship before back when we were swapped — when he was at the University of Michigan studying economics and I was in NYC. How ironic.

As for cars, lately I’ve leased Honda Civics because they are less expensive and reliable. But it is true — I really should support American Car Companies (Ford, GM, Chrysler). I plan on going to the New York Auto Show in April and hopefully I’ll get a better idea of what car I should buy.

As for saving money for tuition, I’ve been working an extra shift about every other week. Thankfully I’ve saved a bit already in my retirement funds, which can be used for higher education (I need to look into this more).

As for the order in which I told people, I first told my closest friends not from work. Then after the official letter came in, I told my nurse manager (who is really supportive!!). After that, I put it on Facebook. Prior to applying, I didn’t make it well-known that I was interested in nurse anesthesia partly because I wasn’t sure of the reactions I would receive and I’d rather just leave that part off the table. However, since getting in, I’ve received positive feedback. I think that for the most part nurses are kind and encouraging but I guess you never know.

That’s it for now.

 

 

National Certified Nurses Day

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On Thursday, March 19, was National Certified Nurses Day. At work, it was nice to get that acknowledgement (again!). The AACN ambassadors put together little bags for all those who are certified as a CCRN. In the bag, there were a couple of AACN and CCRN pens, pins, and chocolate.

My hope is that once you’ve been in practice long enough to get certified, go for it. It just gives you that additional “oomph” and confidence.

 

World Sleep Day: 5 Ways to Sleep Better Tonight

When Sleep is Sound, Health and Happiness Abound

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I don’t drink coffee to stay awake. I know that caffeine is America’s legal drug to stay awake, and coffee shops are abound to fill that need. But for some reason, a 11th grade chemistry poster presentation on caffeine swayed me away from coffee. It’s an artificial way to keep you awake.

Instead, I sleep. Yes, it’s true — I didn’t drink coffee during school. And I don’t drink coffee for work. How is it possible that I just sleep to refuel?

My mom may have influenced me a little. Whenever I physically felt bad or crummy as a kid, she told me to take a shower then go to sleep. So being the good kid, I slept.

I think this country is sleep deprived and we simply don’t get enough sleep every night. Some people say that sleep is a waste of time and you’ll get plenty of it once you’re dead. However, I think otherwise.

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Sleeping allows your brain and body to recharge, and clear your mind for the night. And dreaming at night is your mind’s unconscious way of solving potential and current problems.

I am pretty lucky when it comes to sleeping. When I was a baby and I cried, my parents drove me around the block in the car and I fell asleep. I can still fall asleep almost anywhere anytime. I even miss the snacks on flights. I worked the night shift and sleeping during the day really wasn’t too bad (except for when construction was going on or the neighbors’ dogs were barking).

But some people can’t sleep. Which totally sucks because they are cranky. Irritable. It’s much more difficult to concentrate and remember things. And drowsy driving is dangerous driving.

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During the rare times that I can’t sleep, I found that I did somethings that I shouldn’t do. Here are some things that I do to help me sleep.

  1. Don’t eat a large meal at least 1 hour before sleeping. When you eat a large meal, your body is spiked with glucose and your body is working on digesting food, not getting ready to sleep.
  2. Sleep in a dark room with as little distractions as possible. This is especially important for people who work during the night and sleep during the day. Getting dark shades is helpful. You shouldn’t feel too hot or cold, and the mattress and pillows should feel comfortable to you. If you find yourself tossing and turning often, it may be time to consider a new mattress or pillow!
  3. Clear your mind with deep breathing. This one sounds cheesy but it really works. At work, I noticed that patients who have the most difficult time sleeping are those who have too much on their mind. They think about everything and anything except for deep breathing. They will try to mask the problem by asking for a sleeping pill but that is not always the solution. The mind needs to be clear before falling into a nice, deep sleep otherwise the mind will be too focused on other thoughts.
  4. Write down your day /topics or talk to someone about your day. I find that if you write down your thoughts and issues, then you can set aside the problem for the next day. By writing a journal, you can more clearly see the problems and how you may want to solve them. You won’t have to keep thinking about the problems because you’ve already written it down.
  5. Exercise. Many times, being overweight contributes to a large fat neck. This kind of anatomy can cause obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). You may hear snoring and really the worst part is that your body isn’t getting enough oxygen while you sleep. This often causes daytime sleepiness because your body isn’t resting throughout the night since your brain keeps waking you up to make sure you get enough oxygen!

I hope you learned something new and enjoy sleeping!

Until next time,

Jessica

Nurse Blog Guidelines

Hi nurse bloggers or future nurse bloggers,

You’re probably coming across this page because you’re interested in blogging, or writing your experiences, as a nurse.

Blogging is a great way to:

  • Reflect on the day you had and how you can do better
  • Share your experiences with other nurses

Personally, I feel compelled to write about my experience because I get really drawn into other people’s blogs when they describe their story and figured others feel the same way. However, many times people remain anonymous about themselves, the school they’ve gone to, and their workplace. They often do things for a few reasons:

  • Fear of attention
  • Fear of consequences
  • Horror stories of nurses getting fired for breach in privacy and confidentiality

Of course, I don’t want repercussions for displaying the wrong information. Before I started writing, I did some searches on social media guidelines, but a lot of them are not specific. To shorten the mumble jumble, I’ve consolidated the pages of guidelines to 3 things.

  1. Comply with HIPPA. Don’t use any identifiable information such as a name, specific age, race, specific health condition, specific surgery, address, room number, family members, specific doctors, etc. One way to overcome this barrier is to switch names or if you’ve had similar patients, merge experiences you’ve had together.
  2. No pictures with patients or the hospital without written consent. Don’t take any pictures and don’t post them anywhere unless you have received permission. Even if you have received permission, it is best to show something in the positive light.
  3. Be positive. Writing negative things about specific people such as patients and coworkers is really easy to do (it’s hard not to complain). However, whatever you write will stay on the internet forever, even if you delete the information later on. It is better to deal with negative things with people one on one. While it is true that things don’t change unless you bring up what is ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, it does not mean complaining about it on the net is any better.

So what are topics that you can discuss?

  1. One way to discuss something negative though is to discuss an issue or a problem, and suggest ways to abolish the problem or improve a system. There are many issues that need solutions. That is how we improve healthcare!
  2. Your conversations with patients and family, and the healthcare team.
  3. What you learned from a situation.
  4. Connecting what you see in the field, what you read in textbooks and journals, and what theories apply.

If you would like more details, I recommend reading the Online Journal of Nursing and the National Council of State Board of Nursing for Social Media Guidelines.

I like wearing scrubs but not when…

I like wearing scrubs but not when it’s freezing outside! I have to wear sweatpants from my apartment to the garage just to make sure my legs don’t turn fire ice and break off. So icy cold.

Can You Afford an Accelerated Nursing Degree?

Ever since I posted the FAQ on NYU’s Second Degree Accelerated Nursing Program in 2011, I have received many emails asking if they can afford going to NYU (considering that it is expensive). Now that I switched to www.NurseJess.com, I would like to start with my very first video on this very question.

The reason that I became so concerned about being able to afford a second degree accelerated nursing program is simply because I got a request from a NYU nursing student on raising awareness on his needs to raise tuition funds. It never occurred to me that you could go halfway through school and then get cut from it because you simply don’t have enough funds to pay for it. So let’s make sure you can pay for it.

The biggest issue is that you are still considered an undergraduate. And most people don’t know that there’s a new federal maximum of borrowing up to 1.5 times the total tuition that started recently.

Let’s go over an example:

At NYU, the total tuition is about $80,000 (or $80k where k = thousand). 80k x 1.5 = $120k, which is the maximum amount of loan that you can take out, including all of your earlier loans.

 

So let’s go over two scenarios depending on your previous student loan situation.

1. Where you owe too much
Let’s say you still owe $50k, then you can take out a maximum of 120k-50k = 70k. Since this loan amount less than the total tuition ($80k), you have a few options:

  • you can pay the difference out-of-pocket,
  • consider another nursing school,
  • pay off more of your first student loan before applying, or
  • get a scholarship or grant. Always apply to every school scholarship that you’re qualified for because you may get it! You won’t get it if you don’t try.

2. Where you owe less
Maybe you owe $30k on your previous loan, then you can take out a maximum of 120k-30k = 90k. Since this is more than the total tuition, your loans can cover your entire tuition.

Without using an example, do the following: find out the total tuition, multiple that by 1.5, then subtract that by your current student loan. Or (Total Tuition x 1.5) – Current Student Loan.

  • If this is equal to or greater than your total tuition amount, then you can afford to go with only loans.
  • If this amount is less, then you have a few choices:
    • you can pay the difference out-of-pocket,
    • consider another nursing school,
    • pay off more of your first student loan before applying, or
    • get a scholarship or grant.

Continue reading

New Domain!

Hi!

So I’ve been thinking about having my own domain for awhile now and I finally took the plunge (mostly because I make enough now compared to being a poor student). Since I have some time now, I decided to go for it. It seems that a lot of people know my blog as lifewithjess.wordpress.com and type into Google “Life of Jess” or “Jess nurse” or “NYU jess nurse” or something similar to that. To make it easier to remember, I changed the name to NurseJess.com.

I don’t usually post my blog posts on my Facebook but I accidentally did. One of my coworkers saw it and told me that he liked it! Anyways, I always appreciate good comments.

I hope to continue to write posts about nursing that will interest you. Thanks for reading and coming back again and again.

Jess

Update: ever since I switched over, I noticed that some links don’t work so I can currently working on that so you don’t keep getting broken links. Each day I’m off I’ll comb through the posts to connect them to the correct post. Thanks for your support!

Blizzard of 2015: Sleeping overnight at the hospital

Fortunately so far I was usually home when a storm hits. But not this time. On Sunday, the news started to spread that there was going to be 20-30 inches of snow across NYC and Long Island from Monday until Tuesday midnight. And I was scheduled for both Monday and Tuesday.

So I got myself ready… Just in case I was going to stay over. Another pair of scrubs, toothbrush, toothpaste, other toiletries, and pajamas.

I went to work Monday. Watching the news, I saw the weather get worse. I probably would make it home but my small car probably wouldn’t be able to make it back to work. My nurse manager asked if I was going to stay. I said yes– I just need a sleeping area. She said she would arrange one, don’t worry.

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After work, I went to the cafeteria. They were nice enough to give out sandwiches, cookies and water for those staying over. Many of my coworkers came in early the night before. Dedication!

I went back to my car to drop off my lunch supplies and pick up my bags. I was considering sleeping in the car but by the time I got to my car, I thought it was way too cold. I headed back inside.

When I was working the night shift, we put sleeping mats in the shower because we didn’t have anywhere else to store them. I thought that the shower was pretty useless and nobody was ever going to use it. Funny how I ended up using it that night. I just wish I brought my sandals!

I slept on a mat in the conference room. It wasn’t too bad, except that the ground was hard so I had to reposition myself every few minutes haha. I put my phone on airplane mode to conserve battery.

It was actually kinda nice not to have to travel to and from work. Extra sleep time. It was nice to wake up and find out that four other nurses also stayed overnight. One patient care assistant (PCA) worked the 3-11, slept, then 7am-3pm. Another PCA did 11pm and ended at noon. Another one did 3pm-7am. Thank goodness for them!!

They offered a $2.50 credit for breakfast. So that was nice.

But we started with 7 nurses when we usually work with 10 so it was a rough start to the morning. Most of us started with a triple! As the morning came, two more nurses came in so it felt a lot better.

Anyways I am glad that there was a mandate for no cars on the roads overnight so the trucks could plow most of the snow away. And I am glad that I didn’t have to drive through bad weather by staying inside.

We don’t have mandatory overnight stays so we don’t get paid to sleepover. I believe that at some other hospitals that in a state of emergency that they do this to keep enough staff on duty. Do you think that nurses should get paid to sleep overnight or during the day or that it’s a waste of money to do so? Or does short staffing cause unsafe patient situations? What is more important?

I submitted my grad school application– yes!

I finally finished my essay after several drafts so I submitted my grad school application online. It really makes you think about why you want to go into a career and forces you to be certain about what you’re going to do in the next few years.

I did share my blog in the personal statement essay. In this 21st century, I hoped that was ok. After looking at Twitter, I found that the school also had a WordPress blog. Perhaps they will see what blogging can do for someone… And help many people!

It’s been somewhat of a relief to finally be done with applying for grad school. I went to two information sessions, studied and took the GRE, took the PALS classes, studied and passed the CCRN, made sure recommendation letters are completed and in (and thanked those who’ve helped me), got my Michigan license… It’s been quite a few things to coordinate. Having a timeline helped but it’s mostly been studying, studying, studying. While I welcome the break, I know that I’m going to be itching to do something again.

What It’s Really Like to Care for a Dying Parent

It’s really tough to decide the best course of action for someone who is dying, especially in our society where life, any sign of life, is prized, and not necessarily the quality of life. It’s truly difficult to make a decision for someone’s life especially if you love them.

But the better question is, would you want to live in that fashion?

Talk about death decisions with your loved ones so they know what to do in case something happens. This will save time and grief among the family and friends. The health care proxy doesn’t have to be guilted into making that hard decision that no one is willing to make.

As for organ donation, if someone willingly signed up to be an organ donor, I would assume any organ is ok as long as it’s usable and that I don’t look completely mutilated after the process. I mean, in the end an organ is an organ. If it can help save another life and I’m already dead, why not help out someone else?