NYU Accelerated Nursing Program FAQ’s Part II

I recently received an email from a prospective nursing student and thought that it was worth posting my answers.

Hi Jessica,
I came across to your blog while searching for NYU’s accelerated nursing program.  Reading your blog has been very helpful. Congrats on becoming a nurse. Currently I have my undergrad in a business discipline and I am really considering a nursing career instead. I just have some questions regarding nursing, it would be great to get your feedback. Thanks so much if you have the time to answer any of these questions!

1.       Does it matter whether you take your pre-reqs at a community college or 4-yr college when applying to NYU? Do pre-req grades matter? Will there be a higher chance if acceptance if pre-reqs are taken in NYU?

You can take your pre-reqs at a community college or a 4 year college. Pre-req grades matter a lot. Definitely do well on these. I don’t believe there’s a higher chance of acceptance of the pre-reqs are taken at NYU. Majority of students take pre-reqs at a community college or a 4 year college.


2.        What were your credentials when you applied to NYU (eg. GPA, experience)? And did you find NYU to be worth it after working in the field? Is there any other nursing programs you would recommend in NY?

My GPA was 3.84. As for experience, I volunteered at a hospital when I was applying. It’s important to highlight your feelings towards nursing especially after speaking to them and seeing what they do.
NYU is a great school and I’m glad I attended the school. The professors are top-notch and the students are helpful. There’s an interdisciplinary program so med students and nursing students learn about working together and each other’s roles. It is one of the top research institutions as well especially in elder care (NICHE Program http://www.nicheprogram.org). However, it is a really expensive program so I don’t recommend it to everyone.
The other nursing schools in New York / Long Island that I hear good things from include Hunter, Columbia, Stony Brook, Adelphi, Molloy and Pace.

3.       Difficulty finding a job? Did you work part-time while studying in the program?

After I passed the NCLEX, it took about 6 months to find a nursing position. A couple of problems I ran into included not knowing how to interview (because this is a skill you need to practice). I didn’t start my search until after I passed. Some students connected with nurse managers during clinical and were able to secure a position shortly after graduation.

I did work once a week as a swim instructor during school to help supplement the costs. Some students didn’t work at all while others worked 36 hours a week (a full-time job!!). The first and second semester are the toughest so give more time devoted to school before deciding to work.

4.       Do grades matter a lot to employers? Do I need to get straight A’s or can I afford to have a few B’s or even a C?

Some employers require a minimum GPA (3.4, 3.5) before they even look at your application. Some don’t. It’s how you present yourself and your mannerism that matter and whether you retained information from school and can apply it.


5.       What is the starting salary like and is it worth being a nurse practitioner? What kind of nurse do you think is best to become/specialize in if any?

Starting salary differs from location to location, ranging from $40-80k. In NYC, it starts around $70-80k if you’re working at a private hospital.

Becoming a NP is dependent on the person. While I’ve heard that becoming an NP is the greatest thing in the world (I hear a lot of positive feedback), there are still a few who are discontent with the position, as there is more responsibility that comes with the position. Some people don’t want to deal with the higher stress and responsibility but wanted to go back to school and ended up hating being an NP. This requires a lot of self-reflection. What do you think would suit you and are you ready for it?
Personally, I’ve explored many advanced nursing professions. Not only should you look at your duties but also the lifestyle. Where would you want to work, what would you do, when would you want to work, what income would you make, what mobility is there? The best advanced nursing profession depends on the individual and what they want out of life. I picked Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I like the one-on-one direct patient care aspect requiring a high level of critical thinking and autonomy and teamwork.

6.       What’s life as a nurse? What are the difficulties and good parts of being a nurse? Expectations in the work force?

Life as a nurse differs between the environment that you work in. I work at the hospital where there’s 12 hour shifts (7-7:30am and pm), 3 days a week (for full time) and you can choose your schedule (with some limitations such as having to choose at least 3 weekend days, 2 Fridays, etc). Some people choose to do 3 in a row each week and have 4 days off. Other hospitals have it so you work 3 12-hour shifts plus 1 additional day every 4 weeks. Some units, especially in CTICU, PACU and ER, have other shifts from 11am to 11pm or 2pm to 2am.

It’s great having 4 days off because you definitely need it to recuperate and you’ll have time to do something else if you’d like.
Some places have day (7a -3p), evening (3p-11p), and night shift (11p-7a), especially in rehab and nursing homes, and require you work 5 days a week.
At work, you often need to have handoff communication about the patients. Then you assess the patient and pass out medications. You make nursing diagnoses about each patient and use critical thinking. You think to yourself: What’s the goal for the patient today? And then make it happen. You’ll speak to various disciplines to coordinate the care.
There’s a couple of tough parts about being a nurse.
1) Families – Some follow the unit policies and others do whatever they want. Communication is sometimes hard but trying to understand where they are coming from helps.
2) Physicians, MLP – your input is often crucial to the patient’s outcome but sometimes the provider will disagree with you.
3) Patients – some are nice and others are crazy, confused and not so nice.
4) Self- being able to let go everyday of the outcome is tough. At the end of the time, you have to set 1 small goal for the patient and as long as they meet that, you have to be satisfied with the care you provided. Nurses tend to be overachievers and want to always give more but with the number of things that must be done, it’s impossible to do everything you had in mind. You have to remember that nursing is a 24/7 job.
The good parts about being a nurse is knowing that you’ve made a difference is someone’s life. You get to think about an active problem and you get to take yourself and solve that problem. You get to hold someone’s hand and reassure them. It’s an amazing privilege to have to save a life, to have a better life, or to let someone die with dignity.
As for expectations in the workforce, there are several different angles you can discuss but I’ll discuss about your own expectations. There’s a nursing theorist named Patricia Benner who stated that the nursing career is based on the nursing model-
You really do start not knowing a lot, just the basics. You focus a lot on technical skills because it’s something you have to work on. Then as you progress, you build more confidence. Soon you’ll start to see areas in nursing where care can be streamlined or have protocols to standardize care. You’ll be in charge, take on harder assignments, be a preceptor, etc.

7.       Any general suggestions on what I should focus on or do to become a nurse/get into NYU program?

Do well on your pre-reqs, volunteer or work in healthcare, and get to know a few professors who will write a letter of recommendation for you. And write a killer personal statement answering every question asked.

I hoped that helped! Read my first post for more information on NYU’s Accelerated Nursing Program, find out if NYU Nursing is worth it, how to pick a good nursing school, and find out if you can afford an accelerated program. Or if you have any further questions, email me.

Jessica

Finally off of my critical care probation!

sim manYesterday marked the last day of my critical care probation. So what did I do to pass? Instead of being at the hospital, I went to the simulation lab with Mr. Sim Man.

While I did sign a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the specifics of the lab, I can briefly state that it was similar to being at work in the hospital. When you receive a patient, you do a Head to Toe assessment, and determine the next step in care. Is he stable or unstable? If the patient doesn’t respond to your care, what is the next step?

It’s exciting to be off probation now, considering that I’ve been on the unit since December 2013! Now I will have to float to the SICU or CTICU, stepdown, PACU and ER. I’m a little scared to not know everything is (again), but it should be ok!

What mean, demanding patients want – poem

20140903-091612-33372622.jpg
He so in control, even when he’s ill
Demanding that the TV’s on
as he rolls into the new room
“Sir I need to make sure you’re breathing”
“No, the TV will keep my sanity”
Even when he can hardly breathe

Nothing’s my way
only his way
“But dad when you do it their way
you get better
and you do it your way
and you’re back in the hospital
So just listen to them”

No I don’t want that
then what do you want
I want what’s best for me
what is best for you?
I don’t know you tell me
let’s keep this on
Okay

He wants control, his decisions
because slowly but surely
he’ll lose one thing at a time
So he’s demanding
and mean

I get it
but what do I do?
How do I deal?
Just wait for 12 hours to be over?

It’s time to be a Strong Nurse

I was about to ‘boost’ a patient up in the bed with a colleague and I noticed how strong she was. I hardly did anything! Later that night, a patient coded and she started CPR. I noticed that she could do it for such a long time with so much force. She’d take a break just for a few minutes before she took over again.

When I took over, I realized how little endurance I had. I was wiped out after a minute.

After the code, another colleague mentioned how she heard pumping noises right before the code was called. She knew that it was that strong nurse doing CPR.

After I went home for the day, I felt my abs hurting.

This made me think about all the strong nurses there are. Especially in the ICU. Especially her. So she’s my strong nurse idol. I want to be a strong nurse.

I bought new running shoes and workout clothes yesterday from Adidas. I haven’t had a sports bra since high school (I’ve been swimming instead). I have to build my endurance. Do free weights. Etc.

It’s time to be a strong nurse.

And I’m bringing my boyfriend along for the ride.

Strong nurse!

At The New Grad Nurse Interview: Be a storyteller

how to get a new grad nurse job - be a storyteller Your interviewer loves stories. In fact, you love stories. Everyone loves stories. So it only makes sense to become a great storyteller. To secure your first job as a nurse, you have to perfect the art of storytelling. About yourself.

I royally screwed up telling the story about myself. Twice! My first interview, I wasn’t prepared at all and just said whatever came to my head. My second interview, I didn’t focus my story about being a clinical nurse and drifted off into ‘health policy’ –that was a no-no.

I got better after learning the hard way. For my third interview, I started to focus my answers and got the job at a nursing home. By the time my current employment interviewed me — my fourth and fifth interview — I had some real nursing experience and relied on that to come up with some great stories.

So what’s the difference between a tale and a story?

A tale is simply stating something that happened. People don’t usually care about what happened. However, a story has a moral, a meaning, a takeaway point to it. We care about the 3 major things – the ‘bad situation’, the ‘thing you did to make it better’, and the ‘aftermath.’

Here’s an example for a question: Tell me how you dealt with a difficult situation.

A tale: a women wouldn’t take her medications. Later she did after I convinced her.

A story: a women wouldn’t take her medications. After thinking about why she wouldn’t, I realized that she wanted more control over what was happening to her. Instead, I gave her a choice and asked her, “would you like to take your medications in 10 minutes or 20 minutes?” She replied, “in 10 minutes. Thank you.” 10 minutes later, I went back to her to give her medications and she took them like a champ. Giving her the options allowed her to gain some control but not complete free-reign. This compromise allowed me to accomplish my goal (to give her meds) and made the patient happy.

Here’s another example: Tell me about your greatest strength.

A tale: I ask a ton of questions because I always want to learn.

A story: As a new nurse, I know that I have a lot to learn. I understand that sometimes I will be asked to do something that I’ve never done before but I am not afraid to ask questions to make sure that I’m competent the next time it comes up. I wasn’t sure how to put someone on a bedpan so I asked the ancillary staff. The next time I did it with someone. Another time I wasn’t sure if I heard the breath sounds correctly so I asked another nurse to confirm what they heard. Asking questions is my strength and understand that this is key to learning fast.

Here are some common questions. Think of your clinical experiences and come up with a story for each question.

  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • “Tell me about yourself.”
  • What made you interested in nursing?
  • What do you like about nursing?
  • What was your favorite clinical rotation? Why? (please relate this directly with the position you applied for)
  • Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to delegate.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to problem solve.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Do you have plans on going back to school?
  • Tell me about ‘x’ experience that you wrote about on your resume.

Work on becoming a great storyteller and you’ll find that you’ll use this skill over and over again during every handoff report. And hopefully you’ll get a job offer! Good luck! Let me know if you have something crafted but would like a little help looking it over.

—-

I wrote this article as a part of the “Most Marketable Skills” Campaign on Webucator. I have to thank Bob Cleary for letting me be a part of the campaign! While I personally haven’t utilized their resources, they look helpful! Currently they are offering a free Microsoft Word 2013 class that involves learning about advanced formatting, using Word 2013 drawing tools, creating and managing tables, and working with column layouts. Each month they offer a new free course, so check it out even after this post is long done.

In case you missed the campaign, here are some of the other blogger’s input:

Achieving Success in the workplace – What is your most marketable skill? by @cjperadilla

What makes you marketable by @amandastrav

Self Brand Marketing : Social Proof To Boost Your Career by @CustomerRivet

Preparing for the workforce: Why learning to write well is worth your while by @moses_says

The Success of Mimicking by @Lbee27

My First ICU patient who passed away

He officially passed away this morning
while I was on break. DNR status.

Yesterday his son asked for my thoughts.
“I think he’ll make it tonight.”
Even though he was slowly deteriorating,
Maxed out on oxygen and 3 drips to keep up his blood pressure.
On fentanyl to make him comfortable.
He made it.

I returned last night.
It was a different story.

“Jessica, how’s he doing?” His son asked.
The generic “he’s fine” is off limits. It was time for the truth.

“Last night his respiratory rate was 9 or 10. Now it’s 15-18.
Often when people are nearing the end of life,
it goes from slow to faster and back to slow again.”

“But his heart rate looks ok. It’s 85.”

“Yes that’s true.
But his blood pressure is slowing decreasing.
His heart is still trying to compensate.”
He cocked his head. I tried again.
“His heart is trying to get enough blood to his body
but it’s not working. It will eventually give up.”

Optimism in his voice,
“But wouldn’t the heart rate slowly taper off?
I thought he would live a couple more days.”

“No, his heart can suddenly stop because it’s giving up.
I’m not sure if he will make it through the morning.
His drips cause his blood vessels to constrict.
That explains why his hands are cold
and the oxygen probe to not read well.”

After midnight, his HR was suddenly dropped to 42. RR was 9. SpO2 77%.
“Can you give us an update, doc?”

“Well I’m not a doctor.”

“It’s ok. We’ve promoted you. Just give it to us straight.”

I started to tear up a little bit.
It wasn’t easy for me to tell them what I thought:
He’s on his way out.

They told me that they’ve shed their tears already
and were waiting this.
“Thank you for taking great care of him.
You should be proud of you and your coworkers.
Tremendous sense of purpose and goal and comradery.”

His blood pressures stop reading.
Apnea alarm sounds.
That probably should’ve been my cue.
I still felt a carotid pulse.
I checked my drips.
Gave report and went on break.

I came back from break and looked at the monitor.
His was black.
“Your patient expired.”
Icy cold hospital terminology.

I debriefed with the experienced nurse covering for me.
What could I do better next time?
1. Listen for his heartbeat, not only feel for pulse.
2. Consider the BiPAP machine delivering breaths for him.
What’s the rate set at and what is his RR now?

In the final progress note
Include: heart rhythm- PEA,
who pronounced time of death,
which doctors notified of death.
Family at bedside or contacted.

In the end,
This family was ready to accept their father’s fate.
The son shared his friend’s voicemail message:
“How did they prepare the chicken?
They told him he was going to die.”
We chuckled.
Humor can start the healing process.

After I gave report,
I said bye to the family
And they all gave me a hug
And thanked me again.

I drove home
Half crying
Trying to drown the feeling
By turning up the radio.

I showered, ate, and wrote this down
So that I don’t forget.

Med-Surg to ICU Interview Questions

I’m so excited to announce that I was recently accepted into the MICU (medical intensive care unit) at my hospital! Critical care class starts in 2 days and I just finished my last shift on the telemetry med-surg and orthopedic unit!! I loved my team there– the people are truly incredible. The CCPs, PCAs, management, my fellow night nurses and day nurses made my time there truly amazing. It felt like a great teamwork every night, making sure essential things get done and always going above and beyond. 🙂

One year ago, I started at a nursing home for a month. 11 months ago, I started at the hospital on the telemetry unit. My hospital is having some of our ICU nurses go to another hospital in the system to build up their units so this great opportunity came up for me to go work in the ICU.

Fortunately, the interview was a “formality” but it’s no excuse not to prepare! With nearly a year of experience under my belt, it was much easier to come up with experiences showing my leadership. And remember, people relate to specific STORIES more than generalities! Here is a list of questions the nurse manager asked me.

  1. May I see your resume? (Asks questions on the resume especially regarding additional schooling aka your future plans and previous experience)
  2. What made you interested in coming to the ICU?
  3. How has your experience prepared you?
  4. What kind of drips have you used?
  5. Have you called a RRT or a neuro RRT or code before? What happened? What was that like?
  6. Describe a busy night for you.
  7. If you have several things going on, how do you deal with that? (Delegation and priority- give specific examples where this came in handy!))
  8. How do you keep your ancillary staff accountable? Do you always or only sometimes have huddles? Do you meet up with them again? How do you make sure they do what you asked them to?
  9. What do you do when you’re unsure of something?
  10. What is a strength you have? A weakness?
  11. What have you heard about this unit?
  12. Do you have any questions for me? (The answer is always yes and you ask questions!! Such as the type of patients, the ratio, the professional nursing organization, scheduling, etc)

I hope this helps! If you have heard of additional questions, I’d be happy to add in more to get a more comprehensive list. And happy thanksgiving to everyone!! I have a lot to be thankful for, including the readers who have given me positive feedback through emails, comments, and likes. 🙂 so thank you!!!

My patients blew kisses to me

blowing kisses

 

And for that, I’m super happy. 🙂

It could be because I gave them what they asked for quickly.

It could also mean that I remember the small things that they like and repeatedly deliver it. For example, a patient likes his blankets straightened out so I’ll make sure to straighten it every time he calls. Or if someone likes their ice and water separately. Or wants a straw or not. Or the door closed. Or making sure they are getting pain medication at the appropriate time.

Or even more importantly, if they tell me about an abnormal sign or some problems, I act accordingly (speaking to other nurses, the charge nurse, the PA, etc) and resolve the issue.

I do think that it does start top down — the right management attitude, the appropriate beds clustered together so that the nurse taking care of the 6-7 patients isn’t too overwhelmed, the support received from management, other nursing staff, pharmacy, environmental, transport and the doctors (especially when they are thorough with their explanations with the patients and their families)… it all comes down to teamwork and everyone doing their part!! 🙂

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Nurses

According to a patient in the hospital, these are the top 10 things patients should know about nurses. I thought that this did a good job of summarizing what nurses do at the hospital from the patient’s point of view.

1. You have been placed in the hospital for nursing care.

2. The provider of that care is an educated individual who unselfishly dedicates themselves to your health and well-being. And even though you may not like being told what things are good for you and what are not, the nurse telling you does so to give you a chance to redeem your health and well-being.

3. That provider is proud to be a nurse.

4. That nurse does more than you know. She plans your care around your medical condition, emotional state, abilities to do for yourself (sorry, [nurse], I think you said “self care” in your rant), that nurse provides support to you and your family, she/he is the link between you and the doctor, [and] the everything in the facility.

5. That nurse does your bedside care, she knows what medicine you need when, and how to give it. She knows what all the tubes and stuff are and what they are used for and what to look at them for.

6. That nurse can hang an IV or hold your hand and reassure you.

7. That nurse watches over you and reads monitors and knows when [you’re] sleeping and when [you’re] awake and pulls strings to get you that cup of tea at 3 a.m.

8. That nurse is your lifeline, she can call a whole team of professionals together with her calm voice and make them work their [butts] off for your life with the flash of her/his eyes.

9. That nurse will wish you luck and give you all the instructions you need when you leave her competent care even if you were the biggest pain in the ass she ever met.

10. The nurse is why you are in the hospital and why you will go onward, be it home, perpetual care, or the morgue, she will insure that you do so with your dignity and rights intact. Why? Because it is what a nurse does.