Project GLAM – Start Your Own Dress Donation Drive

project glam

As a part of our unit’s community service project, we decided to do two projects. One of them was Project GLAMGranting Lasting Amazing Memories. Somehow I was assigned to make the flyer and ended up becoming the head cheerleader for this project. WGIRLS Inc started Project GLAM back in 2010 where you can donate your gently used prom dresses (or cocktail dresses or bridesmaid dresses) for underprivileged girls who need prom dresses!

The idea started back in January by my nurse manager where she handed me some printouts from the website. Even Oprah endorsed it, how can you go wrong?

I made the flyer and started talking about it with coworkers a week before our donation drive. I set the drive to a short amount of time (2 weeks) so that people who were interested would bring in their dresses right away. I thought the flyer should be colorful and have spring colors, as well as the logo of the project. The timing of the drive is also important — it just turned spring, just in time for spring cleaning and Earth Day (reduce, reuse, recycle!), and it is before prom session starts. The Project GLAM was also discussed in the local news, which helped bring interest.

It was exciting talking to people about it, and hearing others talk about it with others. There’s a large age range of those working on the unit so many had different ideas of which dresses they should donate — some brought their own cocktail dress or bridesmaid dress, and others brought their own daughter’s prom dress!

We collected about 10 dresses and many accessories. Next, I got in touch with Amy, the president of WGIRLS, who then put me in touch with Kristi, the VP of WGIRLS in Long Island. We decided on a location and I dropped off the dresses.

Overall, it was a successful drive and I hope that other organizations will do the same! It helps to have a group of people donating to bring a sense of community together. However, if you’re interested in donating your own dresses, drop off your dress and accessories at these locations.

Have fun with your own dress drive and make a difference. 🙂

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.

 

 

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.

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.

NYC Marathon Volunteer

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The 2014 NYC Marathon
Medical volunteer
For the first time
At mile 15
In Queens

Keep those cramps and aches at bay…
PT to the rescue!
Massage, massage
Ice, ice
In 3, 2, 1
Off you go

Don’t drink too much water otherwise
You’ll get hyponatremia
Eat some salt!
Drink Gatorade to replace electrolytes!

Vaseline for chaffed thighs

Tylenol 650, not Advil
And only once
red dot
drink it down
Off you go again

Too cold
Warm up
Sit in the warm ambulance
Keep going!

Blisters
New bandaid

Ankle hurts
Wrap, wrap

And of course,
Scan in, scan out,
The fastest documenting ever

Inspirations abound
Spirits high

Let’s go!!

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Talking to intubated patients make a difference

I’ve taken care of my fair share of intubated patients. But over the last 2 nights, I encountered something different. They went from calm to wild in just a few minutes. If the sedation was down, then I increased that. Normally it works pretty fast.

But it wasn’t so in this case. Both patients were ‘bucking the vent.’ One didn’t have a PRN order ready so for one I had my coworker help me get an order and prepare ativan. But in the meantime, I remember reading critical care nursing journals about the experiences of previously intubated patients. They said to always assume that the patient can hear you. They said that when the nurse talked to them about where they were, what’s going on, and what to do, in a strong confident voice, that the patients felt comforted by that. So that’s exactly what I did.

This patient kept biting down on the tube (which is a big no no because we don’t want a punctured tube!!). “You’re in the hospital and you’re very sick. I’m Jessica, your nurse. Right now you’re having trouble breathing so you have a breathing tube. I know it’s uncomfortable but you need this. Try to calm down and take slow breaths. Open your mouth. Your face is very red but calming down will allow you to breathe better.”

Once I said this, the patient did calm down and opened her mouth.

“Good, your face is looking better and you’re oxygenating better. We are going to turn you to the side to clean you because you had a little accident, ok?”

She was able to cooperate much more at this point. And this happened before giving the ativan. My coworker then came in, administered it (“we’re going to give you something to help you relax now”), and she was at peace again.

Even though she couldn’t focus her eyes and couldn’t follow simple commands, it seems as though what I said did make a difference.

 

Where’s my ID?!

So they say that a vacation is most enjoyed prior to the actual trip — mostly because you get to fantasize about all the fun you’re going to have. But once you’re there, some things don’t go according to plan — but you’ll still remember that feeling before the trip.

Currently, I’m stuck at the JFK airport waiting for my flight. I’ll back up.

Last week was my boyfriend’s brother’s high school graduation in San Diego so I went for a few days. On the way back, his mom let me use one of her bags to carry back stuff. I first put my ID in a orange backpack. After going through security, I put my ID in that green duffel bag. And left it there.

I worked 4 days. I packed this morning, thinking my ID was in my wallet. I checked my wallet on the way to the airport… a little too late. And no ID.

I thought I left it in the orange bag. My boyfriend, Dan, goes back to see if he can find it. I waited in line for 1/2 hour only to be told that they don’t need a ID to check in but it’d take 1/2 hour to go through the process. Except my flight by then was in 1/2 hour. I rebooked my flight for $50.

Dan gets home. He doesn’t find the ID. I had to go outside to call him. So then I finally recall that the ID was in the duffel bag. And I was carrying that duffel bag in my carryon. I opened up my carry on and there it was — in the front pocket.

I changed up my routine and didn’t put the ID in my usual spot.

Never again… at least I’ll arrive in Vegas at midnight for our biannual vacation with the family.

So moral of the story —

  1. Always return your ID in that special spot ASAP.
  2. Check the ID before leaving for the airport.

In bed by 8:07am

Wow, I’ve never driven home from work, shower and be in bed by 8:07am. Yay!!! And I’m getting report from the same nurse tonight. I love that– back to back report to and from the same nurse.

Caring from the heart is nursing

Yesterday I wrote about a frustrating moment I had. A reader said that nursing is caring from the heart. I agree with that.

Since going to the ICU,
most of my patients can’t talk to me.
But one was A/O x3, could speak, though didn’t seem normal quite yet.

He was what I called “call-bell happy.”
Too hot, too cold, not comfortable–
it can all happen in a matter of 10 minutes.

1st night- “can I have a sleeping pill?” “Ice, ice, ice” “blankets on, blankets off”

2nd night- slept throughout the night but I’d catch him when he woke up and waved at me to come over. “hurts, hurts, hurts” “your bum?” He nods. I turned him to the other side and boom! He was fast asleep again.

3rd night- he looked like a new man!! Ahh the wonders of a good night rest.

He waved me over to fix him up at change of shift. He proceeded, “thank you. I knew that the moment I looked at you that you’re caring from the heart. You have made a big difference for me.”

I was a little bit shocked that he spoke so normally. We continued to talk and he spoke about another hospital. I asked him about his experience there. His eyes lit up and said, “You should be working there! There’s where you belong. You see that everyone collaborates and works so seamlessly as teams.”

I was taken back a little bit because I felt my unit had members who worked well as teams too. Does that mean he implied that here was worse than there?

He continued, “Leave your information. I’m friends with the head doctor there. I’ll get you a job there. I will. Include your specialty.” And he repeated this several times before he went to sleep.

Unfortunately, he was a step down patient and a critical care patient needed to get transferred into his room. So he left. And a new patient went into his place.

I never did leave my information because I felt that it was a little unprofessional but also, would he really remember? He still has to go to rehab to recover and it would be odd to have my information amongst his personal belongings. I’m not sure if I would’ve gone- I kinda like where I am now. Plus I’m just starting here!!

Another patient- I also had her for 2 nights with a couple days off in between. On the 3rd night she just came back from a procedure. She saw me and reached out for me. The PACU nurse said, “aww she really likes you!” I squeezed the patient’s hand and she squeezed back.

I think that says everything.

When the human condition is in conflict with itself

Wow, I just read grrm.livejournal.com blog and it reminded me of how I used to write. Just as myself and not another “list” or really thought out piece. So here’s my start to get back to journaling.

I came across another article about stories– the only stories worth reading are the ones when the human condition is in conflict with itself. You have a set of ideals and yet you’re torn with how you feel.

For example, last night a patient was complaining of pain and her nurse gave her pain medication. 15 minutes later, she’s asking for help. Her nurse is across the room and she saw me sitting at nurse’s station. I knew that her nurse had already attended to her so I ignored her (wow that sounds bad but I was busy catching up!!). After she called 3 more times I walk over and ask her, “what’s the problem?”

“Why didn’t you come over right away?” She probed.
“Your nurse just spoke to you. What’s going on?”
“I’m in pain!”
“Did you tell your nurse?”
“Yes. He gave me pain medications.”
I overheard him say that he gave the pain meds 15 minutes ago. “Ok, then you have to let it kick in.”
“Yes but it hurts!!!”
“Ok but you still have to wait for it to kick in!” I thought to myself, why made her think that complaining to me would make any difference?

I felt sympathetic for her because face it, who likes to be in pain? But I felt the issue was already addressed and that’s nothing left for me to do. Is that wrong? Did I lose my patience?

She ended up falling asleep.

As a nurse, I feel compassion and empathy but there’s only so much to go around. I pour it all on my patients and any patient that has a 3 alarm star going off… Or I’ll help out another nurse “boost” a patient up in the bed. But that’s about it.