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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Learning to say 'no, thank you."

Today is my first real day off in about two weeks. I have been picking up short calls on top of my prescheduled shifts. Because I only work casual at my job, and being a new grad I find that having work is one of my major worries. I graduated at a time when government cuts have caused a strain on work for nurses. Strange hey? because the nursing shortage is still a big problem in Canada. I guess, it was just unfortunate that I started nursing at that down-part of the cycle. There has been enough work, don't get me wrong. As I said in my past posts, I have been working more than full time hours. Although, when I get called, I still hesitate to say no. Sometimes I get called to work at my other job when I am already working, and I feel so guilty turning the shift down. I just can't help thinking that when in a few months, i would not have the luxury of saying no to shifts. Oh, the life of a new grad.

While I was nursing school, this "blip" as the health authorities would call it, did not exist. There was so much work! New grads were getting accepted into specialized areas. Nowadays, I consider myself lucky to get two jobs right off the bat, and to have been working full time right after graduation. I have some classmates who just started gettting hired now. They were sitting at home for 2 months.

All these lead me to taking on as much work as I can. After all, how much work could there really be available for me? With the budget cuts and all? Well, there has been a lot of work, especially because it's summer. That being said, I am now feeling the toll of working so much. I am starting to get tired, and my patience is waning. Clear signs of needing a break from work, even for just a day- and so I said "no" when I was called to cover a shift today. I'd rather recuperate than get sick and miss 3-5 days of work.

Now I understand what the other nurses in the unit were telling me. They said it was probably a blessing in disguise that I graduated during the down-cycle, because when they graduated, they worked too much that they either got really ill, or they had a breakdown. It is an art of work-life balance- that I have yet to master. It's learning how to balance getting my skills grounded and my health in-check. I am blessed to have concerned colleagues that help me in the process. They really are guardian angels to us new grads. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

New scrubs!!

I am one of the minority who actually like wearing uniforms. I'd rather spend the extra minutes in the morning on sleep or on putting on my makeup (not too crazy, just the basic face routine). That's why scrubs-shopping really excite me! I don't have to wear scrubs in psychiatry because we are required to wear street clothes. The reason behind this is to remove the possible segregation of the nurses from the patients. However, in I do wear scrubs in the geriatric unit.

I needed more scrubs. June has been so busy for me that I had to do laundry when I got home just to have scrubs to wear in the morning. I ordered some more from The prices were pretty decent. Especially if you're not too picky and do not mind the clearance section. It was $24.99 for each scrub set. Not bad. I bought scrubs from the bookstore while I was in school and it was almost $40 for the set. I remember back in semester one I bought scrubs from and it was $19.99 for the clearance scrub sets. Sadly, that online store doesn't exist anymore. :( I prefer buying scrubs online because it's really difficult to find my size in stores. I wear XXS.
In this post are pictures of some of the scrubs I bought. I really like the fit of the top picture (crisscross top). That one I got in green with black trim. The next picture I was really excited about because it is my first pair of printed scrubs. We weren't allowed to wear prints in nursing school. And the last one is just your basic solid scrubs which I got in white. I know I know it gets dirty easily... but I've always wanted white scrubs.

"A nurse is compassion in scrubs." ~Lexie Saige

Saturday, June 26, 2010

You gotta crawl before you walk...

I have been a busy busy little bee this month! whew! It has been two months since finishing the program and I cannot believe I have been working more than full time (picking up sick calls etc). I am for sure getting my nursing skills more grounded and so are my interpersonal skills. I can certainly feel the difference in my confidence while I'm on the floor working with a full-load (sometimes more) of patients and I feel more integral to the team now when I share my opinions to the physicians and collaborate with other members of the multi-disciplinary team. Of course I still have a million questions each shift but my fellow nurses are super supportive. I am so thankful for that. Slowly, I am banking on more skills, confidence, and experience to my nursing career. Feels good. No, actually, it feels great! :)

Being the person that I am, I sometimes get impatient with myself and go into wishful thinking that I can just become seasoned right away. Let me explain why. Because in that way, I can tune into what is important to assess in a certain type of patient, prioritize better, actually be able to go on a proper break (hehe), and spend more time with each patient. I had a talk about this with one of the nurses whom I believe is one of the best in my unit. She said to me, "Well, you gotta crawl before you walk. That's just how it works, kiddo. No special formula to it... enjoy the journey. That's what will make you a great nurse. You're doing well, I can see it. Actually, I wanna give kudos to your preceptor. He trained you well."

It meant so much to me. I was so proud of myself. You're probably thinking, "that's just common sense," but oh believe me, once you're in this stage, and if you're anything like me, you'll most likely be over-criticizing yourself too. I wanna share this quote. It really hit home at this point in my career. I hope it helps your busy, critical mind stop for a moment and encourage you to reflect on the good things you have at present.

"Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace." This peace for me right now means appreciating each moment that is either exciting, gratifying, unexpected, or even stressful,and taking as much learning as I can from them, because those moments make my journey as a new nurse worthwhile; they are the elements of stories I would tell new nurses later on when I move from novice to expert- A goal that would not be achieved without savouring the experience.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Don't Break Your Back

This week was my orientation at my second job. It is at a different hospital and I will be working with geriatrics woohoo! :) Working with this population requires proper body mechanics as it involves more personal care (bedside care, mobilizing patients etc.) than what one would encounter in psychiatry for example. I am not a very fit person. Although my father was an athlete, I guess sports or any other activity for that matter, just didn't interest me as a child, other than theatre and academics I guess. My mom did try- she tried very hard. She enrolled me in ballet and gymnastics at a very early age. I just didn't pursue it. I regret that very much so now. I wish I played a sport or danced or even played and instrument. I wish I took advantage of the opportunities for extra-curricular activities back then.

I did get into fitness about a year ago. Hubby and I started P90X. It was a hard workout! It's basically working out for 1-1.5 hrs a day, 6 days a week for 90 days. We got to 60 days and then school got in the way. I tell you, I've never felt so sore in my life during the first week but I never felt so healthy and energetic either. I was steadily losing weight at about 1-2 lbs a week (which is still healthy). I wanted to lose the 20 lbs I gained since starting nursing school. And I wanted to be stronger so that I can better perform at clinical. Sadly, I gained back the weight I`ve lost due to unhealthy eating and sedentary lifestyle. I ate when I got stressed out- and I ate all the bad stuff (fast food, sweets etc.) Anyway, so you guys get the picture I`m not in the healthiest state. How then am I going to do my job in the best way I can? I gotta start practicing what I preach to my patients. I need to start taking care of myself.

One of the big lessons I learned and one that I hear over and over again is "Take care of your back. Nurses have only one back." Nursing tops the list of occupations most associated with back injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. Lifting and transferring patients are the most common causes of back injury. In addition to using safety equipment and learning good body mechanics, I also believe that good health and body strength play a big part. And so I am starting with P90X again. I've been postponing it too long. And now, I need to get back in shape! I'm going to try very hard to finish it this time. I'll keep you guys posted. Yeah Bring it!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Graduation is coming up. All of my classmates are really excited, except maybe a handful. I, on the other hand, am not as excited as I want to be. I know that it's a great acheivement, and grad is the commemoration of all the blood, sweat and tears that I put into my nursing education these past four years. I want to be more excited about it. Could it be because it's my second degree that makes it less exciting? I don't know. I guess it could be a number of different things; for one, i've been working as a nurse for a whole month now so my excitement is more focused on that. I'm thrilled that I am gaining more confidence in my role and my decision making and critical thinking skills are improving every single shift.

Anyway, I look back at my first grad and I cannot believe it was that many years ago! I remember the feeling of going up on that stage, receiving my award. It was a high I cannot explain. This time around, I'm sure it will still be a great feeling. After all, this time, I feel that I made a lot more sacrifices than my first one. For one, I put myself through school, whereas my parents paid for the first one. I guess it will just hit me when grad day comes. :)


Just wanna share a picture of my shih-tzu.. hubby took it.. :)