Monday, August 31, 2009

Sim lab #1

This morning until noon was our first "Sim Lab." Our hospital education center has the Sim Man, which from the website states: SimMan® is a portable and advanced patient simulator for team training. SimMan® has realistic anatomy and clinical functionality. SimMan® provides simulation-based education to challenge and test students’ clinical and decision-making skills during realistic patient care scenarios. SimMan® includes well-proven software and an interactive technologically advanced manikin allowing learners to practice the emergency treatment of patients.


Basically, he responds to the things you do to him like a real human. We used him during nursing school, too. It kind of creepy how he responds to things. For instance, even his pupils react to light. Freaky!

Anyway, they call him Max at our hospital, which makes me laugh because that's the name of my cat!!

We are broken into 4 groups with about 4-5 people in each. Today there were different stations for us to visit, half hour each.
First, we watched an AHA video on airway management, ambu bags, etc. We practiced compressions, etc. The program is set up so that if you don't have ACLS, you will receive bits and pieces of it over the next few months and then can become certified. I already am, but again, love the review. Especially since I have never been in a code, so the more practice I receive, the better.
Second, we went to the actual Sim Lab and listened to breath sounds; it was more of an introduction to "Max," so we could see how he normally sounds and then distinguish different adventitious sounds, which the instructors control through the computer. We then went over chest tubes and discussed how the next sim labs will operate. For instance, next week will be a code blue scenario. We'll each pick a number and it will determine if we're the team leader, drug pusher, compression person, etc. Eventually, we will all get to do each role.
The third station for today was on tracheostomies and the different kinds, etc.
Finally, we did an ABG "quiz," but we did it as a group and it was a very nice review!!

At the end, we all got together and did a little game of "beat-the-clock," which is kind of similar to the show "Password" where you get a word and then try to get that person to say it. This week was all about respiratory. My team came in 3rd, haha! It was hard and nerve-wracking, but a fun way to end the day. It was also a learning experience, too.

Our next modules cover cardiac. They give us two weeks for this since it is the most intense and difficult.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 2.

My second day in the unit was even better than the first!
Nothing crazy or too exciting happened, but I loved the day. We had the same two patients: male, GIB and the female with H1N1 on the ventilator.
I got to do trach care, which involved quickly unhooking the patient from the ventilator and carefully removing and replacing the inner cannula. It was kind of intense because the patient is coughing (but no sounds) up a lot of secretions and the damn ventilator is alarming, but I did it!
My preceptor also said she thinks I will do great in the unit. Numerous times she was like, "wow, I am having a great day because you're doing everything!"
There is still a LOT I need to learn, but I'm confident that everything will turn out great.

Mirza said I seem happy and lighter. So true.

I'm working through my ECCO modules and enjoying those. It is a nice review of the body systems, but from the critical care perspective. And I'm finding that I learn better when I am not under the stress of some huge life altering exam (ie--school exams, finals, NCLEX). Of course, I need to know this information, but I WANT to know it and understand it, so it is exciting!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Quick update, more thorough one tomorrow:

HAD A GREAT DAY! I think I am going to LOVE my, I know I will definitely LOVE IT a lot more than the last!! Everyone was so nice and I find the nurses in the unit to be much more professional. No one seems catty or rude. Everyone is there to help.
We had two patients, both of which were on the verge of dying just days ago, but are much more stable now.
Pt #1 is a woman with swine flu!! only in her 40's. On the vent, but they put in a trach this afternoon. She almost died a few days ago.
Pt #2 was admitted JULY 4TH...that's a long freakin' time. Came in with GIB. Was intubated/extubated numerous times, CRRT, the now on RA sats like 98%! He had a lot more going on, but yeah...

back tomorrow, excited!

PS: I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE that my shift ends at 6pm. I am used to 7-7 and don't get home until 8pm. Well, I was home at 6:35 today. AMAZING!!! And waking up at 4am was not an issue for me at all. I went to bed between 830-9pm. It really makes a difference to get home so early.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


First day in the unit tomorrow!!
I'm a lot more nervous than I thought I would be...
I'm just worried, hoping the nurses and staff will be nice and welcoming..aaah, first days suck!!!
Plus, I'm nervous about going to bed. They start at 5:30, so I'll be awake by 4.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First day!

Got out early from orientation today! wooo!
So, basically we went over how the program runs: 10 weeks, lots of online modules, clinical time, and sim lab time. Got my book!! We're using this:

Thelan's Critical Care Nursing

We had to take a BKAT (Basic Knowledge Assessment Test), which they told us most people do not do well on at all. In fact, the majority get in the 60's to low 70's. And they expected this since we hadn't received the content yet. The exam was 100 questions and was all clinical stuff. I got 77%!! The instructor said I did "very well." That felt good. Apparently, we take the same exam at the end and they expect us to get at least 15 points higher. It is mostly just to gauge how THEY were doing as instructors, as well.

The day also consisted of a video from Dr. Laura Gasparis Vonfrolio on interpretation of ABGs since there will be an exam on that next week!

What else....what else? Ah, we watched a video from American Heart Association on the roles of different people during a code, which I had already seen since I took ACLS, but it was a good review.

Finally, we covered airway management and RIS (rapid intubation sequence). All of this included intubation facts, different airways, and the drugs for intubation, like sedatives, paralytics, etc. Fun, fun, fun!

I also met with my educator from the unit and she gave me my schedule. Looks like I'll be starting on Wednesday and Thursday. The cool part is that for the next two months I will not be working on the weekend!! Yay, this is awesome because of Mirza's schedule.

First module: pulmonary! Better get to work.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The end. The Beginning!

Halfway through my shift yesterday, the charge nurse presented me with a cake that said, "Good luck Nicole!" I thought that was so sweet. I honestly did not think anyone would even care.
And then my manager called towards the end of my shift (she doesn't work the weekends). She said, "I just wanted to apologize for not coming in to say goodbye, but I have the flu. I wanted to congratulate you and wish you good luck. You are a GREAT nurse and I know you'll go very far in your career. Thank you for working so hard." Aw, she was quite sincere.

Tomorrow is orientation from 8am-1630. We'll be in the education center, which is in an entirely different city, so I'm not on the unit quite yet. I'm anxious to see how the program is run exactly. I'm also wondering when I will step foot on the unit. I hope it isn't Tuesday. I think I need a moment to breathe (hyperventilate) and gather my thoughts...


Friday, August 21, 2009

last day tomorrow!!

Tuesday was my one year anniversary of working on my floor! The floor gave me a company card that said thanks for my dedication, etc and another one of those 10 point passes redeemable for online gifts (I got another movie ticket).
And now, tomorrow is my LAST DAY!

What is awesome and strange is that it will be my last time of taking care of 4+ patients again...EVER! I mean, sure there is a chance in my career as an ICU nurse that I could float to med/surg, but still....EVER!!! 2!~! aaah.
Words cannot describe the feelings...everything from scared shitless to excited beyond belief. I feel like I'm finally going to be doing what I've wanted to do! Besides moving to the unit, I'm also moving hospitals (but staying in the same organization). I'll be transferring from a 300 bed facility to 800...both magnet hospitals. I feel comfortable at both hospitals, but it will be difficult to have to relearn all the new doctors and phone numbers, staff, etc.

The main thing is that I hope I can enjoy it. What I mean is that for the past year, while I certainly almost always gave 100% at work and focused on learning how to be a nurse and how to be a damn good nurse (in my own eyes, hehe), I still felt as if, "ok, I am here for 12 hours, I need to do my job, make it through the day, and then go home." I was not living my job. I was only thinking about what my next steps would be, which has always been critical care. It was as if I was in some limbo.
Now that I'll be doing what I had always wished for, I hope I am able to "sit back and enjoy it" in a way; to truly LIVE MY JOB CAREER PASSION.
I'm only afraid that I will continually be looking to the future for the next step and goal, like school. I put a ton of pressure on myself to go back to school as soon as possible. I also feel pressure from former classmates who are always asking on facebook who is ready to go back...and I know many of them will be! However, I don't want to keep rushing in life. I just wish I could ENJOY this time and let school come when it feels right. Truly, I want to be comfortable as a critical care nurse; I want to become certified, everything.
Also, I don't want to only go back to school just for more money, or "to get it over with," since I'm 24 and feel like I'm getting too old. I am the kind of person who wants to get my master's finished before children, etc. Not to mention the new 2015 guidelines that will require ARNP's to have a doctorate. I'd rather finish before that mark. But who knows what life will bring anyway? Maybe I'll go back for CRNA?

In any case, life feels like it is beginning!

I'm currently reading

...a compilation of nurses' stories from the ICU...for a little inspiration!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The night after I work two in a row is always hard to sleep because my dreams are so stressful!! For instance, right now it is only 5:45 am, but I am awake since I couldn't stop dreaming about real patients I had yesterday but with dreamt up critical lab values that need an MD call. I dreamt my 50 year old woman with a SBO had a Na of 142 (real) and that it dropped to 127 (dream) and that her H/H went from 10.5/whatever to 6.8 (dream).
Can't I just have some peace here!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


One year ago today I became a college graduate!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I think that I will try hard to always remember how good it feels to be recognized for doing a good job. Even small things really do make a difference. For example, yesterday I was floated (big shocker) to med-surg. It wasn't horrible, but I definitely ran the entire day. Also, the fact that if you want to sit then you need to go to the nurse's station really doesn't make it any easier on the back or knees after 12.5 hours. Besides that, I had a decent day.
What really made me happy was that before the shift ended, the charge nurse walked over and handed me this VIPGift Pass for 10 points. This is a site my hospital uses to reward nurses and other staff at the holidays and things of that nature. The points are reedemable for gift cards, household items, electronics, etc.
She wrote on the paper, "Nicole-You were fantastic. Thanks for all your help!"
I mean, it is so simple, but so appreciated. Sometimes you just feel like no one cares what you do because it is your job, but I felt it was nice.
And I got a free movie ticket out of it:)

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Hi everyonem,
I have not dropped off the face of the earth officially. I am currently in Boston visiting my sister and nephews! Mirza and I will be catching the plane back to Tampa tomorrow night.
Updates to follow!