April 30, 2018

Own The Day & Be Successful | Nursing School Edition

Now that I'm set to graduate this week, I can finally sit down and reflect on my experiences as a full-time graduate student, full-time nurse, and nursing blogger. Everyone asked me, "How do you find the time? How do you stay motivated? How does juggling all that not drive you mad?" And my answer always was, "I take it one hour at a time. I motivate myself consistently. I focus on hours, not days. I focus on the upcoming exam and not the course itself. All the big picture elements will follow, but I focus on what I'm doing currently." I thought I was the only one who thought this way until Audible recommend this book titled, Own The Day, Own Your Life / By Aubrey Marcus. This book explained many concepts I operated within as a nursing student. I recommend all nursing students check this book out. The book breakdowns complex ideas into digestible bites. It will also motivate you to be the best version of yourself. It's not about nursing but, these concepts are universal and undoubtedly helped me work within my hectic schedule while staying motivated.

The Right Now
At nursing school orientations, some schools tell students about preparing for the NCLEX-RN exam, their upcoming and future clinical rotations, how important nursing is to the community and what will be expected of them during the entire program. I wish nursing programs didn't do this because all it does is freak students out and focus them on the wrong elements. As a new nursing student, you should NOT be concerned about the NCLEX-RN exam at all! Yes, I said it and mean it. You have so much information in front of you during orientation, and that exam is the end of the line. You have multiple courses and exams that you must be successful at before the NCLEX-RN exam even comes into your view. The exam is the finish line, and you're starting the race. So, why should that matter now? What nursing students need to be instructed on is what will be required of them in the upcoming month. The instructors should break down what will be expected now, not a year from now. Schools are often fixated on the end goal, and it pivots students in the wrong direction, in my opinion. Is the NCLEX-RN exam important? Of course, but you are one to two years away from the exam. You need to be focusing on the right now, the today. You need to be focusing on being successful on the upcoming quiz or assignment. Because, if you're not successful on these things, you won't make it to the NCLEX-RN exam.

So, you're a nursing student, and you want to work in the neonatal intensive care setting. You've always had a love for working with children, and it's a passion of yours. Having a passion is excellent. I love critical care and have a passion for the clinical setting. But to be successful in nursing school, you need to find something you appreciate in each subject matter. I know, orthopedics isn't fun for most nursing students. But you can find something that draws you in if you look closely. I couldn't stand pediatrics while in nursing school. Kids, especially babies, are some complicated little people. I had no interest in working with children. And my disinterest showed itself by my lackluster class participation and lack of studying. I would skim over chapters and not read specific sections. Deep down I told myself, it didn't matter. I was going to work in critical care, and that's all I valued. Well, guess what? I failed a major exam. Luckily, I got my mind on track early and was successful in the course. If you don't pass the classes, you will never be a nurse. It's that simple. Stop looking at the end goal and focus on the right now. You need to pass the classes, focus on being successful and less on what you WILL be doing in a year's time. Stop seeing the end of the road and rushing there. You must walk the passage and learn. You'd be surprised. You might fall in love with something you didn't enjoy initially. I love children now and wouldn't mind working at a pediatric clinic. As people, our interests change and grow. Don’t disregard subjects based on your current interest or lack thereof.

Smaller Portions
Don't let the big pictures scare you. Nursing school is series of steps and milestones. Don't worry about your insulin check-off if you're not in that course. Focus on your current courses and requirements. Don't allow fear to talk you out of reaching your goals. Did I know I was going to be a successful graduate student? Not at all. There were many moments of fear and uncomfortableness, but it was my professional goal. I took graduate school one assignment, one clinical at a time. I completed my family practice rotation, took a deep breath and then focused on my critical care rotation. I didn't see the four-year timeline. I saw a series of tasks that needed to be completed, and I cut them up into emotionally-tolerable portions. I have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. I can go into panic mode rather quickly, but I trained myself to focus on the now. Don't concentrate on the NCLEX-RN exam, don't overwhelm your senses with what-ifs. Focus on today and being the best version of yourself. I tell graduate nurses often that, "Nursing isn't about the act, it's about the knowledge. You're not a nurse because you can physically do the job. You're a nurse because you have the proper medical education and competent nursing techniques." Don't overlook your education and focus on the physical act of being a nurse. I know, when you're in clinicals, you see the nurses doing their thing and performing the bedside role. It begins intoxicating. You want to be there. You want to be them. But trust me, what you know will get your further than what you can do. Stop focusing on the act and focus on the knowledge. Focus on the now.

When I would do my back to back shifts, 7 AM to 7 PM clinical shift and then 7 PM to 7 AM work shift, I would get tons of messages on Instagram saying, "How can you do this? How can you stay awake?" I am not special. I am merely a person who had to find a way to manage two opposite schedules. I couldn't quit my job, and I refused to withdraw from school. When I did the back to back shifts, I would focus on my hourly goals. At 8 AM, I'm working on making it until 10 AM. At 10 AM, I focus on making it until 12 PM. It's a short-term game. At 7 AM, I wasn't thinking about my 7 PM night shift. I was thinking about the next two hours, and I took it from there. In my opinion, some people overthink things and lower their potential. It's in you to do things that are difficult, but some people talk themselves out of rising to the occasion. If I didn't complete my clinical hours, I didn't graduate. Therefore, I needed to complete my hours. Period. There is no time or room for complaining. So don't. If you must, then you do. Don't listen to little voice in the back of your head that gives you twenty-five reasons as to why you can't do something. Focus on your goals and get there through small portions, with each step getting your closer the finish line.