31 May 2010

The Madness has Begun

Accelerated BSN Option definition per the Saint Louis University website: The Accelerated BSN Option is an intensive three-semester, 12-month bachelor of science in nursing degree program designed for students who already have a bachelor's degree in another area of study.

See the seventh word in that sentence?

Major understatement. Major. Major major major.

I just completed my first week of the summer semester, and in doing so, feel like I've run seventeen consecutive marathons on three hours sleep.

(Good news: I'm not the oldest one in the class! There's a handful of 40, 50 and even a couple 60-year-old students. Yay from the girl who will be 30 in November.)

Let me break it down for you. The summer semester is nine weeks split into two sessions. The first half of summer consists of four classes, meaning I have mid-terms in two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Practicums are in four weeks (!!) and are pass/fail. Kinda need to know our stuff in order to start clinicals, right? Right now our classes are mostly lecture, with skills labs on Thursday and Friday afternoons. And when I say lecture, I mean sitting on your tookus from 8am - 12pm, then an hour for lunch, then another hour or so of lecture before going off to labs. The professors are very, very good at what they do and are surprisingly entertaining, so it's really not as bad as it sounds. (Kind of. Pharmacology for three straight hours every Friday morning? Coffeecoffeecoffeecoffee...)

The second half of summer (around the 4th of July or so until the beginning of August) consists of two classes along with clinicals in OB/Maternity.

Here's how I think that will play out.

SLU students walk into assigned care areas: "Hello, hormonal pregnant woman. You don't know me from Adam, but I'm a student with absolutely zero experience other than what I've learned in four crammed weeks in our skills labs, and I'm here to take care of you and your unborn child."

Now, for those of you who totally don't pick up on my dry sense of humor and sarcasm, I know that's not what will happen. SLU, if anything, is uber-preparing us for clinicals. Their nursing school is one of the top in the nation, and they're not about to let us go out there and sink or swim and totally poo up the reputation of the program. I have total faith that, yes, while I'm freaking out right now, I'll be much more confident and ready to hit the hospital floors (with instructor overseeing everything and holding our hand for the first semester) when it's time for clinicals.

So far, it's really been pretty great. Sure, it's a lot of work (um, that's what accelerated means, right?) but it's completely doable. I mentioned to my family that this is bachelor level work. It's not master's - been there, done that. The diploma's on the wall. It's not PhD level...maybe one day. But seriously. Bachelor-level work is so doable! It's just, well, accelerated. Our second day of class we had assignments due by midnight that same night. We have lots of reading and supplemental videos to watch that go hand-in-hand with our gazillion textbooks. We have papers due and more assignments this next week. Yes, it's a LOT. And yes, it's completely up to you whether you're actually going to read and watch the videos and check into Blackboard where our professors have posted more supplemental articles and notes. That takes a lot of organization and determination to hold yourself accountable to actually do it. But like I said...a lot of this is no-brainer stuff. I can do this.

I give thanks to my Jesus and my planner. And my Google calendar that pops up reminder notes on my computer and phone.

I also love and give thanks to my family. Seriously - without these people creating such an awesome support system, there is NO WAY I would be able to do this.

M is incredible. He's been texting little "thinking of you" and "hope you're having a good day" and "you're still not practicing IV's on me" notes throughout the week. Despite the fact that we're living apart from each other and hope to see each other on weekends as much as possible (with away and out-of-state baseball tourneys every weekend in June and July, this might get kinda tricky), we're both so busy that there's really been no time to sit and dwell on it. I'll call him on my way home from class, and he'll call me right before bedtime. My beloved spouse has hilarious opinions about those "OMG, I can't let you out of my sight for a SINGLE MINUTE!!" couples. It makes me laugh and praise my Jesus that He saw fit to unite two very independent people in marriage. Our love is so stinkin' strong that this is not going to break us at all. (Wow, how sappy was that??) If anything, we're going to grow closer than ever. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and all that stuff. (Sorry, sappy again. I just love my man. Deal with it.)

And my new awesome friend Amanda happens to be in the exact same situation...she is doing the AO program and her husband lives 2.5 hours away as well, but on the Illinois side. It's great to have a friend who is so much like you and knows what you're going through (and what it's going to be like to pack your car on a Thursday night and pray to God that you get out of class early on Fridays so you miss rush hour so you can get home to your husband faster). The first day of class we were both talking about our likes/dislikes/study habits/husbands/dogs...it is SCARY how much we are alike. Our dads are both named Jim, too. Freaky.

Major kudos goes out to Tom, Gretchen, Libby, Katie (and Jon when he's home) are my awesome cousins who are letting me bunk with them for an entire year so I can be closer to the city for classes. I was very, very apprehensive about asking them for this humongous favor (a year is a long time!), but they absolutely didn't think anything of it. They've folded me into the household like I've lived there for years. For real - I even swept and vacuumed their living room for Libby's graduation party the other day. I was afraid we'd all be like, "excuse me, pardon me, hope I'm not in your way..." But it's so not like that. Family is family, and we can all just walk around the house in our PJ's together. And watch Cardinal's baseball when the Pharmacology homework is done.

Now that my first week is over and I have a feel for what this program is going to be like, I think I'm going to be able to go into this next week much more relaxed and ready to roll. That was one piece of advice from a previous AO student who emailed me a couple weeks ago - just take it a week at a time. You'll go nuts if you look much further beyond that.

I have today off for Memorial Day. M and I have pretty much just spent the entire weekend watching TV and relaxing, aside from the couple hours I spent getting some homework done. I'll head back to the city this afternoon - Libby and I have a man to see about some horses. A man, meaning my uncle (and who is Libby's grandfather) who lives about 15 minutes from them, and horses meaning the new horses he just purchased that we just have to see. I'll definitely post pictures. I still have what could be considered a 12-year-old girl's obsession with horses. And I will never give that up. :)

I made some lemon-blueberry baked oatmeal to take back with me for easy, portable breakfasts this week, and I think I might make some black bean soup as well. One of our skills professors told us to think of this program as training for a marathon (a concept I can totally relate to, so yay!) - we need to get our sleep, eat healthy and generally take care of ourselves so we don't get worn out or make ourselves sick.

Sick people can't do clinical rotations.

And not doing clinical rotations means you're pretty much out of the program.

Obviously, that wouldn't be a good thing.

Except I can't stop looking at the Peanut Butter Captain Crunch M has sitting on the kitchen counter. Mmmmm....sugary cereal with no nutritional value. Why do I crave you so?


Momma said...

You can do it!! Go! Go! Go! Thanks for sharing....will look forward to hearing from you at Christmas break! c (nurse-momma)

lstehr59 said...

I enjoyed reading your blog today. Jeanne and I laughed. I will certainly be praying for you and for M.