Core Course

We had our "Core Course" last month, nurses and nursing students from all over came to our office to hear us lecture on various topics.  I attended the core course as an audience member last year, as a new hire, and now I'm presenting every six months!  Here's my first attempt, a lecture on pain and symptom management:

The presenter immediately before me was one of my heroes, an inspiring nurse who got me interested in Hospice care when she came to the nursing home I was working at as a consultant.  Here's her presentation:

One of the best things about working for this agency is the chance to work alongside nurses who have inspired me early in my career.  I'm proud to follow in her footsteps.


Fun with distance learning

Classes haven't started yet, but they've opened up the discussion forums so we can practice posting threads, introducing ourselves and asking simple questions. I've put way more thought into this than I need to, because..well, for no reason, I just felt like typing a lot. Very rapidly. Here's one of my posts, in the response to a question (which I'm paraphrasing) "How do you find good sources for your papers?"

  Ah, an interesting question.  Whom to believe?  Wikipedia is too malleable to be used for anything but a tertiary resource (even though it's more accurate than most encyclopedias and is a useful jumping-off point for research).  Some meta-researchers contend that a high percentage of peer-reviewed scientific journals are bunk, and a computer science student even procedurally generated a fake article that passed the peer-review process.  The peer-review process is often used as a cudgel for political or monetary gain, sacrificing accuracy for profit.  There are inklings of a successor to the peer-review process, however the current system is so established it's only fraying at the edges instead of imploding.  There's no incentive to change the system if it means a drug company can bribe their way into scientific "fact" through the peer review process.

Ok, so I'm ranting a little. Back to the question: Whom do you trust? It's not clear that there is any source that is authoritative, only sources that are commonly agreed upon: The "True Enough", as Wittgenstein was fond of saying to his students. It seems as though Meta-analysis is increasingly necessary to determine the quality of the information we consume. A simple fact presented to us may be checked and cross-checked, however the possibility always remains that the original source was wrong to begin with, and the other sources are merely repeating the error. Teasing apart this tangled web of intention and meaning often requires collaboration, and "the more, the merrier". Through discussion and collaborative comparison of sources we can often expose ourselves to understanding that's off the beaten path.

I humbly offer these options as possible starting-points for where that collaborative process is taking place on the Web (in no particular order - not an exhaustive list - please consult your dermatologist).


Back to School

Well, here I am, 2+ years into my career, and I'm back to school!

I've just been accepted to Sacred Heart University, where I plan to obtain an MSN with focus in Clinical Nursing Leadership. It's an online degree program, which should help with balancing school and work. My classes start at the end of April. I considered University of Phoenix online, but they didn't have the degree program I wanted. I liked the 5-week classes and no multiple choice testing they offered, but when it came down to it, SHU had the degree I wanted and U of P didn't.

I decided on the Clinical Nursing Leadership track partially by process of elimination. My goal is to generalize while advancing my education, a goal that many elder nurses advised me is too difficult to do in this profession. Fortunately, I'm stubborn.

I considered the APRN track, but with the entry-to-practice being raised to the Doctoral level, the CNL track will give me a solid basis for Doctoral study while opening up new roles and new challenges.

I considered the Nursing Informatics track that was suggested to me by my clinical faculty during my RN training, but I'm firmly rooted in patient care. I ran away running and screaming from software development when I abandoned Computer Science Engineering. I may come back to this one later.

All the MSN tracks enable me to teach nursing at a University, something I'm interested in doing farther down the line.

Clinical Nurse Specialist appeals to me, however my mind balks at the thought of specializing in something. The Clinical Nursing Leadership is a good compromise where I obtain a Masters level preparation in general bedside care. Rock. The novelty of the role (only developed 5 or 6 years ago by the AACN) played a factor as well, it's exciting to think I'll be helping shape a new Nursing role.

Once I've finished the CNL track, it'll be interesting to see where my interests lie for the next degree acquisition. DNP is the obvious choice, and the one I'll most likely go for first. SHU also offers an interesting online degree in Applied Psychology with a focus in Organizational/Institutional psychology which is also worth considering. Doubling-back post-grad and scooping up a Nursing Informatics degree might be fun, too. My CSE background would definitely come in handy, and it's quite a rare specialization.

I spoke with my academic advisor for the first time today, and it's the first time I spoke to a PhD Nurse. It was a delightful conversation in which we discussed philosophy and nursing practice, and sketched out a plan of study. We connected over the fact that we've both worked in home Hospice, which I found encouraging. I plan on doubling up on some of the easier classes, and my prior academic excursions knocked out a good chunk of the required classes already. No Math, Writing, Public Speaking, Social "Sciences", Bioethics, History or Humanities for this non-traditional student. I'm amused that I'll be required to take classes on Religion ("particularly the Catholic Intellectual Tradition" pops up a few times in the course descriptions). I briefly considered trying to get out of it by mentioning that I'm an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church, but I decided not to tempt fate.

I banked enough money working overtime to take it easy this past month, picking up a Hospice shift here or there but not stressing myself out with crisis or office politics. One of the bands I'm in, Above/Below is up for a Whalie award! The awards show is in May, the day before my Birthday. You can vote for us at WailingCity.com, vote for us! We'll be playing at the awards show and at the afterparty at my favorite pub. If you're curious, check us out on bandcamp, where we briefly topped the charts for Hip-Hop (think The Roots).

Aside from Music I've been slowly getting back into Aikido, which I had to briefly abandon because of working so much overtime. I got one of my friends hooked on it, and he graciously got ME back into it after being away from the dojo for months. My re-entry to the traditional combination of Zazen, Body arts, Iaido (traditional japanese sword-drawing, striking, cleaning and resheathing) and organic farming (yes, you read that right) started with a wonderful seminar that featured senseis from all over the country. Here's a sample video:


Time Off

Learning how to say "no" to extra shifts when you're already overworked is a skill that I'm still developing. Currently, my limit seems to be 13 days in a row. It's difficult when the job is perceived to be my activity of choice, favored above most other activities. The joy of working masks the insidious creep of fatigue into nursing practice.

Today is my second day off in a row, the first two days I've had off since I returned from Paris. Oh, by the way, I went to Paris, here's a pic of me at the Eiffel Tower:

Public pics Here, Here, Here, and the Louvre Here and Here.

I also took some videos:

The day I got off the plane, I spent the next 14 days in a row at the nursing home. From now on, I'm going to try to stop at 13.

I never know what to do with myself on my days off, hopefully I'll eventually have a regular work schedule (after two years of practicing) which should help that somewhat.

So, here are some of the things I've been doing on my down-time:

Music is usually Number One, even though I rarely listen to or keep up with music nowadays (same with movies, a spiritual sacrifice to mirror a greater loss). One of the bands I'm involved with, Above/Below, just finished recording an EP, and a music video is in the works, due to be finished by the end of this month. You can check out our album on Bandcamp, where we briefly -TOPPED- the hip-hop charts. Obligatory Facebook Link.

Shooting the music video was lots of fun, since the band members are scattered across the country until summertime, we shot footage from our respective locations (including some video of me in Paris). I'm excited to see how it'll turn out.

Video games are still a major passtime for me, after shunning them almost completely during nursing school. Starcraft 2 is still currently my major time-sink.

Riveting, I know.

The only thing I haven't caught up with yet that I'm planning on is Aikido. Working unpredictable shifts and staying late at work make a regular 3 days/week training cycle difficult to work out, especially when you're expected to "call out" of a training session as you would a work shift. I put a good 1.5-2 years into it and plan to continue, but not until I can devote regular time to it.

So how to make the best use of my time off? Sometimes I feel as though I should just do nothing at all. Inactivity is the best salve for a busy week, maybe.

On the other hand, the clock is ticking, and I want to get started on my Master of Nursing Science degree. Picking through the different specialties is tricky, though. Nursing Informatics is an obvious fit, and more attractive because of the low number of people holding that degree in the states, but this would take me farther away from patient care. APRN sounds like fun, but now that they've bumped up the entry-to-practice to the DNP degree, that sounds more like something to pursue -after- getting my Masters. Going to school online has some obvious advantages, but the online programs don't always have the specialties I want. I'd much rather -generalize-, but you know how that is.

My recent 1.5 week stint in Paris has made me resolve to travel more often, maybe twice a year. It was the first time I'd been out of the country in about 3 years, I could do with another vacation like that twice a year. Where to next? Arizona? The Netherlands? New Zealand? I dunno. Doesn't really matter.