My Winter Break (In Pictures)

My last semester of nursing school begins in a week, and I am busy creating my calendars, preparing another batch of freezer meals, and soaking up as much family time as possible.

Here’s a look at my winter break in pictures:

Believe it or not, the Twin Cities has not gotten much snow yet. But these two turkeys seem to be hanging around a lot…

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I was the idiot who thought she could make a Christmas gift for someone on her list. After a lot of seem ripping and tears, I decided to give up…

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This is our niece. Love the look. ūüôā

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I won several personal training sessions at my gym, so I am getting pretty buff again. Watch out…

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Grant and I hosted a New Year’s Day Party, and we got to play Ticket to Ride for the first time! I highly recommend it…

I’ve been spending some time organizing for my last semester. My lecture only covers one topic per week this semester, so instead of writing “Week 1, Week 2, Week 3,…” on my binder tabs, I get to write the name of the topic that will be discussed. I’m kind of excited about that. I think that it will be easier to find what I am looking for when studying for an exam…

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Best of luck as y’all start your semesters! I can’t wait to hear about them!

The Morning of an Exam

I have my first exam of third semester on Monday! Yikes! I needed a little break from the studying this afternoon, so I decided to come up with relaxation tips I use on the morning of an exam.

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Reviewing the highlighted portions of my readings to prep for the test.

Here are my top 5 tips to remain relatively calm.

1. Wake up 20 minutes earlier than usual and do a yoga stretch routine. Focus on your breathing because this will stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and oppose that nasty sympathetic nervous system that you don’t need right now. It’s just a test. It’s not like you just called a code blue, so chill out!

2. Do not do any additional studying if at all possible.

3. Whenever you feel anxiety creeping up, do some deep breathing until your vital signs are within normal limits. Again, you want to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system so you can remain calm.

4. One of my favorite teas is Yogi calming tea. It contains chamomile and lavender which have soothing and calming¬†effects.¬†Try some before the morning of the test to make sure it doesn’t make you tired, because you don’t need that during a test!

5. Put a dab of lavender oil on your hands and breathe it in deeply. Take this with you to the exam room and do this immediately before you sit down.

Good luck on your first exams everyone!

Three Years

I met Grant six years ago at a party hosted by my roommates at the time (Mike and Chantel). You see, we had a chestnut tree in our backyard, and being the people that we were, we needed to find out how they tasted when roasted over an open fire (ahem…grill). I met Grant and a few of his friends that night, and I knew that we would be good friends someday. I am such a dork, I even wrote it in my journal.

The only problem I had with him was that he brought Swisher Sweets cigars. Being the cigar connoisseur that I am*, I told him that our friendship would not last long if he kept bringing them to parties.

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Well, Grant and I¬†were married exactly three years ago in Albert Lea, Minnesota at a park on the lake (so you know how the cigar situation turned out). My dad walked me down the aisle to “Fly” by Sara Groves, and by the time I reached Grant, I was dripping with sweat (it was at least 90 degrees,¬†100% humidity, and about as still as it could be). But hey, we still got married, and we enjoyed¬†having all of our friends and family in the same place.

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We lived in Menomonie, Wisconsin for the first six months of our marriage. I worked at the ARC of Dunn County while he finished his last semester of college. In December of that year, Grant got a job in Blaine, and we quickly packed our bags because we were thrilled to go back to Minnesota.

I prepared for nursing school by taking a CNA class and working full-time. I applied for nursing school in January 2013, was accepted in May, and I started in August.

I am so thankful to have Grant as support during school. He often takes over the cooking, pretends to be my patient so I can learn my nursing skills, helps me with my projects, and is always there when I need to take a break from the madness.

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This is one of my holistic symbol projects before I added my patient’s personal information to it (this girl does not violate HIPAA). Grant helped me immensely!

We plan on celebrating our anniversary at Punch Pizza tonight and then heading on over to the budget theater for their $1 showings on Tuesdays. We know how to party!

Happy anniversary, Grant! Looking forward to what another year brings. I love you.

 

*For all of you concerned about my health, I want you to know that I do not smoke cigars any more. ūüôā

Advice to My Pre-Nursing Self

Credit goes out to my friend and classmate, Kim, for the idea behind this post.

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Rocio, me, and Kim before our first lab practicum (Fall 2013).

Here are my top ten pieces of advice to my pre-nursing school self (knowing what I know now):

10. You will do and say stupid things in class, lab, simulation, and clinicals. Get used to it. Embrace it. Learn from it.

9. Do not work out the night before an exam. If you do end up going to the gym, don’t over do it on the water. You’ll end up paying for it by spending half of the night in the bathroom emptying your bladder. For some reason it took me a few times to figure this one out. You need to bring your A game to every exam, and a restless night is just not going to cut it. So forget about alcohol, too. Sorry.

8. Print as many PowerPoints as you can at the beginning of the semester.¬†This is the optimal time because you probably do not have anything due for a while, and your first exam is a couple weeks out. You will feel like you’re really on top of things, too, which is a great feeling to have in nursing school (it doesn’t happen all too often). The next step is to organize all of the papers you printed.

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7. On that note, I will also add that you should take advantage of your school’s printing lab (if they have one). Those printers are super fast, which is great for you because you probably do not have a ton of free time lying around. Your school might even put money on your account at the beginning of each semester, and if you don’t use it you will lose it!

6. Reserve one day or night a week for a date night or a friends night. Everyone deserves a break. Not only did you earn it, but your brain needs it in order to stay focused the rest of the week. Be kind to yourself and to your loved ones, and have a little fun!

A night out with my Stouties!

A night out with my favorite Stouties!

5. Study the care plan sections of your textbooks. Most of my textbooks (Maternity, Pediatrics, Med/Surg, and Psych) contain a section that gives an example of a nursing care plan. Each book is a little bit different, but most include nursing diagnoses, goals, outcomes, and interventions. Study these for your exams. I have noticed that this information usually shows up somewhere on the exam.

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4. Study all of the related NCLEX questions AND rationales prior to each test. If you are really on top of things, you might even decide to study 10 questions a day. Practicing NCLEX questions gets you in the test-taking mood. I even think that it reduces my test anxiety because of how much time I spend answering questions outside of the intimidating exam room.

3. If you fail a test, it is not the end of the world. Find a close friend to receive some sympathy and encouragement, get yourself an ice cream cone, and then figure out how you can tackle the next one.

2. Make a table for each chapter or topic that is covered in lecture. After I failed the first test of my second semester, I decided to seek help from the NCLEX guru at college. She said that tables are a great study tool because you can compare and contrast the different concepts you are learning. I got A’s on the remainder of my tests that semester, and I think it was largely due to this study technique! More on how I create my tables in a future post!

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1. And the last piece of advice I have for my pre-nursing self is to ask for help when you need it! Whether it is with a nursing concept that you are really struggling to understand or it is with the laundry that is piling up, ask for help and do it now before it gets worse! Your friends, significant other, and classmates care about you and will probably be more than happy to help!

What advice would you give to your younger self knowing what you know now about life, relationships, school, or work? Leave your advice in the comment section!