Three weeks left?! That can’t be right. I just got here. Some of my kitchen appliances are still in their boxes, my closet remains a complete black hole of disorganization, and I just managed to figure out where to get the best Hawaiian pizza. There is no way I have already almost completed 18 credits worth of graduate work at Regis College.
That was the response I gave when I left my house in Chelsea, Maine yesterday after a very filling Easter brunch with my family. My mom had given me a big hug, shoved a bag of homemade blueberry muffins in my hands, and said, “So we’ll see you in three weeks?” I immediately blanked. I had just purchased a new car, which was an incredible process given my affinity for the particulars. An entire Friday spent at the dealership driving 5 cars, only to return to the very first one I saw. On the two and a half hour drive back to Waltham I had nothing on my mind about May, summer, or finishing spring semester. There were two things major that turned over and over in my brain:
The first was my research proposal. For about 12 weeks I have tweaked, built-up, tore-down, and cultivated this proposal for my Advanced Nursing Research class that is 50% of my grade and a major accomplishment in the graduate world. I would call it a labor of love because it is based on a subject that I am both passionate about and pretty well-versed. The title of the piece is “The Use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Treatment of Postpartum Depression in Rural Women: A Follow-up of Insight-Plus”. The premise behind this work goes back my presentation in last semester’s Nursing Theory class. I gave a presentation about Cheryl Tetano Beck’s grand nursing theory of Postpartum Depression and the lived experiences of women. Through in-depth interviews she was able to gain knowledge on the horrifying and very real experiences of women through various stages of their depression. This was a hallmark study and one that continued to be both controversial in its authenticity but a source of relief for many women. I decided to continue this work into my research class and look towards cognitive behavioral therapy as a means to treat symptoms in these individuals. Cognitive behavioral therapy is very holistic in its’ roots and draws from the foundations of psychotherapy and positive affirmations. Through weeks of research and re-organizing, I have been able to form a proposal that calls for an increase in the study of women who have received this type of therapy. Given its highly applicable and non-pharmaceutical aspects, I think that this type of treatment has the potential to be revolutionary, especially in the rural healthcare setting. My research class has allowed me to investigate an area that is very interesting to me and to become more knowledgeable as a practitioner through advanced research. While it is a lot of work and can be at times very frustrating, the faculty at Regis has done a great job in guiding me and insuring that the proposal fits with my vision for the study.
In the Nurse Practitioner program, you do not have to actually go through with the study. But it does set you up very nicely for your doctorate thesis if you chose to venture that way. I also have the option of using this proposal in the future should I chose to pursue my doctorate down the road.
The second topic running through my mind these days is finding a preceptor. When I asked fellow students when I should start searching for a preceptor for next year they always reply with the same answer: “Yesterday”. Now that I have gone through the process and continue to work myself through its’ web, I can see very clearly what they mean. I am currently applying for a preceptorship experience in Maine so I can begin practicing and learning where I one day hope to work. I also have decided that given this opportunity, I will save money on rent by living at home. While Regis does set you up with a preceptor, they also give you the option of finding one for yourself if you chose to do so. I have chosen that later and it has been very interesting.
If I could describe the preceptorship search in one word I would say that it is delicate. To date I have applied to 6 locations, with 6 specific healthcare professionals and probably about 40 MD’s in all. I have looked towards private, association-run, and medically affiliated hospitals with outlying offices and departments. I have called, emailed, faxed, and visited these institutions numerous times. After all of that, I have received many calls, emails, and words of wisdom. I quickly learned that the competitive field of advanced nursing practice is one that is not only booming it is flourishing. And as a student specializing in Women’s Health, while I have the world at my feet I also have absolutely nothing written in stone. In the final year of the MSN program one has to complete a total of 600 hours in the field. For me, that means 310 in Gynecology, 190 in Obstetrics, and 100 in Primary Care of the Adult. Having already secured my Primary Care location (under an MD who has known my family long before I was even a thought), I am diligently searching for a place to fulfill my specialty hours. I search and call daily. I email, visit, and forward resume after resume. I take the polite declines with the eager accepts. I began this process in December. It is now April.
It seems extremely easy to get discouraged with this process. One might think that the possibility of getting a position is hopeless, or even impossible. But in those times when I receive a rejection due to various reasons, I remind myself that this is supposed to be arduous. There are places welcoming students into their practices, but they are all different. It is important to find a preceptor and a location that fits your flavor and your vision for practice. There have been a couple of places that have offered their services, but I have had to decline based on my own preferences and a gut feeling for the practice. Searching for a preceptor, like buying a car, is about a lot of things. But it is mostly about finding that perfect fit. Take your time, take the good with the bad, but most importantly, make it your own. I hope that by my next blog, I will have clinched a position for my Obstetrics. Babies, women, it’s all good! Until next timeJ