Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Round 2...spring semester!

​The arrival of January means a lot of things.  First, Christmas is definitely over.  And it’s not like leaving the tree up in the hopes of extending the holiday season until December 31st (even though you try and convince people it is now a “New Years Tree”).  It’s the realization that it is not only time for a new countdown to Christmas, but a new semester.  Spring 2012!...and while this year is not slated to be a very good one according to the Mayans, it’s shaping up to be an exciting semester at Regis!
​With the continuation of the free coffee on weekends, graduate lounge snacks, and now an ice skating rink, graduate students at Regis are off to a speedy and prepared start.  I have continued to spend time between Graduate Admissions and the Student Success Center, helping both graduate and undergraduate students throughout the semester.  It has come in handy knowing so many of Regis’ faculty and the roles they play in the students’ lives.  For example my Public Policy professor is an individual whom I have seen in the halls at least twice a day in passing at work, and it is nice to have a professor with whom I am already acquainted.  There are also various opportunities for graduate students to meet and have lunch with President Hays who is also an RN and is very passionate about advancing nursing education.  I am eager to attend the February event and learn about President Hays’ plans for Regis.  
​As far as classes go, I am enrolled in three for the semester: Advanced Nursing Research, Health Policy, and Advanced Clinical Pharmacology where I will, by May, have the knowledge to prescribe medications (Eee! So exciting!).  Many students have said that the class is quite challenging, but I am looking forward to that next level of medication knowledge, as medications are my favorite part of nursing.  Health Policy is proving to be a very cool class; with one four hour class once a month and a total of 30 field hours, it is a very reasonable class to take, especially with a busy work schedule.  Throughout the semester I must attend Legislative, Executive, and local hearings which revolve around public policy and healthcare laws.  At first my heart sank at the idea of attending actual government sessions where I wasn’t sure of the difference between the House and the Senate.  And I mean this honestly, government (and really the gavel) frightens me.  And this commitment was made even more complicated by the fact that I was from another state and I had no idea where the State House was.  But after countless emails to my professor and a little help from the public transportation app on my phone, I was able to find the State House last Thursday on a brisk snowy day.  The trip was well worth it as I got to see a bill passed that allowed nurse midwives to practice independently, a very big landmark in the nursing world.  I grabbed a Dunkin’ and rode the T back to my apartment eagerly planning my next visit to the “Golden Dome”.  
​In addition to work, school, and squeezing in a night with friends here and there, I am also in search of a nursing job.  Not that RN experience is a requirement to graduate, but I do miss the clinical experience and the patients.  Perhaps not this summer but this fall I plan on entering the nursing world in a per diem or part time position.  While I have been browsing the internet for places I might enjoy, I am also learning that finding an RN position, at any time, will be difficult within itself.  The nursing market today is not wildly keen on new graduates, and many job postings seek nurses with vast experiences and credentials.  After scanning through tons of jobs, it seemed like some of the postings read, “Seeking staff nurse, Bachelors certified, 2-5 years experience, with the power to mold titanium rods into balloon-animal shapes”.  It is certainly a discouraging process.  But nonetheless, I have been fortunate enough to be placed in a program with many highly skilled and qualified nurses who can help point me in the right direction.  In addition, I am also reminding myself that this is nursing, and there are hundreds of paths one can take to reach their professionals goals and be successful.    
​But for now I am very content just having the opportunity to pursue my graduate education; it has been a dream of mine for quite some time and I have faith that opportunities will present themselves at the proper time.  And while I wait, I will be sure to acquaint myself with new medications, research proposals, and Congressmen (and women!). Until next time!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Race to Finals Week!

(Sorry for the delay all, but this is my posting from my finals week! Soon to come, inspirations for starting the second semester!) :)
It’s December 7th ;the time for holiday shopping, warm winter sweaters, and of course, Christmas music!  But here at Regis College, it’s 60 degrees outside, students are wearing flip-flips, and there is not a flake of snow on the ground.  These are not the images I think of when I envision the end of the semester.  So it seems strange that in this “heat wave” of winter, finals have crept up on the Regis Community…and on me!  In my Pharmacology class Monday evening our professor began to tell us how much he has enjoyed teaching our class this semester.  Confused, I figured we had been really well-behaved that particular evening, a stark change from our giggly and inquisitive norm.  But when I looked at the syllabus towards next week’s schedule, I realized that we had only one session left and its’ topic was one word: FINAL. 
                As corny as it sounds, I feel like I JUST started my semester here at Regis.  Looking back at the apprehension and nervousness I had at the start, it seems foolish to have had such feelings; as normal as they were, I can now say that I am not only well-acquainted with the Regis Community, I consider them my dear friends and my family.  How quickly one can build such meaningful and close relationships in mere months!  And all in the hustle and bustle of a full time graduate class schedule…
I attribute this rapid progression of the semester to the encouragement of my peers and the support we have given one another.  Some really wonderful things about Regis graduate students are the never-ending jokes, stories, words of wisdom, and advice that has been shared among the graduate program.  Graduate school mentality is focused on the independent career advancement, but there is also an underlying tone of the program as a whole; we recognize how demanding Graduate studies can be and how easy it is to get caught up in that fact.  Therefore we are always sharing funny experiences and pushing each other through the more stressful weeks.  This aspect is unique to Regis and certainly a hallmark of the Graduate School.
As I prepare for my finals, I am keeping a few things in mind: The first is the minimum grade I must receive on my finals to stay in my program of study.  As an MN student, I must maintain an 80 in all my classes and that means maintaining this average on 4 exams per class.  My Pharmacology and Advanced Pathophysiology class grades are composed of 3 exams and one non-cumulative final, which is nice since studying for one quarter of the material is much better than studying for an entire semester’s worth.  My Nursing Theory class (the one I had some slight difficulties with) is based off of two presentations, two online assignments, and one paper which is 50% of the final grade.  Having given my final presentation in Nursing Theory last night, I do not have to sit for a final next week.  I also feel more confident about my final grade as I reflect on the additional work I have put into this different and challenging class.  Today I have calculated the minimum grade I need in both finals to maintain my desired grade and have created a timeline for each final in order to allow for adequate study time (and fun time!...fun time is very important as wellJ).    
With my job in Graduate Admissions and various tutoring hours, I am also keeping in mind scheduling.  I have a tendency to over-book myself (as do most Graduate students) and with my desire to always be everything for everyone, I have to be cognoscente of my overall goal which is to pass graduate school.  I have found in the past that typical time to prepare for an exam takes about 15 hours of study time (about 5 hours for each class session).  That means I have to make 30 hours open between now and Monday, the day of my finals.  While finals are certainly a big deal and I will approach them as such, I am also being realistic; each final I must take is the equivalent of one regular test both in length, material, and weight.  The studious side of me is shouting, “STUDY STUDY STUDY! IT’S A FINAL!” while my sensible side is saying, “Ashley, you’ve taken 6 of these this semester. You’ve got it!”  I find that success in Graduate school comes from having a balance of both sides.  And while I tend to lean in the diligently-studious and overly-responsible side, this semester has helped me to develop my sensible and rational side as well. 
So here’s to finals everyone! Me and my two sides are going to start making Medication flashcards now…but first…a hot cup of hot cocoaJ