A year ago we were sitting in P&A lab learning to take manual blood pressures and auscultating mannequins for crackles and murmurs. Now, as my cohort has reached our last week of transitions it’s shocking to look back and see how much we have learned!
Transitions has been an eye opening experience to say the least. It’s a great learning opportunity as well as a time to surprise yourself with how much you actually do know! I was thrilled two months ago when I found out that I would be on the Surgical ICU across the street at Hopkins…and now I can say that it really was everything I hoped for! The unit is busy, the nursing staff is fantastic, and the patients are very complicated. I especially wanted this placement because I have known for a long time that I want to go into ICU nursing when I graduate, and despite having worked as a tech on an ICU at the University of Maryland, I really felt like I needed to practice the critical assessment skills as a student before going out on my own!
I think a huge part of a good transitions experience is having a good preceptor, and mine was the best! She pushed me to take over on patients, and provided me with many opportunities for learning and practicing new skills. I also feel fortunate to have been able to be involved in a couple of the teaching sessions for the residents and medical students on the floor. We even had a chance to be “put on a ventilator” (with a face mask, not an ET tube) and feel what the various vent settings do to your breathing patterns. Opportunities like this have helped me develop so much understanding of what my patients are experiencing and what I can do to help them be more comfortable. I also am completely inspired now to be a preceptor one day! Seeing everything mine has done for me, and how much she enjoys teaching has me more motivated that ever to take on students or new grads later on in my career!
Speaking of careers…I am very very happy to say that I will be gainfully employed after graduation! I accepted a position in the Pediatric ICU at a children’s hospital in Austin. SOOOOO excited/terrified/do I know what I’m getting in to?!?!?! I will soon find out I guess…. time to focus on passing the NCLEX and getting my Texas nursing license!
…and pack. blah
So some parting notes and bits of advice for those of you currently in the program or thinking about applying to the program:
1. You will have many many Friday nights that involve studying…just accept it 🙂
2. Take every opportunity to go out and have fun with your friends because you need the mental break. I am a very strong proponent of the “well balanced” life style and believe it’s necessary to do well.
3. Baltimore is actually REALLY cute, as is the surrounding area. Go hiking, go down to DC, go to the beach…take advantage!
4. Don’t walk and talk on your cell phone in East Baltimore. Come on now people
5. Make a distinct effort to get to know your clinical instructors. They are the ones you will want recommendation letters from later.
6. Get involved at JHUSON. There are many different interest groups or leadership positions available. Recruiters like to see you can do things other than just study and make A’s.
7. You will do poorly on an exam at least once. Please please please don’t be that person crying hysterically in the hallway afterwards. Life does not revolve around grades…there is so much more to focus on. And yes, you will still get a job.
8. If you can handle the loss of sleep and study time, WORK AS A TECH. I don’t care what advisors tell you, or what other students tell you…during every interview I had in an ICU, they told me they wouldn’t even consider me had I not worked as an ICU tech. So if that’s a goal of yours, do it!
9. Keep an open mind as you rotate through different clinicals. I never thought I would want to work in peds, but I was surprised to find out that they match my personality perfectly!
10. All the stress, study hours, loss of sleep…I promise it’s worth it at the end when you get that degree from Johns Hopkins. You are setting yourself up for success and countless opportunities. Keep that in mind.
GOOD LUCK! 🙂