Nursing School Priorities (10-27-2007)

Priorities. *sigh* So far what I have learned about this program is that I have to adjust my self imposed standards of what it is to be a good student. I am a very thorough student. I do everything I am told in addition to everything I think will help me learn and check off the list as I go. However, that strategy is not working in this program. I am starting to believe those 2nd year students who said “There is not enough time in the day to do all the reading you are assigned so learn to skim.” They are so right. I suppose if you didn’t have a life outside of school maybe you could do it all. The reality is though that we all have relationships and responsibilities that we have to find time for too.

So, in the spirit of approaching my studies from a new perspective I have begun to prioritize my tasks and try to let go of what I really don’t have time to do. I was just beginning to feel some level of comfort with the new strategy when I made what might have been a truly fatal error in judgement last week.

 My dosage calculations class is not really difficult but it is very high pressure. This is the course everyone must take first quarter and if you do not pass it with a 3.7 they kick you out of the nursing program. You may apply the following year and IF they choose to let you back in and if you fail it a 2nd time they will never allow you entry again. I understand that incorrect dosaging could kill a patient and so the strict requirement is reasonable. However, on test day a few simple math errors could get you out of the program entirely and that is a lot of stress.

Last week I had 2 tests, 3 essays due, a 2 hour mandatory meeting, and a 4 hour lab to study for along with the normal stuff. So when I looked at what needed to be done for the next dosage class I determined that there were only 2 major concepts left to be covered. The first he had gone over in class, the second he barely presented the formula at the end of a class period. So in my wisdom I studied the first, anticipating a pop quiz, and postponed studying the second until he had discussed it in class. When I got to class he did indeed hand out a quiz. Much to my surprise 1/2 of the quiz was on the second concept I had not studied and in fact did not even know the formula for. In most classes this would not be that big of a deal, however you can only miss 14 points total and still pass this class. I have missed 3 points total so far, and assuming I missed all the questions I didn’t have a formula for that would be another 6. That would only leave 5 points I could miss out of another 124. Not enough wiggle room to make me even remotely comfortable. I felt sick. How could I have not given this class more of my effort? Why didn’t I consider the fact that none of my other classes mean anything if I don’t pass this one and I get kicked out of the program? I spent 24 hours feeling absolutley horrible. How could everything I worked for the last three years be taken away because I didn’t prioritize my studying, because I didn’t learn one formula?

The next day I happened to have a meeting scheduled with my advisor who coincedently is also my dosage professor. He asked me if I had any problems or concerns with the program so far. I told him my only concern was that I had made this terrible error in judgement studying for his class and it had put me in a precarious situation. He was surprised and said, “Really? I thought you did well. Hmm let me take a look.” He opened up his briefcase, pulled out my test and said.” Yeah, you got 100%, so what are you worried about?” I was in shock. I asked him if my attempt to work out the problems logically with no formula actually worked and he looked again and assured me that the way I thought through the problem worked just as well as the formula and that was the kind of critical thinking a nurse needed to have. Still in shock I thanked him and left his office feeling 10 lbs lighter. So now I have only missed 3 points and have a much larger margin of error available for the last test this week and the final this Saturday. I have learned a lesson though…BALANCE! While I can no longer be quite as thorough as I am used to being, I also have to be very careful how I prioritize and not leave anything important to chance. I am determined to get the hang of this though so back to the balance beam I go, balls and knives up in the air, one more try.

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