Category Archives: Nursing School

Stop Crying and Run

There are exactly seven days between me and the Family Nurse Practitioner board exam and I can honestly say I have never been more nervous about a test in my life. It’s been a gradual onset of anxiety. Call it insidious if you like. I’ve taken a fair few standardized tests in my day without wanting to throw up. I do pretty well on tests. I even sort of like studying. This one has been different. Studying for this one has made me want to puke on an at least daily basis for two weeks now. I think it has something to do with the fact that our cross-country move hinges on my ability to answer 150 clinical questions. 150 giant questions that stand on a hill mocking me, like some computerized Goliath. Today, instead of just feeling a little sick, I kicked it up a notch and broke down crying. That’s right. A nauseated, ugly cry fest on the back porch. I stopped snuffling just long enough to call my husband at work because he loves when I call him at work for him to fix my problems.

Roger: “Hey babe, how you doing?”Me: [bravely] “Well, actually…not that great. [un-bravely] I just failed a practice exam and I’m afraaaaaaid and I’m paaaanicking and I’m cryyyyyyyying and this is the woooooorst feeeeeling ever. Ever. EVER.”
Roger: [kindly] “Let me pray for you….[awesome prayer]….”
Me: Snuffle snuffle snuuuuuuuufffle
Roger: Stop crying and go running. NOW.
Me: Snuuff-
Roger: NOW.

At which point I decided my husband didn’t know what I was dealing with and a run wouldn’t make me know everything and solve all my problems. But whatever. I’ll go because the alternative is to break things or crawl in bed and cry till my eyes swell shut. So I ran. And ran. And didn’t stop until my legs felt like they’d fall off. It only took about a mile to realize my husband is BRILLIANT. And about two miles to remember how good my God is and how much he loves me. Around three miles I wanted to lay down on the sidewalk but then remembered how I am supposed to be strong and courageous. I remembered that God did not give me a spirit of fear or timidity. He has given me power and peace and joy. He has not brought me this far to leave me puking and crying on the back porch.

I ran for an hour and returned home ready to kick some giant exam butt. Our future absolutely does not hinge on my ability to answer 150 questions. It hinges on a God who is big and good and has an awesome calling on my life. If I truly believe that, then I can fight this Goliath with my bare hands and a sling shot. My God has come through in every other fight I’ve been in. If he helped me slay those lions and bears then he’s got this one covered too. If you’re crying on the back porch today, stop it. Go do whatever you gotta do to get your head on straight and remember who the heck you are.

And go kick some Goliath butt.


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Back in August of 2010 I began the three year adventure to Nurse Practitionerhood. I am extremely pleased to report to you that this morning, with a swift click of the ‘send’ button, I have completed my program. On time. Two weddings and a funeral did not halt the march toward this goal and I think Mom would be proud. Sure I cried, kicked, and screamed at times but for the most part my way was paved pretty wide and easy. My National Health Corps scholarship enabled me to decline some hefty loans and be a full time student and my husband has paid our way through the last year. Thank you, sir.  I got to volunteer, study in a rural clinic across the country, and take on extra clinical hours. And now I am so ready to report for work.

After I pass the board exam, get licensed, and move to FLORIDA.

A smidge to the east of here.

That’s right. We are adventuring back to the motherland. Well, my motherland anyway. It’s time to repay Uncle Sam with two years of service in a medically under served area. Although Hawaii is sorely under served, God in his sovereignty shut some doors here and flung open the doors in Florida. It took some attitude adjustment on my part to even begin the interview process but after visiting Florida with Roger and receiving a few job offers, we fell head over heels for the idea. I will be working in a fantastic community health center in Brevard County (AKA, the Space Coast, previous home of the space shuttle and me!). I was thrilled with their orientation program for new graduates and the team they have serving the Brevard area. We have extended family all over Florida and Roger has been day dreaming of boats, fishing, wildlife, and about ten different jobs that he is perfectly suited for. We couldn’t be more excited about this new adventure.

All that stands between me and earning my keep is one more (huge) exam. I like to think of this whole process like American Gladiator. I’ve done the pyramid, I did the hang tough stuff. I got through the snapback and the joust. Now it’s time for the gauntlet…it’s time to break through and conquer baby. Final season, final event. Just wish I had the awesome leotard because I think it would really help on exam day.

I might need this soundtrack for studying.

I hope you are living your own adventure today. God is good and he has exciting plans. If you need a leotard or a soundtrack to remind you, go get it.

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This week I began my rural rotation with the SEARCH scholarship program. This is a short-term experience offered (AND funded) by the Health Resources and Services Administration to give health care students the opportunity to decide if they want to work in rural health. Before I received my National Health Corps scholarship, I never knew so much about government health departments. Now I feel like they are a rich great-uncle I never knew I had. It’s almost enough to make me a Democrat. Whoa. Sit down, I said almost.

It’s Day 2 of the program and if I didn’t already want to work rural, I do now. I am living in an apartment in North Carolina with some other students and driving 45 minutes out to “K-town” (I don’t think privacy policies apply to entire towns but it feels better. Besides, it reminds me of British books where the characters lived in D-shire and traveled to B-ham). K-town is a small farming town that boasts a pretty river, a rich history, and an all-out fantastic community health center. The population is a poor one and the patients seen in this clinic often cannot pay, have limited transportation, and face multiple health risks.

Community Health Centers like the one in K-town accept patients with Medicare/Medicaid and also offer a sliding fee scale to match the patient’s income. But if the patient still can’t pay? They are still seen and treated. The facility itself has been recently renovated and offers family, pediatric, and OB-GYN services as well as dental and behavioral health services. This means that a lot of referrals are done in-house and consults are as easy as a knock on your neighbor’s door. I had the privilege of shadowing a very talented Certified Nurse Midwife as she examined patients from all sorts of backgrounds…and all very different from the Hawaii demographic. In some ways rural is rural. In other ways, they are worlds apart.

I left one side…

And a mere 17 hours later, I arrived on the other.

I’m enjoying the combination of a visit back to my southern roots and a taste of future practice. Before I left, my thoughts were fairly wedding centric. The day I flew out, we had a  wonderful Friday of Father-Daughter trousseau shopping (yes, Daddy Bill knows what a trousseau is and yes, he let Megan and I go into certain shops alone. But he was very helpful at the decent stores). And after a full day of flying, it was great fun to be with Lindsey and Whitney for a night discussing all things bridal. But the work I am doing now is turning my eyes to the future. Roger and I are excited to start life together and then find out where we will invest two years of that life! There is one rural community out there that God has our names on…and we can’t wait.

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Vanquish the Normal

A brief word on when to be normal and when to not.

In nursing school and now in nurse practitioner school, it is emphasized to us, the eager and teachable students, that we must know the normal to identify the abnormal. We need to know what a normal sinus rhythm sounds like in a typical heart to identify the murmurs, the irregular beat, the extra sounds. I need to know the ranges of electrolytes to know that a potassium level of 1.0 is probably a pretty bad thing and I should look at a whole bunch of healthy ears so that a bulging membrane looks different from all the rest. We gotta know the norms to know the abnorms otherwise we could catch ourselves looking at a very sick patient with crazy blood tests, nodding and saying “Mmm hmm…looks good.”

In marriage, I have decided that I need to know the norms so that I can be anything but normal. Roger and I have received a veritable plethora of wise wedding words, kind counsel, and sometimes simply been on the confused receiving end of a knowing married nod in our direction. The last one is a move that seems to say either “Get ready, this is awesome” or “You think this is going to be awesome? I know better.” We haven’t quite figured out which one so we just nod back in engaged bliss. Amid all the suggestions and comments, we most appreciate the words that include a knowledge of God’s sovereignty and the uniqueness of each couple.

We know that there are struggles that all men and all women deal with but we are also determined to meet these struggles with our unique gifts and personalities. We are determined not to agree with the statement that “Women are just like that” and “Boys will be boys” when it is applied to a weakness that we want to improve. If it is referring to the way that women cry at inopportune times such as every day last week or the way that men enjoy shooting small to large rodents in the Kona area, then we agree.  Otherwise, we are determined to be abnormal.

Adam and Eve and their official punishments, along with males and females throughout history show us that there are similarities in men across the board and there are shared tendencies in women in general. But the rest of Scripture also points to our unique standing before God and the consistent call that we have to rise up, go forward, conquer, overcome. We are called to bravely do what is difficult. We are called to vanquish the normal.

So, know your norms…and then attack them. Push through them. We are called to abnormalcy and it is possible. And I see that nod. And I am nodding back in engaged bliss.




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Clinically Impatient

I’ve always been somewhat impulsive. Or very. There are goods and bads to this character trait. I’ve talked about this before. (Choice Paralysis). But with this character trait, comes impatience. At six years old it manifested in convincing sweet twin Sara to get into all kinds of impulsive trouble. As a teenager it was more of an asset and displayed itself in making friends quickly and as a college student, I was very good at making plans and getting a bunch of indecisive people to thank me and come along.

But today it means that I want to be working in the nurse practitioner clinical setting like yesterday.

I know I need way more school, I need lots of hours and I needs lots of guidance. But gosh, I just want to be there. I did a mock health history and initial patient visit today and visions of infections and injections danced through my head. Ew, gross. But also awesome. I don’t miss the insanity of nursing school but I do miss the patients. I miss learning their stories. I miss the challenge of caring for them. I miss the questions they asked me even though I had STUDENT emblazoned on my little scrub shirt.

I miss it and I cannot start clinical rotations until May.

So I will patiently learn to adore my textbooks and remind myself of the need for excellence not impulsiveness.

Happy Tuesday everybody.



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Nehemiah and NoHomeworkWeekend

Last week was full of 8-hour day study sessions and long drives to Hilo for labs. I felt SO sorry for myself because it almost felt like I had a job. Seriously, sit at a desk all day? Come ON. So on Thursday evening, I made a decision. I will be social. So I texted someone notoriously social who invited me to salsa dancing lessons at a little bar in town. That’s like the trifecta of awkward. 1. Bar with strangers. 2. Dancing actual dance steps. 3. Dancing actual dance steps with strangers. Never mind. I don’t want to be social.

But the next day I mustered the socialness that I did not use at the trifecta of awkward and went to a movie with friends. And that was the beginning of NoHomeworkWeekend. Saturday morning I attempted to read Pharmacology at the beach, got a call for a sushi lunch, closed the books and never looked back. It was a good weekend. Brother-in-law’s siblings and their other halves are in town. I’m not sure if double in-laws are technically family but I will take these guys. They make me feel 10x cooler just being around them. It’s like cool factor drafting. Combined with a couple other awesome people over the last 48 hours, textbooks were just unappealing.

But, it is Monday morning and I heard a sermon yesterday on Nehemiah. He built a pretty big wall in 52 days with a determination that said “I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down”. We all have great works and it is our job in 2012 to figure out what the work is and do it with determination. I examined my thoughts over Starbucks after church and realized I have the first part figured out. My great work is becoming the best Family Nurse Practitioner that I can be.

It’s going to take longer than 52 days but with enough NoHomeworkWeekends to recharge, I’m game.

What’s your Great Work for 2012?

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Type Bee in New Orleans

Well, I said it before and I’ll say it again. God Bless 1972. I’m on a plane leaving New Orleans heading for a week with best friend Shayla. I won’t be posting this until Monday but The National Health Service Corps just got done rocking my world by telling me for 48 hours that I will rock my community’s world. They told me with videos, speakers, government representatives, free stuff, one-on-one conversations with amazing clinicians and future clinicians, and, did I already say free stuff? There were approximately 200 future physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, nurse midwives, and physician assistants all corralled together in the brand new Hyatt Regency (that’s right, first person in that hotel bed. Nice.)New Orleans for the purpose of being completely encouraged, inspired, and pumped UP to be Primary Care Providers in a community that needs us most. I haven’t made up my mind about whether I am more inspired to be an awesome life-changer or more scared stiff about the amount of work I have to do between now and being that life-changer. Actually, I know that it is both. And I need it because I am a Bee. Let me explain.

I have never put much stock in the “Type A” vs “Type B” descriptions but if I gotta choose, call me a Bee. Bees need some scared stiff. One of the keynote speakers was a very inspiring, extremely talented, intimidatingly successful former scholar and he told us that perfect is not an option but a mandate. Likely Type A Response: “Oh, good, I knew it was worth it to memorize the cranial nerves when I was 12 years old.” Real-life Type B Response: “Oh crap.”

Now, there were many other speakers who told us to achieve balance in our lives now because this will carry over into our professional lives. They told us to spend time with our families and to keep up with friends. That sounds great, but let’s get real, I can do balance. I exercise. I hang with the family. My friends don’t ever forget what I look like. I need some scared stiff.

Case in point: I worked my tail off to get all assignments finished before I took off on my trip. Except for the one paper that I completely overlooked. Likely Type A Response: Cry a little and then immediately compose the paper without so much as a potty break. Type Bee is sitting on an airplane writing as much as she can without having the internet to research and giving up and writing a blog instead. Don’t worry, she will finish it tonight.

I learned many wondrous and challenging things this weekend. I learned that I can do clinical rotations in far-away rural or urban American places. I learned about new models of healthcare that got me legitimately excited and I learned about professional opportunities that all of a sudden seem much more achievable. I met dozens of fellow scholars who were equally excited and scared. And get this, TONS of them follow Jesus. I’m talking 6 out of 10 kind of statistics. It makes sense that so many kids wanting to serve the unreached would be doing it with a sense of divine calling. This is pure and undefiled religion to care for the widows and orphans in their distress…and now we are getting generously funded to do so. I think we all walked around with the same dazed look of stunned gratitude as we listened to the conference staff talk about the resources at our disposal. Thank you Jesus.

So, God has lifted my head. Joy is coming in the morning…though there are tears on the airplane as I long to share every conversation, every quirky New Orleans moment with my mama. But my eternal purposes are many. And I am eager to accomplish them.

Starting with this paper. Call me a worker Type Bee.

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I have some new initials! That’s right, I passed the big bad NCLEX. I know most of you thought I had it in the bag and were not worried for a second. I wasn’t worried either until the moment I finished the exam. It was a bright and sunny day….

…And I had done all of the correct test-taking things. I started with sleep and nutrition. I have recently begun a nutrition plan with our friend Carol of Carol’s Cafe. She has me eating lean, vitamin-rich, and delicious. This healthy heroine packed me a pre-exam dinner and breakfast and post-exam lunch that I brought with me to Oahu. I booked a room at the Ala Moana hotel. I adore hotels. I also camp. But hotels and I have a special bond. So I slept like a champ and had a short little walk to the testing center.

I wasn’t nervous when they took my mug shot, scanned my multiple forms of identity, checked my person for cheating materials, and led me to the Cubicle of Truth. I also wasn’t nervous when I answered the questions. But then the computer went blank. I could have gotten anywhere between 75 and 265 questions for the Super Smart System to determine if I had what it takes. I answered question 75 and the Super Smart System either had had enough of me to know I couldn’t hack it or I had proved myself a lot more quickly than I thought possible and they booted me off with a “Thank you for completing the exam, please fill out this survey”.

And that’s when I got nervous. The shaking, eyes burning with tears, holding back the vomit kind of nervous. I got out of there as fast as possible and headed for the closest security blanket I could find, Starbucks. After I steeled myself with a few shots of liquid courage, I proceeded to shop for six hours straight.

If I stood still for too long contemplating clothing, I panicked about question #32 or yelled at myself for guessing. The good news is, I didn’t do too much damage for a marathon shopping trip, because I stuck to the cheap stores with the loud music so I couldn’t hear my panicky thoughts. The soundtracks at Forever 21 and PacSun are also great for covering the occasional outbursts of “Of course! Diabetes! Stupid!” Expensive stores are much quieter. Have you ever noticed that Nordstroms only has player piano music? Who knows what Nieman Marcus does since I only buy one Christmas ornament a year there. They probably have mimes.

I am not sure how Registered Nurse candidates of yore handled waiting for old-fashioned paper envelope test results. I logged on to the Quick Results website approximately 500 times even though it said to wait 48 hours. Hours?! How dare they call that QUICK? If I had to sleep the restless sleep of Post Traumatic Exam Syndrome for two months, I would not be fit for registered anything. At 6:30 am Saturday morning the website showed my results. I had passed. And as quick as the relief settled in, a billion more anxieties rushed in. Job, school, family, boyfriend (?!), travel. And I think it goes without saying but I will say that I wished with all my little stressed out heart that my mom was on the other end of a phone line to tell me how excited she was. So I had to make a conscious effort to enjoy the moment and thank God for his never ending goodness, his awesome blessings, his perfect grace. And I’m still choosing that.

EB, RN. Sounds good.

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God Bless 1972

Yesterday I received an e-mail informing me that I had officially been awarded a National Health Services Corps Scholarship for the remainder of my graduate schooling. This scholarship sends me through school, all reasonable expenses paid, in return for two years of service. That’s right, military style. Minus the boot camp, uniforms, and scary things. In explanation, allow me to give you a brief history lesson.


Some of you may remember the 1970s. I do not. I think my memories kick in around 1986. But I do have a good appreciation for things from the 70s including macrame belts, paisley shirts, Carole King, James Taylor, and the Emergency Healthcare Personnel Act.

This last item was signed into law in 1972 when healthcare professionals began realizing that they could make a whole lot of money by specializing and joining HMOs and practicing in big cities or generally urban areas. If I were practicing in the 1970s and the HMOs became a thing, I very likely would have followed the trend. So, no hard feelings. In fact, thank you 1972. Because of the way you turned out, the government allotted a certain amount of money to entice hard-studying future doctors, dentists, and nurses to stay in the world of primary care, particularly in rural areas. Since then, Congress has given varying amounts of money to this program based on healthcare shortages or surpluses. Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment in the last few years, the program is expanding again. And I have joined the ranks.

Basically, the two years of service will be doing exactly what I have wanted to do since I started nursing school – work with the under-served, rural community. The only catch is that it may or may not be in Hawaii. Apparently, it is quite the hairy process to become an approved site. There are only a handful of them in the state and there is no way of knowing if they will have a vacancy with my name on it in two years time. But I plan to work my tail off to find that vacancy.

But I’m not worried. God turned my attention to nursing five years ago when Mom needed nurses. He made me think I could be one of those nurses one day when I was on Ala Moana beach listening to someone I barely knew discuss her new career. Two years later, I got through all of the prerequisites for this insane program, finished the insane program, and have jumped in with both feet to Nurse Practitioner graduate classes. And right when I start asking God if he really meant to pick me, he throws this scholarship at me and says “what now!”. So even if I end up in the middle of the desert in the middle of the country serving the least of the least, I will still be sure that he meant to pick me.

Hey, he thought of me in 1972.

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TDV…it’s not a disease.

I have a date. With a tall, dark, and handsome licensing exam. September 29. Mark your calendars for prayer, fasting, sack cloth, whatever. I made the decision on Wednesday and ran away to Oahu for a weekend of “Septoberfest” with friends, naps on Kailua beach, fancy brunch with girlfriends, and long conversations under the stars. It was amazing. It was not studying. Today I looked at drugs and IVs and side effects for eight solid hours, interrupted only by sister forcing smoothies on me. About the time I needed an IV hooked up with some straight happy infusing at maximum speed, Dad got me out the door for a walk.

Me: “I hate this. I’m going to fail. Too many knowledge gaps. Bad stuff. Crappity crap crap.”
Dad: “Can you re-take it if you fail?”
Me: “Not an option! I can’t fail! Crappity, say the opposite of what I just said, crap.”
Dad: “You are on the path you are meant to be on. God put you here. Wise stuff. Dad stuff.”
Me: “I hate studying for this thing.”
Dad: “I took the Bar exam and felt the same way. You will pass.”
Me: “Ok.”
Dad: “Make a schedule. Exercise. Trust. The End.”

Dad’s voice almost always trumps the lying voices in my head. The sermon this Sunday was about the community we cultivate and the voices that determine the trajectory of our life. Theoretically, we have five Trajectory Determing Voices that we listen to. Let’s call them TDVs. Well, one of my TDVs is absolutely my dad (surprise). And his voice usually tells me to exercise. Not because I am fat. I’m not…really. But because he hears the irrational edge in my voice when I’ve sat on my butt all day. Break up with a boyfriend? Dad, I’m neeeeeevvvveeerrrrrr getting maaaaarrrieeeed. Exercise. Queen of the World. Works like a charm.

Obviously, Dad says other things to me. That’s what TDVs do. All this nursing studying is making the abbreviation TDV look like a terrible disease. It’s not. He and Mom shaped me and set me on course with the things they said. Good, bad, and neutral. Dad is going to continue to be one of my main voices but as I progress in life, who else will I allow to speak into my decisions and my development as a person? We need to choose wisely…I’m pretty sure we can start listening to people by default when we really need to purposefully point our ears at the right words. The right community is essential.

So, figure out your TDVs and if you don’t know who they are, go get some. And exercise.

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