The craziness of psychiatric clinicals

June 3rd, 2012 by Melissa Nelson '10

Sorry everyone for not updating lately. It has been quite hectic.  I just started a new job and summer classes have begun as well!   Right now I am doing my psychiatric clinicals and all I can say is that it is DEFINITELY different than  any other of my clinical experiences.  It is truly sad and disturbing sometimes the patients that I deal with. The past couple of clinical days have been a bit emotional because you become overwhelmed with the patients and their issues.

I always knew that the mental health system needed to be worked on. But now working with these kinds of patients have really showed me that our mental health system is horrible and that we need to do a lot more to make it better.  As healthcare providers and even as a society, we need to make more of an effort in creating programs that teach people the importance of mental health. We need to learn how to take care of ourselves not only physically but mentally.

I am not fond of this clinical to tell you the truth. However, one positive aspect of this clinical is the fact that  I am able to better my therapeutic communication skills. Therapeutic communication is one of the important aspects of psychiatric nursing. During clinical, I do a lot of talking with the patients and help them to come to terms with their various issues. I teach them coping skills and how to be a productive individual in society.  Hopefully the next couple of weeks will get better.


End of the Semester.. Welcome Summer!

May 8th, 2012 by Melissa Nelson '10

Hey everyone!

Sorry I haven’t written in a while it has been a bit hectic since the end of class and finals. So I am officially done for this semester!! I must say I never knew I would actually <3 pediatrics. I think it is a good idea that nursing school has you go through these various clinicals because it really allows you to figure out what your interests are.

One would think I would be able to relax and enjoy myself, however, that will only last for about 2 more weeks. The summer portion of my program begins. Summer session should be interesting since I will be doing my psychiatric and community health clinicals.  Our schedules are not as heavy in the summer in comparison to fall-spring school year, so hopefully I can do some more sightseeing trips.

So much has happen within the last couple of weeks and spraining my ankle was one of them. I am not really happy especially since this is my 4th sprain 🙁 . I can’t workout in the meantime which is bummer. Slowly but surely, I will start it back up again.  Until then I will relax and take in the nice weather.

P.S. Happy Nurses’s Week! I am glad I am just a nurse 🙂

First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden talk to Penn Nursing!

April 19th, 2012 by Melissa Nelson '10

Last week on Wednesday, April 11th. First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden came to Penn nursing to launch a new initiative in their Joining Forces program. Joining forces is a a healthcare and treatment program for military personnel. It was such an exciting day and event. I was able to attend the event( had really good seats!)and got to shake Ms. Obama’s hand!!!

First Lady Obama and second lady Dr. Jill Biden talked about the importance nurses and advanced nurse practitioners have in making this initiative possible.  This new initiative will help to train nurses and nursing students throughout the US in how to support service men and women.  It was nice to hear how nurses and advanced nurse practitioners have such an important role within the healthcare industry. Ms. Obama stated herself that nurses are one of the few professions that are trusted by society. She emphasized that nurses are the front line of healthcare and it is imperative that the nursing profession be properly trained in various issues service man and women face such as PTSD.  She also encouraged us as a society to not stigmatize PTSD and that PTSD is a normal occurrence especially when veterans have faced the violence of war.

Both First Lady Obama and Second Lady Biden did a wonderful job and I was truly uplifted by their speech.  Both women commended Penn Nursing on their collaboration with the VA system in conducting PTSD research. It is exciting to be apart of an institution that is involved with the most latest and exciting research.   I have included  some photos below.

Nurse Practitioner Panel at HC

March 31st, 2012 by Melissa Nelson '10

Hey everyone! This past Wednesday Liz Farrington, Julia Cambria and I (via skype) had a panel that talked about Nurse Practitioner(NP) as a career.  It was so nice to finally be able to share my experiences with fellows HC students about the NP route and what they need to do to get there. According to Liz, we had a good turn out 🙂  Students asked us a lot of great questions. It was nice to hear how much HC has changed  in order to accommodate students who are interested in other health care profession such as NP, Physician Assistant, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist to name a few. Professor Futterman, Head of the Pre-health program , said that they had 22 NP applications this past year, in comparison to other years where the norm was between 4-8 applications.

Liz and I were talking how jealous we are because HC has also added some courses she and I needed to get into NP school. Course such as Anatomy & Physiology I &II(AP1&2), they have added several additional sections of statistics, as well as microbiology and medical microbiology. When Liz and I were at HC( which is less than 2 years ago), we had to take AP 1 & 2,  microbiology ,  and nutrition at other schools in the Worcester Consortium since HC didn’t offer them. By adding these course only helps to smooth the transition into preparing students for their future careers.

Another interesting aspect is that even though Liz, Julia and I are all in NP school. All our programs are all very different which I think was nice for students to hear.  My program you graduate with a BSN and a MSN .Whereas Liz and Julia’s program you graduate with just an MSN. It was nice to hear their experiences and motivation in attending nursing school. I really feel that it  helped some students in understanding the various paths one can take in order to become an advanced practice nurse.

I am so happy we decided to organize this panel. I will admit it was kind of weird with me skyping into the panel( I live the farthest away from HC in comparison to Julia and Liz who were able to attend in person) but it worked! LOL. My next goal , hopefully, is to get the HC magazine to do a piece about how students at HC are entering various other health professions such as the ones mentioned before.  I feel a piece like this would reach out to other HC alumni who went a similar route.  These alumni  probably would love to be an additional resource for current HC students who are interested in these healthcare fields.  We shall see 🙂

Pediatrics Nurses are a God Send!

March 19th, 2012 by Melissa Nelson '10

So I started a new clinical rotation(pediatrics) last week. Before I started this clinical I was pretty neutral about pediatric nursing. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids but sick children is a different story. I am an individual who can deal with most situations but it is something about sick children that breaks my heart. All these emotions were definitely apparent when I started clinicals. I was so nervous! Throughout the day my fears calmed down as I began to work with the nurses and interact with the children.  By the end of the day, I left clinical wanting to stay even longer.

Pediatric Nursing is an art that most people don’t understand. Observing and interacting with the nursing staff really showed me how family centered pediatric nursing is. Pediatric nursing doesn’t mean you are only  taking care of the patient but the patient’s family as well. To see how welcomed the families felt on the floor and how nurses and fellow staff knew the children and family by name, was amazing to me 🙂 The kindness and compassion exhibited by the pediatric nurses was truly admirable.

Communicating with children is difficult alone and when a child is not feeling well it is even harder. Im learning pediatric nursing involves a lot of communication. Communication not only with the child but with the parents/caregivers as well. Educating the patient about a medication or treatment and framing it in a way that is appropriate for their developmental age, is harder than one would think.  The next couple of weeks will be exciting. I  know I will be able to gain a deeper appreciation and better understanding of not only the art of nursing, but understanding the strength many of these sick children have while dealing with grown up health issues.  This glimpse into pediatric nursing will be quite interesting 🙂

Spring Break couldn’t come any faster..

March 3rd, 2012 by Melissa Nelson '10

Hey everyone!!!!  It has been awhile since I have posted anything. Sorry! This past week was hectic between final exams, validations and midterms. You are probably wondering why final exams are so early and what  is validation?

So as you know I am in an accelerated BSN/MSN program. There are two phases: the BSN phase and the MSN phase. I am in the BSN phase and will complete this phase by the end of this year. So in nursing school(BSN phase), we have clinical rotations. The clinical rotations you complete at Penn and most nursing schools are: medical surgical, geriatrics, obstetrics, pediatrics, community health, psychiatric and preceptorship. Our class will correlate with the rotation we are on to reaffirm what we are learning in clinical.  For example, when I was doing my medical-surgical rotation, we had a 3 hour medical-surgical class, twice a week as well.These rotations last 7 weeks. During these rotations, we take care of patients just as a nurse would, but under supervision by our clinical instructor( usually a practicing advanced  practice nurse such as an Nurse Practitioner). This past week, I finished my OB rotation(hence why I had a final exam) and I loved it!!!! It was absolutely amazing and I got to see and learn a lot about vaginal/ cesarean births and newborn care. My experience just reaffirmed I have definitely picked the right profession.

Validations is the term we use for our practical lab exams. So at Penn, we having nursing labs 2 hours a week where we learn how to do various skills such as: chest tube care, nasogastric tube, airway/oxygenation care, IV insertion and etc.  We practice these skills on Sim Man. Once we have learned these skills, we then have validations. Validation occurs in one of our stimulated labs with a Sim Man/Sim Annie/Sim Baby. These stimulated labs are set up like an actually hospital rooms(supplies/emergency equipment included).

We are given a scenario that tests us on the skills that we learn and we must be able to apply them to the situation. So for example, they might give us a situation such as a patient was in  motor vehicle accident and is now on your floor. They have a chest tube, a nasogastric tube and a tracheotomy. You are the nurse taking care of him/her.  As you are taking care of the patient, you begin to notice that his oxygen saturation levels are going down from 96% to 89%. What do you do?   As you can see these practical lab exams can be stressful especially since you never know what your getting. Your patient can be fine when your doing an assessment and suddenly there is a change in his/her status. I do like the practical lab exams because it really allows you to incorporate everything you have learned so far. But its stressful because you need to pass in order to pass the course.  By the way , I did pass 🙂

With all these things happening this past week, I am so happy Spring Break is here! Im really not doing anything too interesting, but I will be catching up with my sleep 🙂

My decision to become a Nurse-Midwife

February 17th, 2012 by Melissa Nelson '10

My decision to become a certified nurse-midwife(CNM) is an interesting story. It has a lot to due with my anthropology major. During our junior year, we do an ethnographic research project. With the advice of a professor, I decided I would shadow a Certified Professional Midwife(CPM) who did homebirths.I was not too keen on the idea, but I figured why not especially since I didn’t really know much about it.  I interned with this midwife for about 6 months and it was the best experience in the world. I learned so much. I was able to attend prenatal & postpartum appointments,educational seminars and I got to see an actually homebirth! The midwife I worked with introduced me to a variety of people including CNM’s.  The (CPM) not only taught me about what she did, but taught me about the profession and different routes within the profession such as CNM vs Home birth midwife vs CPM. I became in love with the philosophy of midwifery and realized that the holistic approach of midwives was similar to how I believed birth should be.

With the help of Susan Rodgers, an anthropology professor at HC, my senior year anthropology classes were focused on midwifery and the impact it has within other countries. I was also able to do an independent  research project my last semester and interviewed various HC faculty, administrators and staff about their birth experiences. That is the nice thing about HC. I really appreciated that they allowed you to focus your classes on your interests.  I think if I hadn’t been able to do so, I would not have been as adamant about entering an accelerated advanced practice nursing program as soon as I graduated.

I do not regret my decision of not going to medical school at all. I really love the career that Im going to be in and it is much more aligned with my philosophy of healthcare. Don’t get me wrong, midwifery isn’t for everyone but for me personally, I love the fact that I am able to empower women in their birth choices and help facilitate a birth experience that they desire. Pregnancy is a joyous moment for women and their families.  It is probably one of the most memorable experience that will occur during their lifetime. The fact that a midwife helps to to enhance their experience and provide them with intimate and personalized care is why I love midwifery and want to be a midwife.

Hello world!

February 13th, 2012 by Melissa Nelson '10

Hey everyone!!! I am excited to be blogging about my experience  as a student in an accelerated direct-entry advance practice nursing program.  So where should I begin?   I graduated HC in May of 2010. I was very involved with numerous organizations. I was BSU Co-Chair  and Co-Chair of the Haiti Relief Initiative my senior year.  Worked in Residence Life & Housing for 3 years as an RA. I was a student member of the Holy Cross Alumni Association for my junior and senior year. I was a Peer Mentor  in the Peer Mentoring Program my junior and senior year. I am also a recipient of the Presidential Service Award, an award that is given to nine seniors for their contributions to the college and greater worcester community.

Currently I am at the University of Pennsylvania Nursing School where I am in their accelerated BSN/MSN program where I am studying to become a nurse-midwife. I am also a Graduate Associate in one of the college houses at UPENN.  My story of why I wanted to become a nurse-midwife is an interesting one however, that will be my next post because I have an event that I need to get going to!  Stay tuned 🙂