July 15, 2018

Three hours of sleep

...and  maybe not even that.  That's all I'm running on for work tonight.  So I'm firing up the coffee pot and starting the IV.  Oh well.  It looks like I'll be working with a couple of my favorite nurses, so it'll be all right.  A great team can make up for a lot of things, lack of sleep included.

I'm almost done with the reading for the first class.  I have 92% of the tasks completed.  Two more tasks remain, then I have officially covered everything and I can begin the assessment.  Well, I could start the assessment at any time, but like I said, I want to get the most out of this experience so--at least for right now--I'm going through everything.

Graduate school has started me thinking about my career's future.  I really like where I work, but I'm not sure there will be a lot of opportunities for a MSN-Ed there (I also feel like there's some new undercurrents developing that I'm not sure about, but that's another story).  But anyway, I would like to stay at my current facility and if that's not possible, there may be opportunities for a MSN-Ed in one of the other hospitals in the organization's chain.  If not, I may have to look elsewhere.

Fortunately, in the several years I've been living in the area, I have at least one contact in almost every psych healthcare facility in town.  While that doesn't guarantee me a quick new job, at least I have people who can do recon for me and, should it come to job application time, provide a reference.  And we could always relocate out of state...though that's not on my want-to-do list in the foreseeable future.  That was part of the plan of going to education full-time later on in life.

Of course, who's to say a nursing program won't pick me up after I graduate?  Though I had planned to be a full-time educator later on, after I've been worn out at the bedside, I could always go full-time educator sooner than planned and continue being at the bedside part-time/PRN.  But that's at least 1.5-2 years off.

While I'm thinking about the future, I'm trying not to obsess over it too much.  I've been trying to practice the mindfulness I've been learning about, to stay in the present and be aware of what's going on around me right here and now.   No easy task given my anxiety issues and predilection to stressing out.

July 12, 2018

Oh well

I wasn't selected for one of the scholarships at work.  I received my rejection letter today.

I admit that I'm bummed because I thought I had a really good chance at it.  I worked hard, sent it in for revisions, seriously considered and where applicable incorporated the feedback from one of the review committee members.  I'm going to presume that my manager spoke well of me when she sent in the recommendation form.  So I was rather optimistic that I might get one. 

But as I've posted on the nursing forum, if there's only 5 slots but 25 equally qualified applicants, 20 of them will still have to leave empty-handed.  I can only guess (hope?) that I was one of those 20 that would also have had a scholarship had there been 25 to give.

In reality, I don't know how many scholarships were up for grabs...I'll know soon enough when they announce the recipients.

There is always next year's scholarships, though next year, I'll use a different person for the managerial reference.  Just in case.

Though I have to remind myself that even with this loss, I'm still rather ahead of the game in terms of finances.  My tuition reimbursement should cover nearly half of the tuition costs.  I'm still holding out hope for a WGU scholarship which would only be a few hundred each term, but it's still something.  And thanks to planning and creative budgeting, I am 99.9% certain that I will not have to take out any student loans.  I'll be graduating without any debt. 

Going to mope about this for a little bit, and then get back to studying.

July 10, 2018

Randomness as I wait

I'm waiting for a webinar that is to begin in about 30 minutes...it's an "Intro to the MSN Program" one.  I decided that I'm going to take advantage of everything offered that could apply to me in some way.  Though I'm not a webinar fan and prefer to not have to call in--I'd rather converse by chat instead.

I've decided to rename my program advisor from Kid Nurse to Baby Nurse, as the former keeps conjuring up images of goats.  I have a standing telephone date with her on Wednesday mornings.

The class that I'm in has a "21 and Done" list...apparently a lot of these classes have this feature.  Basically, it maps out the entire course over 21 days, and if you want to finish the course--or at least submit the performance assessment--within 21 days, then this is the document to follow.  It's not binding, so if I decide to use it, I'm not committed for the entire 21 days.  Anyhow, I started off with it and abandoned it by day 5.  My work/life schedule didn't exactly sync with the schedule of tasks as in the document, with the end result that I'm not exactly up to day 10 as the document says I should be at.

I am doing a lot of work though.  It's mostly self-reflection, as well as learning about systems of health and wellness.  Learning a lot about mindfulness and how it could improve my nursing practice.  I admit, I'm a perfect candidate for learning mindfulness as my specialty of nursing focuses on the mind.

I need to stop eating cheese.  I usually don't eat it as my body doesn't tolerate dairy as well as it used to...but it's Muenster cheese.  Damn good Muenster cheese at that.  And I have no willpower when it comes to damn good creamy Muenster cheese and whole-grain bread sandwiches.  I have to tell the other half to go back to getting Cheddar.

I find out later this week--Friday--if I am one of the scholarship recipients at work.  I'm going to be really disappointed if I'm not.  I worked very hard on that scholarship application, particularly in refining the question answers to be under a certain number of words--and a rather small number of words at that.  Plus include all the key words.  Plus make it still sound like me.

I haven't heard about any WGU scholarships yet.   Still hoping to get one of the five that I applied to.

July 8, 2018

And it begins...began...begun...

I'm officially officially a graduate student.  School started a week ago.

I'm in the midst of my first class.  I have 4 classes this semester, for 10 CUs.  Each CU takes--or is worth--about two weeks' of work.  So, at 2 CUs, my first class will be about a month long, with a "end" date of 7/28.  I could finish it sooner and start the next one all that much earlier.  Or I could finish it after the 28th--anytime, really--and start the next class a little later.    It doesn't matter how long I take for each class, as long as I pass all 4 classes by 12/31.

Kid Nurse explained that she set the class "end" dates to have me finish the term in mid-November.  Her reasoning was that it would leave me free time for the holidays...or if I was feeling motivated, she could move another class up to this term, and I could get ahead of the game.

This first class has LOTS of reading.  Though I imagine that all of these classes are going to have LOTS of reading, plus some video.  There's e-books, e-reserves, journal articles, websites and videos galore for me to pore through.  I found it easier for me to print out what I can so I can highlight and make notes--although WGU's software has the capability of highlighting and note making, I find I prefer old-school pen and highlighter. 

I can't print the e-books out, which sucks. There, I use the software tools to note and highlight.

I'm still lurking in some support groups.  Some of my classmates have already finished this first class and are starting the second.  I've found that there's a lot of students who just jump right to the projects without going through the whole course because they want to complete their programs ASAP. 

I'm not going to do it that way.  Though there's nothing wrong with rushing:  I suppose as long as they're getting what they want out of the program and they're doing it in the academically honest way, then is it my business how they accomplish it?  But at this time, I'm not going to do the mad rush.  I'm going to savor each step of the journey.  I might speed the journey up by a term...well see how things go this first term.

June 26, 2018

And it's gotten more real

I have obtained PERRLA and Grammarly...I have fallen in love with Grammarly.  I use it for things not even related to school.

I have set up my schoolwork area.  Translation:  I cleaned all the junk off my desk in the home office, set up my laptop, and bought several printer ink cartridges.  I set up a separate login on my computer just for school.  This account doesn't have access to Minecraft, and Chrome (the required browser for school) has no non-school or non-nursing bookmarks.  So whenever it's study time, there's no temptation for me to do other things.

Now I have completed Orientation.   It was not some fluff PowerPoint that I rapidly click through just to hit the required wicket.

Nope.  Nine parts, complete with tons of videos that were required viewing in order to advance to the next section, Q&A and assignments.  So much was going on that the I had to do some technical support first so I could keep my sanity.  I live and die by Google calendar as it keeps me on track with everything.  It talks to my iCal and to my iPhone.  Now I had to get my WGU calendar--which is another Google-based calendar--to talk to my iCal and my iPhone.   Then I had to find a Tasks app to talk to my WGU calendar, my computer and my iPhone.  Sorting all of that out took two days, but now everything is interacting as they should.

Plug:  gTasks Pro is the bomb.  I highly recommend it.

Once that was set up, I plugged all my Orientation work into my gTasks list and spent the week going through each one.

I also now have a program mentor...I've already spoken to her twice, actually.  We seem to get on rather well so far.  She's not a psych nurse--actually, she's in a specialty I could never do.  It's not L&D:  while my dislike for L&D is well-known, I choose not to do it.   I could do it if I had to, and I would probably be rather good at it too.  But there's a couple of specialties I can't ever do because they get to me, and they involve pediatrics.   Sick kids get to me too deeply, and my urge to throttle ignorant or abusive parents gets too strong.

BTW, mentor, in the highly unlikely event that you read this, you keep my secret and I'll keep yours.

So I completed the first set of tasks that Kid Nurse (as I will refer to her) assigned me.  Today, we walked through the degree plan and the first course, which is the typical Professional Practice course that starts off almost every BSN and MSN program.   Heck, even a lot of ADN programs have such a course included...at least, mine did.

I was never expecting my MSN to be easy.  Far from it:  I'm paying for a solid education so I expect to work hard and be worked hard.   But looking through the first course and the assessment I have to do...well, I'm definitely not in Kansas anymore.  This is some serious stuff.   It was a little overwhelming at first glance. 

Fortunately, Orientation also made me aware of the many resources WGU has and how to use them, so I at least know where I can turn to for help.   Plus I know that things will become clearer once I start on the coursework.

I have a month for this first course...well, I could take longer or do it faster, depending on how I pace myself.  But Kid Nurse set arbitrary course start/end dates and I'm glad she did.  I like having the structure of knowing when something is due than something that it open-ended.  A deadline both motivates me to stay on course and prevents me from falling into the never-ending cycle of revising  to get the elusive 100% perfect paper.   That's because I'm going to have to eventually turn it in.

There are a couple of study plans in the course, broken into weekly and daily.  While I may not adhere to them, it's nice to see all the requirements laid out so I can start plugging them into gTasks and iCal.

My first day of school is technically July 1.  However, I am able to start reading for this course, which I will definitely do tomorrow.  After I update gTasks and iCal, of course.  And have a nice long evening of uninhibited Minecraft.

June 16, 2018

It just got real

Orientation has arrived.

Today, I logged into the student portal to find the links to the orientation modules and recommended webinars.  I also saw my degree plan.  If I keep to their suggested plan, I will graduate by December 2020.  Of course, I can speed this up a bit if I want, and I probably will.

June 6, 2018

The waiting game

I completed a half-marathon the other day.  It wasn't my best time--3 hours and change--but it was one of the most fun ones I did because I met up with a sorority sister from our running group.  She's a better runner than I, but she was also recovering from an injury and was more than happy to keep me company for the 13.1 miles.  We both enjoyed it so much that we've already registered for next year's race.

Meanwhile, I decided that I was going to go full-bore crazy and register for my third half of 2018.  This one will be in November.

As far as post-race condition goes, I have a bad blister on my heel and I think I'm going to lose a toenail...again.  But I'm in a lot better condition than I was after the one in March.

So school begins on July 1.  I'm supposed to start orientation on the 15th of this month.  I'm just waiting for it to start.  I tried looking for some good books for nursing education students, but almost all of the results that turned up were NCLEX-related.  The rest were for nursing education instructors developing curriculum for students.

I applied for the scholarship at work.  I'll know in July.  I got some positive feedback on my application so I'm optimistic, but not overly so.  So I'm waiting to hear on that.

Meanwhile, I want to apply for the WGU scholarship.  I wrote my director asking if she would be a reference, but I haven't heard back from her yet, and it's been nearly a week.  So this weekend, I'm going to ask someone else if they're willing to do it.  While I'm waiting, I'm fine-tuning my answers for the application.