Research Presentation

We researched the evidence for providing music to patients with cancer for pain relief, and found a small but significant effect. We presented to faculty and local hospital administrators this weekend, and ended up being featured on the university website:

The presentation was for a class on nursing research. Although the class has been interesting, the material deals in reading academic journals and interpreting statistics-which is very different from the beaten trail of anatomical and medical coursework. Fortunately, the project was done in groups, and I was able to work on the project with my fellow students and friends, and we formed a wonderful team:


Our review of the evidence on music and cancer pain ended up taking second place, which means that we will be taking our presentation to a larger conference in the spring.


Fall Semester

I stepped out my door this morning to the usual 8 am chill, and felt my foot slide ever-so-slightly. No, I thought. It can’t be quite yet.

Crispy white grass told me otherwise.

The first frost makes it easier to believe October has arrived. School days are flowing by smoothly, thanks to a schedule that accommodates the heavy nursing school workload much better than last year.  Advanced level classes have been incredibly interesting, with studies in mental diseases, nursing research, and detailed health classes. The calmer days won’t last, as midterms are just around the corner, complete with tests and eighteen pages of essays to write. On the other side-fall break!

Looking Back

Much of the difficulty the past year came from trying to balance school with multiple jobs. Balance, though, is not the right word. It felt more like a circus act-and I was the performer spinning plates on long poles, praying one does not slip and bring everything down at once. Several times a dish nearly  slipped, and I missed assignments and commitments. Everything not absolutely urgent was put on hold.

I thought the challenge of the junior year would be in the complexity of the material presented, or in the details of tests.   Instead, it was marathon that wore me out with a constant barrage of assignments and tests best described as a semester long finals week. Every time I believed I was falling into the rhythm of the school year, something new was thrown at me.  Clinicals, research papers, presentations, and comprehensive tests followed one after the other.  My classmates and I had to adapt to a new type of test, in which all multiple choice questions have more than one right answer. Which right answer has the highest priority?

Next year, I have heard, is not nearly as intensive. Nevertheless, I have taken a much different approach to how I set up my schedule. I simplified a lot, condensing my dance and work schedule to be more reasonable. I am also making one other change. I will be living on the college campus next semester.

Life Snapshot

Books, books, and more books.


Complete with a crayon wall mural composed by the young artist Claire. A Theraband (dancer exercise device) also hangs in the background.

Well, It Seems I am Alive

I’ve made it to fall break.

But only barely.

The last six weeks have required a learning curve in more than a few ways. School assignments build up quickly, and it took a few weeks to feel as though I had fallen into a rhythm. I was just beginning to feel proud of myself for getting the hang of it, when the teachers announced the beginning of clinicals, and the numerour assignments and reports they entails. It took until last Tuesday for me to feel like (I think) I know what I’m doing.

School is very real now. I’ve given injections, watched a surgery, and taken care of a patient. I’m also operating at maximum capacity most of the time. I used to be astonished at other students who started to fall asleep in class. Now, I have to keep my own head from bobbing the day after clinical. (It’s a really early morning to be at the hospital, and then a late night to finish the post-clinical reports.)

It is also different being one of the ‘old’ students. On the first day of class, I walked up to the classroom where I would be taking psychology, one of my last general courses I need. I noticed a large group of student waiting around nervously, almost to timid to enter the classroom. I wasn’t sure what was wrong so I walked in and they all followed after me like ducklings after their mother. Several asked me a few questions, which I answered without understanding their significance.

Suddenly it hit me: these were freshmen, and this was their first class. I was momentarily taken back two years, remembering my first day. Excited to be at ‘real school’, but terrified I would make a mistake. The faces of those older students who had recognized my hesitation, shown me around the buildings, and answered my questions still remain vivid in my memory. Truly, it does only take a moment to make a difference to a frightened freshman. Quickly, I put on my responsible older student hat, and welcomed the newcomers to Augie, and assured them they were in the right classroom. Their relief was plainly visible.

I was a more than a little stunned to realize how much time has passed since I started school. Even more frightening- before I know it, another year and a half will pass, and I’ll be wondering how I have come to be a college graduate.

Two Weeks In

I’ve passed the two week mark for school, and while I’m definitely not yet riding the waves, I’m starting to swim. After feeling like I constantly need to figure out what I should be doing for this long, I’m finally (dare I say it?) starting to fall in to a routine.

I’m learning to understand lab values that a week ago were a meaningless jumble of numbers. Now I see them as the difference between life and death. Potassium levels? Crucial. Ph of the body? Better be in a certain range.

For so long, it seemed my classes focused on various things with no rhyme or reason. Two weeks on the electron pump of the cell. A week and a half on osmolarity. Three weeks on the immune system. Finally, it all makes sense, and everything I’ve studied the last two years is being pulled together.

Approaching Nursing

Chemistry, anatomy, and physiology classes are behind me now, and only a few prerequisites to are left for me to take before the nursing program begin full throttle next fall.   When the spring semester begins on Wednesday, my classes are narrowed down into specific topics like pharmacology and microbiology.

I just finished my introductory nursing class that ran for the entire month of January. Many topics we examined were already familiar to me, touching legal issues, ethics, and what it is to be caring. Others sections were more useful, such as safety methods and communication strategies for patients and doctors. A few things were completely new to me, like learning how to navigate academic journals filled with articles on which nursing treatments had the most successful outcomes. But the most interesting moments were when the teacher went off on a tangent and spoke of her personal ICU nursing experiences. The class also included a group project where we role played a scenario of the best way for a nurse to work with an upset, elderly patient at risk for falling.  My group had a lot of fun and even decided to dress up: