Informatics Students Top 3 Peer Reviewed Blog Posts Fall 2015 2nd 8 Week Class

Each semester nursing and health science students in the Healthcare Informatics course are taught about the importance of social media, blogging, and your social presence on the web. One important aspect of this is blogging. Students are introduced to blogging through various assignments that require them to create a blog for the first time, post on specific topics, and review and rank peer’s posts. This semester there were three very unique and distinctive posts selected by peers. Please enjoy.

Amber Brown

My name is Amber Brown.  I am 26 years old and I am a nurse. A Registered Nurse.  It feels so good to say that. I have been a nurse for almost three years now and it was the best decision that I have ever made.  Today I really want to discuss the reason that I became a nurse and the changes that have occurred in my life because of that choice.

When I was a little girl, from the earliest times that I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher.  I would play school for hours. I would make my little sister and her friends be my students.  There were desks in my bedroom (storage containers that I used to pretend they were school desks). There was a large dry erase board that my dad had installed on my wall and when I turned 12 he even bought me an overhead projector because I wanted one so incredibly bad.  I had all the things that I needed to be a teacher and I was determined.  My dad was always supportive of everything that I wanted.  He just wanted me to be happy.  Although he would always tell me that I was going to be a nurse but I would just roll my eyes and continue teaching my “students”.

At the age of 11, I had a black and white dog that I had named “Oreo”.  One day my mother, my little sister, and I decided to take a bike ride down to the lake, which was only about an eighth of a mile from our house.  The problem was that Oreo could not come because of traffic.  He kept trying to come after us and we had to keep chasing him back home.  He eventually caught up with us and about the time that I turned around I watched a large sized truck run him over.  He was still. The guy pulled over and put him the back of the truck and took all of us to the local emergency pet clinic.  They said that they thought Oreo needed to be put down but I was not going to have that. My dad told me I could take him home but that he was probably going to die. I stayed by that dog every day.  He couldn’t walk, eat, drink, and could barely even breathe but I never left his side. I took care of him day in and day out because it was summer time and I didn’t have school. I was bound and determined that Oreo was going to live. I prayed over him multiple times a day, changed his bandages, gave him medicine, fed him, and cleaned him. I believe that miracles do happen and that it was nothing less than a miracle that Oreo survived. I needed him and he needed me.  My dad saw that and he told me that he knew I was going to be a nurse and that I was going to make a difference in this world.

On November 17, 2009, my dad died. He was my rock.  He was the best father that any girl could ask for. I was 20.  My mother was in prison and so I was left alone, my little sister of 19 and me at 20.  My dad made me promise that I would move away from Charlotte, NC, where I was raised my entire life. He wanted to me move and travel and see things.  He also made me promise that I would become a nurse and help people like I helped Oreo.  He told me that I had the compassion and love that needed to be given to a mass. He was amazing. Although the odds were against me, with my father being gone and my mother in prison; the promises that I made to him, I kept.  I moved to Missouri on December 14, 2009, less than a month after his death and continued my college career, except this time I was going to be a nurse. I no longer had the desire to be a teacher. I had to become a nurse. I graduated from Southwest Baptist University in 2013 and it was the best decision that I have ever made.  Every patient that I have, I treat them as if they were my dad. How would he want to be treated?  The day of my graduation was a major day for me.  It was the day that I could tell him that I did it.  I went back home a month after my graduation to go to his tombstone and tell him that I did it and thank him.  Every day that I am caring for people, my ultimate goal at the end of the day is to make sure that they know that I care and that I became a nurse give them the love and compassion that they need while they are sick.

Thanks again, Dad.

Kendal Dishman

Good grades? I got em’. Good study habits? Check. Confidence? Double check. Walking out of the break room to the intensive care unit my very first day on the job quickly depleted my vast stores of knowledge, grade percentages, and confidence in one fail swoop. While sitting for report we had a stroke patient yelling expletive from the bed. I feel like I should have grabbed my white flag of surrender and waved it right then and there. When the yelling became impulsiveness, I was caught up in a flurry of movement. I had never seen so many people running at once until my preceptor pulled a cord from the wall. I literally wondered if we were under attack because of the blaring siren noises. Needless to say, it took seven (yes, seven) of us to tie this gentleman to the bed and give him the medicine he needed to calm down. After the patient was safely restrained, one of the veteran nurses looked right at me and said, “Kendal, welcome to the Neuro Trauma ICU”.

Lunch time rolled around (and by lunch I mean the half of a sandwich I shoved in my face around 3pm) and my preceptor asked me how I was doing and if I planned on returning to the unit ever again. We laughed and she assured me that not every single day was like that day and that I would have the opportunity to work with patients who weren’t trying to escape. That time was sooner than either of us could have predicted.

If you ask any nurse out there they will tell you that each of them have had “those patients”. The patient who touches our hearts and lives forever. The person you walk away from taking with you a pearl of wisdom and a skip in your step. I was 30 days into my career and I even had my newly acquired license to prove it when I encountered one of those life-changers.

This patient was in the unit a very long time and became very friendly with most of the staff. The patient’s family knew most of us and brought snacks and food sometimes to thank us for the care of their loved one. Unfortunately, the patient’s condition continued to decline to the point that the family had decided on comfort care. Keep in mind, this patient had been in the unit for more than 3 months and while I did not take of this patient each shift, there were several shifts that I did have the privilege to care for him. The care of this patient was tedious, difficult, and left a lot of the nurses’ upset and grouchy. I looked forward to my time with this patient and felt I could get a lot accomplished for him to help on the road to recovery (getting out of bed to the chair, sitting up in bed, etc.)

This past weekend the family decided to move the patient to comfort care (end of life care) and it was difficult. My heart hurt for the patient, the family, and for those of us losing a little piece of hope within ourselves. When I arrived at work to report for my shift, I noticed the patient was still listed on the board and the family was at the bedside. We all talked for a long time and they spoke of the wonderful faith of their beloved family member and how it was not good-bye, but instead see you soon. As I watched the monitor, I witnessed my peaceful patient slip into a rhythm not associated with any living being in this world. I said a prayer of thanks.

I thanked the Lord for the time I was given to spend with him and his family. I thanked the Lord for the growth as a brand new nurse that I was able to achieve while caring for him. A bit later, I was walking to the front of our unit (it is huge) and I made some copies and gathered paperwork for the Chaplin. When I was finished, I happened to look up and see the patient was still listed on our unit board. I leaned over the charge desk and clicked the information in each excel spreadsheet cell. As I deleted the last cell, I felt a tingle go up my spine and I knew that right in that moment, in that instant, that no matter where we are in life (hospital bed, airport, grocery store) that we have the ability to change lives.

Bryan Gray

Nursing has always been a big part of my life, yet it was never what I imagined I would become as I grew up.  Growing up I knew I wanted a job in the health care industry but I had real problems trying to figure out what I truly wanted to do.  My mother was a nurse and after I was born she switched positions to the in house laboratory of the hospital she worked at and then to the centralized scheduling department.  She always supported my dreams for becoming a health care industry worker and for many years she would drive me to the hospital in the morning so that I could volunteer in the radiology department.  Throughout the years there I made great friendships that I still hold on to today.  At the time of my volunteering, Capital Region Medical Center was still storing all of their radiograms on film. I helped to manage their two file rooms with well over tens of thousands of copies of films.  My later years at CRMC, I helped them transfer all their films over to a digital format.  This was a painstaking task that took the department well over one full year.  During the afternoons in my later years of volunteering, I would help in the mammography department, verifying films on DVDs.  This was a fun job because I got to sit in the same room as the radiologists and listen to them dictate.  Radiology was beginning to become my main focus, and even though my mother had doubts that I could finish medical school, she still supported me.

In the beginning of 2006 when I was 14, I told my mother that I was experiencing more migraines.  I have had chronic migraines since 1999.  She decided to try and make an appointment with the nurse practitioner that I have always gone to see. What I didn’t know was that my mother was having abdominal pains and bloating and wanted to make an appointment that we could both go to on the same day.  This resulted in our appointments being delayed until around April.  I never knew what symptoms my mother was having until around June when she brought my sister and myself into the living room to tell us that the doctors have found a mass on one of her ovaries.  I still remember that night very vividly.  The first thing to run through my mind was that she was going to die.  I didn’t know much about ovarian cancer and had no idea of how hard it is to detect and how fatal it is.  On July 4, 2006, the entire family drove to St. Louis.  Our first stop was to our hotel in Forest Park.  We then went to Barnes Jewish Hospital for some pre-procedure interventions for my mother.  We went from there to the science center and to the zoo.  I never truly realized that this would be the last vacation I would have with my mother.  On July 5, my mother went into surgery to debulk her tumor.  She was on the operating table for many hours.  When we talked to the doctor afterward, he said he could not be certain that he got all of the cancer.  She stayed at Barnes Jewish for a few more days before she was transferred to Boone Hospital in Columbia for the remainder of her recovery.  While she recovered from the surgery, she never fully recovered from the cancer and a few weeks after she came home we found out that the cancer was spreading, and quickly.  She then decided to try both chemotherapy and radiation as the cancer has spread to both her brain and her spine.  At this point I saw very little of my mother.  If she was home, which wasn’t very often, she was asleep on the couch.  But most of the time she was at the hospital for one reason or another.  On September 26, I remember getting off of the bus at my house and seeing an unfamiliar car in the driveway.  It was my Aunt Billie, who lives just down the road but I don’t see her often.  She explains to me that my mother is at the hospital once again and that I need to go with her.  I didn’t even have a chance to go inside the house.  On the way there, I noticed my aunt was driving upwards of 90mph.  This is when it started to dawn on me that something bad was happening.  When arriving at the hospital, I was ushered directly to the Intensive Care Unit where my mother was already transferred to.  Literally, all of my faily was there already.  The waiting room was packed with just my family.  At this point in time, ICUs were not commonly open to visitors except at 15 minute intervals a few times during the day.  So I waited. And waited. And waited. I finally go to go back and see my mother with my family around 5pm.  She didn’t look too well, but was able to look at us and talk to us and give us hugs.  We only got to be with her for a few minutes.  All I can remember was her telling me to be strong and that she would see me soon.  I left the ICU with that in the back of mind, that I would see her again soon.  An hour or two passed by.  I had already scaled the entire hospital a couple of times, talked with the girls back in the radiology department who were working, and bought a bunch of candy from the gift shop.  That’s when I heard a Code Blue to my mother’s ICU room.  I didn’t know what to do.  I instantly started sobbing and then I ran.  I ran to the radiology break room to see if anyone was there.  There wasn’t.  So I ran to what they call the ‘Radiology Core’ where all the machines are and that’s where I found Kari.  Kari was a mammography tech during the day and an Xray tech at night and was a good friend of mine while I volunteered there. She held me and tried to explain to me that my mother just needs help breathing but that she will be okay.  A few minutes later, a nurse came out from the ICU to tell us that they had intubated my mother and that she was stable as for now with the machine breathing for her. We then waited again for a few hours again.  The Code Blue rang again to her room.  This time only a minute or so after the code, the nurse came out and explained to my dad that it was time to make a decision and rounded my sister and me up and took up to her room.  In her room were four or five nurses.  One was physically on top of her, giving her CPR.  Her chest was exposed with electrodes all over.  Before we had gotten there they had defibrillated her two times with no effects.  Some of the other nurses were rapidly pushing fluids, others were starting new lines, and others were injecting her with medications.  The nurse who ushered us in asked my father if they should precede.  He was speechless and turned to my sister who was in a LPN program at the time.  She told him it was time to stop and the nurse ordered the nurses in the room to stop interventions and the death was called.  The thought in the back of my head that I would see my mother again soon ceased.  We left the ICU to grieve with the family as the nurses prepared the body for viewing.  I ended up staying in the room with my father the entire time after we were allowed back in as the family came to view her.  I remember that her wedding rings had to be cut off because her fingers had swollen. Her entire body was relatively swollen and her face was the only thing that was viewable.  That was probably for our own well beings.  Her passing was different for me, to say the least.  As I hadn’t seen her for weeks before because of her being in the hospital, I wasn’t overly emotional at first.  The day after I went to school to get homework for the next week and all my teachers were astonished that I was even there.  All my fellow students looked sad for me, but I felt little emotion at all.  It wasn’t for a few weeks that it really hit me that my mother was dead and that I would never see her again.  It’s a struggle for me still to this day.

Like I said, nursing was never my focus growing up, but as I thought about it, I knew it was what I wanted to try.  And it turns out I’m relatively okay at it.  I value my education and my career and do it to honor my mother.  I know what if she were here she would be congratulating me on my work and supporting me with all my endeavors.

Hannah Kanai

As a first semester nursing student, I knew nothing, but I knew I knew nothing. I had never been in a hospital (other than my birth) until my first day as a student nurse. The beeping monitors, the moans of patients, the clicks of nurses charting as they run down the hall toward their next patient’s room, the ringing of phone; I was overwhelmed. Even when it came to the simple task of introducing myself to my first patient, I was lost. Thankfully, my instructor patiently guided me through the steps of walking into the room and introducing myself. The other students thought my apprehension was humorous, but I was legitimately terrified.

I still remember my first patient. Two other nursing students and I were placed with a small elderly woman who didn’t appreciate the fact she was stuck with three greenhorns. Though she was patient with our inexperience in the beginning, by midmorning, she was done. In the end, she fired us.

To say that I was upset is an understatement. I was heartbroken. Devastated. It left me questioning my career decision, wondering if I had just made the biggest mistake of my life. My instructor assured me that it happened to everyone.

After my clinical was over, I did what every sensible person would do in their most desperate moment. I called my mama. Defeated, I told her I wasn’t sure if I had made the right decision going into nursing. She wasn’t convinced though. She went on to remind me why I started nursing school, and the call that God had placed on my life to help people in need. In the end, I decided to push through my doubt and continue with nursing.

With each passing semester, my knowledge and confidence grew, and though there were hiccups, doubts and frustrations that came with it, by the end of my fourth semester, I felt prepared to enter the professional nursing world as a competent nurse.

During my last clinical days, I was a student nurse in NTICU, and under the supervision of my team leader, I took care of two ICU patients. My team leader told me he was impressed with my work and that I had everything I needed to be an excellent ICU nurse. He continued on and said any unit would be lucky to have me on board. At this point, I was excited about starting my career, and I felt fully prepared. My confidence had reached its peak.

Unfortunately, that high was short lived. I was thrust into the real world of nursing, realizing that this profession is either sink or swim.

Nursing school was black and white. Everything fell into a box; all the rules applied. There was a safety net, and a sense of security that came with being a student. It was okay if you messed up because it was considered a learning experience.

Real nursing is grey. There are no boxes, and rules don’t always apply. The safety net is gone, as well as the sense of security. There is no longer someone there to hold your hand and walk you through. A mistake is no longer just a learning experience, but something that could cost someone their life.

It felt like I was living a nightmare. Gone was the confidence that had been built up over the course of four semesters, replaced by the apprehension I felt the first day of clinicals. I found myself standing outside the patient’s door, scared to walk inside, but this time, not because I didn’t know how to, but because the weight of the responsibility that laid in front of me was nearly suffocating. I cried myself to sleep night after night as I questioned my choice to become a nurse. Doctors and nurses made me question my competence and ability; I felt that I was swimming in a tank full of sharks.

While I was working one day, my charge nurse came to me and said I would be admitting a transfer from another facility. The patient was being life flighted, and I was told it would be a mess. I was petrified, doubting their trust and choice in me; I just knew I wasn’t prepared and wouldn’t be able to keep the patient alive. When the patient arrived, I found out quickly that “a mess” was an understatement. He was quickly crashing, and I didn’t even know where to begin. My charge nurse and preceptor had the utmost confidence in me, saying “Start with his biggest problem, and fix him.” After that, they turned around and walked out, leaving me praying for guidance, with the patient that led to the experience that changed my life laying in front of me. The rest of the day was a blur of doctor’s orders, vasopressors, sedatives and every drip known to mankind. I felt that every problem that I fixed was replaced by two more problems. After nine hours of nonstop care to this specific patient, I gave report and began gathering my things to leave. The weight of the day and the feeling of defeat weighed on me like a ton of bricks. On my way to clock out, my preceptor stopped me, asking how I felt my day went. Though I figured she knew what my answer would be and was only asking to critique me, I humored her, expressing my utter despair. Her confused look surprised me. Grabbing my arm, she drug me back the patient room. “Look at him. The only reason he’s still breathing right now is because of you. Stop doubting yourself. Your biggest problem is the lack of confidence you have in yourself.” I stood there and listened to the beeping monitor and looked at the face of the man I had watched over for those nine long hours. My outlook on myself as a nurse changed that day, because I realized she was right.

I knew that the people in the hospital beds that would be in front of me wouldn’t be just a disease, illness or injury. They would be mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, wives or husbands, and each of them trusted me to keep them alive. I realized that nursing school had left me unprepared for the real world of nursing by allowing me to believe that there was always an answer to every question and a solution to every problem.

There are no rules when a patient is crashing. There are no answers for the devastated family who lost their 18 year old son. There is no amount of words that can comfort a lonely dying patient.

Nursing is so much more than reading a chart and administering medications. As a nurse, you are the patient’s lifeline, their grip on reality, the listening ear and comforting words. The answers to their never ending questions cannot be found in any text book I read.

Though there are still times that I have lingering doubts and fears, I now know that my own worst enemy is myself. Not the condescending words of the doctors or nurses, but my own lack of confidence. Through the past six months as a new nurse, God has walked, sometimes carried, me through the trials that I faced. I lived the promise He made when He said He would never place anything upon us that would be more than we could bear. I believe that promise isn’t solely for spiritual trials, but any obstacles that I face. I pray as my career continues I remain humble, never forgetting the journey that brought me here.

NUR/HSC Healthcare Informatics Students Top 3 Peer Reviewed Blog Posts Fall 2015

Each semester nursing and health science students in the Healthcare Informatics course are taught about the importance of social media, blogging, and your social presence on the web. One important aspect of this is blogging. Students are introduced to blogging through various assignments that require them to create a blog for the first time, post on specific topics, and review and rank peer’s posts. This semester there were three very unique and distinctive posts selected by peers. Please enjoy.

Kortney Detring

Imagine, if you will, waking up one morning in a darkened room, hearing the murmur of people nearby, the sounds of alarms disturbingly close. Disoriented, you’re not sure what’s going on or why you’re here. Suddenly, you hear someone next to you; shuffling of paper, unfamiliar clicks, buttons being pressed. You try to speak, and realize you have no voice. You try to wave your hands, but they seem to be restrained because they’re not moving at all. Worse yet, you realize nothing is moving. You can’t move, you can’t speak, and you don’t know what is happening.

“Hello <insert your name here>. I’m your nurse today. I’m just giving you a little medication to help you relax…”

“But I don’t want to relax,” you scream inside your head. “I want to know what’s happening! Someone please tell me what’s going on!”

Of course, the nurse can’t hear you. No one can hear you, because you have no voice. You have no way to communicate what you want or what you need.

Sounds terrifying, right?

While the above scenario depicts an extreme example of locked-in syndrome, I feel like this is a fairly close representation of what it is like for our patients to wake up on a ventilator, hands restrained, unable to communicate in the way they are accustomed. As a critical care nurse, I see patients all the time who have experienced traumatic events and are now unable to speak for themselves. Because it was unexpected, they don’t have an advance directive to tell us the wishes they had for themselves in this situation. And because it’s a hard topic to discuss, they haven’t talked about it to their children or parents or spouse.

What is then left for the family to decide? A whirlwind of questions surround them. What are the options? Will there be any quality of life? Would they want to live like this? Can they live like this? Should we “pull the plug?” These are questions the physicians and nurses hear consistently in these cases. The worst question, though, in my opinion, is “what should I do?” This is not a question we can answer for you.

What we can do is offer advice. Pray. We’ll even get you a chaplain. Talk to your family, if that’s an option. Imagine, according to the life they’ve lived, what they would want to be done in this situation.

Finally, answer these questions for yourself before it’s too late. Fill out an advance directive so that your wishes will not go unheard. Talk to your parents, your friends, your spouse, and your children about what you want in the event of such a tragedy. This website offers forms for each state’s advance directives.

Don’t be a silent spectator at the end of your life.

Corbin Sohn

If you are unwilling to read a long post full of a heavy dose of reality, read no further. If you read this post with empathy, at best you will find yourself experiencing feelings of sadness and hopefully sharing in the emotional toll we ER nurses endure. If you choose to read it and have had negative thoughts towards emergency nurses, I hope you now have more sympathy for that which we endure on a daily basis and why things floor nurses prioritize for new admits, were not done. We may not have verified medications or gotten every element of distant health history but it was because we were busy dealing with more pressing matters…

What calls nurses to their profession? Why would one choose to work in an overworked, underappreciated, and emotionally trying role? We work long shifts with few to no breaks and absorb an enormous amount of stress and emotion from our patients and their families. Dealing with illness, sadness, and worry is a norm for every nurse but those of us who have chosen to work in emergency departments, especially level trauma centers, see patients and families at the absolute worst part of their lives. These patients come to us with medical or trauma issues that would be fatal without our rapid assessment and interventions. We attempt to stabilize the most critical of patients or at the least, postpone inevitable death even if it is only long enough for family members to say goodbye one last time. I am a newly graduated nurse who has been working in the ER for only a few months. I used to come to work thinking if I do my best tonight I can sleep well, regardless of what happens to my patients. I had this mentality until one terrible night in mid-August.

That night was a slow night for the ER, a rare occurrence at a level 1 trauma center. While most nurses are grateful for an easy shift, most ER nurses dread it. Inevitably the lack of quantity in patient load will be more than balanced out by the arrival of the most critical patients. That August night was certainly no exception. We came on shift at 7pm after the daily huddle and nurse report. It hadn’t been twenty minutes before we noticed an inbound patient report for a cardiac arrest being actively coded by EMS. Twenty minutes was all the time it took for a night with a positive outlook to be shattered by reality. I want to change perspectives. Imagine you are the proud father of your healthy, fit middle age son. You are talking to him on the phone about his day as he takes an easy stroll around the block. Your conversation is light and cheerful when he tells you he isn’t feeling well and is going to head home. The next call you receive is from a nurse, “Sir my name is Corbin I am a nurse calling from Cox South Emergency Department.” Your heart sinks, deeper than you have ever imagined it could. You learn your eldest son who you were just lightheartedly joking with on the phone was found unresponsive and is only being kept alive by a nurse pushing Epinephrine and an ER Tech doing compressions on his chest.

I hope I never know the pain and anguish that father had to have felt. The anguish I heard in that father’s voice in turn sank my soul to a deeper level than I have ever known. A few minutes later, “Time of death 1943.” No one spoke for a moment, each of us registering what had occurred and searching all parts of our minds for something else we could try. We wanted to reward that one last hope to defy every certainty of death. No such miracle occurred.

This slow night provided our staff with plenty of time to dwell on this death. You could see it in each of our faces and knew each other’s thoughts without asking. Our dedication to that patient’s life and the emotional toll we each endured was followed a few hours later by a new inbound patient report for the room next door. The saying “history repeats itself” was foremost in my mind as I read the patient was in his 30’s, cardiac arrest, and being actively coded by EMS. Unfortunately as the saying goes, history did repeat itself. Hearing the time of death called again made that night the hardest night I have experienced thus far in the ER. Each nurse longed for the shift to be over and each wanted to clock out and get away from the ER.

That night I learned another lesson common to the ER. Bad things come in 3’s. Only an hour before our shift ended we had another inbound patient report to the third room in a row, our pediatric trauma room. Spontaneous birth into a toilet, EMS actively coding the report stated. A short while later I heard that phrase for the third time that night. “Time of death…”

Our shift ended. We all went home. We went back to our lives and our families and put on a smile so our families didn’t inherit our feelings of despair. I started this post by stating I used to think if I did my best I could sleep well at night. I lost that mentality that night and found myself with a new thought process. This new way of thinking was that if I do my best and a patient dies, I should feel horrible. This mentality is more trying on my emotions and my life as a whole. However, if we accept patient death without personal repercussion, what drive will we ever have to push ourselves to be better for the next patient? We would accept death and the care we provide with no desire to achieve higher levels of care and performance. Too many nurses have fallen into the mentality of doing their best then going home without any desire to change and improve.

The United States Air Force has a branch of select Special Forces military personnel called Para-rescue. These soldiers go behind enemy lines, directly into the line of fire to retrieve and care for injured soldiers. They have a motto of, “That Others May Live.” I have never served in the military and will never argue that anything in civilian life can compare to the trials of war. With my new perceptions of the ER, however, I have accepted that no matter how difficult my life becomes, no matter how emotionally trying my life is, and no matter what emotions I have to endure to become better for my patients, I will greet the emotional challenges with fortitude and accept the repercussions so that others may live.

Elizabeth Wharton

I believe that everyone here on this earth has a calling. God has made each and every one of us for a purpose. As kids, we were often asked: What do you want to be when you grow up?! As the years go by and we grow older, our ideas of what we wanted to be as kids has probably changed. At the age of ten, I knew I was called to be a nurse.

I have always been a caring, loving, and compassionate person and I knew I wanted to help others. As I was growing up, I started to realize that I had a way with children. My cousin, Katlyn, was born when I was ten so I started babysitting. I then said, I want to be a Labor and Delivery nurse! I then started working at the nursery in my church to be around kids. I loved teaching them about how much God loves them and its fun to see them grow in Christ. I worked hard to get into nursing school and worked even harder to get through it. There were moments where I though I was literally going to die from my brain being so overloaded with information and studying. I continued to remember that God brought me to this and he will see me thorough it. He did just that.

I don’t think my spiritual prayer life had ever been so strong as the time when I was preparing for boards. I cried many times asking, Lord please help me pass! Help me to study, review, and remember only the information Ill need to pass! The day that I went to take boards, I got up early and prayed the whole morning. My test started at eight, and sadly, I had all 265 questions and it took me 5 hours and 55 minutes. Periodically throughout the exam, I would take a moment and pray and in those moments I felt at peace. I could feel that God was with me and I never got worked up or anxious. I was able to stay calm and continue answering questions. Once the exam was over and got into my car, thats a different story. After the longest three days of my life, I found out I passed! Again, God is faithful! He obviously has great plans for me as a nurse.

I accepted a full time day position in Rehab. But what about my love for labor and delivery? Its still here. At the time when I was searching for an RN position, there was nothing available in L&D. Throughout my year of being in Rehab as an aide while I was in nursing school, I grew to love that type of nursing as well. I was blessed with a day position which is rare for a new grad.

Ive learned that God can use me anywhere. Not just in L&D. I believe that one day if it is His will, Ill be blessed with a position there. But if not, Im content where He has me. My nursing career has only just begun.


Why Techy Nurse Became Dean

I have now worked as a Dean for six months. This was a Sunday Afternoon memo I shared with my faculty and staff.

A few thoughts I want to share with you this Sunday afternoon.

I am sending this on Sunday in hopes that you will read this before you come in Monday or first thing in the morning. This Monday morning memo is not about what we are doing or how busy we are it is a simple reflection of my thoughts and my story. Yes, I am incredibly busy in preparations with the MSN Site visit but I have had these subtle messages to me over the past few weeks that has made me want to take the time to share these thoughts with you. Some of you will just ignore this, not believe it, gossip about it, criticize it, or focus on the negative. It is your decision in what you do with the memo  but what I can tell you is this is me 100% in the raw.

Who is TechyNurse & Why Did She Want to be Dean? What is she doing here? 

I am 35 years old, mother of four (step mom to 3), and wife to one of the most humbling men I have ever known. My husband makes me strive to be a better person every day. He gives to our family unselfishly in more ways that I could ever mention. Without his love, support, and incredible dedication to me and our family, I would not be able to be doing this job today. He is the one that takes our kids to school every day, picks them up, takes them to doctor’s appointments, does all the running, grocery shopping, and literally keeps our household functioning – and never complains! I’m still working on Work/Life Balance, another area of opportunity for improvement.

I am one of five children, smack dab in the middle. I grew up in a middle class household with my mom and step father. I am the typical over achieving middle child. I have a full blooded older brother and sister and two younger half-brothers. I was the only one in my family to go to college. I pretty much raised my younger two brothers and even home schooled one of them while I was going to nursing school so he could get his high school diploma. I grew up in a completely dysfunctional household. There is no need to go into the details and I am not asking for sympathy.  I am simply sharing who I am and where I came from. Why? Because I learned from it, grew from it, and it has helped to shape the person that I am today.

Why do I tell you how old I am? Because I use to be embarrassed to even state how old I was. Why? Because it was the people around me that made me feel embarrassed.  People would make me feel that I could not be young and be doing what I am doing.  I let those around me impact how I felt, have control of my feelings, and impact the person I was.  I friend of mine also recently shared with me that she has acquired a fear of public speaking all of which she feels was acquired in nursing school. This hurt my heart to hear, still does.

I have worked in a society for many years that is quick to judge a human being’s level of success or personal potential by their appearance or demographics. For those of you not aware, I use to be a bleach blonde. Before I was offered a leadership position, I was strongly encouraged to change my hair color because of the impression my blonde hair would have. So yes, I colored my hair and I have been a brunette ever since.  I have learned so many incredibly hard lessons over the course of my 17 years in health care. Yes, in the past I changed positions a lot. I’ve heard people gossip about that and criticize me for that. The truth is that I work hard in every position I have ever worked in, I am passionate about what I do, and I take pride in my work. Every position I have worked in throughout my career has led to some type of promotion or additional opportunity. Well not entirely true, two jobs I lost as a result of company reorganizations. A few road bumps but I always bounced back. I can tell you that every promotion or opportunity I have taken was not without some type of leader in the back ground saying – do it, you were made for this, I believe in you, I will support you, I will help you………………………

In every opportunity I embraced the fear and took a leap of faith.  I jumped in with both feet. I am a risk taker (Yes – closet microwave – probably – but I also see myself as a crock pot – I stew on things long before I act). I am so grateful for every position and leader I have ever had in my career and life because it has taught me so many things beyond my years and built relationships that I still have today.  I truly feel that it was God preparing me for this position today.  My words of advise to you is to never make assumptions about people, never judge a book by their cover, never believe gossip, and always seek the truth. Additionally, push people to be there absolute best, push our students to be their best. See the great in them, encourage them, lift them up, help them, empower them – don’t lead by fear. I do not believe there is any form of “healthy fear.” Fear creates a level of anxiety and stress, unknown, it gets our adrenaline going, and causes us to make mistakes. It does me and I know it does them.

Think about the timing of situations. If you need to speak to a student – should you tell them right before a test or right before they are getting ready to do skills check off or something that is already high stress?  Put yourself in their shoes – what would you want? I learned this as a leader – timing is everything and has an impact on everyone -even when you think it does not. I learned as one of those what not to do moments (I have a list of those –  ongoing – epic “whoops” moments – I would say fail, but I am not fond of that term). What may feel like the right time for us, may not be the right time for them. Think about those things. This is something I am still working on myself.

Let me share with you my experience in nursing school. I can tell you by name the most inspirational and influential instructors that I ever had – the ones that empowered me, encouraged me, pushed me, believed in me, yet, all while still holding me accountable (most of them I am still friends or colleagues with today).  These are some of my closest confidants, I go to them for advice, they will drop anything to help me, they are quick to tell me if I am wrong, and still to this day they push me to think! Sometimes though, I wish they would just give me an answer and tell me what to do but I know that all great leaders do not do that, they want us to learn. Wow – love that about them.

I can also tell you by name the instructors that told me I would never be a nurse, I would never be successful, I wore too much makeup, my tennis shoes were too trendy, or that I should just drop out of nursing school. I gave up trying to figure out what they got out of this – it was wasted energy and time. It was also kind of ironic that nearly 12 years later I would work with one of them as a colleague. Was it weird for me? Not at all. But I always wondered if it was for them? Did they remember saying that to me? If so, would they apologize for that? Well I never got an apology but I did honor them through forgiveness. Forgiveness is a powerful thing. I am not saying that any of you have said those things but if have – do you want to be remembered for that?

Additionally, I failed third semester nursing school by one point. Yes, I failed nursing school – one semester – one point – one time. OMG the Dean of your college – failed nursing school! I am not ashamed to share it or say it, it is part of who I am. Those around me, know this about me and I have also shared with students. It is part of my journey, part of who I am, and part of my life experiences.

Did I want to give up when I failed 3rd semester? You bet I did! Did I? No, I returned to nursing school and finished.

Let me tell you that returning was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life. I was labeled as a “failure.” I was treated like a “failure.” And I will never forget how they made me feel. I forgave those instructors and marked it as part of my personal journey. I also made it my personal philosophy that I would make every effort to not be the result of someones ill feelings. I am not saying that all students are qualified to be a nurse or health care professional. What I am saying is that we can help others through difficult times with truth and grace.  Those go hand in hand. Truth with grace!

Have you ever read our student handbook or policy and procedure? Pretty sure the word “failure” is well over 1,000 times in both.

Let me start off my saying that initially, I never felt the Dean position was one I wanted. I selfishly wanted to stay being a faculty member so I could live in my own little world of teaching my BSN students in my BSN program with my BSN faculty and have more time with my family (notice the theme there – “4” my). Yes, for the most part selfish thoughts (except for the more time with family), selfish decisions but truth.

At the college we tend to work in our little silos and not see the big picture of how we can work together to be a united force. We see things only in our little world with our little agendas.  If we step back and see how we can work as one – I promise you it will be an amazing thing.

Funny story – remember the pipe interactive activity I had you do? Well I messed that one up. Gave you the wrong instructions – I told you the solution of how to do it beforehand (Typical Type A) – whoops! Well if you want to do this again, it is a great activity, just tell everyone to put a finger on the pipe all at the same time, all at once and lower it (Don’t tell them to put their finger in the L shape first – that is the solution). Those activities were done so you could see that as human beings we get so focused on our individual tasks and accomplishing them that we do not look at creative ways we can work together to achieve that same goal easier. This was another driving force for me to apply for the Dean’s position.

I know that “when” we all begin to work together it is going to be an amazing and fantastic thing.  Everything is about compromise, we can’t have things 100% our way all the time (don’t tell my husband that), and we have to work together.  That means compromising our personal wants for the greater good. Another thing that takes constant work & thought.

As a BSN faculty I can’t tell you how many discouraging journal entries I read or hear about from students. Students that are being impacted by our words, our choices, and our actions. Students are sponges just like children they learn from our actions. If they see two faculty working against each other in a clinical setting or classroom – we are teaching them that is it okay to not work together. I see this in team teaching online as well – students are quick to look for ways to work faculty against one another.  Do not think that they are not paying attention to these things because they are.

Did you know our students are the 3rd preferred choice as hires? Our students should be the 1st. So, what are we going to do about that? Blame the students? Blame the faculty? Blame the dual enrolled program? Blame the Talent Test? Blame leadership? Blame the hospital? Blame the curriculum? Blame the new NCLEX exam? Or come up with a solution? A solution may not work right off, it may take some tweaking or modifying, or changing. It will take collaboration, working together, and trying new things. What we cannot say is well we tried that it did not work. What about trying things until it does work? What about a goal for us that our students will be the #1 preferred hire?

These are some of the things that lead me to wanting to be the Dean of our college. I want change, Christian Discipleship in all that we do, empowering servant leadership, creating a positive & healthy work environments and having an amazing educational Christ-centered institution for our students. This is the first organization I have worked for where I know that “we” have the autonomy and support to make that happen. We have the ability to make our college one of the best places to work and most desired colleges for our students. You may not believe that but I certainly do and that potential is what keeps me going every day. I want to see those journal entries change to students telling us all the reasons why they choose our college and how we helped them to become the amazing health care professional they are today.

I do my best work when I am not overwhelmed, when I am encouraged, feel appreciated, shown respect, when I can do for someone else, teach someone else, and share from my own personal life experiences. Am I perfect? Far from it. I make mistakes every day. I try to learn from those mistakes and not use them as crutches and we can do the same for our students. I try to think about every action I do and the impact it has on someone.  As a leader that is difficult because sometimes hard decisions have to be made. But those decisions can be made with truth and grace. Some mistake my passion for aggressiveness, what I can tell you is that I try to do my best in everything I do. I want to do what is right and what is fair. Do I want  your respect? Absolutely, I do, but I know that respect is something that is earned not granted. I know that I will make mistakes along the way but I will be the first to own those mistakes and apologize for them when it happens. My door is always open. If I have done something I do expect you to talk to me about it – truth and grace – remember – truth and grace. Same with everyone in that regards if you have felt wronged – go to that person and speak to them with truth and grace. 90% of misunderstandings are communication.

Do you ever think about think about your path that brought you to where you are today? About your experiences in nursing school, radiography school, graduate school, or your doctorate program? Those that have crossed your path in your personal journey and the words they chose? I do every day. I also think about this amazing platform that God has provided us with at the college to do amazing things. You have the ability to inspire, lead, impact, all through God’s word! Powerful! Gives me chills thinking about it and saying it!

………….. a faith-based partnership educating students to be competent and caring health care professionals engaged through the healing ministry of Christ through servant leadership.

This is our mission statement. I fully and passionately with 100% of my heart believe and support this mission statement, every word. Do you? That is for you to figure out. It is your choice. Our mission statement is and will continue to be the foundation of this college and our driving force.

Our customer is our students and one another.  Without the students and one another, we would not have our jobs and would not be able to do what we are doing.

Every day I pray for our college, our students, our faculty, our staff, our leadership.

John 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.


Spring 2012 Nursing Informatics Students Webliographies

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to collaborate, learn, laugh, complain, praise, and teach with my wonderful mentor, Dr. Terri Schmitt, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC (also known as @onlinenursing) in the BSN Nursing Informatics course at Southwest Baptist University (SBU), also known as #NUR3563 on Twitter .  The cool thing about Terri is I was once her student along with many other students at SBU.  Terri’s morals, compassion, leadership, quality, love for social media and online learning gleams in every component of her day.  It has a privilege and joy to teach beside her this past year.  I am sad to say Terri will be leaving SBU this fall but her presence will not be forgotten.  The impact she has made on students, peers, coworkers, and educators across the country will continue with her amazing nursing education profession.  The amazing thing about Terri she does not leave people behind her, she pulls them up to stand with her and then pushes them in front of her.  Terri’s witty and creative blogging assignment has required students semester after semester to step out of their comfort zone and begin to develop their professional appearance on the World Wide Web (WWW).  This webliography assignment is dedicated to Terri.

Now, as Terri says, remember students are learning and we teach them that Wikipedia is not an academically sound reference, and should not be used – some of the webliographies may contain this information.

Webliography: Multiple Sclerosis
Alzheimer’s Disease
Macular Degeneration
Prenatal Emergency Resources
Trisomy 21
Palliative Care
Coronary Artery Disease 
The Importance of Vaccinating Children
Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Providing Complete Care to Cancer Patients
Heart Failure
Head Lice
The Danger of Bath Salts
Gestational Diabetes
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Hospital Falls
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Advanced Direction and DNR
Healthy Eating & Exercise
Traumatic Brain Injury

BSN Informatics Instructor & Students Get Real About Social Media

In the past year I have had the privilege of teaching the BSN Informatics course, previously taught by the intelligent, witty, and super amazing, Mac loving mentor, Dr. Terri Schmitt. I have to admit when I had initially took over the course I was thinking I would instantly be removing the Twitter assignment.

As a novice, non-believer in Twitter, I  didn’t want to be pushed out of my comfort zone. Yes, I admit, very closed minding thinking on my part. I selfishly didn’t want to take the time to learn something new. Now, what kind of Informatics educator would I be if I didn’t take on the initiative to learn something new, outside of my comfort zone, and in the world of social media? I pretty narrow minded and boring one. With that said, I read the Twitter course assignment and I decided to put on my student shoes. I was going to learn to Twitter through the same process as the students. I created my profile, my Twitter name (@techynurse), learned what Tweet Deck, hashtags and live chats were, all at the mercy of my wonderful mentor.

Shamelessly, I will admit, within 24 hours I ate my words and converted to a social media believer.  I cannot begin to tell you how many opportunities Twitter has opened up for me. A relationship established through Dr. Terri Schmitt (@onlinenursing) and the Journal of Dermatology in Nursing, Lisa Bonnall (@NursingCenter) has lead to my first two publications in nursing journals.  All achieved through the use of social media.  The Twitter assignments still exist today and I can’t tell you how much fun I am having teaching social media. I have students of all ages, from the novices to the experts.  This semester I have had more than a handful of the non-believers that I continue to push outside of their comfort zone. After all if we stay in our comfort zone how will we ever realize the awesome things that are out there?

Over the past three weeks my students have had to create a blog, e-portfolio, create a podcast, and now I’m torturing them with advanced Excel exercises. The cool part, if they are following me on Twitter they will be getting some cool tips to help out with their homework.  So check out the amazing work my students are doing, listen to their views on social media before the class started two weeks ago and where they are at today. Find them and follow them on Twitter as well! Cool!

Name Blog Twitter
Baker, Kelsey @KelseyBakerRN
Balty, Travis @EDNurse511
Brown, Amanda @nursbrown07
Clair, Sherry @SherryC8
Clowning, Kelsi @kelsichowning
Davis, Lisa @lmd0528
Duffel, Steven @LargeBoreIV
Ellis, Ashley @AshleyEllis12
Ferwalt, Desiree @DesireeFerwalt
Ford, Tamara @NurseFord12
Groll, Delia @deliaannrn
Hardcastle, Sarah Http:// @SarahRN_2010
Heeren, Katie @KateHeeren
Henley, Christy @NurseChenley
Malcolm, Ashleigh @NurseAsh26
McGinnis, Mandy @NurseStudent62
McGlasson, Jennifer @jenmcglasson
Mix, Chuck @Chuckmix
Pinion, Amy @amyloves2care
Redd, Margaret @margaret_redd
Roberts, Tony @TonyLeeRoberts
Simpson, Shannon @shennon35
Washburn, Whitney @WashburnWhitney

Here Voki, Voki, Voki

Technology is changing every aspect of education. The way it is developed, the way it is delivered, and the ways it has evolved. Challenges have accommodated this evolution as educators are faced with numerous forms of change. While many educational institutions move into the “technology-rich” arena, educators have found it difficult to follow and use such environments to their advantage. Technology-rich learning environments offer the potential to take teaching and learning beyond the four walls of the classroom to where learning is based on real-world problems and learners become active participants in constructing their own learning.


Have you ever heard of a voice Voki? A voice Voki is a voice activated Avatar where you can add your own voice or a computer generated voice to your customized Voki. A voice Voki adds a personal touch to your course and allows students to hear your voice. Have you ever considered creating a Voki? It is as simple as one-two-three. These simple yet creative mini announcements or mini clips add a nice personal touch to your online classroom. I have used these for a quick introduction, as a weekly announcement, and even requested students to post their course introductions and bios as a Voki. Students love Vokis! It is also a great way to have students create an assignment using a Voki.

Along with technology comes the inevitable change factor.

Resistance to Change

One thing I have discovered over the years especially in my years of experience in management, many individuals are resistance and avoid change at every opportunity. Some theories believe it is not necessarily the change itself, but the control of the change. Many times it is not the fear of change itself it is the individuals not have the tools, training, and equipment to be prepared for the change. There is no difference in education. Over the past ten years online education has evolved a great deal and educators are still struggling to keep up with the technological advances. It is as much as being able to keep up with your students. If your students are more knowledgable than you, then embrace it as an opportunity to learn from them, or even consider obtaining more training. I value input I receive from my students and with an open mind I learn something from them every day. Just remember, when change occurs, it is important to decrease the amount of stress associated with the change.

Hello and Welcome to My Blog!

In efforts to keep up with the ever-changing world of healthcare. I have decided to delve into the world of blogging.  I have found the most wonderful information at the click of a mouse in some of the greatest blogs out there. My love for technology, technology teaching tools, social media, and of course my phenomenal and wonderful peers were my motivation for creating my blog. I hope you enjoy.