Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mid-term evaluation

It's been seven week since I started my part-time position as "faculty" (I put that in quotes because I can't consider myself faculty with a straight face) with the nursing department at Hope College. I've been a clinical instructor for senior nursing students in their internship rotation, something they all complete in their last semester. It's a half-semester rotation, so I just wrapped things up with my students from the first half, and I'm starting anew with a fresh batch.

I've never been so humbled in my, I take that back. I remember feeling this humbled one other time: when I was a brand, spankin' new nurse. And not humbled in a breathy, "Oh, I' m so honored..." kind of way. Humbled in a "Holy cats, I feel SO incompetent" kind of way. I remember being a new grad, BSN in hand stating that I AM prepared to function in the clinical setting...and coming home every night from work and throwing myself on my bed and crying. Then I'd get up and study for boards, and end up crying more. Little did I know HOW LITTLE I KNEW.

So that's kind of how I feel in this role. My students work side-by-side in their respective clinical setting with their preceptor (the nurse who works on the unit who is mentoring them), and I drop in on them once a week or so to see how they are progressing with their independence, how they are going about acheiving their goals that they've written for themselves, grade their papers, etc. I really don't spend nearly as many hours with them as the instructors for the other clinicals who are on-site with them all day twice a week.

But I obsess over grading their papers as much as if I were writing it myself! I hem and haw and hem and this the kind of work I'd expect from a senior nursing student? Is it in correct APA format? Did they correctly cite their research? Are they demonstrating critical thinking? Do I REALLY want to deduct THAT many points? Aughh!!!

I thought I had to be really strict with due dates. There are dates in the syllabus that I thought I had to strictly adhere to. So I freaked a poor student out when she turned in a paper late and I told her I may not be able to accept it at worst, and her grade would significantly drop at best. Then I find out from the other profs that the due date is flexible per the number of hours the student has completed on the unit. But the syllabus said...oh never mind.

I meet with them and their preceptors for mid-way and final evaluations. Are you SURE you want to assign that student a 100% in that category? Because that's assuming they're ready to jump into a nursing role and fulfill it with flying colors. Do my standards match the standards of the preceptor? Is the student really doing that well or that poorly?

I'm taking on my new crowd of students in the next week. I just found out today that they needed to go through a quickie orientation at the hospital, and I had no idea. So I'm busting my tail to Human Resources trying to set this up in the next few days, get them into computer training, and I feel like a complete idiot with egg on my face. But what else can I do? I'm not going to provide a litany of excuses - I don't have any. I'm learning this role and it totally slipped me that this was also required. So you drop the ball, you cry because it hurt your toes, and you pick it back up. And hope that your students can make it to the computer-documentation orientation class at 1:30 on Monday that the computer lady at the hospital begrudgingly told you she would do. *Thank you, computer lady!*

I have no idea how my students will evaluate me. I'm not sure I really want to know. I obsessed over their grades this week before I submitted them (they passed! *whew!*). Is THIS what it's like to be a teacher? Because I have so much more respect for educators than I already did have.

I've made it my regular prayer that God will scoop the junk out of my heart and show it to me for what it is. Well, He's come up with handfuls of pride over and over again, and I think this is one way that He's getting the message across. I can't do anything on my own. I can only receive my strength from Him. If I do something that makes me look like an idiot, well so what. Making mistakes and fessing up to them is part of being real and transparent..and I know I still have a long way to go in being real and transparent. I've just felt very silly in this role over the past couple of months, and hopefully in the next couple of months, I'll feel slightly LESS silly.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We're too old to shop at Charlotte Russe

Permission granted by Bezoar to write this anecdote

Kristin and I couldn't really remember the last time that we were able to spend time together in the past year. There was the time we were downtown during Tulip Time, and then we went to dinner with our husbands in September or October, and then she and I had coffee sometime in November. So we spent the day shopping yesterday at the mall in Grandville after a snow"storm" put the kabosh on our plan to go to Birch Run (outlet mall on the other side of the state).

Our shopping goals were neither lofty nor glamorous: Kristin to buy new jeans if she could handle multiple tryings-on emotionally - as is par for course in the purchase of jeans and/or bathing suits (and if a worthy pair was to be found in the first place for said trying-on), and me to find some fun costume jewelry. We're walking by Charlotte Russe, which caters much more to the half-our-age set, and not really to anyone whose hips have pushed a day past puberty. But we decided to see if we could find something fun anyway.

Well, we had luck! I found some fun bracelets and a necklace, as did Kristin. We're up at the register paying, and there's a little display of buttons with sayings on them, the kind you'd pepper all over your backpack if you're fifteen. One of them had a leopard-print background and in hot pink letters said, "Holla!" *For the equally un-hip among us, the online urban dictionary says that "holla" is a term used to get the attention of a female, or for a man to express interest in a particularly impressive female.* Now, I must preface this by saying, I thought exactly what Kristin said, but she said it first. She said, "Um, you'd think they could spell hola right" (as in, the Spanish greeting). That's when we realized we were way too old to shop at Charlotte Russe. We kept it real until we left, though, so we didn't lose face.

Anyway, this is a change of subject, but if you happen to be reading this, and you're a nurse with a longing to burst free of the confines of a hospital for the summer, click here and all of your wildest dreams will come true.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A riddle...

So when a 13-year-old gives birth, and you're asked to go into the room and assess the baby, who exactly do you assess?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Anticipating Spring

I have been trying to think of something riveting to say in the past several days, and I'm coming up pretty dry. It's February in Michigan. Nothing happens in February in Michigan. The skies are usually gray, the weather is unpredictable, and the "thaw" that inevitably happens late January/early February is merely a tease. You'll take the dog out for a morning run in your spring jacket one morning, and schools are closed due to ice and snow 24 hours later.

I've experienced a few Februaries in various climes, and there's nothing quite like Michigan. But don't take MY word for it...see for yourself!!

February in California...

Another February in California...

February in Hawaii...

February in Tucson...


February in Michigan!!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


"BAY-beez!!! You get to work with BAY-beez!! Oh, you must have the most FUN job in the WORLD!"

A typical response to my line of work. Of course, I would probably say the same thing if I were someone else talking to me. Yes, the miracle of new life, unfurling regularly around me. Soft, warm, pink babies and happy families. "That baby smell." Bliss and excitement and love.

When people said this to me when I worked in the NICU, it was like, oh my word. I don't even know what to say. The babies there deal with far more than most of us will deal with in a whole lifetime, and almost deserve a nod of respect for the people they would be if they were grown-ups going thru the same thing.

But oh my goodness, postpartum is such a different story. That place can be downright hilarious. Walk down the hallway with me (due to the delicate nature of, names have been withheld):

Room #1: First-time mom, wants to breastfeed. No. Matter. What. I'm all about breastfeeding: you know what they say..."Breast is best!" Here we go. The baby's screaming. SCREAMING. The screaming only increases the closer the baby gets to where the food will come from mom. Put your fist in your mouth and scream as loud as you can - that's what it sounds like (on a baby level, of course). We've pulled out all of the contraptions to make this feeding a success: a silicone shield (so baby has more to "hold on" to), a syringe filled with a bit of formula connected to a little tube that will be placed behind the shield, so when the baby DOES grab on, I can give a little squirt of formula, the baby will think he's getting something grand, and violins will strike up in the background and breastfeeding will take off.

Nope. The baby continues to scream, formula is dripping all over the mom, mom's bawling about how her baby hates her...and no one can hear the violins.

I would rather stand dripping wet in the worst blizzard of the century chewing broken glass while a bear gnaws my face - than deal with breastfeeding problems!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Room #2: Me: "So what's your baby's name?" (I saw it on the profile sheet but I have NO idea how to pronounce I'm trying to find out in a roundabout way.)
Mom: "It's said how it's spelled." (Alrigghhhhhtttt...)
Me: " do you spell it?"
Mom: "It's SPELLED how it's SAID!!!"
Never mind.

Room #3: This lady's in labor but it's a bit high-risk so they pulled me to help out for a minute. I run in with my Neopuff (oxygen-administration device). Well, I try to run in. There are 16 people crowded in the room, cell phones and digital cameras held aloft, and they're NOT taking pictures of the mom's face, I'll just say that. Jerry Springer's bouncers are breaking up a fight in the background on the TV. (The father of the baby is sitting in a recliner watching Jerry.) The baby is born, the room lights up like the paparazzi just jumped out of a bush, and Jerry's canned voice announces, " are NOT the father!"

Room #4: Back to postpartum again following the paparazzi event.
Me: "So, what's your baby's name?" (I know the answer to this again, but this time I want to see if mom says what I THINK she's going to say following the baby's name...)
Mom: "Nevaeh (neh-VAY-a)." (A pause...please don't prove me wrong!)
Mom: "...It's 'heaven' spelled backwards!"

YES!! She didn't let me down!

*Every. Single. Person. Who has named their baby Nevaeh has pointed out that it's 'heaven' spelled backwards. That's why this is so funny. I'm not knocking that Nevaeh is a lovely name...just that it seems to come with a script.*

BTW - What do you think of Nevaeh Gouveia? (It's heaven spelled backw...DOH! EVEN I'M DOING IT!)

Back to Room #1: Oh, your baby's hungry again? Oh, I'd LOVE to help you breastfeed! AGAIN! Oh, no no no no no no...I have lots of time. Now where is that shield and the syringe and the tubing and the Boppy and the seven sets of hands we need to make this happen again?

Room #5: This mom broke up with her boyfriend a few months ago and is dating a new guy. The first boyfriend is the baby's father. She requested to be a full confidential (meaning if anyone asks, we've never heard of her) because she doesn't want the ex-boyfriend to know she's delivered. Her chart's flagged, Registration is aware, an alias has replaced her name on the board at the nurses' station, and Security is on alert should this ex-boyfriend happen to come thru the door. So who did she call first when the baby was born?

Her ex-boyfriend.

Room #6: This baby had been having blood sugar issues, but we're past the twelve-hour time frame that our protocol requires for regular blood sugar checks. So I don't have to be quite so hyper about making sure the baby is fed every three hours, but I had popped my head in the room to give a friendly reminder that the baby needs to eat soon and I'll be back later. This again at three and a half hours. Then four hours. Okay. We're rolling up on five hours - don't want to go much past that. Grandma's holding (clutching) the baby now. I kindly announce that it's past time for the baby to eat and we're going to start rustling her awake. Grandma says, "But she's sleeping!" (Of course she's sleeping...her sugar's probably -4 by this point.) I explain again the method to my madness. Grandma says to the baby, "Oh, the mean nurse is going to wake you up. I'd never be mean and wake you up."

Thanks a lot, lady.

Room #7: This mom is just out of recovery from her c-section. An assessment shows me that she's hemorrhaging and I need to intervene yesterday. Her mother-in-law is in the room, even though I just asked everyone to leave pronto. The dad is standing there looking awkward. I'm looking at the mom. She's looking at the dad. The dad's looking at his mom. Mom makes a pointed look with her eyes to the dad. Dad says to HIS mom, " The nurse here needs to do something with Ann." Grandma says, "Oh, I just need to get one more picture." (snaps a picture) Dad: "Okay, mom, time to go." (did I mention the mom is hemorrhaging?) Grandma's arranging the blanket around the baby, snaps another picture (stillllll hemorrhaging), says, "Oh honey, how do you think that turned out?" I'm ducking to dodge the daggers coming out of the mom's eyes. What on earth is Thanksgiving like with this family?

And Room #8: This mom did NOT like it that her baby cried when we squirted the routine antibiotic ointment in his eyes after he was delivered. So she refused any other treatment that might make him cry (can you refuse diaper changes and baths...and breastfeeding? That's my question). Hence, the routine Vitamin K shot was refused, the Hepatitis B vaccine, etc. Imagine how flummoxed I was, then, when I go in her room and the baby's not there. Oh, did she send him to the nursery? "Yes," she says coolly. "He's getting his circumcision."

Oh, I could go on and on and on. The dynamics are so interesting. I never want this blog to turn into a snark-fest, but dang, the everyday stuff is really so interesting sometimes. I just couldn't resist. I love working with bay-beez. ;D

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We're still part of the planet

I'm sure it would seem that the Gouveia's have disappeared, but we're still here. I've been a huge blog slacker lately. Would that make me a "blacker?" A "slogacker?" A "blogacker?" No matter how you say it, that's what I've been.

It's not for lack of stuff going on! We went up to the 'stee a couple weekends ago to spend some time with my parents...and Matt learned how to cross-country ski!! He did an awesome job on my mom's old skis. He lost his bearings a few times and flomped into the snow, but none of those times was on the large hill that you have to ski down halfway through the trail. I was pretty proud of my California-bred husband. :D Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera to the trails with us and have no fun pictures to document the adventure.

This past weekend we went over to the other side of the state to spend the weekend with my extended family for my cousin's sixteenth birthday party. We had a fabulous time eating chili and playing games on Saturday night, and had a fun family party on Sunday afternoon. The only documentation I have of our time there are some blackmail-worthy videos of Matt simulating hula-hooping on the Wii. Out of respect for him (and in the interest of keeping our marriage and his dignity intact), those videos will remain on my camera for my laughing pleasure for a bit longer, and then I shall delete them.

We also did our part to stimulate the economy via Trader Joe's. If you're a Trader Joe's uppy-up and you happen to be breezing past this blog, would you please consider building one in West Michigan? I mean, seriously?

I will return soon and write something slightly more thrilling, but for now, just know that we ARE still on planet Earth!