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“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”1Timothy 6: 18, 19

Well here we are, having completed the Traditional BSN program at Regis University!

Can’t believe it’s over! My sister shared this scripture with me; I thought it was most appropriate for commencement.  The word “commencement” has double meaning for us. We think of graduating, completing our current educational endeavor and moving on. And yet to commence is to begin… So, while we are wrapping up an amazing time at Regis, we are unwrapping new opportunities as BSNs. I know most of my classmates are excited to move on to “real life”, and get working. I find myself drifting into contemplation.

We have so much and so many to be thankful for; our families who supported us through months of our semi-attention, as we plugged in our laptops and zoned out of conversations. For our children, who got us at the end of the day, when we had already attended to someone speaking for 7 hours, and couldn’t pay full attention for another moment. Our spouses, who helped study, reading words they had trouble pronouncing, so we could do well on upcoming exams. And our instructors, who made their subjects come to life for yet another year, as if it was their first! We are blessed, and we know it~

These last two years at Regis have been some of the most meaningful in my life. Our instructors are stellar – truly professional, giving, nurturing and caring. Just as we think the best nurses and teachers should be. They model for us how to resolve conflict, to put others first, to listen and work within groups, and to care for our patients with the best, evidence-based practice we can provide. This should instill confidence in us, and it does. It is still a little scary to think of the responsibility we will take on over the coming years. As it has been pointed out to us, BSN nurses are called on to be leaders. It is our destiny, and that is why we chose Regis. We know we have been taught by the best.

Pinning was a ceremony filled with poignancy and elegance. Our own Maggie Castro gave the invocation, and Margaret Riley, our Roles and Med-Surg instructor (and my counselor) was the Mistress of Ceremony. Our Jenna Smith and Alicia Jones won awards for Service learning. We had parents, children, spouses and siblings pin us. It was meaningful and warm!

Hopefully our paths will cross, and we will keep in touch. It’s hard to believe we won’t, as we have spent countless hours studying in class and out. Some of these classmates have spent all four years here at Regis. They’ve attended charity events, service learning hours and spring break trips abroad – all in the name of social justice and love. I am heartened that so many young people (and some of us older folks) still want to take care of people, to spend difficult hours with sometimes difficult people. There is hope for the human race! If you don’t believe it, or are feeling disenchanted with our youth, just come and meander onto the Regis campus. Check out the library filled with hard-working young people. Listen on the stairs of Main Hall, to the young musicians practicing their guitars, pianos or violins. Look at the photos of students through the years, applying their time and talents to serving mankind – to “do good, to be rich in good deeds…”

I am proud to have written this blog, both last year and this. I remember reading blogs from years ago, wondering what it would be like to attend Regis. I never dreamed I’d have the opportunity to do just that! Thank you for taking the time to read these ramblings. It’s easy to go on and on when you have so many wonderful moments to recount.

We are proud to be Regis alumni, and fully intend to apply the lessons we have learned here at this fine institution. We plan to stand firm, knowing we have been prepared by the best, to provide the best. Watch out world!

“And having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” 

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Study lilacs

So I’m feeling sentimental, and sad that our academic year is coming to a close. I look around the classrooms, and see the shiny faces of my classmates. I imagine them going in their 70 separate directions, bound for many exciting destinations – geographical, spiritual and emotional. I look from the end of that tunnel I referred to last year – the road is familiar, yet strange and new. We’re proudly entering the nursing profession as Bachelor prepared RNs from Regis University – what an amazing honor!

Time seems to be slipping through our fingers, and propels us towards places and experiences we can only dream of. I expect stupendous feats from my cohort – new nursing theories, methods of providing care, and leadership defined by values-driven nurse managers.

We are strong, well-prepared, confident yet humbled at the awesome responsibility we will assume. The care we want to provide for our patients will be etched with the lessons we have learned from quality educators.

Our professors have taught us so much more than simple nursing facts and figures. They have demonstrated service to others; demonstrating grace, caring and excellence. I will never forget their many acts of kindness, as they daily greeted our class with smiles, humor and years of experience. Our teachers don’t simply teach – they personify the qualities we know are crucial to providing safe patient care. They know their subject, but more important, they know people. It is evident that they are invested in our success. We would do well to reflect the lessons learned at Regis on the patients entrusted to our care.

Regis Ladies

The last few weeks flew even quicker than the weeks before. We are busy formulating nutrition lesson plans in Community Health for our middle school students at Rachel B. Noel. Then on Fridays we get to spend the day with elementary school students at Swansea. These children have stolen my heart! I’ve discovered one population that could steal me away from my Veterans – but they have to be under 18~

In Nursing Dynamics, my classmates are sharing their Capstone presentations. These have been moving, funny, reflective and inspiring. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on our Regis nursing education, and share our perspectives with our cohort.

Lana's Capstone

Jenny's Capstone

Joy and Allison's Capstone

We also held our Regis 9HealthFair, coordinated by yours truly, BSN Senior Nursing Students. Our fair was a smashing success, as reported by Channel 9 News. Good luck to next year’s class, they have a tough act to follow!

9Health Fair quartet

Katie, Lindsey and John

This was an amazing venture, shared by some 200 volunteers, both from Regis Physical Therapy, Pharmacy, and Arrupe students. We had bilingual volunteers, and numerous community health sponsored booths. We served somewhere between 550 and 600 participants. WHEW!

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden

Well here we are, welcoming the first official day of spring. And spring is the right word for what we’re up to! In Community Health, we are learning to expand our nursing vision, from individuals and even families, to communities and populations.  It is interesting to learn new and expanded ways of thinking. We have seen a couple of cool videos that describe public health problems and possible solutions.

Swansea playground

We are working on group projects, doing things like “windshield surveys” – really getting to know about specific neighborhoods in our city. This is bittersweet, and I know it will catch a few of my classmates by the heartstrings. There is so much need in our world, both on a global and local scale. It forces us to use our creativity to come up with ways to meet the needs of our community, both local and global.

Clinicals for this semester involve spending time in two Denver Public Schools.  I started last week with one of my classmates, Hannah Kretzel. We got to spend the day at a local elementary school, with some of the cutest kids I have ever seen! We’re working on a “walking club”, encouraging classes to walk during recess. Some of the little ones prefer to huddle and chat. So we’re coming up with some incentives for them to exercise.

Hannah Kretzel

We’ll be spending the other half of our clinical hours at a middle school. This population will offer a whole new set of challenges. I’m looking forward to meeting the students, and learning about their unique health needs.

Our other Community Health projects involve group Epidemiology presentations and community assessment and program plans. We’ll know plenty about our neck of the woods by the time we’re finished!

Springtime on campus - view from Carroll Hall

In Nursing Dynamics, our final roles class, we have been delving further into the Nursing Social Policy, Standards of Practice, and Code of Ethics. We are also fine-tuning our resumes, portfolios and our own personal nursing philosophies. This course offers the opportunity to reflect on our beliefs, and what we really want to accomplish as nurses. We are working on Capstone projects, where we will share with the class our nursing school experiences. It will be great to see what my cohort comes up with – they are a strong, vibrant, bright and energetic group!

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply .Willing is not enough; we must do.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My VA Preceptor Jack Buckner, BSN and me

Welcome spring! And welcome to the last half of our last semester of our senior year.

Half of our class completed Senior Practicum. I got to spend mine at the VA, on the Rehab and Palliative care unit. My preceptor was a fine BSN by the name of Jack Buckner. He is a Veteran, and a Regis alumnus.  A double bonus! My clinical instructor Dana Lusk was Regis Alum also – it was like coming home! The staff made me feel right at home, and exhibited some great teamwork and leadership skills. I learned so much from them, and am proud to be counted among the nurses at our VA. They set a great example every day, and hold our Veterans in high esteem. My cohort Jenny Oilar and I also got to collaborate with a group of Front Range Community College nursing students. We had fun working together.

OK, now is the time to be calm, right? I mean, we’re just only 2 months away from graduation. We’re talking months now until “The Board of Trustees, President and Faculty of Regis University “Confer upon us the degree of Bachelor of Science”. How long we have waited to see those words in print! I’m writing this blog at 1230 – that’s 30 minutes after midnight in military time, for all of you nurses to be…

We are working on our senior capstone projects. I’m sure this is designed to have us reflect on our nursing education, and to formulate a presentation to our class of our experience at Regis. Whenever I sit down to work on it, I experience a whole range of emotions: Pride at having made it thus far, happiness that the end is in sight; sadness that I’m going to miss my wonderful cohorts and instructors; relief, that we have what it takes to complete this rigorous course of study.  And the anxiety that appears whenever I think of the term “NCLEX-RN”. This explains why I’m up in the middle of the night, writing this blog! But it is so worth it!

We took a quick trip to Cherry Creek State Park, and walked around a good part of the reservoir. It was a beautiful day, with a promise of warm springtime lurking in the cool wind. It’s important to get away from time to time, to recharge our spiritual batteries.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

I am also grateful that I have a job secured after graduation. I know how difficult it can be in this struggling economy, to gain employment – even as a nurse. But I am confident my cohorts, who are all exceptional and unique each in their own way, will find themselves happily employed by the providers of their choice. Institutions are wise to hire Regis prepared RNs. Nurses that have learned not only the importance of good safe nursing practice, but the essential nature of service learning, the special care of the poor and underserved in our world. I am so glad that I chose Regis. I know that I had one shot, and I wanted to obtain my nursing education in a special school, one where we are reminded how valuable every human being is. I know that the Jesuit education is the one for me!

We were fortunate to hear from a Jesuit brother in training, during our Senior Dynamics class. Jason Brauninger, S.J.  spoke to our class about his career as both a Jesuit and a BSN. He shared some of his experiences, and gave us a glimpse of what it is to be a servant of God and of man.

Sharif Abdelhamid, Regis’ own associate director for Service Learning, introduced Dr. Daniel Palazuelos, regarding global health issues. He is an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the Clinical Director of the Partners In Health-supported projects in Chiapas, Mexico and Huehuetenango, Guatemala He reminded us of the importance of serving not only our neighborhoods, but the whole world and its health care needs.We are now completing a spring break. Then half of our class will work on community health, and the other will complete their Senior Practicum. I have been assigned to Denver Public Schools, and can’t wait to find out about which schools specifically I’ll spend my time with. I have heard that in community health, we work as teams, to present educational offerings to classes. This will be exciting and challenging!

“Your success and happiness lies in you. 

Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

                                    Helen Keller

After the snowfall

It is a wintry snowy day in Colorado. Skiers are happy, commuters are not so much. Regis actually closed the campus, as did most metro area school districts. I am off anyway, so I planned on staying inside –closing school just confirmed my plans.

And here we are, celebrating both beginnings and endings. Completing our fall semester and saying good-bye to 2012. Looking ahead to completing our final semester and ultimately graduating and passing our NCLEX-RN exam. I’m reluctant to make New Year’s resolutions, having become accustomed to ongoing resolutions through the school year – to study every day, not procrastinate, to balance school and family life. I’m also old enough to have broken plenty of New Year’s resolutions – so, better just keep this day-to-day!

It was great to get together with family and friends, and catch up with everyone over break. Our children are settled into their lives, and seem happy with the choices they are making. What more can we ask for as parents, than to have happy children?

Christmas Eve with Jeremy, Rich and Carly

Speaking of happiness, two of my classmates married the love of their lives during our Christmas break. How wonderful they took the opportunity to make lifetime commitments. We wish them a lifetime of happiness, and every good and perfect gift.

School breaks give us the time to mentally come up for air. I’ve read three fiction novels! The ever interesting Grisham and Jodi Piccoult’s My Sister’s Keeper. It is refreshing to hold something lighter (literally and figuratively) than a textbook…

I get to spend my Senior Practicum at the VA, on the Rehab/Palliative Care unit.  I have a terrific preceptor, who happens to be a Veteran, and Regis alum. What more could a student ask for? It is great to be back at the VA, even though it’s a unit new to me. I love the commonality of mission of the VA – to serve those who have fought for us. We have to complete 180 clinical hours, in order to satisfy the requirements for the practicum. Sixteen of those hours are to be spent in leadership/management. There are some great opportunities at the VA, with various nurse managers, Rehab teams, and Palliative Care seminars.

In Nursing Dynamics aka Nursing Roles III, we are planning – as part of our senior class project, the 9 Health Fair at Regis. Traditional BSN seniors traditionally organize this community service.  It is a huge undertaking, with hundreds of details, and we’re going to get this all together by April 14th! It will be interesting to see how well we all pull together as a group – or an assortment of small groups.  One great aspect is that we get to work with Physical Therapy students. Multidisciplinary teams are so important, and foreshadow what we’ll be doing in the “real world”.

We’re going to organize approximately 200 volunteers – and then there are all of the health care students, and the community participants. Whew! It’s exciting, and we want this to be the best fair ever. I’ll keep you posted.~

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory,

like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.

                                                Garrison Keillor

Season's Greetings

Season’s greetings to you and yours! We are sitting in 21 degree weather, with what feels like a foot of snow – supposed to get up to 16”. School’s out for Christmas break, and there’s nothing to do today but hop on the elliptical and watch it snow. I’m glad I don’t have the commute ahead of me today…

Snow - good excuse for work-out

In Nursing Leadership, we had group presentations regarding Sentinel Events. These are life threatening events, and it is our mission to find out what they are, why they happen, and how to prevent them. This is where Evidence Based Practice comes in. There is a ton of great nursing research on the web, and it is easily accessible. I enjoy watching the presentations, as my classmates demonstrate their knowledge, with grace and maturity.  I am continuously impressed with this awesome group of disciplined, driven and caring cohort.

Med-Surg II and Health Care Ethics are over also.  Luckily we have been given some great study tools, and ATI online offers a focused review. So, I can take a closer look at the areas I need most to concentrate on. I suspect this will be the most valuable tool in studying for NCLEX – it is tempting to dwell in the familiar places, but I know that it is more beneficial to dive into the less familiar territory.

Health Care Ethics has proven to be an informative and interactive class. Our instructor emphasizes participation from all, and it leads to some great discussions. We conducted a Simulation, where we are assigned roles on an Ethics committee. We are given an ethical dilemma, and are expected to research our area, gather and discuss, then submit our opinions. As every good health care agency has an ethics committee, it is important to know about this valuable resource.

My husband and I got to see West Side Story at the Denver Buell Theater – luckily it was the night before the big snowfall. It was terrific to spend some time with him, and to be without a textbook for a bit! Denver is bustling with holiday shoppers, and there are many exciting and lovely things to see – the theater district, Larimer Square, Denver’s City and County building, the Denver Zoo and Botanic Gardens are beautifully decorated this time of year.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Zoo Lights

Buell Theater

We will embark in January on our spring semester – half of us will be completing our senior practicum. The other half will be learning about nursing in the community. Then after eight weeks, we’ll switch. I have been appointed to the VA for my senior practicum, on the Med-Surg floor. I am so looking forward to this rotation, not only to practice the skills we’re learning in class, but because I love the VA! I can’t wait to see our Veterans, and get to know the nurses there.

Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of man you are.

Thomas Carlyle

My father’s birthday is this month. He passed away in 2003, my mother died in 1995. I think of them often as I study. Their values were clearly laid out to us kids – maybe it was being raised in the Air Force – Study hard, pay attention to your teachers, work hard, help your fellow man.

My father was a cheerful man who never met a stranger. In our travels here and abroad, I watched as he interacted with people from all walks of life. He made them all feel special. I want to do the same. My mom sang opera studied overseas, and would do anything for anyone. She hated to see anyone in need, and was fearless in her measures to alleviate suffering.

I am proud to be my parents’ daughter.  I carry their lessons with me, and want to honor them in all that I do. Nursing is natural choice for anyone who wants to help their fellow man. We may serve in so many capacities – direct patient care, teaching, leading others. It is a profession to be proud of, and it will never go out of style!

It’s funny, as we prepare for our holiday season, I find myself anticipatorily grieving – This year is flying by, and I will miss my classmates, the campus, and these awesome instructors who are so dedicated to their craft – to nursing, teaching, and to their students.

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.  ~Theodore Roosevelt

There are so many reasons for giving thanks this season. On a personal note, we are closing in on the end of our fall semester. We are learning lots of helpful information on how to provide quality care to our clients. We will apply these skills for the rest of our lives, so it is important to ingrain them now.

Autumn in Colorado continues to take my breath away. There is one advantage to working 12 hour shifts. You get to see the sun rise and moon set at the same time! There was a particularly beautiful drive west on I-70, and I snapped a quick photo on my phone camera.

Moon is setting over the Rockies, while the sun rises in my rearview mirror

Sunrise followed me to PSL

In Med-Surg II, we are currently learning cardiac, GI and musculoskeletal care.  In class we divided into groups and were assigned a cardiac emergency case. We had to draw our patient (remember we’re nurses, not artists ha ha), and list the various assessments, diagnoses, orders, and concerns. It was a fun and interactive time. We then presented our patients. It was a great time!

Our cardio gingerbread man

I love practicing NCLEX questions – the online quizzes are especially helpful, as this is the format we will be using when we take the real deal. I like the one that gives immediate feedback. I’m forcing myself to read the rationales for the questions I don’t feel totally confident about. Many questions have more than one correct answer, but one answer is the MOST correct.

This helps in a few ways – it explains not only the MOST correct answer, but why the other options are wrong. I use a notebook to write notes on questions I’ve missed. That way I’m reinforcing the information – it’s tempting to concentrate on strengths, but it’s more useful to spend time in the weak areas.

Ta da! Clinical instructor Laurie Rippen, MSN John Schmitt, Me, Katrina Mierkey, Stephanie Lindel, Uma Sitaula, and the shy Maggie Castro in front.

We completed our clinical rotation for Med-Surg II at Pres.-St. Luke’s (PSL). The time flew! Even 12 hour days didn’t seem so long, with helpful staff to guide us. The nurses are terrific, hard-working and caring. Nursing can be a thankless profession, and we have to count on our own fortitude and commitment to persevere in the little things. I read Ronald Reagan had a quote hanging over his desk for years, “There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” As nurses, we perform thousands of unwitnessed tasks and kindnesses. We stand in the gap for our patients and their families. There is truly no limit to what we can accomplish.

I was cleaning up a client’s room after discharge, and noticed this beautiful view of the Front Range… We are on the 10th floor, and every room has a unique and awesome view.

A view of the Rockies from 10th floor room at PSL

Thanksgiving is this week, and we have so much to be thankful for. I am particularly thankful to my family – my husband who supports my all-hour, full-out study style. My son Jeremy, who has grown up watching mom sit at the table with books and computer. Jeremy is now a college freshman, and is doing plenty of his own studying! The salary I make as a Bachelor prepared nurse will help to better afford the education he deserves.

My heart - my son Jeremy

I am also thankful every day to study at Regis, the university I always dreamed of attending. I love the old buildings, the dedicated professors, and my awesome cohort. These are the good old days!

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