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  • From passion to profession: How anatomy and physiology set the foundation for my nursing journey

    Arianna Olivier

    I wish I could say I have an extraordinary story to tell about why I wanted to be a nurse. Where I saved someone’s life on a random day, or I was impacted a certain way when at the hospital. Truthfully speaking, the reason why I concluded to become a nurse was because of anatomy and physiology. When I was in high school taking anatomy and physiology for the first time, I was captivated by the beauty of the human body, specifically the heart. I was entranced by the simultaneous complexity and simplicity of the structure of the heart. From here, I entered an endless cycle of wanting to learn more.

    I knew I had many exams ahead of me before I could finish my nursing journey. However, the first step was to prepare for was the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) exam. The TEAS is a standardized entrance exam used at my nursing program to judge how competent you are to enter the nursing program. It covers areas such as reading, math, science, anatomy and physiology, and English. Considering that my strongest suits had been reading and math, I primarily focused on studying for the science portion of the exam. This accounted for my many trips to the school library alongside my anatomy and physiology textbook. Each day I would set aside 3-4 hours of studying where I really focused on the foundation of the various systems in the body. Practice questions were my lifeline. As humbled as I would be when I got an answer wrong, it made me realize that I needed to look over the material and figure out what I was not understanding. With the assistance of the Mastering A&P questions, I was able to have a trusted guide to develop my weaker areas.

    Soon enough I received my score from the TEAS and got into the nursing program. Now came the hard part: passing nursing school. I cannot describe in words the culture shock I had when entering my human assessment and fundamentals class. It required a different level of understanding and analyzing practice questions, since the course transitioned from straight forward questions to critical thinking analysis. From the whirlwind of late-night study sessions, clinical rotations, and the weekly exams, nursing school has been nothing but a rollercoaster ride. However, I believe the reason I am able to comprehend and pass every exam is my solid foundation of anatomy and physiology. Once you understand how an organ is supposed to function, you can understand where it is going wrong. For example, veins take blood to the heart while arteries take blood away from the heart. Now, a patient comes in with pain in their legs that worsens with exercise, pain eases with rest and reports numbness and paresthesia. As a nurse assessing this patient, I can suspect maybe there is a problem of circulation either between the veins or arteries and can expect a certain level of care for this patient. Nonetheless, I would not be able to come to this conclusion if I did not know the way our bodies receive circulation.

    On top of having a good foundation of anatomy and physiology, I have found it critical to pair that with practicing NCLEX-style questions to prepare for the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses) exam. The NCLEX-RN is a computer adaptive exam that has to be passed in order to establish licensing for an individual to work as a Registered Nurse. This dynamic combination is a powerful tool for not only passing the NCLEX exam but becoming a competent nurse. As I am passing the last hurdle of the program, I focus my energy on completing and revising practice questions. Nursing students at Miami-Dade have to take an exit exam that calculates our probability of actually passing the NCLEX. This exam covers all the principles that we have been learning from the beginning. Having questions that mimic real world scenarios requires us not only to recall information but also apply it. It is the bridge that connects our theoretical knowledge of anatomy and physiology with the practical nursing interventions required to be competent. To give an example, prioritization questions help us understand which patient should we designate care to first in critical settings. As you may know, nurses will have multiple patients at a time, but it is up to the nurse's critical judgment to decide which patient takes priority over the others. A patient going into cardiac arrest will take priority over a patient who is vomiting blood. With the recurrent practice of this style of questions I will be able to go into the real world and identify which one of my patients has the higher risk of getting hurt and who I have to assess first.

    To sum everything up, nursing school is not about just passing a test. It is the foundation of our nursing care and having reassurance in knowing that we are well prepared to provide safe care to our future patients. Combining a strong foundation in anatomy and physiology with consistent practice of NCLEX-style questions will provide the smoothest pathway to succeed in the nursing field. I know that the first few years of being a nurse will be the most difficult transition in the beginning. Learning the hospital's policies and the way to ease communications with different patients and hospital personnel will be something I learn on the job. However, I can sleep comfortably knowing that I have the knowledge to provide safe and competent care to any patient that comes into my hands.

  • A group of eight nursing students standing in 2 rows. They are all wearing blue scrubs.

    Five Things to Know About Nursing School

    Arianna Olivier

    I am a nursing student at Miami Dade College. After completing my Associate’s degree in nursing, I am on track to earn my Bachelor of Science degree next year. Here are 5 things I wish I’d known before starting nursing school. I hope these will help future nursing students begin this journey with realistic expectations.

    Nursing school is not THAT hard.

    Nursing school is whatever you make it to be. If you occupy every hour of your day, and do not take time to recover and rest yourself, you will feel that school is hard and that you have no life. If you take the time out of your schedule to do something that you enjoy, whether it’s reading a book, watching one episode of your current show, or going to the gym, you will feel so much better and have the mindset to focus on your academics. Learn from now on to take the time to prioritize some personal time out of your day, whether its 1 hour a day to read or 2 hours a day to be at the gym, so that you do not solely live, breathe, and sleep nursing school.

    This is a marathon, not a race.

    You will notice very quickly that some classmates are going to have a competitive mindset. For some reason (that is unknown to me), you are going to see students comparing grades and study methods with a passive aggressive mechanism in their tone. You may even be one of these students, with an urge to prove that you are smart enough to be in the program. The reality is you are ALL meant to be in the program. You are ALL smart enough. Nursing school is not a race, and it shouldn’t be treated as one.

    Find a group of friends and never let them go.

    On my first day of orientation, we were told by the speaker that “you do not get through nursing school alone.” I can testify that this is true. Nursing school is an immense adjustment to your academic and social life. It can become overwhelming to figure out your method of studying, balancing out your assignments and tests with the realities that come with being a human being. Contrary to what was in statement #2, you may feel sometimes that you are not smart enough. You will contemplate on leaving the program, or quitting your job and then wondering how you will be able to pay for your classes. Nursing school is a rollercoaster of emotions. Having a study group or a simple group of friends is going to be the anchor between you and nursing school. Find yourself a group of genuine people, with your same goals, and never let them go.

    Your life does not have to stop because you are a nursing student.

    This goes hand and hand with statement #1, but it is more about the mindset that you carry while you are in school. Your life should not stop because you are a nursing student. During orientation, they may jokingly say things like “say goodbye to your friends and families” or “you are ours for the next 2 or 4 years.” That is not true. Carrying on this type of mindset is going to be detrimental to your mental health. You HAVE to dedicate parts of your days, a whole day or even a weekend to recover so that you can be successful in nursing school. Doing this even gives you something to look forward to so that during the week you can tell yourself to push harder because you will have this one day to do what you want to do.

    Of course, it is important for you to spend lots of hours studying and focusing on your classes and preparing for upcoming exams. Nevertheless, it will never hurt for you to spend some time to spend a weekend in Disney, enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, or go ice skating with your friends (even if it means taking your flashcards with you). These moments are essential to reducing the risk of burnout and keeping your battery high for those extra-long study sessions.

    Memorization will only go so far.

  • A group of three guys and two girls are smiling and standing in front of a Power Smoothie shop.

    Finding the Perfect College Roommate

    Arianna Olivier

    As a student at Miami Dade College, part of my college process is applying to transfer schools. I am a potential nursing student who is applying to major programs all around the United States. With transferring, there are a lot of decisions to make, including where and who to live with. To help with finances, I will be on the lookout for a roommate to both split the cost of living and be a study partner. However, when it comes to choosing a college roommate it can be a very difficult process to endure. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to find your perfect roommate and ease the process.

    Knowing Yourself

    Let’s start with the definition of a roommate. According to Merriam Webster, a roommate is “one of two or more persons sharing the same room or living quarters.” The key word here is sharing. Always keep in mind when thinking about having a roommate, you will have to share a living space with a stranger, in a sense. So, it’s important to understand what it is you want out of a roommate.

    Ask yourself: why do I want a roommate? Am I looking for someone to solely split the cost of living? Is it to enjoy everything college has to offer outside of the academics? Or to have a study partner available outside of my classes?

    Learning About Each other

    Whether your potential roommate is someone you already know or a new connection, the next step is to learn about each other. Interview the person you are considering living with to get the conversation going about living preferences. Ask about their concept of sharing. Sharing can be difficult for some people when it comes to items, as they may be afraid of their items getting damaged or lost. It is important to discover your own boundaries, as well.

    Here is a partial list of things many roommates share. Have a discussion with potential roommates to find out their thoughts on sharing these items:

    • Kitchen appliances (such as stove, microwave, fridge, pots, pans etc.)
    • Cleaning supplies
    • Plates and cutlery
    • Rugs
    • Television
    • Speaker
    • Bathroom (toilet, bath/shower, and sink)

    Maintaining Communication

    Another topic important in your discussion is setting the rules of “who does what?” Communicating with your potential roommate about the responsibilities that come with sharing a dorm/apartment is important to maintaining a healthy household. Things to communicate about include:

    • Cleaning responsibilities (kitchen, bathroom, dishes, floor etc.)
    • How to split finances
    • Cooking/Groceries - are we splitting or will we each fend for ourselves?
    • Are we putting a curfew?
    • Get-togethers/parties? Noise level?

    Avoiding conflict is vital to achieving success in your academics and college life. Remember to talk and listen when interviewing.

    At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that no matter what, you’ll need to respect your roommates’ wishes just as you’ll expect them to respect yours. This time in your life is important to enjoy, as it is a part of the foundation of who you will become in the future. Happy Hunting!

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