Hey! Hope everyone is doing well! I am trying to stay cool with this hot, humid weather we've been having! Anyway, just a quick update. Work is busy since I lately have been working on postpartum (which I wasn't originally oriented to)...so I'm learning a lot about babies! Some nights, I end up at the nurses station just holding them so their very tired moms can catch some sleep! Beyond that, I haven't been moved to L&D yet due to the staffing shortage since the hospital ship deployed. Everyone is looking forward to their return! I'm hoping in the next two to three months, I'll get to transfer wards. Otherwise, I start calling for orders in just one month and am excited to see where I will end up in a year! Lastly, Ryan and I are taking a trip to California and Washington State in about two weeks...very much looking forward to getting back to the West Coast and just enjoying some leave! I plan to post more updates after I return. I apparently have a lot to catch you all up on! Hope everyone is enjoying the start of summer!
Hey! Hope you all are doing well! I'm still here...though it has been way too long since I gave updates on how life is going as a nurse in the Navy.
To start with, it is very busy! I am on the same floor since my transfer to labor and delivery has been delayed till the middle or end of the summer. The Comfort (the hospital ship) was deployed in mid-April and since then, the hospital is running on minimal staff, which is interesting to say the least. On a good note...the days tend to fly by since there is plenty of work to do, but it can be overwhelming at times. I enjoy the people I work with...which is something to be thankful for. I am looking forward to my transfer to L&D since it will be something new and exciting...though it will have its own challenges, I'm sure ;-)! Beyond that, I am now a Lietenant Junior Grade (LTJG). I was promoted on May 5th and it feels great...though I keep answering my phone incorrectly...will take some getting-used-to! Also, I'll be due to start picking orders for my next duty station this coming August. We start picking orders one year before we switch.
Beyond that, just finished my forth grad school class and am taking a break for the summer...will start again in September. I'm looking forward to the break, but have really enjoyed the classes I've had so far! My teachers have been excellent!
What else? I've been keeping up with friends, family, and my boyfriend (Ryan). I'll try to post some picutres soon to show you what my fall through spring has looked like. Some highlights include going to Cirque Du Solei, going to see the show Wicked and Phantom of the Opera, visiting my friend and Dad in DC a few times, touring Georgetown with Carrie, going wine tasting in Williamsburg and Charlottesville, going to the Army-Navy game in Baltimore this past December, having my sister-in-law and nephew visit over the holidays, celebrating my birthday, meeting up with my mentor (Cindy), going to church, going skiing and tubing for the first time, a weekend at the lake watching Ryan and friends at the triathlon, going to Hardywood brewery in Richmond, a visit from my Bible school friends and from my family, exploring VA Beach, hanging out with coworkers, hiking, swimming, and million other things!!! I feel like I must have forgotten something important ;-)! Life is full and busy, but even in the midts of the craziness, I am so thankful that the Lord walks with us through every part.
Just like that...it's almost November! My goodness...time got away from me these past few months. They have been busy ones. I am back to days and I feel like I am actually part of society again ;-)! I just finished my first grad school class and have started my next one in psychology and theology, which I find interesting and more work than the last class. Seven more weeks…and I have my first exam at the end of this week. Aside from that, work is keeping me busy, but I am really enjoying it too. I’ve been on my unit for one year now and I feel more and more confident in my clinical skills and critical thinking every day! I feel like I am able to effectively contribute to the team and know what to do in emergency situations…and that feels great! My favorite parts of my job include training the corpsman, doing patient education, and conversations at the nurses’ station! Perhaps some of the best times are when I am on nights or working slower days on the unit and just get to talking with some of the other nurses who have been doing this for a decade or more. I hear the best stories and we have so much fun! In general, I think my unit has pretty good camaraderie and a team mentality…and that makes even the craziest days quite manageable to me.
One of the highlights of today at work was that we got new chairs…I know…sounds thrilling, right?! Recently, they took all of our rolling chairs and gave us regular chairs…much to the chagrin of all the nurses and corpsman. Well…today, they gave us new rolling chairs and you would not believe how complicated these new chairs are to work. There are so many levers and buttons that it is a bit ridiculous…and it took four of us to figure out how to get them into a usable state…which I imagine looked a little silly to anyone walking by ;-)! It was a good time and we were all laughing!
One other thing I find hilarious since working in a hospital is that people tend to horde supplies…as in hide things so they can use them later…anything and everything it seems. I mean…crackers…hot commodity on my ward! Same with sugar, creamer, hot packs, mesh underwear, etc. The list could go on. At least now, we do not hide the tubes for the pneumatic tube system ;-)!
As far as what I have been up to for the last few months…let’s see…been busy! I already told you about school. Beyond that, I went down to North Carolina for a visit with family. The picture is of making bread with my nephew…which turned out to be quite a success despite the fact that much of the flour found its way onto my nephew instead of in the mixing bowl. He was literally covered with flour from head to toe…but he seemed to thoroughly enjoy our baking adventure…though I think having to wait for the bread to rise absolutely killed him ;-). I also had a chance to catch up with my sister-in-law…always a highlight and we even tried a Pilates class…which was far more difficult than I anticipated!
Otherwise…I’ve done some game nights with friends, gone out with some coworkers, explored the area, met with my mentor from Bible study, and done some additional training on labor and delivery. When I go over to L&D now, they tell me that I might as well just come over full-time since I’m there so much as it is. I now have several hundred hours of fetal monitoring experience, but am still learning stuff all the time!
Below are a few photos from the past month or so :-)
So…I got a chance to retake this class recently. If you remember…I started taking it a few months ago, but the second day of training was cut short with a lock down. Basically, we spent the rest of that day lying on the floor of a classroom. I had to retake the whole class, but found it to be helpful. I learned how to assess the fetal heart rate without electronic monitoring, though I am convinced that I would rather not do so on a regular basis. I also learned how to assess positioning of a baby in utero by using what is called Leopold’s Maneuvers. Beyond that, I learned how to place internal monitors for monitoring contractions and the fetal heart rate, though I will rarely have to do that at this hospital. Most of the time was spent on interpreting fetal heart rate tracings and deciding what to do and how to intervene based on the tracing…thrilling…right?! I utilize this training on my unit quite often…so it is very important that I know what is happening!
Just recently, my friend from Seattle came to visit me. Now that we both live on the East Coast…it is much easier to see each other. She stayed with me for several days and we went out several times to some fun restaurants, watched the BBC Pride and Prejudice, went to the beach most every day…and even went swimming in all our clothes one day…quite spontaneously. Being that we were both swim teamers and lifeguards, it was far too nice a day and the ocean was still warm enough that we could not resist! We also went hiking a few times and came back from one such hike completely soaked…because it started pouring while we were out! And by pouring…basically referring to a torrential downpour ;-)! We spent most of our time just catching up…which was so nice since we have only seen each other for a handful of days over the last five years. Altogether…an awesome week and I was sorry to see her leave! We already have plans for another meet-up next month and I cannot wait!
So…every six months, we have uniform inspections and the other day, we had our Dress Blues inspection...which we all passed with flying colorsJ. Below is a picture of myself and my coworkers.
My friend, who just moved to the East Coast, and I met up the other day in Charlottesville in Northern, Virginia. It was so nice to see her and catch up! We met for breakfast at Keswick Hall and had this beautiful view of the golf course…super nice place! From there, we drove to Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s home) and took a tour of that and his gardens. It was awesome…and perhaps the best part was getting to know how amazing this man was…though I cannot say I approve of everything he did…he truly was a remarkable individual. After that, we got lunch and then went to see the University of Virginia (founded by Jefferson)…and it was a great end to an awesome day! We now plan on meeting up in various places so that we do all of the sight-seeing that is necessary while we are living here :-).
I finally got my ACLS certification (Advanced Cardiac Life Support)! Was such a relief to finish that! Apparently, we are not actually required to have it on my unit. I have my Basic Life Support (all nurses have that certification) and my Neonatal Resuscitation certification, and now...ACLS! It makes me feel much more confident in my ability to be helpful in a code situation. For the actual class, there is a 50-question test and a practical portion as well. For my mega code, I had to play team leader and delegate roles to everyone (someone on compressions, airway, IV/meds, recorder, and AED), determine what scenario we were dealing with, make sure my team was on the same page, tell people what meds to drawn up in various dosages and when to give them, determine the heart rhythm and whether or not to defibrillate, synchronize cardiovert, or transcutaneously pace. I also had to change from scenario to scenario since my patient passed through several of them. By the end of the class, I felt quite confident in my abilities to know what was going on and how to help in a code situation. In an actual code, I would not be the team lead, but learning it from that perspective helps me to see things in a more comprehensive light.
What are they? In the Navy, every specialty in nursing has what is called a subspecialty code. A nurse right out of nursing school would start with a 1900 code, which means professional nursing. A maternal and infant health nurse has a code of 1920. I believe it takes one year of working in a specialty to gain the code (which you must apply for). These codes determine which billets you can fill when changing duty stations. For example, Okinawa, Japan may say they need 3 1920s. If that is the case, I could apply for that billet. If they want a 1960 (ICU), I cannot apply for that position...obviously ;-). In a few months, I can apply for subspecialty codes for mother/baby or med-surg since my unit does both. The important thing to note is that you want to have a code you REALLY want since they determine what job you can do next.
What is that? Well...sometimes a Navy facility has an urgent need for a certain kind of nurse. These positions are then posted on the Nurse Corps website and as long as I meet the requirements, I can apply to take that position...thereby leaving my current duty station before my tour was supposed to be done. So far, I have seen Guam, Okinawa, and 29 Palms on that list, but it changes :-).
That I grow in my role as a nurse and always do my best.
That I would follow the Lord wholeheartedly.
I'm Carolyn...am so excited to be starting my nursing career in the Navy. Who knows where this all will take me?!