Sunday, September 9, 2012

An Old Dog

     In December of 2011 I decided that it was time to transfer my RN (Registered Nurse license) from Maryland to Kansas. Since I have not been employed as a nurse for a decade (other than in my own family!), I was required to take a Nurse Refresher course. I searched for an approved University and got underway.

     For RNs thinking about a refresher course, I highly recommend it. Yes, it's a bother, but for good reason. The toughest part is the required number of clinical hours. For Maryland it's 80, but for Kansas it's 180. That's a significant amount of time away from family--without pay! But it must be done and so I am in the middle of it.

     The course is self-pacing and I took my time over about 5 months to finish the didactic--or, online written--component. During that time I contacted local hospitals, nursing homes and school systems to create my clinical plan. One must design their own, securing permissions from the clinical sites and lining up precepters. The summer was busier than I expected and I didn't get started until August, but I am plugging away at it.

     Patient care has not really changed. Equipment has changed somewhat, as to be expected. Computer technology has changed the most. In my hospital, one unit still has handwritten charting identical to what I remember, but the rest incorporate 75-90% computerized charting. Pros and cons are probably obvious; it is what it is, and learning. The patients are the best part. They are why I remained an RN for now 27 years.

     I am trying to make the best of every hour. In the last few weeks, besides all of the skills performed, I've been blessed to help on a delivery, instruct a new Mom how to nurse her baby, watch a little brother see his baby sister for the first time, help older patients ambulate, and simply encourage people. The bonds with new co-workers are forming swiftly and I am happy to be doing this again. Bruce is  managing the home very well while I'm away and the welcome home I get after each shift is priceless. "Why are you in that costume, Mom?" I tell them I am a nurse and they smile proudly and run and tell their siblings.

     It is all working out. I am still Mom and I love that the most. At a time such as ours with the economy shaky, it is the right time to reclaim my hard-earned RN. Mary Pat's LPN's have been my inspiration. They are some of the hardest working and loving individuals I have known. There are two local schools of nursing and I would like one day to help to educate future nurses like them.

     So this "old dog" is indeed learning new tricks, as well as re-learning some old ones. There is a Chinese proverb that says that you should "take your dragons to tea." I am. This is a little scary, but it is very, very rewarding.

All is well on the farm.