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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Getting Through An RN or BSN Program -- Summary of What I've Read

I just started nursing school in August and will try to focus this blog on that and money -- rather than the random crap I've been writing.

Photo courtesy: Texas A&M Commerce,
CC-BY-2.0 at flickr.com/photos/tamuc/9787007022
I've read a lot about what to expect in nursing school and I think I how to handle it. I thought I would put together a "summary" of everything I learned over the summer after reading countless blog after blog about how this is going to shape up. I wrote this from a "you" perspective because I like to talk directly to the reader. (See my last few articles and you'll see my style.)

I did come across some great resources out there. I will liberally link to them in this article. First off, the best resource for anybody deciding if nursing is right for them is to check out what the Bureau of Labor Statistics has to say about nursing to get a gist of what this career entails.

It does not matter if you're a first-year student or a licensed RN doing an ADN to BSN program, any nursing program requires a massive commitment to finish your degree.

Courses are difficult because they are science heavy, and clinicals are time-extensive. But it is possible to get through nursing school successfully. We'll start with a few nursing school tips for success.

'What should I expect in my first semester of nursing school?'


The best preparation for the first semester of your RN program is to devour as much information as you can about what to expect in nursing school. Talk to nurses, talk to students, and read all the preparation success tips.

Despite all the information, you'll still be a little shocked and overwhelmed at first, which is common if you questioned, 'should I go to nursing school?' But you'll adapt really quickly, make new friends, and be on your way to becoming a medical professional.

Is nursing school hard?

Nursing is a challenging profession, where technical knowledge needs to be applied in real world situations. In addition to that, nurses have to handle patient care, not to mention demanding family members. It's a tall order, no doubt, but it is a very rewarding profession.

You'll learn to balance and manage stress during nursing school; this is important for you to succeed in nursing school. But you'll also learn how to critically think and do the correct procedure in a given situation, which are known as scenarios in an RN program.

Scenarios can be a bit tricky. You need to assess the situation with a patient and determine the best plan of action. On a test, this could involve choosing between 4 multiple choices answers that are all correct. Only one, though, is the best plan of action to take in that situation. You may have already seen nurses do this, if you were working as a certified nursing assistant and making the transition from a CNA to RN.

How to survive nursing school: Time management


Monitoring time is crucial, which is a skill that will need to be honed. The last thing you want to do is be on the hospital floor, lose track of time, and miss a patient's medication. This is one reason there's a value in the heavy course load you receive during your nursing program.

Nursing school also stresses and fatigues you, putting you in uncomfortable situations, which trains you for the demands of the job. But this does create a problem: Finding motivation to finish nursing school.

Motivation to finish nursing school


Even the most dedicated students can burn out during the time it takes to become a registered nurse, which is why following a few general nursing school tips is important:

  • Sleep at least 8 hours a day
  • Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes day
  • Don't skip class or clinicals
  • Shy away from drama queen classmates

Be humble ... ask for help

Nursing is a career where lives can be at stake. If you don't know the answer, ask.

Your instructor is a nurse first and foremost, which means he/she is willing to help you and is interested in the safety of the patients more than that 4.0 GPA that you think you're entitled to.

So don't think the instructor has a vendetta against you if you're getting low marks and don't beat yourself up over the low marks.

On the other hand, if you are getting good grades, don't be a braggart. You'll introduce an air of superiority and competition into the classroom. The key is to learn to deal with these difficult personalities, rather than be one -- you'll have to deal with enough of them once you get into the hospital.

When you're doing clinicals, remember not to argue with the RN about a procedure. She knows the practical way to do it from experience; you only will know the textbook way.

Find a study buddy

Everybody learns at a different rate: Some fast, others slow If you know the material and can put it into practice, help your fellow students out. By explaining the material to your classmates, you'll cement the information into your mind and will provide an excellent way to study for nursing exams.

You'll also develop a better understanding of when that procedure or material is applicable, which will help when dealing with scenarios.

And when the time comes that you don't understand the material or the procedure -- and it will -- your classmates will be more willing to help you.

Despite all the bookwork, you still get to do clinicals, which are the hands-on portion of your training. This is where all the scenario training comes into play -- only now, the patients are real, rather than words on a page!

Clinicals also provide you with an opportunity to learn from potential future employers.

Prepare, prepare, prepare


You already know the prerequisites to get into your RN program but you can get a jump-start on certain skills -- like critical thinking -- by taking a philosophy course or literature course.

These courses teach you how to think and draw connections between ideas. Learning how to critically think is fundamental to scenarios.

The more preparation you have, the easier your medical education will be. You will have to remember to look into what classes are required for nursing before you apply.

But keep in mind that preparation is not limited to the academic realm, especially when you have bills to pay.

Working while in RN program


Nursing school also requires a lot of study time and dedication, and holding down a job while going through an RN program is tough.

If you have a flexible schedule at your job, you may be able to make it work. (Nursing school generally doesn't have a very flexible schedule.) The key, if you can, is to work part-time.

One option is to work in a hospital. If you are a CNA, you may be able to get a job doing transport, which will give you experience dealing with patients. Besides, a health-care facility is more likely to accommodate medical students' schedules rather than the local burger joint.

What grades do you need to be a nurse?

Getting into an RN program is tough, and selection is competitive. You'll find that most people in your class have high GPAs. You, along with your peers, are the top candidates for the program. But don't let that go to your head.

It takes two years to become a nurse, and it's hard. If you are considering an RN vs BSN, you may need 4 years to complete your bachelor in nursing. Also, if you are thinking of the RN vs LPN instead, you may only need 1 year to finish the program.

Either way, many facilities have a minimum grade needed to pass a nursing course, which is usually a C. After passing the program, you'll still need to pass the boards.

That said, most people find the material sufficiently challenging and will need to study, study, study -- especially without a medical background.

Expect changes ...

The best advice is to go into a nursing program with an open mind. Experience all aspects of nursing before you decide on the nursing area you want to be. You'll be more well rounded and more employable.

The open mind is also important because some folks get so stuck in one mindset -- "I want to be nurse in cardiology," for instance. Then they filter out info about other aspects of nursing that is required for them to pass the boards. Besides, it's possible you might find another aspect you might like better.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

20 Things To Do When You're Bored at Home - Good for Kids!

During those rainy days, you may be wondering what to do when you're bored at home. It doesn't matter if you are super bored, extremely bored, or just plain out bored.

Don't worry, we have you covered. We have a lot of ideas -- almost 20 of them -- which will give you something to do while you are grounded by your parents.

You will be able to pass away a long day in the solitary comfort of your room. Some of these ideas require nothing but yourself; others require another human being. Some will be fun and educational; as for the others, well, you can decide ...

Requires thought

1. Shut your eyes tightly and gaze at the back of your eyelids, visualizing shapes, flashes, and the memory of that messy room that needs to be cleaned.

2. Whistle a tune. A good tune can pass the time. If you are not a whistler, consider using your thighs as a drum kit, banging out a tune. Anybody can make a good beat, even you.

3. Sit on a chair that spins and spin yourself sick. Rather than being bored, you'll be sick.

4. Enjoy a good scratch. Don't worry, nobody is watching. Scratch under your arms or your derrière if it feel goods.

5. Don't think about clowns. Too late, huh, you already thought about their silly makeup and goofy clothing.

Requires a computer

6. You could spend days on the Internet playing useless games like bingo or solitaire.

7. Browse the web for time-wasting phrases such as "what to do when you're bored at home for kids."

8. Learn about the difference between running vs. jogging and cycling vs. biking. Who does know the difference, by the way?

9. If you are entrepreneurial, you could search Google for how to earn money from a blog. And if you are an entrepreneurial shopper, you could spend money on that blogger's work.

10. YouTube videos are a good standby, as well. It is possible to waste hours watching videos about cute cats.

Requires a brain

11. Pick up one of the best books to read before you die. It's debatable what is the best, but Pulitzer-prize winning author Toni Morrison is a good place to start.

12. Learn French or Spanish or German. If you are an American who is bored, you are behind the curve when it comes to learning languages. Many European people are fluent in multiple languages.

13. Learn how to play an instrument. A plastic recorder, which only costs a couple bucks of your allowance, can get you started making music.

14. Memorize a poem. Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky," which can be found online, is a fun one to memorize.

15. Listen to a piece of symphonic music on YouTube.

Requires interaction with another human

16. Talk to another person about your likes and dislikes and strengthen your relationship with them.

17. Volunteer your time at a animal shelter or nursing home. The shelter is always in need of dog walkers, and a nursing home is filled with elderly people just like you -- wishing they had something to do and were not bored.

18. Play Charardes -- the classic guessing game.

19. Have lunch with another person. Kudos if you prepare a healthy meal yourself. And PB&J does not count.

20. ... I am no longer bored and have run out of ideas for this list, but I hope this has helped you with what to do when you're bored at home :)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

CNG Conversion Kits for Cars

I've been thinking about converting my car to CNG and did some research on the pros and cons of a natural gas car fuel conversion. Here's what I found ...

What are CNG vehicles?
Natural gas vehicles are also referred to as compressed natural gas autos.

They look like a regular vehicle but operate on natural gas, which is abundant and on U.S. soil.

This fossil fuel allows Americans to reduce dependency on foreign oil.

Because there's a lot of this fossil fuel, compressed natural gas prices are low.

Another benefit is that natural gas engines produce less emissions, which makes a clean energy alternative.

Natural gas vehicle conversion
CNG cars are very similar to their gasoline counterparts, and conversion kits allow the capability to switch from natural gas to gasoline at the flick of a switch.

Because both can be ran on the same vehicle, there's a potential downfall and upside to this.

EXTRA PARTS: The engine bay will have additional components in it -- such as a regulator, more hoses, wires, and pipes.

Although these mechanical items are out of the way, they do pose a problem because they are complex and something could go wrong with them.

TRUNK SPACE: CNG conversions do require trunk space for the tank, which means groceries will be relegated to the back seat.

Even with the loss of a little trunk space, modern economy cars are still spacious. The only concern would be cross-country vacation trips due to a lack of luggage room.

PRICE:
The price to convert depends on many factors.

If you are a mechanically orientated do-it-yourselfer, you could finish this project in your garage for about $1,000 dollars, which is considerably cheaper than many kits on the market.

CNG conversion around $1,000 bucks

One issue is the emissions certification for your state. Although CNG vehicles produce less emissions, the kits must adhere to requirements set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resource Board, and/or your state.

Info about emissions certification is available from the U.S. Department of Energy, and a list of compressed natural gas cylinder inspectors is available at CSA America.

Check out the laws before buying or converting.

SAFETY:
Although natural gas in its pure state is odorless, suppliers add mercaptan to it. This chemical gives it that rotten egg smell, which is a safety feature for leak detection.

Most times natural gas is detected by smell long before combustion conditions can occur, which requires a range of 5 to 15 percent in the air.

That's about 16 times higher than at which you'll smell natural gas. On average, a concentration of natural gas at 0.3 percent by volume in air is easily detected by people with average smelling capacity.

 Refueling can be done at the pump quickly.

This fossil fuel also ignites at a higher temp -- about 600 degrees Celsius -- compared to gasoline -- about 315 degrees Celsius.

Also, because a natural gas fuel cell is under high pressure, a loud hissing noise is detectable if there's a leak.

EFFICIENCY: With a higher combustion temperature, this high octane fuel is efficient, with less wasted fuel and cleaner exhaust gasses.

Despite the efficiency, the higher internal temp may affect the engine in the long run if it's only designed for gasoline and may require a rebuild more often.

CNG stations

Storage tanks for CNG range in size. Tank size affects how far you can go before refilling.

For commuters, a two gallon tank should, depending on your car's CNG fuel economy, get you about 50 miles. A larger 7 gallon tank will provide about 150 miles of travel.

For some folks, public CNG filling stations are all along their route. (There are about 500 open to the public in the U.S.) But for those not so fortunate, a CNG home filling station can be purchased.

A Phill home refueling appliance allows you to tap into your home's natural gas supply to refill your car. This device can refill your car's tank overnight.

Is a CNG conversion worth it?


The price for this new alternative energy does not provide an up-front savings.

Although there's few ready-to-go cheap CNG conversion kits, they will pay for themselves over a few years' time -- as long as you own the converted car.

Those investing in a CNG conversion kit for their car should be looking toward the future, not to save a couple bucks this year or next year.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Getting Kicked out of Home - 'I Got a Notice to Pay or Quit'

A notice to pay or quit posted to your door is a sure sign you're getting kicked out of home. It is not a welcoming sight. You do want to explore all options available to you to stop from being evicted. We'll look at a few common and not-so-common ways to help households who need to get money for rent.

'Can I be evicted?'

Yes, it's possible to be evicted -- even in the cold and even with children -- but talk to your landlord before jumping to conclusions. Taking the legal route with a notice to pay or quit is expensive for your landlord.

If you explain the situation to your landlord, he or she may be accommodating.

The landlord may be willing to help you break up the past due into installments over the next few months if you can provide a good faith payment and continue to pay.

Being upfront is the best solution, and their willingness to help does depend on a lot of factors -- the landlord, your payment history, and current financial affairs.

If your landlord will allow you to stay, you need to get money for rent. There are few options to get financial assistance.

Options include talking to your family and friends and explaining you are getting kicked out of home.

Your family may be willing to provide a little financial help to keep you afloat. They made do this, as well, because they may not want to see you move back in! (That could be a selling point for you if they are unwilling to provide any assistance.)

A good buddy may be willing to provide help in a pinch, and a good relationship with your family can help you get through tough times -- personally and financially.

'Help! I need cash now!'

There are numerous ways how to get money for rent, but emergency cash usually doesn't happen overnight.

Let's look at a few ways to get money to stop a notice of pay or quit.

A part-time job at a temp agency may be needed to get your rent paid.

It's also possible that you could sell items -- like that collection of DVDs and CDs collecting dust -- on Craigslist. Or that signed Brad Pitt poster on eBay. Etsy, also, is an option if you are crafty.

A local pawn broker can get you fast money, but it's not a good idea because you'll lose a lot of value selling it that way.

Although a plasma donation won't provide enough rent money, it will provide a little more to add to the kitty.

Also, take old clothing to a consignment shop.

Charities that help with rent

You may be able to get financial assistance from church if you are in good standing there, with years of attendance and patronage. The hardest part will be asking for help.

Although you may find it embarrassing, don't worry about it. You'll strengthen your bond to your congregation, and they'll be willing to help in crisis situation.

Remember, churches exist to help those in need -- whether spiritual or financial -- and this is a point to keep in mind for those people who are not church-goers.

Another option is Catholic Charities USA, which is nationwide, and The Salvation Army, which offers emergency shelter.

Other ways to get money for rent

A community action center and/or a public assistance office may know if a housing assistance program is available in your area.

They may also know if there are other organization in your community that will help pay your rent.

I hope these ideas about a notice to pay or quit help you from getting kicked out of home.