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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

smile, breathe, relax

Well, folks, I survived the first day of Complex Adult clinical and lived to tell about it! I wasn't sure if that would be the case about 72 hours ago. Let me start back before Christmas...
As soon as class assignments were made, I received an e-mail from my "new" instructor for the Spring semester. His e-mail said he was passing this information along before we the students quit checking our Campus Cruiser inboxes over the holidays because the e-mail contained information that needed to be completed prior to the beginning of the Spring semester. I glanced at it, and even opened one of the attachments. It appeared to be a one page electronic request for computer access for Texas Health Resource facilities (you know, fill in your last name, first name, school ID#, etc.). I figured that would take about 5 whole minutes, but I saved it because I thought surely, I'd have to actually be registered for my spring classes before I could receive the computer access. Long story short, the week before classes begin I finally concoct a way to scrape up half of my tuition and register for classes on the "payment plan." Then, I go to the Texas Health Resource attachment and discover that the 5-minute one page request for computer access takes 5-7 business days to process AND there are modules (online computer assignments) I need to complete before class on Tuesday. I didn't have 5-7 business days! I barely had 3, and one of those was Monday, January 18, which I wasn't sure would be considered a business day since it was the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. I wrote in the "comment" box on the 0ne-page application that I would sincerely appreciate them expediting the processing of my application as I had modules to complete before class on Tuesday. My heart still racing, I frantically pulled up the letter explaining the business about the modules and took down the name of the nurse who had signed it. I called the hospital education department and was put through to someone other than Michelle Hampton, so I left a detailed message. The unknown person called me back promptly (could probably hear the desperation in my voice), and passed on Ms. Hampton's direct telephone number to me. I called Ms. Hampton's number and again left a similar message explaining my plight and my request for assistance in gaining immediate access to complete the modules. By this time I'd consulted a couple of classmates who said the modules take "hours and hours and hours" to complete. I never heard back from Ms. Hampton that day or over the weekend. I kept checking for access every few hours to no avail.
On Monday morning, nails bitten to the quick, I decided I'd better come clean with my instructor and explain why I had put off the request for access and thus been unable to complete the modules. All I could think of was my semester is shot. I may be sent straight home on the first day of clinicals for not being prepared. I've gotten off on the wrong foot with an instructor who is in the Navy for crying out loud. I anticipated a shaking in my boots "Sir, no sir!" response to his drill-sergeant inquiry regarding the completion of the modules. Visions of camouflage and push ups and...
I contacted my instructor via e-mail thinking it would be better for him to have a head's up than for me to spring it on him in front of the class; and I continued checking for some miracle of computer access. Late Monday morning I did hear back from Ms. Hampton: there was nothing she or anyone else could do to expedite the processing of my request. Her advice was to just keep checking periodically. I had done what I could. Now it was just a waiting game: wait for access; wait to hear back from my instructor. I went on with the business of driving to the hospital to get my parking permit and find our meeting place. The last thing I wanted to do was get lost and show up late on top of everything else. I practiced math problems and stopped by the dealership for them to check whether or not I had an oil leak (I'd been in the week before for an oil change and they suspected a leak and put die in my oil pump, but that's another story in and of itself). I read a bit of Same Kind of Different as Me while I waited, certain that it would be my last reading just for the heck of it probably until after June 1st. On the way home I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few basics for our lunches for the remainder of the week.
When I finally made it home and immediately shoo-ed the kids off the computer so I could check for new e-mails and computer access, I had a reply from my instructor to my previous e-mail. "Here we go," I thought as I nervously clicked on the link to open the message. He had 3 steps listed: Step #1 smile, breathe, relax; Step #2 we'll talk about the computers tomorrow; #3 repeat step #1. I did exactly as he suggested (still didn't have computer access so what could I do anyway?) and thought to myself that everything would be all right. I'm going to adopt his advice as my philosophy of life to get through the next 16 weeks: smile, breathe and relax. This is the home stretch after all. That pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter by the week, and I'm getting excited.
I survived the first day of clinicals. The entire class aced the math exam. Mr. McGraw is a complete riot who obviously loves what he does--from both the teaching and nursing perspectives. He's not big on lots of paperwork but is focused on us improving our performance and ability to put it all together. He seems quite knowledgable on all matters of life during and after nursing school. I get the distinct feeling that our success is his success as well. I plan to make us both proud. That's quite enough for now I suppose. I've been working on the modules on and off for the last 24 hours, and I still have a little ways to go, so I'll close for the time being. Until next time...

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