Thursday, June 23, 2016

Musings as a New RN


I've been working at my real-life, super amazing job for about 4 months now! I knew the learning curve would be steep, but I don't think anything in nursing school can really prepare you for all the different variables that come with working as a "real-life" nurse. I know everyone's experience is different, but I'd like to share a few observations that have definitely presented themselves as opportunities for growth.

1) Yes, some nurses still eat their young. It's unfortunate, but true, and I have been on the receiving end of passive-aggressive comments, or awkward interactions where I leave asking myself, "were they really just making fun of me? Do they not remember being a newbie?" BUT there are so many more nurses that don't eat their young, and who are incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about helping you along the way. In fact, one of my favorite, most beloved preceptors has gone to bat for me more than a few times after being met with attitude by some less-than-understanding nurses. So, don't get discouraged. Stick to the positive mentors that will help you grow, and, if you are feeling gutsy enough, kill the other, less-than-understanding nurses with kindness. It really messes with their heads.

2) Don't feel like you have to be friends with everyone on the unit, all the time. I think it's absolutely important to keep a good, working relationship between your coworkers, especially in a high-risk unit like the ICU. However, that's not the same thing as being best buds with everyone you meet. If you can communicate effectively, and help each other out, and be a good "neighbor" to your coworker, that's the most important thing. Your ultimate goal shouldn't be to make friendship pacts with everyone, skip through the meadows together and braid each other's hair. That's totally cool if you do that sort of thing... but really, the most important thing is that you respect each other and have each other's backs when push comes to shove. Teamwork makes the dream work, people. And in my case, teamwork saves kids' lives.

3) Don't beat yourself up over mistakes. Learn from them. The other day, I grabbed the wrong piece of equipment during an emergency situation. I didn't know it was the wrong piece of equipment until I confidently yelled "here's the thing (that isn't at all what you asked for!)" at the top of my lungs in front of about 15 different people. Awkward. Real awkward. But did I learn from my mistake, I did find the right piece of equipment about 30 seconds later, and boy oh boy I will never make that embarrassing mistake again.

4) I think this is all pretty much summed up in the preceding 3 points, but here goes: You're a new grad. Don't get discouraged when it takes a little longer to find things, or to calculate something. Ask questions, and then ask more questions. And then, when you're all questioned-out, ask one more question. I don't think this is a sign of weakness. If anything, I think it shows a desire to really learn your practice and excel as an educated, informed nurse. Challenge yourself, challenge your peers, and don't be afraid to question something if it doesn't seem right. The worst that could happen is you're wrong, and the best that could happen is that you're right, but in either of those situations, you've learned something, and become a better clinician in the process.

Thanks for listening to my ramble,


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Happy Nurses Week!

Happy Nurses Week!

I was looking through my Pinterest board for a fitting quote, but I realized that I wanted to share part of my own writing instead. I really wish my nurses could know how much I appreciate them, even to this day. Below, I've included an excerpt from an essay I wrote for my Hopkins application.

3. Answer the question, why do you want to be a nurse? Include your academic, professional and life experiences and how they are relevant to the nursing profession. Include your professional goals in nursing?

I graduated from college with plans to teach abroad, apply to post-baccalaureate programs, and eventually become a doctor. However, a month after graduation I was diagnosed with a heart defect and unexpectedly underwent open heart surgery. Although doctors diagnosed my defect and patched my heart, it was my nurses who had the deepest impact on my experience as a patient. The first person to turn to my distraught mother, offer her tissues, and proceed to explain my surgical procedure in layman's terms, was my Nurse Practitioner. When I got out of surgery, it was my RN who juggled my monitors and wires while simultaneously responding to my sassy drug-induced comments with equal amounts of sarcasm and professionalism. When I was strong enough to stand, it was my nurse who walked with me during my first steps after surgery, making my 40-foot shuffle down the hall seem as big of an accomplishment as climbing Everest. When I look back at my experience as a patient, what I remember most are the moments I had with my nurses, who expertly and intuitively cared for my physical needs, but also treated me as a human being. I realize that this is exactly the kind of spirit I want to embody as a health care provider...

... And several years later, working my first job as an RN, I stand by those words.

To all the nurses out there: Thank you for all that you do. I feel honored to be a part of your profession, and I am endlessly grateful for your compassionate care.

Happy Nurses Week,


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Whaddup Interwebs

Welp. I think we all saw this coming.

I did kind of disappear once nursing school started. I think it took over my life a little bit WHOOPS.
My blog is still important to me/ apparently I'm still getting a lot of views over here in this tiny corner of the interwebs, so I figured as long as you're still reading, I'll keep (spontaneously) writing!

Random, not-at-all comprehensive updates on life:

  • Still writing, although a lot of it is offline and in the pages of my own journal. 
  • The other day I went to a movie by myself, which is cool. What's even cooler is the fact that it was a 3D movie about NASA and I was wearing a NASA shirt totally accidentally. No joke. Check out those 3D glasses: 
  • Doing that whole nursing school thing, although not for much longer (I graduate in 3 weeks!)
  • Listening to Adele's 25 on repeat. She gets me. 
  • Completing my nursing school final practicum in a cardiac ICU at Hopkins. Super cool, super huge learning curve. Aka, I ended up doing chest compressions on a coding patient approximately 45 minutes into my first shift. #baptismbyfire #beforeandafter: 

  • Still running, although not as often. Remember this post? Well, I beat my determined yet stupid record and completed another half marathon with even less training than before. (Read: my training consisted of one 2-mile run about 5 weeks before the half marathon. But I PRed somehow. SOTHERE.) 
  • Still teaching. Sort of. I'm a Pathophysiology tutor at my school, which is incredibly exciting for probably only myself now that I think about it. I think I'll always be a teacher in some way or another-- old habits die hard. I get wayyy too excited about preload/ afterload, the Loop of Henle, etc etc. 
  • Not playing the sousaphone anymore. This isn't really an update, I just wanted to remind everyone about that one time I played the sousaphone in the Notre Dame marching band because people either (A) don't believe me or (B) think it's hilarious (or, I guess (C) all of the above). 
  • Still wanting to blog lots and lots. Probably about nursing school, and nursing, and life, and heart-related stuff etc. PLEASE let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to read/ hear about! 

Peace and Blessings,

p.s. sorry for all the selfies but you're welcome for the MayaJoy Peace Sign 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Oh hey, three!

I woke up this morning, hungover from a night of studying, too many highlighted notes and one too many shots of espresso. I grabbed my phone, checked my email for updates on my grades, then checked Facebook for updates on my friends as we begin our much-needed, month-long vacation from nursing school. "Three years ago today," my Facebook read, as it showed a picture of me sitting in a chair for the first time after my open heart surgery. "How could I have forgotten about my surgery anniversary yesterday?!" I asked myself.

To be completely honest, at first I was a little disappointed that I had forgotten my "heartiversary", but I was also surprised at how okay I was with my slip-up. People celebrate birthdays, and anniversaries, in different ways every year. This year, I think I was okay with "forgetting". I think I celebrated by embracing life as I know it right now: sleeping in (thank you, weekends), going for a walk through my neighborhood, laughing with my roommates, going to my favorite café where every barista knows my name, my coffee order, whether or not I'll be in later, what clinical rotation I'm in at any given moment ("Maya, did you catch any babies today?").

Maybe it's because I'm too wrapped up in school: 5am alarms, exams every week, late nights at diners and hospitals and coffee shops, caring for patients, cramming info, reading textbooks, writing note after note after note, creating care plans and making nursing diagnoses.

Maybe it's because my scar/ my story has become as much a part of me as my name, or my curly hair, or my light brown eyes. It's just part of who I am. I think it's a little bit of everything, and I'm okay with that. I feel good, I feel healthy. My heart is strong, my scar is healed, my story is just as formative as it was one year ago... two years ago...the day my heart was fixed.

Three years ago, I was sitting in a hospital chair for the first time. Two years ago and last year, I was preparing to start a new school year as a reading specialist and track coach. And now, here I am, sitting in a Starbucks in the middle of Baltimore, on the heels of my penultimate semester of nursing school. I'm in awe.

Look back to remember why you started. Look forward to envision where you're going. Always be grateful.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Alternate Title: Career Fairs Always Terrified Me

I've had this post written for a long time now, but it seemed particularly relevant now that career/ volunteer fairs are popping up and graduation looms on the horizon for many of my dear friends. 

I graduated from college with absolutely no solid plan about what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to go from there. During my time at Notre Dame, I was involved in about 2342 different activities and loved them all, so I don't think this was a matter of me being uninterested. If anything, I felt like I had TOO many options (Note to any guidance counselor: The phrase "Oh but honey, you can do anything you want" can be terrifying/ very misleading.)

I had totally immersed myself in my undergrad experience, pursuing things I loved and overloading on credits every semester because I just wanted to learn it all, do it all, embrace it all. And then all of a sudden graduation was fast approaching and I realized that I had spent so much time immersed in my undergrad life that I hadn't really considered how these interests could translate into something after graduation. At one point I considered applying to law school because I can read fast, I'm good at arguing, and I could probably do decent on the LSAT, and why not. Note: this is a horrible horrible way of discerning, imho.  I remember hastily applying to service programs literally days before graduation (Read: during senior week, my dear Notre Dame friends). I had to have something to do, something to tell people at all the grad parties!

I was afraid.
I didn't have a "label" for what I was doing. My life plan didn't fit under a convenient headline. It seemed as if all my friends had labels: medical school, grad school, law school. Year of service, Peace Corps. Consultant, engineer, teacher, architect.

I didn't have a label, and that frightened me.
For a while, I could brush the questions off, because I was recovering from heart surgery, and that, my friends, is a job unto itself. But once I was healthy enough(ish) to work, I didn't have a convenient label, a post-grad plan that fit into a convenient description.

I felt the need to explain myself to so many people.
I was constantly afraid that my friends would judge me for not having the job they had, or for not doing the same thing they were doing. Really, I was judging myself; I was comparing myself to others. But when I really thought about it, I didn't want that engineering job my best friend had. I had zero desire to go to law school, and the thought of going to grad school immediately after four academically intense years made me want to cry.

Something had to change. 
I had to come to terms with the fact that my label didn't look like anyone else's, and that was okay. I also had to realize that by labeling my friends by their jobs and post-grad accomplishments, I was severely compartmentalizing my friends' experiences. I was essentially denying the fact that our lives are in a constant state of discernment. Trust that. 

So I decided to stop caring so much about labels. It wasn't doing anyone any good. I found things I loved, and I pursued them. I taught. I coached middle school track and started a running club (who knew?!). I took classes every weekend at a school 3 hours away and became a Certified Nursing Assistant. I took science classes down the road at the local community college. I worked on the weekends at a hiking store. I house sat. I dog sat. I nannied. I got to come back to Notre Dame's campus every summer and work for Notre Dame Vision. I lived, I learned, I grew. 

I know hindsight is 20-20, and I realize that writing about all this crazy stuff while it was happening would probably sound more genuine, but I just wasn't there yet. I hadn't realized what I was doing at the time. Letting go of the need to label everything allowed me to see my life in a continuum. It allowed me to weave together my strengths, my interests, and my goals in a way that made sense to me. It allowed me the freedom to discern based on passion and curiosity, not based on fear and self-doubt.

It's okay to have a label for what you're doing. 
And it's okay if you don't. 

Because ultimately, that's not what defines us.

Take a deep breath (or two, or three...)
Pray about it, run about it, talk about it, figure out what makes you shine.

You're good. You're fine. You're okay. 
You'll figure it out, all in due time. 

In the mean time though, know that:
1. I. get. it.
2. I'm cheering you on.
3. I'm praying for you.

Edit: 9 September 2015 (because I love this book and this quote is relevant):

“I blame the Internet. Its inconsiderate inclusion of everything.Success is transparent and accessible, hanging down where it can tease but not touch us. We talk into these scratchy microphones and take extra photographs but I still feel like there are just SO MANY PEOPLE. Every day, 1,035.6 books are published; sixty-six million people update their status each morning. At night, aimlessly scrolling, I remind myself of elementary school murals. One person can make a difference! But the people asking me what I want to be when I grow up don't want me to make a poster anymore. They want me to fill out forms and hand them rectangular cards that say HELLO THIS IS WHAT I DO.”  

-Marina Keegan, The Opposite of Loneliness