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End of Summer 2011 Semester and Moving On

Originally published at The Literary Nurse.

Today I took my final exam for Professional Nursing: Concepts & Issues, the one class I was taking over the summer semester as it was the only pre-requisite class I needed for the FIU Nursing program. Last week my group did an in-class presentation on NICU Nursing for which we all got a 95/100. I don’t know what grade I got on my final yet, but short of getting an F on it (which I won’t), I’ll still get an A in the class. So, I’m calling it:

  • Professional Nursing: Concepts & Issues – A

Today also marks my last day as an FIU student for the time being. As I’ve said before, this actually makes me sad; I really like FIU, even with all its quirks, so I will miss not being a student there. After class I chatted with a couple of my fellow classmates, one of them who was accepted into the BSN program, two who weren’t, and we blew some steam. Heck, even the guy who got in (he has a 4.0 GPA) was venting. We’ve learned a few things here and there about some of the people accepted that left us scratching our heads or downright calling foul. I won’t go into any of it, though, because it serves no purpose now after the steam was vented off.

The other day I found another one of my classmates on Facebook and saw that he also had not been accepted. We expressed mutual sympathy and exchanged good wishes. When he asked, and I told him, why I had not been accepted, that it had all been due to a GPA failing, he said the following:

…selection process at fiu is kinda wack imo. Just cause you are a book worm does not mean you will function well. Like lets be real here dude. You would be doing all the hands on shit in anatomy, digesting and understanding while most just stood around grossed that you were holding an arm.[sic]

Momentary ego-boost aside (I won’t lie), that right there made me feel really good. Professors deal with hundreds and hundreds of students. While they may learn your name during class, there’s little guarantee that will last once you’ve moved on in most cases. Getting noticed by a professor who is also dealing with 119 other students is next to impossible. Getting noticed by your peers, that’s what counts. The above is not the first thing to that effect I’ve been told. I always dismiss it with an awkward smile but to be recognized by those who are going through the paces with you, that’s what counts. That my peers noticed what I was doing, how I was doing it, why I was doing it, and that I did it well, regardless of the grade on the exam, that is gold to a student. It means I’m on the right path.

Let’s face it, this was my admission slot to lose, and I lost it. I did. Me. I accept that. I own that. I make my peace with that.

Now it’s time to move on. There’s no Plan B. There’s Plan A waiting to be implemented. Let’s do this.

End of Summer 2011 Semester and Moving On

June 23, 2011 3 comments

Today I took my final exam for Professional Nursing: Concepts & Issues, the one class I was taking over the summer semester as it was the only pre-requisite class I needed for the FIU Nursing program. Last week my group did an in-class presentation on NICU Nursing for which we all got a 95/100. I don’t know what grade I got on my final yet, but short of getting an F on it (which I won’t), I’ll still get an A in the class. So, I’m calling it:

  • Professional Nursing: Concepts & Issues – A

Today also marks my last day as an FIU student for the time being. As I’ve said before, this actually makes me sad; I really like FIU, even with all its quirks, so I will miss not being a student there. After class I chatted with a couple of my fellow classmates, one of them who was accepted into the BSN program, two who weren’t, and we blew some steam. Heck, even the guy who got in (he has a 4.0 GPA) was venting. We’ve learned a few things here and there about some of the people accepted that left us scratching our heads or downright calling foul. I won’t go into any of it, though, because it serves no purpose now after the steam was vented off.

The other day I found another one of my classmates on Facebook and saw that he also had not been accepted. We expressed mutual sympathy and exchanged good wishes. When he asked, and I told him, why I had not been accepted, that it had all been due to a GPA failing, he said the following:

…selection process at fiu is kinda wack imo. Just cause you are a book worm does not mean you will function well. Like lets be real here dude. You would be doing all the hands on shit in anatomy, digesting and understanding while most just stood around grossed that you were holding an arm.[sic]

Momentary ego-boost aside (I won’t lie), that right there made me feel really good. Professors deal with hundreds and hundreds of students. While they may learn your name during class, there’s little guarantee that will last once you’ve moved on in most cases. Getting noticed by a professor who is also dealing with 119 other students is next to impossible. Getting noticed by your peers, that’s what counts. The above is not the first thing to that effect I’ve been told. I always dismiss it with an awkward smile but to be recognized by those who are going through the paces with you, that’s what counts. That my peers noticed what I was doing, how I was doing it, why I was doing it, and that I did it well, regardless of the grade on the exam, that is gold to a student. It means I’m on the right path.

Let’s face it, this was my admission slot to lose, and I lost it. I did. Me. I accept that. I own that. I make my peace with that.

Now it’s time to move on. There’s no Plan B. There’s Plan A waiting to be implemented. Let’s do this.

Where I Failed

June 16, 2011 4 comments

I went to the see the Pre-Nursing Advisor at FIU to find out why exactly I was not accepted into the BSN program. Long story short, it all came down to the C I got in Survey of Chemistry this past Spring semester. Yes, it did come down to that one grade, probably because the class was worth 4 credits. Had I gotten a B, I quite very likely would have made it into the program.

This makes me feel horrible. Honestly, it makes me feel this close to hating myself. I struggled with that class so much. Did I do the utmost best I could have? No, probably not. But I did do my best. It just wasn’t enough to get that extra points to a B. And I’m now paying for it.

I need to step away from this issue for a short time, a day or two; maybe the weekend. I need to not think about this, need to stop blaming myself for that C.

There are still a number of programs out there, a couple affordable, most private and expensive, but I cannot, will not let all the work I have done, all the hours studying, all the miles driven around town, all the personal situations this new path brought into our lives to be for nothing.

But not today.

Categories: The Literary Nurse Tags:

From Rejection, A New Beginning

Today, as I rejoined the world after being offline for two days in celebration of the holiday of Shavuot, I had the following email waiting for me in my Inbox:

from    D. Loffredo
to      Daniel M. Perez
date    Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 6:04 PM
subject    FIU Generic BSN Program

June 8, 2011

Dear Daniel Perez:

I regret to inform you that you were not accepted to the FIU College of Nursing and Health Sciences Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program for Fall 2011.  I truly applaud you on your choice of the nursing profession and wish you all the best in your future career endeavors.

If you choose to reapply to our program, the next application cycle will be for admission to Fall 2012.  On behalf of the College of Nursing & Health Sciences faculty and staff, I sincerely thank you for your interest in our program.

Sincerely,
D. Loffredo, RN-BC, MSN
Director, Admission and Student Services
College of Nursing and Health Sciences

I had to read it twice before it sunk in: I didn’t make it into the BSN program at FIU.

I won’t lie, I’m crushed.

I have been working for this for the past year and a half, pushing myself to learn, to excel in new academic areas, dealing with a whole new language, curriculum, mentality, all because I know that this is what I need to do now, become a nurse. This email felt like a sledgehammer to the gut.

I will be honest, I am crushed.

I have little desire to finish the class I am taking (Professional Nursing Concepts & Issues), a class that while interesting, is only necessary for the FIU BSN requirements. I have little desire to do the project that I have to present in front of the class next week, to take the final the week after that. This is all the sadness talking, I know this, but that’s what I feel now.

But that’s just now.

While today I am allowing myself to feel bad, to feel down, to feel crushed over this rejection, that’s just today. Tomorrow I’m putting all that in a box as a memento and moving ahead. This is only a speedbump, nothing more.

I express myself via writing; I work through things via the written word, organize thoughts via sentences, fight my demons with pens and keyboards. It is why out of this rejection I have chosen to launch this new blog, The Literary Nurse. This is me working through the process of going from a Humanities-trained English graduate to a Science-retrained Nurse. This is me moving this journey to the uttermost forefront, to a place where it stands king-like over my thoughts. This is where I geek out about becoming a nurse.

I have chosen to import all the relevant posts about this journey that were on my personal blog so that the story is complete over here. Likewise, I am exporting all new posts from this site to my personal one for the sake of archival continuity.

This is only a speedbump, and speedbumps are there to slow you down so you pay attention to your surroundings before continuing. That’s what I’m doing now. And then I’ll be on my way again.

I will be a Nurse.

Categories: The Literary Nurse Tags: ,

From Rejection, A New Beginning

June 9, 2011 Comments off

Today, as I rejoined the world after being offline for two days in celebration of the holiday of Shavuot, I had the following email waiting for me in my Inbox:

from    D. Loffredo
to      Daniel M. Perez
date    Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 6:04 PM
subject    FIU Generic BSN Program

June 8, 2011

Dear Daniel Perez:

I regret to inform you that you were not accepted to the FIU College of Nursing and Health Sciences Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program for Fall 2011.  I truly applaud you on your choice of the nursing profession and wish you all the best in your future career endeavors.

If you choose to reapply to our program, the next application cycle will be for admission to Fall 2012.  On behalf of the College of Nursing & Health Sciences faculty and staff, I sincerely thank you for your interest in our program.

Sincerely,
D. Loffredo, RN-BC, MSN
Director, Admission and Student Services
College of Nursing and Health Sciences

I had to read it twice before it sunk in: I didn’t make it into the BSN program at FIU.

I won’t lie, I’m crushed.

I have been working for this for the past year and a half, pushing myself to learn, to excel in new academic areas, dealing with a whole new language, curriculum, mentality, all because I know that this is what I need to do now, become a nurse. This email felt like a sledgehammer to the gut.

I will be honest, I am crushed.

I have little desire to finish the class I am taking (Professional Nursing Concepts & Issues), a class that while interesting, is only necessary for the FIU BSN requirements. I have little desire to do the project that I have to present in front of the class next week, to take the final the week after that. This is all the sadness talking, I know this, but that’s what I feel now.

But that’s just now.

While today I am allowing myself to feel bad, to feel down, to feel crushed over this rejection, that’s just today. Tomorrow I’m putting all that in a box as a memento and moving ahead. This is only a speedbump, nothing more.

I express myself via writing; I work through things via the written word, organize thoughts via sentences, fight my demons with pens and keyboards. It is why out of this rejection I have chosen to launch this new blog, The Literary Nurse. This is me working through the process of going from a Humanities-trained English graduate to a Science-retrained Nurse. This is me moving this journey to the uttermost forefront, to a place where it stands king-like over my thoughts. This is where I geek out about becoming a nurse.

I have chosen to import all the relevant posts about this journey that were on my personal blog so that the story is complete over here. Likewise, I am exporting all new posts from this site to my personal one for the sake of archival continuity.

This is only a speedbump, and speedbumps are there to slow you down so you pay attention to your surroundings before continuing. That’s what I’m doing now. And then I’ll be on my way again.

I will be a Nurse.

Filed under: Nursing Tagged: FIU, New Beginning

Categories: The Literary Nurse Tags:

Achievement Unlocked: Nursing School Application Turned In

After a year and a half of taking all the prerequisite classes I needed, on May 13th I took the HESI (Nursing School Entrance Exam) and turned in my application to the FIU School of Nursing BSN program.

I got great scores in the HESI. I needed 80% in both the Math and English parts to pass, and I got 92% in Math and 97% in English. Though I am now taking the one class I still needed for my prerequisites, the application is in and all that is left to do is wait and see.

I cannot tell you–like, honestly, I can’t put it into words–how it feels to have reached this goal. I had a few moments when I thought I was gonna cry but I didn’t. Not yet. When I get accepted maybe.

I had to write an essay explaining why I wanted to become a nurse and why I would be a good candidate for the program. My essay is below. I think it says it all.

I did not set out to become a nurse. I went to university, got my degree in English and I was happy; even when it proved challenging to find work, I was sure I’d made the right choice in getting a degree in something I enjoyed. Then life happened.

In 2009 my mother was hospitalized for a total of 118 days due to what was eventually diagnosed to be a metastasis of the cancer she had beat back in 2007. From February to July 2009, I traveled back and forth to Puerto Rico to be by her side. I put my life on hold for months at a time so I could be of help in those difficult moments.

During the time in the hospital, it wasn’t the five-minute doctor visits that gave my mother and her family succor. The ones that truly made a difference were the nurses. They were the ones who learned all our names, what my mother liked, what the telltale signs of her symptoms were. They were the ones who came at all hours to calm my mother down when the pain was too much, the ones who were patient and understanding when my mother was being stubborn, the ones who held her hand when she was alone and frightened. Even when she went into hospice, it was a nurse that made her last days the most comfortable they could be.

I did not set out to become a nurse, but after witnessing the vital difference they made in my mother’s life, I was inspired by their example. I realized that I could not go back to doing anything else that did not have that kind of impact on people’s lives. Just as the dozens of nurses that had treated my mother had affected her life, I knew that I could do that as well—that I had to. So after eight years, I decided to go back to university to get a second degree, and become a nurse.

An English graduate is an uncommon applicant to the Nursing program, to say the least, but the skills I learned in getting my BA are skills that I can bring to this program as well. I am trained in research and argument, in writing and delivering clear, concise messages. I already know the rigors and challenges of upper-level classes, the dedication and discipline they demand. I have also seen firsthand the work done by nurses, been through personal tribulations that allow me to sympathize and empathize with those I would be helping. In short, I have life experiences to back up my academic training, and I now bring these to the goal of becoming a nurse.

It is my greatest desire to join the FIU Nursing program and I hope it is one you will fulfill. You will not regret it.

I’ll keep you updated.

Filed under: Nursing Tagged: FIU, Mom, Nursing

End of Spring 2011 Semester

The final grades were posted today, so that means that, officially, the Spring 2011 semester is over and done. How did I do? Overall, not bad.

  • Human Anatomy: B
  • Human Anatomy Lab: B
  • Survey of Chemistry: C
  • Chemistry Lab: B+

When the dust settled, my cumulative GPA is now 3.52.

This was the last semester of my pre-Nursing stage. Yes, I do still need one class, which I am taking now in Summer A, but really, this was it, the one semester with the heavy science classes, and the last one before I put in my application to the Nursing program at FIU by next week.

It wasn’t an easy semester, simply because both of these classes were all about memorization of tons of information. Seriously, it’s all about learning the info they threw at you by heart as much as possible. Especially Anatomy, these are foundation sciences, so they had a ton of material to cover in little time.

Overall I much preferred Anatomy; though I got a B, it was more due to a problem I’m noticing I have with exams (exam paper blank-out, I call it) than with not knowing the material. In fact, I know it well, and while I’m far from being to recite body parts like my professor, I can recall a huge amount of the anatomical info we covered. And let’s face it, this is the class with the Lab where we had four cadavers to study from. Little test tubes simply do not compare.

Chemistry was a nightmare, seriously. If I say that it was my least favorite class in my entire university career I would only be upsetting Statistics at being made to share that title. I found it tedious and of little interest. Though I give the professor credit for trying her best to make the class amenable, and kudos for being really good about explaining things, I have to take points away since she rarely, if ever, brought all that chemistry into the Health Sciences context. This class is specifically for Nursing, OT, PT, Nutrition, Health Sciences students, so you know the topic that is of interest to us: couch the chemistry in terms of our interest! Nope. The result was apathy on my part. Much like I don’t care in general how this blog, browser, software work in the back-end, just that they work for me on the user side, that’s how I feel about Chemistry.

Could I have done better? Always, really. I gave it my best most of the time, and pushed through the tiredness and despondency when they attacked, and here I am now, done.

A 3.5 is a good GPA, but I don’t know if it will be good enough for the Nursing program at FIU. I do have the ace in my hand that is my previous degree, which does add points to my GPA for purposes of their admissions calculations, so I’m hoping that, and my essay on why I wanna be admitted, will do the trick.

Next Tuesday, I start the Nursing Concepts class and next Friday I take the HESI exam (Nursing school entrance test), so I’ll report then.

Filed under: Nursing Tagged: FIU, Nursing

Spring Break 2011 Update

As I write this, Spring Break is soon to be over and honestly, for all that I’m happy that I had this week off, I’m ready to go back to classes. Don’t get me wrong, this mental vacation was needed and appreciated, but after a week off, I’ve lost my routine and thinking of going back to classes now makes me all bleh. Feeling bleh about my classes is not something I can afford, so I’m looking forward to using this break as a chance to recharge and mount a new, stronger attack upon my classes.

So what did you do during your spring break? Travel? Go to the beach (lord knows Miami Beach has been infested with the lot of you for the past 3 weeks and counting)? I’ll tell you what I did. Fundraising.

As my spring break vacation started, Japan got hit by a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a 10-meter ensuing tsunami that, a week later, is still making its effects felt and revealing the lives it took (more than 8000 as of this writing and rising). I spent Friday putting together a fundraising bundle based around one of the roleplaying game sourcebooks I sell via my company, Highmoon Games, which is all about Tokugawa-era Japan. I then got in touch with a fellow geek and over the weekend we put together another 20-page RPG sourcebook based around Mythic Japan which as of Tuesday I announced as an incentive towards donations to help Japan. As I write this, the Japan Relief bundle has raised more than $1000 and the second product I co-wrote has driven at least half that much in donations to various organizations.

Some people have called me a good man for having done all this. I thank them for their kind words, but honestly, I am simply doing all that is within my power to help Japan recover from the 5th most powerful earthquake in recorded history. I made a decision that I would try to lead my life making an impact in the world, helping others whenever possible. This was just putting that in practice.

As I head back to classes, how am I doing so far? Honestly, I could be doing better:

  • Anatomy Lecture: I got a 95 in exam 1, and a 78 in exam 2.
  • Anatomy Lab: I got an 88 in exam 1, exam 2 is next week.
  • Chemistry Lecture: I got a 76 in exam 1, 60 in exam 2.
  • Chemistry Lab: No exams, but been doing well in my individual labs.

Of all those grades, the 78 in Anatomy is the one that hurts the most. I knew that material well, but there was just a lot of stuff to cover (skeletal and muscular system) and I missed enough details to drop like that. I still have two exams to go, so I gotta work to bring that up. I really want an A in Anatomy.

In Chemistry, though those numbers look horrible, the curve is such that those are actually a B and C. I have to put actual effort into this class–I simply do not like it–because I don’t want it to mess up my GPA at the end of the semester, but I can tell you, it’s gonna be hard work.

There’s just one more month of classes left and from now on I also gotta get ready to take the Nursing entrance exam and apply to the FIU School of Nursing as well as to other Nursing programs in the area, just in case. Lots of work, lots to do.

Filed under: Nursing Tagged: Charity, FIU, Nursing

First Month of Classes Spring 2011

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, first month and a half, but who’s keeping track. Keeping the tradition from my last semester, this one has also been a busy one right from the start.

Over the winter break I started working at the FIU Bookstore, administered by Barnes & Noble, and it’s been a great little job. It also means that I’ve had little time off since the start of classes; if I’m not in class, I’m at work. Which is a good, if tiring, situation to be in. Though the start-of-classes rush has now died down and hours have been scaled back, I was kept past the temp period which bodes well for me. We’ll see once March rolls around as that’s when they have to make a choice if to keep me or let me go.

As far as classes, I was hoping this would be my last Pre-Nursing semester, but that won’t be the case. I am taking:

  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Anatomy Demonstration (Lab)
  • Survey of Chemistry
  • Chemistry Lab

In those four classes I have 9 credits, which is actually a lot for 2 classes and 2 labs. And let me tell you, that’s a good load right there. I was hoping to add Intro to Nursing to finish off my pre-reqs, but the class had a name change that wasn’t reported on the School of Nursing website so I couldn’t register on time. I’ll be taking it in the summer.

Anatomy is a survey of the human body and it’s at 6:40 AM twice a week. Yes, 6:40 AM. That’s just the way it is; no other sections, always at that time regardless of the semester it is taught. It’s not that bad, the early wake-up time aside. The professor is good and animated, a must for such an early class.

The Anatomy Lab is taught by the same professor and entails identifying on models and cadavers the various parts we study in the lecture. I was proud of myself for not batting an eyelash at the cadaver on the first day of class. Touching it has been a bit weird but I’m getting used to it. I will never eat beef jerky again, though. Yeah, you’re welcome.

Survey of Chemistry is, well, boring. Not really, Chem is interesting, but we’re going so fast over basic concepts in order to cover General, Organic and Bio Chemistry, that all it amounts to right now to me is “math with letters.” I’m finding I remember more material from my high school days than what has been taught in class. But I gotta trudge on.

Chem Lab is your standard mad scientist setup and as we start mixing things up in flasks and seeing strange reactions it gets better.

By now I’ve had exams in both classes and the Anatomy Lab. I got a 93/100 on my Anatomy lecture test, which was awesome, and while I just took my Anatomy Lab exam and have not seen the results I do expect to have done well, too. On my Chemistry lab I am not so sure; I think I did ok, but how ok is what remains to be seen.

Overall a good semester, a busy semester with lots of material to learn and memorize, plus work. I can see that Nursing program already on the horizon, though.

Filed under: Nursing Tagged: FIU, Nursing

End of Fall 2010 Semester

December 17, 2010 6 comments

Geez, has it been a semester already? I feel like it was one of those paradoxes, where time flew yet stood still. But, with the posting of final grades today that means the Fall semester is officially over, and with it, my first year back in school. I’ll tackle that milestone in a separate blog post; this one is all about the semester that just ended. To start, let’s look at what my grades looked like when all was said and done:

  • Introduction to Microbiology: B
  • Introduction to Microbiology Lab: B
  • Principles of Nutrition: A
  • Introduction to Statistics: C

First of all, let me say WOOHOO, I PASSED STATS!!! That out of my system, this is how this semester went down.

Frankly, this was a lot tougher a semester than I thought it would be when I registered for it. Though it was only 3 classes and a lab, it somehow drained a lot of my time: between learning 8-9 chapters of information per Microbiology exam, doing the near-endless stream of inane projects for Nutrition, and slamming my head against any and every hard surface I came across due to Statistics, I was challenged constantly to change my ways when it comes to learning and studying. In many ways, I was still relying on the techniques I learned while I did my English degree–things like mnemonics, batch memorization, association of general concepts in order to deduce the respective details from those later on–and while this certainly worked in some classes (well, really, only in Nutrition), it proved only of partial help in Microbiology and of no help in Statistics. Which means I had to re-learn how to study as well as dust off that ancient mystic art of crammin’.

On a personal level as well, this was a challenging semester, which added pressure and stress to my already heavy load. Midterms week, for example, was just bad all over, resulting in my worst Midterm’s performance ever, and I mean ever, including the years oh-so-long-ago when I went to school to eat shit. Thankfully I was able to recover from it and ended up with grades that I am actually happy with.

Read more…