This quarter can be summarized in two words: “tedious” and “exciting.” Yes, these words are antonyms and describe very different opinions about the quarter, but that is the MEPN rollercoaster. Before classes even started this spring, I knew it was going to be a challenge. UCSF has it set up so that the “A” MEPN cohort is taking 19 credits in the final quarter of this intense year. Both Childbearing Families (L&D) and Community Health Nursing have a lot of assignments as well as clinical hours. From my count, it looks like we had about 57 assignments over a 10 week quarter. The first and last week are usually lighter on the number of assignments, so most weeks we had about 7 assignments due at different times. None of it was hard, but it was challenging to stay organized, and motivated at this point in the year, when everyone is ready to check out. Despite all of the busy work, this was my favorite quarter of the MEPN year.
N147: Childbearing Families
Honestly, as a male nursing student, I had a little anxiety going into this class and the clinical site. I had heard rumors about other male nurses feeling out of place or unwelcome and I wasn’t looking forward to that. I am also in the Family Nurse Practitioner track and interested in family planning, reproductive health, and the birthing process (among many other things), so I was hoping to get a good foundation for my future graduate level classes. Thankfully, that is exactly what I got. This was by far my favorite class this year for many, many reasons.
First of all, the instructors were amazing. They went above and beyond what could be expected from a class like this. They covered an overwhelming amount of material in a clear and organized manner. In addition to covering all the textbook information, they took time to address social justice issues and weave them into every lecture. I appreciated their careful use of language, mindfulness, love of the subject, and concern for their students.
I was placed at a UCSF hospital for my Labor and Delivery clinical rotation and that was also amazing. My clinical instructor has been an L&D nurse for something like 20 years and she knows her stuff. She also worked on the floor there so she always found a way to pull students into the best learning opportunities. In addition to caring for many laboring patients, I was able to assist with or observe multiple deliveries and cesarian sections.
I had a wonderful experience during my clinical rotation. Every nurse I worked with seemed happy to have me there and went out of their way to make sure I was getting the most out of each shift. The patients and their families were also welcoming. Several even thanked me for being there with them. None of the rumors I heard about L&D nursing were confirmed by my experiences, but it is still important to be open and attuned to the desires of our patients. Always ask permission to assess, touch, or do anything else that may trigger someone. Respect and mindfulness will go a long way in nursing.
N150: Community Health Nursing
Going into this quarter, I thought this was going to be my favorite class. I have a strong interest in community health, sociology, and social theory, and I was looking forward to being able to incorporate these into my nursing experience. Unfortunately, the class itself was not what I expected. There were three instructors and multiple guest lecturers all covering many, many public health nursing topics. There is also a lot of specific terminologies, acronyms, policies, core competencies, interventions, etc. that can easily get lost or confused without a proper introduction. The instructors were all great, but I thought the structure of the class was lacking. Looking back, I personally would have benefitted from finding a good intro to community health nursing textbook and reading it on my own to get a better context.
My clinical placement for this class was at the Marin County Health and Human Services (HHS) Public Health Preparedness (PHP) Program. The PHP leads the medical and health planning efforts for an emergency response to disasters impacting the health of the county. PHP works with many different groups, including hospitals, community-based organizations, law enforcement, fire personnel, city and town governments, other programs within HHS and many others to ensure a coordinated and effective emergency response.
As a student working with with a nurse on county emergency preparedness issues, I had the opportunity to work with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a volunteer organization for healthcare professionals who want to serve their community in the time of emergency. During a joint exercise with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the MRC I was able to observe and help teach the CERT members patient assessments and triage during a simulated mass casualty event.
The PHP office is also involved with planning and executing large hospital and community-based training exercises to help prepare for disasters or terrorist attacks. For example, the Hospital Preparedness Program conducts an annual Coalition Surge Tests, where they test and observe the ability of a chosen hospital to establish an Incident Command System (ICS) and to evacuate their patients in 90-minutes or less. As a student, I was able to observe and assist county officials with exercise operations.
While there may not be many opportunities to interface directly with patients or community members, the county Public Health Preparedness staff were constantly on the lookout for interesting and educational experiences for students. I loved my time working with the people there and it was great to be able to see how I could use some of my Search and Rescue and military skills as a nurse.
In order to meet the requirements for the Public Health Nurse certificate, which we will be eligible for after graduating, we had to do a lot more documentation for this clinical rotation compared to all the others. There were weekly clinical journals that had to show we were meeting specific requirements, mastering public health nurse skills, and completing the required hours. The midterm and final evaluation were also more comprehensive than usual. This additional clinical work is partially what increased the number of assignments this quarter and made it feel so tedious.
Oh, and again, my clinical instructors were incredible. I have had nothing but the best CIs all year and would not have survived or enjoyed this program as much as I did without them.
N151: Issues in Nursing
The UCSF Course Catalog says this class “explores major issues and trends in contemporary nursing and health care delivery as they relate to nursing practice, education and research. The course identifies strategies nurses can use to influence issues affecting practice and health care delivery.” That basically sums it all up. The best part of this class is that for the first time since last summer, the whole UCSF MEPN cohort was together for a class. It was fun to see and spend time with a lot of people I hadn’t been around in a while. The class met once a week and we covered topics/issues about nursing practice, research, ethics, politics, controversies, etc. It was an interesting, big picture course to help situate us in the new nursing world we are about to enter.
Now that classes are over, it’s time to start studying for the NCLEX. As a UCSF MEPN student, I will be continuing straight on into the graduate courses this coming September. Passing the NCLEX is my one hurdle this summer, so I will be spending a couple of weeks focusing on that before hopefully taking the exam in early August. Wish me luck!