Trau·ma  Junk· ie  ( 'trau-m&  'j&[ng]-kE) n. Slang
  1. One who has an insatiable interest, devotion or addiction to responding and assisting people with serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident.

Random thoughts nearing the end of week one...

Aside from my lab this afternoon over standard and transmission based precautions that I'm now "studying" for, my first week in the RT program is nearing its end. It still seems strange that when people ask me what my major is, I no longer have to tell them that I'm undecided, and it is also strange how no one knows what Respiratory Therapy is when I tell them my major discipline of study. What strikes as even stranger is that outside of RT students, instructors, and practicing RT's, people really don't seem to understand the amount of studying that is required of the program, especially the critical courses such as Pharmacology and Fundamentals I.

As I've mentioned before, I'm working at a pretty large hospital as a Certified Nursing Assistant. About a month before beginning the respiratory therapy program, I changed my employment status from Full Time to PRN, which means that I'm only required to work 16 hours a schedule (which is four weeks long). Of course, due to shift coverage, I'm also able to work pretty much any shift, on any unit, any time I call. In the month before I started the program, I was worked 48-50 hours a week. I had full intentions of working close to 40 hours a week, even while I was in the program.

It didn't take long (as in, the first day of classes) for me to realize that keeping those kinds of hours at my job would not be possible. And that is fine, because I'm glad to have the opportunity to work as little or as much as I'd like.

So basically, I guess my first random thought is just a heads-up to students who will be starting an RT program soon: If you have to work full time, I'm sure it can probably be done somehow, but don't work any more than you have to in order to live comfortably. I don't mean to sound like I'm preaching, but it is just something I have come to learn in this past week. I usually get out of class around 11, watch TV for about an hour, and then study until I have to pick my wife up at 5 from work. After that, I return home to read the material to be covered in class the next day. It is not easy, but I seem to know my material pretty well doing it this way.

On another note, my lab today is four hours long, and I've never really even had a lab aside from ones that last about 30 minutes where we'd look at slides under a microscope. I'm excited to see how it will go. We are supposed to get checked off on the things I have done hundreds of times in my job as a CNA: hand washing, sterile technique, preparing to enter a room when a patient is on Contact, Droplet, or Airborne Isolation. Standard precautions to prevent the spread of infection. How to properly don a mask, gloves, a gown, and a face shield. Yet, for some reason, I'm still a bit nervous about the lab, which I suppose is normal. However, the good thing is that I've already signed off on all these skills in front of a Nurse Examiner from the BNE who could turn you to stone if you missed one step in a skill, so how bad can this be?

From time to time, we (hospital employees) don't always follow the proper techniques that are taught in school, because we are often in a rush. I mean, we wash our hands, wear our PPE, and so on, but there is an efficient way to do it and a proper way. I guess I'll just have to think of the clinical simulation lab as, "the perfect world," where you are not stressed by a heavy patient load, where everything is stocked and its proper place, and where you don't have a demanding patient calling for you every five minutes. Ahh, wouldn't that be nice?

Anyways, for an update on my classes:

  1. Pharmacology: This class couldn't be going any better. We spent the last class learning continuing our discussion about drug package inserts. I learned some interesting things about epinephrine and how unsafe it can be, and I plan to post that later. We discussed adverse drug reactions, a bit of pharmacokinetics, side effects, allergies, indications for use of a few meds, and off-label use of certain drugs such as phenergan, an anti-emitic agent, which can also be used as a sedative. I thought this class would be pretty mundane, run of the mill information, and for some reason I expected it to be an intimidating course as far as the amount of studying required, but that is very much not the case. Lots of studying, yes, but the information is easy to understand and very useful.
  2. Fundamentals: Doing well so far. A tremendous amount of studying is required for this class, and I was usually never one who liked to study (who does?). But by keeping on top of the studying and recommended reading for this course, I feel very confident that I am right where I need to be. The rewards of studying are evident to me, because I don't seem to have too many questions during lecture. This is the class I have a lab for today, from 1:00-5:00, but as I noted above, it should go pretty well. My best tips to study for this class are just read, read, read. If you end up using Egan's Fundamentals for your class, I didn't really see a need to take a bunch of notes because the information is presented well.
  3. Advanced Cardiopulmonary A&P: I only have this class one evening a week, which was last night. So far it was a refresher of Intro. to A&P that I took over the summer. We covered the anatomy of the respiratory system, and went into a bit more detail then was covered in Intro A&P. I never knew there were divisions of each lobe of the lung (e.g., the apical segment of the right upper lobe), or that there were different segments of the bronchi and bronchioles. It was so interesting...this may be my favorite class. I can't wait to see what we cover next week.
If you've made it this far in reading my blog post, thanks. I need to get back to studying now.

I'd like to end with a quote I found a few days ago, that more or less describes the reason why I chose to be a Respiratory Therapist, in a simple yet profound context:

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - that is to have succeeded” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet, Lecturer, and Essayist, 1803-1882

Carry that one along with you for the day.

*An update since I posted this earlier: Lab went well. I didn't miss any steps and I got a 100 for this lab.

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