PedNIG Paediatric Nursing Skills Workshop: March 2016

On Saturday, March 05, 2016, I had the privilege of attending the Paediatric Skills Workshop hosted by the Paediatric Nursing Interest Group (PedNIG) of RNAO. The event was held at McMaster Medical Centre in Hamilton, Ontario. A large group of nursing students from nursing schools across Ontario eagerly attended the event, hoping to learn something new about the field of paediatrics. The room was filled with excited and anxious nursing students, waiting to hear from respectable and established paediatric registered nurses, hoping to pick their brains and learn some skills of the trade.

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The day began with open remarks from PedNIG RNAO representatives and executives, outlining the agenda for the day. The line up of speakers and presenters proved to be very exciting for the students, with a wide variety of speakers – from professionals who have been in practice for 20+ years, to new graduates who are all to familiar with the feelings of the students in the room. It was interesting to see the wide rang of experiences come together and speak about Paediatric nursing through different yet similar lenses. Each speaker and presented provided different perspectives and illustrated different ways of approaching this practice through their individualized experiences.

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The morning progressed with starting by learning how to complete a head-to-toe assessment of the paediatric population. We analyzed the process of how to conduct various health assessments in children ages 0-18 years of age, and how to act on complications found during certain assessments. It was a comprehensive review of the anatomy and physiology of the paediatric population that touched on key concepts and skills in paediatric nursing.

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The next session that followed was an overview of medication administration and dosage calculation for the paediatric population. Through this session, nursing students learned about different forms of administrating certain medications with various paediatric patients. We learned about how to assess for any signs and symptoms, how to assess for any adverse effects/toxic effects, etc. We also learned how to calculate the appropriate dosage of medication for paediatric patients depending on their weight and their condition. Students were attentive, actively participating, and collaborative with their peers throughout the entire session.

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The morning concluded by learning about paediatric mental health. This was a very new topic introduced to the practice of paediatric nursing, as mental health – up until recently – was not a standard assessment practiced in medicine. With increasing demands of putting more of a focus on mental health within health care, the paediatric population has proven to be one of the most vulnerable populations for instability in mental health. Through this particular session, we learned why exactly that is and certain influencing factors that affect the mental health of children. We learned what kinds of plans of action and intervention that paediatric nurses can take, in order to ensure that our patient population has a cohesive mental health. We learned about the importance of providing family-centred care and patient-centred care, and how we – as nurses – can play an important role as a source of support for our patients and their families.

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Following the morning’s workshop sessions, a lunch break ensued and afterwards, the afternoon’s session began. The afternoon’s session covered important topics in the field of paediatric nursing such as “Hot Topics in Paediatrics,” covering key illnesses and complications amongst the paediatric population (i.e Asthma, Type I Diabetes, pain). Following the Hot Topics session, a panel of esteemed professionals in the field conducted a Questions and Answers session with the students. This proved to be the highlight of the entire event, as students eagerly asked questions about the field and how to pursue a career in paediatrics as nurse to experienced professionals. Students asked questions such as:

“How do I gain experience in paediatrics as a student?”

“What makes a resume outstanding?”

“How can we maximize our experience in our clinical placements?”

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The panel of esteemed professionals were all too welcoming and eager to answer any inquiries and concerns that the students had. They answered with a high level of efficiency and conviction. The students were very receptive to the replies and very eager to participate in the discussions that were facilitated through the Q&A panel. This last session proved to be the most exciting aspect of the entire event and was a good way to end the day.

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Needless to say, the entire event proved to be very useful and very interactive for both the student attendees and the event hosts. The workshop was able to enhance the professional development of nursing students eager to build a career in paediatrics in a very significant way. The response to the various sessions held throughout the day were quite positive and enabled PedNIG – RNAO to be hopeful for future sessions. The event overall proved to be a huge success and attendees – myself included – left learning something new and feeling one step closer to their goals of becoming paediatrics nurses.

6 Tips to Remember When Applying for Awards

A blackboard with "helpful tips' written in chalk

There are tons of awards available to help cover the cost of pursuing your education and to highlight your hard work. While applying for awards might initially seem like more work then they are worth, everyone should apply. When I first started at Ryerson, I didn’t apply for any awards, partly because I thought they were too much work and because I thought there would be so many people applying I wouldn’t have a chance of winning. Neither of which are true. Here are some tips when applying for awards.

1. Let your personality shine through. The people on the awards committee probably do not know you. Let them get to know you through your application. Applications don’t need to be as stuffy and formal as you might think. In fact, the more the awards committee can see your personality the more likely they are to remember you.

2. Throughly read and respond to the award outline. All awards applications will tell you the criteria for how they are distributed. Read this very carefully. Read it several times. And speak to those points. If the award criteria asks for examples of commitment to Ryerson, don’t just mention how long you have been a student, write out your volunteer work, what committees you are on, or if you have done a work study program. Once you start writing it out, you will realize that you have done a lot more than you thought.

3. Get started early. It’s a good idea to search out awards and start thinking about them long before they are due. Here’s the list of awards available from the Faculty of Community and Social Services. http://www.ryerson.ca/fcs/students/awards/index.html You should also see if your school offers awards specific to your field of study. Check if the awards require letters of recommendations and ask for them early. Don’t wait until the week before.

4. Proof-read. I can’t stress this enough. Read over your application. Have someone else do it. Your application is representing you in that awards committee meeting so put your best foot or paragraph forward.

5. If you don’t succeed, try, try again. It’s a statistical impossibility for you to win every award that you apply for. That doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel. It could mean that there were other more qualified people who applied, or perhaps you need to reevaluate your application. Use the experience to help you succeed next time.

6. Be thankful. If (and when) you do receive an award. Be thankful. Write a letter of thank you to the person, organization or family who donated the money for the award. The award donors want to get to know you and see where their donations are going.

A blackboard with "helpful tips' written in chalkGood Luck everyone!

Five Tips for Applying to Graduate Programs

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If you are nearing the end of your undergraduate program you might be thinking about graduate school. While, the application deadlines may still be several months away, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your application now. Here are five helpful tips to get you started.

1.  Start Now.

It’s never to early to begin looking at different graduate programs. There are many to choose from and it’s best to do your research early so you aren’t scrambling later. Also, most applications require letters of recommendation. Start asking for those soon. The more time you give people to prepare, the more likely they will be to write you a glowing letter of recommendation.

2.  Write up your academic CV.

Academic CV’s are different from general resumes. Many graduate applications require you to have them as part of the application package. The sooner you start your CV, the better. You have probably done lots of things which would look great on a CV, but unless you write them down, they could be forgotten. Having it written out will also give you an idea of where you might need to fill some holes. Here’s a helpful blog to get your CV started.

3.  Know why you want to go to graduate school.

This sounds obvious right? Most graduate school applications require a personal letter outlining why you want to attend their graduate program. This is something you should think through very carefully. Your personal letter including why you want to attend graduate school are the part of the reasons you will be accepted. Academic standing, research plan and CV aside, the admissions committee want to get to know you.

4.  Get first hand advice.

If you don’t know anyone who attended the graduate program that you are interested, then ask around. Perhaps one of your current professors has a connection. If not, most graduate programs also have open days. All graduate programs also have staff who are able to meet with you or chat over the phone. These connections can provide you with valuable information and networks for your time in the graduate program.

5.  Get assistance editing your application.

No matter how great your application is it needs to be edited. As with any piece of writing, it will improve with feed back and constructive criticism. It’s very easy to miss spelling errors. A friend who recently applied and was accepted to a graduate program told me that when he had his application edited, not only had he spelled his field of study incorrectly but also his last name.

So, if you are interested in applying to a graduate program doing some research now will save you lots of time and frustration later on. Good luck!

Helpful Tips for Writing Awards Applications

depicts a dollar sign wearing a graduation cap

There are tons of awards available to help cover the cost of pursuing your education and to highlight your hard work. While, applying for awards might initially seem like more work then they are worth, everyone should apply. When I first started at Ryerson, I didn’t apply for any awards, partly because I thought they were too much work and because I thought there would be so many people applying I wouldn’t have a chance of winning. Neither of which are true. Last year, was my first attempt at applying for an award and I received the Harry E. Foster Memorial Award from the School of Disability Studies. I learned some valuable tips from that experience.

  1. Let your personality shine through. The people on the awards committee probably do not know you. Let them get to know you through your application. Applications don’t need to be as stuffy and formal as you might think. In fact, the more the awards committee can see your personality the more likely they are to remember you.
  2. Throughly read and respond to the award outline. All awards applications will tell you the criteria for how they are distributed. Read this very carefully. Read it several times. And speak to those points. If the award criteria asks for examples of commitment to Ryerson, don’t just mention how long you have been a student, write out your volunteer work, what committees you are on, or if you have done a work study program. Once you start writing it out, you will realize that you have done a lot more than you thought.
  3. Get started early. It’s a good idea to search out awards and start thinking about them long before they are due. Click here to see the list of awards available from the Faculty of Community Services. You should also see if your school offers awards specific to your field of study. Check if the awards require letters of recommendations and ask for them early. Don’t wait until the week before.
  4. Proof-read. I can’t stress this enough. Read over your application. Have someone else do it. Your application is representing you in that awards committee meeting so put your best foot or paragraph forward.
  5. If you don’t succeed, try, try again. It’s a statistical impossibility for you to win every award that you apply for. That doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel. It could mean that there were other more qualified people who applied, or perhaps you need to reevaluate your application. Use the experience to help you succeed next time.
  6. Be thankful. If (and when) you do receive an award. Be thankful. Write a letter of thank you to the person, organization or family who donated the money for the award. The award donors want to get to know you and see where their donations are going.

Good Luck everyone!

Helpful apps: Surviving university

I decided to review educational apps this week. Whether you are in your first year or final year, I think you will find these apps useful.Apps

Solve the Outbreak: This app allows you to learn about diseases and outbreaks in an engaging way and it’s really helpful for Public Health/Nursing students. You get to be the disease detective. You analyze outbreak data, interview sick people and run lab tests. You are given scenarios, some clues and your main goal is to solve the outbreak. It’s a great learning app for anyone considering a career in epidemiology. I didn’t expect to find such app. The only drawback is that it’s only available for iPad at the moment. This app was developed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Flashcards: Sometimes just reading over the notes is not enough to remember every single detail from the lecture. You need someone to quiz you on material you just learned. Flashcards app comes in handy and lets you study for any class or test. Some features include bookmarking troublesome topics and sorting of cards in any order (random, alphabetical, custom). Overall, cards are pleasing to the eye and look better than handwritten cards. You can also edit your cards on multiple devices including web, iPhone or iPad.

EasyBib: This app is really helpful in creating citations. Often you can find pre-made citations for online articles in journals but when it comes to books, you will have to manually enter the information into a citation maker. This app comes in handy since you just need to scan the bar code or type the book name. It will email you the citations, making it easier to export your citations to word documents. It supports APA, MLA and Chicago style citations. This way, you can cite any book a lot faster and it can save you time entering data into a citation builder. It’s available for free on iOS and Android devices.

Ryerson Mobile app: This app allows you to view your class schedule, grades, campus map (must have for new students) and ability to find books within the Ryerson Library through ISBN scanning functionality. It also allows you to find out your current OneCard balance and in the event that you lose your OneCard, you can freeze your account online by reporting it stolen through this app. It’s available for both Andrioid and iOS devices. The web version of this app is also available at http://m.ryerson.ca Give it a try, I am sure you will find these features helpful. My favorite feature is the ability to book a library room.

Employment Opportunities for Nursing Students

As I will be entering my 4th year of nursing at Ryerson University in the fall, myself and my classmates are thinking ahead to a year from now when we will be job searching. Fortunately the nursing job market is quite alive and well, with a diverse range of opportunities as well as new graduate initiatives, so thinking ahead is more exciting than it is stressful. That being said, many nursing students struggle to find employment in the field of nursing during the school year and summer months. As students, we are not qualified to work as regulated health care providers and there only a limited number of health-care related positions that are available for students. I think that the key for students is to apply to as much as possible, and to set yourself up for future success via strong academic performance, effective networking, and gaining experience. Nursing students are lucky in the fact that we are all guaranteed placements, so by the time we are a few years in, we have had the opportunity to network with a multitude of nurses and other professionals. Keeping these professional alliances is key to future success. In some cases, such as my own, placements can turn into jobs. Even if that isn’t the goal or the result of a placement, the experience is nonetheless valuable both for your professional report as well as for your own personal knowledge of preferences.

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So now let’s go back to life as a student. While the post-graduation future looks bright, many people become frustrated that they cannot find employment in the now. My advice is to look beyond the nursing scope, and to broaden goals to the broader field of health and wellness care, or anything that works with people. Health care institutions often post external listings for medical administrative staff. Hundreds of summer camps across Ontario hire counselors each year, which is a great way to gain leadership experience with the pediatric population. By extension, many camps also hire nursing students to work as first aiders in the health centers. It’s up to you to go out and find the positions. Limiting searches to student nurse positions will yield very limited results, however there are options that are relevant to nursing available.

 

Now that summer has begun, I wish my peers who are still looking for employment the best of luck in the search and I hope that this post offered some insight to you. Don’t give up!

Why Social Media (Sometimes) Sucks

a cell phone display featuring social media apps (Facebook, twitters, google +, tweet deck, youtube, myspace and instagram)

Like most people, I have Facebook friends I don’t know and Facebook friends I knew years ago, but haven’t actually talked to in decades. So I am constantly bombarded by posts which I find surprising, judgmental and even rude, but never seem to have the energy to comment on them and “get in to it” with people I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, there are things I love about social media. I like reading about random facts, news stories which never make it into the mainstream news, I like seeing/reading what my friends (my real life friends) are up to, and I even like cat photos. What I don’t like is the sense of ‘authority’ and ‘power’ that the perceived anonymity of the internet provides.

When was the last time that you ‘lol’ed’ in someone’s face and called their beliefs a ‘farce’? Can you recall the last discussion you had with a stranger in which you judged their eating habits and belittled their views? Ever walk up to someone and mock their outfit? I am guessing (and hoping) you answered no to these questions. But when was the last time you did this online?

I am not attempting to say that we must all become non judgmental and egoless immediately (wouldn’t that be nice though?) but I think we need to remember that on the other end of the DSL cable is a real person, with real beliefs and real feelings. We need to bring the respectful dialogue that occurs when you are face to face with a person into the online world.

The other reason I am slowly turning away from social media is how it changes the way in which we interact in person. How many times have you been out with someone and checked your phone, leaving the other person hanging? As if that new comment on your Facebook post won’t wait until later. I have to admit that I dislike when this happens to me and I am also guilty of doing this to others.

For those of us old enough to remember a time before Facebook, twitter and even the internet, we can judge the difference between social interaction past and present. What of those growing up in the social media milieu? I am not about to judge their social interaction as better or worse, but I wonder at the differences and how this will change how we communicate. I believe that social media has it’s place, networking and spreading news that is not always considered mainstream are now vital parts of our culture. Just think about how social media changed the world with the Arab Spring and with the Occupy movement. My question is really, where is the balance between our online lives and attitudes and the real world?

Google Apps at Ryerson University: Tips

This week I have decided to share some tips and tricks on how to use Ryerson Email (Google Apps) effectively. There are many hidden features that you may not know about and this is exactly what I plan to cover in this post. Some of the features discussed in this post may disappear at any time as they are part of Google Labs, where new features are tested.Google Apps

Undo Emails
Sent an email and wished you could bring it back? This option is available to all users. If you click “send” too soon and want to undo your message – there is some good news – this option lets you undo your messages. The messages are turned back into a draft. However, the only limitation of the undo option is that it’s only available for first 5 seconds, after that it’s permanently sent to the recipient. In order to activate this option, Go to Settings > Labs and choose enable “Undo Send”.

Show attachment emails only
If you find yourself searching for an email that has an attachment, you can use a keyword in your search to filter out messages. This way, search results will only display those emails that have an attachment, so you do not have to go through a bunch of emails with no attachment. In the search bar, type “has:attachment” followed by the keyword of your choice to see the results with attachments.

One email address = many addresses
You can use your existing account to receive emails sent to various other accounts. This comes in handy when you want to filter out emails coming from a social media account or newsletter subscription. For example, you can use the following sequence exampleaddress+Twitter@ryerson.ca and any emails sent to this address will appear in your mail box. Therefore, addition of plus (+) and keyword in email addresses doesn’t affect anything and can be used as a filter.

Custom theme
You can also customize the current theme of your account. Even though you can choose from dozens of themes and styles, it also allows you to use a custom background image.
To use a custom background, click on “Themes,” then scroll to where it says “Custom Themes.” Click “Light” or “Dark,” which refers to the color you want your emails and font to be. Then click “Select a background image,” and this is where you can upload your custom background image. This option allows users to customize the look and feel of their inbox.

References:
http://mashable.com/2014/03/28/gmail-hacks/
http://www.ryerson.ca/google/faq/faq_mail.html

 

Postgraduate Applications – The Reality

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We make life out to be nothing but incremental steps that lead to the big PLAN. We plan to go to school, start our career, find a partner, get married, start a family and live happily ever after. But what about when life doesn’t go according to plan? Do we give up or do we preserver? Do we cry and think, “I’m not good enough” or smile and think “I’ll get it next time”. It all depends on the person. We determine how our life will turn out based on our actions and reactions.

Coming out of university, my plan was to apply for a Masters of Social Work, get accepted, complete the program and eventually become a child therapist. But following the theme of life not always going according to plan, I’m sure you can get the idea where this story is going…

The day had finally arrived. My letter from a university was waiting for me in the mailbox. I excitedly picked it up and carefully ripped it open. I pulled out the letter, unfolded the paper and there it was, staring me in the face. A “Thank you for applying” followed with the ugly word “unfortunately”. I had been waitlisted from the two universities I applied to. With the hopes of potentially being accepted off the wait list, I waited. An acquaintance of mine had also been waitlisted but had later been accepted. There was hope for me yet! But reality began to sink in as the months flew by without any acceptance letters. Eventually I received word that the waitlists from both universities had closed. As disappointed as I was, I had prepared myself for the worst, which cushioned the blow.

Luckily, as soon as I got those waitlist letters (as disappointed as I was) I said to myself, “What can I do to get in next year?” I began talking to other students who had been accepted into the Social Work Masters programs, I began to research top Masters programs both in Canada and in the states. I was keeping my options open and would apply to more schools the following year. I decided I would be proactive and refused to give up. I had a GPA in the high 80 percentile. I had great references and lots of experience. So what was keeping me from pursuing my goal? One thing I noticed was I needed more volunteer experience. So I began my quest for volunteer work in the social work field and ended up volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society, AIDS Committee of Toronto, the Ryerson Student Union Sexual Assault Crisis Line and Sick Kids Hospital. Not only would this increase my chances for my next Masters application, but it also brought about great practical and rewarding experiences.

I decided to share this information with you because students need to understand reality if they wish to continue their education after their undergrad. I was an individual who hadn’t planned for not getting in. I thought, “With good grades and good experience, of course I’ll get in!” But this isn’t always the case. And it could be a number of different factors such as being too specific with stating your interests on your application essay, not having enough work/volunteer experience, not having a high enough GPA etc. But think about it, there are TONS of people that are the perfect candidate and out of over 800, only 140 applicants are chosen (in my particular case anyways). The decision of your acceptance could be that yours happened to be on the bottom of the pile of great candidates. There are many reasons why this might happen, but the point is, don’t give up. Keep at it, get more experience, increase your GPA but above all, stay true to yourself and continue to learn through your experiences. If you don’t get in the first year, try again the next! I know that I will continue to apply until I receive the acceptance letter, whether it’s this year or five years from now.

Plans can be tricky because plans can change and thus we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. But plans change and that’s reality. I try to maintain a view of “everything happens for a reason” and maybe I wasn’t meant to get in this year in order to gain more experiences and learn how to cope with rejection. YOU get to choose your path. When faced with rejection, will you stand still or fight even harder next time?