Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stella's Turn - End of Semester Survival Tips

OK - so I know that everyone has been completely busy and stressed out! The semester is almost over, it is hard to stay focused, and the beautiful weather isn’t helping either (I would love to just lounge outside in the sun all day too!). I came across this helpful article that has some great (albeit obvious) tips. Sometimes we just have to go back to the basics in order to make it through the last stretch of the semester. Here is the abbreviated version of the article - I hope it helps:

Surviving Semester's End

Expert advice for avoiding panic at the end of the semester.

by Michael Sandler

The end of the semester is panic time. Things appear to be going fine. Then, suddenly, you realize that you haven't kept up with the reading, you have research papers and projects due, and you're about to be inundated by exams... gulp, comprehensive exams.
Don't give up. And don't dwell on what you haven't done. Focus your energy on what will give you the best chance for success.

Take stock of your situation

See where you're behind and what challenges lie ahead. Grab your calendar and write down exam dates and deadlines for papers and assignments. If you use Excel, make a table to see what's due, and when. Enter non-class activities, too. Are you the treasurer of a club for which you need to write a report? Add it to the list. That way, you can get a realistic view of where you are and whether you can get to it all.

Manage your time

Make a schedule and establish a daily routine. Use a daily planner, MS Outlook, or a Palm device. Enter all daily activities and block off large chunks of time (say, two to three hours) for studying, writing, and whatever else needs to be done. Keep it realistic: Don't schedule study/work sessions to last longer than three hours. Your capacity to think may dwindle, and the extra time spent will only bring diminishing returns. Also, schedule to your advantage. When and where do you do your best work? If you're an early-morning person and you focus best in the quiet of the library, set your alarm clock and plan to be there.

Prioritize and schedule

Consider where your efforts will make the greatest impact. If studying five hours for your English literature exam will raise your grade from a B to a B+, but studying five hours of calculus will keep you from flunking... well, you do the math. Plan to do the most difficult work first, and at the time of day when you're freshest. Break the material into manageable pieces. If you have an exam coming up, study one topic each morning, then review it all just before the test. If a paper's due, plan to write one section of it each day.

Organize your environment

For many of us, it's difficult to focus, study, or even relax in a cluttered environment. If that's you, and your desk or room is in disarray, here's a quick way to clean up: Get two large cardboard boxes, free at your local grocer. Put anything essential for studying into one box and set it next to your desk. Throw everything else in the other - and get it out of sight. Print a copy of your schedule - big, bold, and preferably in color - and hang it in a conspicuous spot. Post reminders and motivational slogans. Don't worry about seeming silly - you'd be amazed at what Olympic athletes post in their rooms to help with training. (For example, "Hang in there, you're gonna make it!")

Eliminate distractions

To stick to your schedule, eliminate temptations and distractions. Keep your cell phone off if you're likely to have long conversations. Check your e-mail only once a day. Let your friends know you need to hibernate for now. Remember, this is just for crunch time, and soon enough you'll be back to your favorite pastimes. If you're easily distracted, set an alarm to remind you to stay on task.

Don't neglect your health

Take time to eat, sleep, and exercise to maintain a healthy body and mind. Stay well-hydrated and snack on foods high in protein to keep you alert. Do aerobic exercise - at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week - to improve mental stamina and focus. Pray or meditate if it helps you relax. Reward yourself with short breaks, and try to stay upbeat. The more positive you remain, the more effective and energetic you'll be.

Ask for help

Enlisting help can tip the odds in your favor. Speak with your professors. The secret to getting their help is to let them know where you are right now and what you need to finish. If you're stuck on a paper, show them what you've written so far. If you didn't understand a lecture, write out what you did comprehend, so they can fill in the blanks. If you're studying for a test, outline what you've focused on to make sure you're on the right track. At the end of each discussion, ask if there's anything else you might have missed.

If you have friends in class who've been getting good grades, ask how they do it. You may learn that extra quotes and citations can boost your grade on a paper, or that the lecture notes are more useful than the homework when studying for a test.

If all else fails...negotiate

What if you've looked over your schedule and decided it's impossible to get everything done? It may be reasonable to ask for an extension on some assignments. Show your schedule to your professors and propose an alternate timeframe for turning in a paper or taking a test. If they can't grant it, ask if they can compromise on a due date or if there's any other way they can help.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Carl's Turn - Stress Relief

So, I noticed that Stella has been pretty stressed out lately – the baby has been keeping her up all night, and she has been putting in extra hours at the lab, preparing for simulations and skills check-offs. Things always get hectic about this point in the semester, so I suggested that she take some time for herself. I know how she is – she pushes herself really hard, but then is just too exhausted and stressed out to focus on the tasks she has to complete. Sometimes she just needs time to relax and do something that isn’t associated with nursing or the school. I encouraged her to take the car out for a drive this weekend, and boy did it do wonders for her stress level. She didn’t have to think about the household chores, or the college – just listen to music, enjoy the weather and drive. Stella did mention that she thought the students were stressed too – they should do something for themselves as well. Maybe enjoy a free entrée from Qdoba today, or go for a walk and admire the flowers that are in bloom. Setting aside a few minutes of “me time” goes a long way.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stella's Turn - Attention Starving Students (or hungry medical personnel)

I was just given some really great info to pass along to you scrub wearers! Megan White, the General Manager at Qdoba Mexican Grill at Country Club and Baseline would like to thank you for all of your hard work & dedication! Come in with your scrubs on or with any sort of medical ID and be rewarded with 1 free entre per employee with any drink purchase!

Valid at Qdoba Mexican Grill Mesa location only (N/E Country Club & Baseline)
Mondays Only from March 30th until May 4th.

Their menu looks pretty good - pass the info along to your peers and medical co-workers and have some chips and salsa for me!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Our Story

This was previously posted on our website, but because it was hosted by an inaccessible provider, we have migrated away from it. We are pretty much just using our blog and Facebook now, but some people have asked about "our story", so here it is again for those of you that missed it.

Her Story

When I first met Carl, I was not overly impressed. I was new on the job, and wasn’t looking for a relationship. After my first husband died in a tragic tulip accident, I realized I needed to focus on myself and my son. One of the ways I chose to accomplish that goal was to start a new job where I could help others. Working in the nursing simulation lab was the perfect choice for me! I was able to bring my son to work with me everyday, and it was a healing opportunity for me as well to interact with other people and make a difference. Shortly after I started at the lab, I began to notice Carl. His unwavering, piercing gaze would fix on me, and to tell you the truth, it was a bit disconcerting at first. After I found out that he has a medical condition that prevents him from blinking though, I found his gaze to be more endearing. Slowly but surely, he helped me move on from my tragedy and embrace life again - I am almost over my fear of flowers now too. I think Carl's focused (and unblinking) outlook on life is one of his best features.

His Story

I was a die-hard bachelor before I met Stella. Me and the fellas always got together to play cards, and as the guys started to get married and have kids, … well it torqued me. Pretty soon they didn’t have time for our little soirées anymore, and I had too much alone time with myself. It was around then that I developed my medical condition too – but that is a different story. Back to Stella – the moment she walked through the lab door at work, I knew she was the one. I couldn’t take my eyes off her (and it had nothing to do with my condition either). Her long dark hair and gaunt complexion reminded me of an angel, and I wouldn’t be able to rest until she knew how much she meant to me. Stella and her son have completed my life – I frequently find that birds suddenly appear, every time, they are near. I believe that, just like me, they long to be, close to her.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stella's Turn - Stay Calm

Today was skills check-offs in the lab for the new Block 1 students. They all did well, but I just want them to remember to stay calm and confident. I know that is easier said than done, but often times, nerves are the primary reason for check-off difficulties. Take it from me! I am usually a bundle of nerves, but you would never know it by my demeanor in the lab. I can lay there, completely motionless for hours on end, and you would never know that I was stressing out about every little thing in life. I find that yoga and focusing my chi help keep me calm. You should try it! Good luck and remember that you have the best instructors to guide you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Carl's Turn - OUCH!

Work was tough today. The first semester nursing students were learning about foley catheters today - OUCH! I just keep telling myself that the more they practice on us, the better they will be when they start working in the hospital. Not only were the students a handful today, but "Mr. Sim" (as he demands to be called now) was in rare form. Ever since he got his own room in the lab, he has been too pompous. Talk about getting a big head - sheesh. I went to go visit Sim today, and all he talked about was his "special" room and the "special" equipment that he has access to, then he went straight into how much he missed the rest of us in the lab. I mean really - get a grip man! I almost can't even talk to him anymore! It has crossed my mind that maybe he suffers from some sort of personality disorder, but I think I will leave him for the third semester students to handle when they do their psych rotation.

Stella's Turn - Wedding Memories

I was looking through some old pictures today, and I came across photos from the wedding. I couldn't have been happier with the whole event! Carl and I both love vintage things, so planning a classical, vintage wedding was lots of fun. Finding just the right dress was not easy though. We looked everywhere for the perfect dress, and just when I thought we would never find it,... SUCCESS! The dress just screamed "classical" when I saw it - I would have paid any amount of money for it. Who would have guessed that it was marked down to $10 at Goodwill? I am always amazed at the incredible things that can be found there - I just don't know how someone could part with a vintage 80's wedding dress, but I am glad they did.