Finishing 4 weeks, means there are 2 more weeks until fall break. Fall break isn’t really much of a break but more like a long weekend. For fall break, I am shadowing a kayak/canoe trip for 4 days with Duke’s outdoor program. The shadowing is a requirement if I want to be considered to lead trips next semester. I haven’t been on the water in a long time, so before I can shadow this trip, I need to take a pre-req and take a 2 hour refresher course in the pool in a kayak.
Trip description: 4 days, 3 nights: Hammocks Beach State Park & Croatan National Forest, NC: Start off Fall break by canoeing 2.5 miles out to Bear Island to camp for two nights. While on the island enjoy beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean, long walks on the beach, and the variety of wildlife. Then head over to the Croatan National Forest to camp and canoe through the wetlands.
I am excited to report back, I was accepted to the program I applied for – it is a year-long program aimed towards health professional students to gain experience working with seriously ill patients and become comfortable with end of life care discussions. Program includes students who are PA’s (physician assistants), MD’s (med students) and nursing students. I have two-hour workshops every Wednesday covering topics such as financial toxicity, spirituality, advance directives, etc. Each seminar is led by leaders in the field. Once, I’ve finished all the topics, I shadow an oncologist mentor several times this fall. I sit in on chemotherapy appointments with patients. My first clinical placement, starting in October (Thursday’s from 7 am – 3 pm), is on the oncology floor too.
I started a mindfulness workshop that meets 1 hour once a week for 4 weeks to learn mindfulness-based skills and mediation to manage stress and improve general quality of life. The workshop is based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s, Koru Meditation practices. I’m excited to learn new strategies as I feel very sad about losing my weekly archery practice – which to me was like mindful meditation. Weekly, I would bike to the archery range in Golden Gate Park, and work on stillness, breath, being outside and focused attention on a singular task of hitting a target. There is some reading and hw for this class. Our first week’s assignment is to every day for 10 minutes, practice our first learned meditation breathing exercise and be mindful about one repetitive activity every day – like brushing your teeth. Be aware of the action of brushing your teeth, feeling the toothbrush on your tongue, on your gums, on the roof of your mouth, etc. We are to hold that attention actively for 2-3 minutes.
In November, I signed up for a Doula workshop. For 3 weekends, I learn birthing terminology and techniques to support a child-bearing woman. After this workshop series, I will be able to sit for an exam for Doula certification. I am taking this workshop out of general interest and to prepare me for the spring semester course, on maternity and peds. Then, for spring break, I will spend a week working with midwives in the mountains of Guatemala. I heard of this amazing experience where a few students went with a midwife for a house visit and the woman they checked on, lost her baby the night before, but the placenta was still very much in her body. The students, directed by the midwife, assisted for two hours in the woman’s hut, until the woman pushed out the retained placenta. They used skills learned in class and applied it to the real world.
These workshops are all voluntary, in addition to my intense coursework and offered for mostly for free, depending on how you think of it. I am doing my best to take advantage of my very expensive Duke Education without overcommitment. The spring break trip is $2,500 which I will likely have to fundraise for since I had not allocated it during my personal student loan request.
During the Nursing Students Without Borders info session, I was interested in a project that they call Nurse Mentors. We, nursing students go to a middle school, after school program and teach kids lessons. I would love to teach sex ed and considering it for the spring semester. I would also like to work with refugees, and they had a previous workshop on that. This is a voluntary club, you know with all that extra time we have to spend on the community. In the spring, we have a class called Community Health and we spend much more time in the community.
In lab, I passed my first check off – which was taking vital signs. I am now cleared to go to clinical assignments and practice taking blood pressure, temperature, heart rate and measuring respiration rate on real people. In two more weeks, we have our next check off which is Head to Toe assessments and that one is much scarier – if you don’t pass this check off, you don’t pass the class. In the Head to Toe assessment, I think the most difficult part is the pulmonary/respiratory system. Click this website to listen to lung sounds and commit them to memory.
I still haven’t made it to the gym in 4 weeks, but I keep thinking about it, putting it in my color coded calendar and then pushing it off to the next week in favor of other priorities like eating, sleeping and studying. I think for the second part of my wellness plan (hw) – I will probably have to put exercise on it to increase my wellness. The hw will hold me more accountable since a grade will be tied to completion of the task.