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Summer Session and the Year to Come

I can’t believe that one year of grad school is already done.  They weren’t kidding when they said that this program is accelerated; it goes by so quickly.  I finished up with finals last week, had one week off, and now I’m starting up the first of two summer semesters.  It kind of reminds me of when I used to do summer research at HC.  You’d finish up with finals, move out, spend one or two weeks at home, and then move back in to start working on research.  The schedule’s a little bit different now.  I’ll have a seminar and an assessment class with an associated lab once a week at BC, and then the rest of my time will be divided up between MGH, my job at CVS, and studying for the NCLEX exam.  Oh yeah, and I might actually try and enjoy at least a little bit of the summer.  The MGH schedule is going to be interesting and is definitely going to take some time to get used to.  I’ll be working 12 hour shifts there a few times a week on one of the pediatric floors.  Half of the shifts will be 7 AM to 7 PM and the other half will be 7 PM to 7 AM.  I’m not really worried about working the full day shifts; it’s the overnights that are new to me.  However, I do consider myself to be a night person much more than a morning person so maybe it won’t be that bad. 

We had a meeting today with the directors of the pediatric specialty for the master’s portion of our curriculum.  They just wanted to update us on their work to find clinical placements for the 09-10 academic year as well as inform of us of all the paperwork that has to be in before September.  Next year is different because generally you have three clinical placements that last the whole year.  I’ll spend one day a week at each of the sites during both the fall and spring semesters.  One faculty member sat down with each of us to go through the sites they’ve found so far and to discuss any issues or changes that may have come up since we last spoke.   Apparently they have four possible sites lined up for me, two that would be year round, one that would be just for the fall, and one that would be just for the spring.  They try to place you in three different settings, one being a regular general practice setting, so your typical pediatrician’s office, the second being in a specialty setting, for example in pediatric cardiology, and the third being in a school based clinic setting.   It sounds like they’re trying to work on confirming my placement at each of the sites and by mid-July I should know for sure where I’ll be spending my year.  I know I won’t be done with everything until this time next year, but in some sense I kind of already feel like I’m in the home stretch.  I can’t get too far ahead of myself though, there’s still a lot of work to come.

Until later, Go Cross!

April 30, 2009

Springtime!

I love spring, which makes the fact that there are all sorts of papers due and tests coming up really difficult right now.  The weather has just been absolutely beautiful in Boston and the BC campus has come to life with blossoming trees and flowers.  The warm weather has made me want to spend all of my time outside instead of inside doing homework, but there’s just too much that has to get done to be able to do that.  The spring semester is coming to a close and we’re already doing preparations for our summer semester, not to mention looking for clinical placements for the fall.  I cannot believe how quickly these first two semesters have gone by.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking throughout this semester about where I was exactly one year ago.  Some mornings when my alarm clock is buzzing at 5 AM because clinical starts at quarter to 7, I think back to last spring when my first class was at 10 AM and the earliest thing I ever had to wake up for was an 8 AM lab once a week.  I didn’t realize then how good I had it then in terms of sleeping in.  Actually one year ago today, I was in Washington DC with my research partner, presenting our math research at “Posters on the Hill” in front of some congressmen and women.  It was one of the many incredible opportunities and experiences that Holy Cross provided me.  Also for example, HC prepared me for this graduate program and all the work associated with it, which I now need to get back to, so…

Until later, Go Cross!

April 20, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

It really is amazing how quickly time can go by when there’s so much work to get done.  With only two more weeks left to this semester, there’s still a laundry list of assignments that have to be completed.  My psych/mental health rotation has been really interesting so far.  There have been a few moments of concern when patients have gotten confrontational, but it’s also been an incredible experience, learning how to diffuse these types of situations and talk agitated patients down to a much calmer state.  Since I’m at the VA Hospital, all the patients are veterans, so it has also been really interesting getting to hear the stories about their military service.  I love my work at the elementary school in the school nurse’s office as well.   The kids are absolutely wonderful and the nurse there is so great to work with.  I’m really going to miss those children when I finish up that rotation.

I do have my summer rotation to look forward to which I just found out will be back at MGH on one of their two pediatric floors.  Twenty hours a week on the floor will definitely help me settle into the nursing role and help to prepare me for the NCLEX exam in late July.  There’s still a little ways to go before I get to that point.  I have to make it through this semester first.

Until later, Go Cross!

April 6, 2009

Switch

The switch is in for us in the Master’s Entry program.  We’re switching from labor & delivery and pediatrics to psych/mental health.  That means a new professor for classes and new clinical sites.  Switching clinical sites means that I have my first clinical placement outside of Mass General Hospital.  I’ll be moving to a VA Hospital a little closer to home, which will be nice in terms of the commute.  I’m a little nervous about this new placement though because I have no idea of what to expect in terms of the patient diagnoses.  We’re supposed to be talking one on one with the patients, allowing them to open up about what’s bothering them and what brought them into the hospital.  I’m somewhat worried about this part, because I don’t want to say something that will trigger a bad memory, but then again, sometimes that can be helpful.  It’s not as black and white in psych/mental health; there are a lot more gray areas, which make it trickier.  I think I’m up for the challenge though.

Until later, Go Cross!

March 25, 2009

Why Holy Cross?

      With HC acceptance letters about to arrive in mailboxes across the country, I thought I'd talk about why 5 years ago (yes I know, I'm getting old), I chose Holy Cross.  Deciding where you want to go to college is an important decision and the best advice that I can give anyone is that you have to decide what school will overall be best for you. Yes, you will get people trying to influence you one way or another, but ultimately the decision is yours and you have to figure out where you think you will be the happiest.  Some may call me a dreamer or out of touch with reality, but I honestly believe that if you do what makes you happy, the rest of the details all just kind of work themselves out. So here's my story:

       I applied and was accepted to six colleges. Staying in New England was important to me so they were all local schools. I had what I considered were two reach schools, three safety schools, and one that was in the middle. Now as you know, I'm currently in graduate school for nursing, but what you might not realize is that I was pretty sure I wanted to be a nurse even before graduating high school. This meant that when I was applying to college, I declared a different major depending on the school.  I was accepted at Boston College, St. Anselm College, UMass-Amherst, and Salem State College as a nursing major and Holy Cross and UNH accepted me as a math major/pre-med concentrator.  If I was about 90% sure at that time that I wanted to be a nurse, why did I pick Holy Cross? To answer that, you need to know about how I came to know Holy Cross.

         I have one sister, who is two years older than me and while we've always been close, I had it in my head that there was no way in the world that I would ever go to the same college as her. After following in the shadow of a genius for years in high school, I figured that college would be my time to break the mold and solidify my identity as separate from hers. Then she went to Holy Cross. At that time, I barely knew anything about the school except that my uncle had graduated from there years ago. I went on every college tour with her when she was looking at schools, except when she visited a few in Worcester (so I've never been on an official Holy Cross admissions tour). However, from the moment we moved her in to Hanselman one August afternoon, I realized that Mt. St. James was a special place. The beautiful campus won me over from day one and even the hill didn't bother me, I've lived on the top of a hill my whole life. In the two years that she was at HC while I was still in high school, I absolutely fell in love with Holy Cross. From all of the students and staff, to the football games, to everything else in between, I loved it all. I couldn't picture myself anywhere but Holy Cross.

          During my senior year in high school, I was asked the same question everyone else was asked hundreds of times, "what's your top choice?" When I'd say "Holy Cross", people would say things like, "Why do you want to go to the same school as your sister?" or "Don't go to a school in Massachusetts, live somewhere else for a change." After a while I got frustrated with this type of response so I stopped saying that I had a top choice, instead commenting on how I didn't want to get my hopes up for one specific school. As acceptance letters came in throughout the winter, I'd breathe a sigh of relief that I had another place to choose from, but the only letter I was really waiting on still didn't come. Finally in the beginning of April, a worryingly small envelope arrived from Holy Cross. When I opened it, reading that I had been accepted to Holy Cross and to the Pre-Med program, the first thing I did was call my sister to tell her the news.  From that point, I was almost 100% sure that HC was where I wanted to be and the final decision was made while watching a portrayal of the Passion of the Christ at a Palm Sunday Mass at Holy Cross.  My family had gone to the Mass to watch my sister sing with the chapel choir, but at the conclusion of the Passion, I turned to my father and said, “I’m coming here.”

    Honestly, deciding to attend Holy Cross for my undergraduate career was one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my life.  It was the school that was the right fit for me, even though it did not have a nursing program.  It would have been a lot less expensive for me to have gone to a school with an undergraduate nursing program, but I knew that if it turned out that that was what I really wanted to do, I’d find a way to make it work.  Lucky for me, I did.  As much as I miss the campus of Holy Cross now, it’s the people that created the magical atmosphere that I fell in love with.  The buildings and grounds are beautiful, but you could recreate that type of look anywhere.  It’s the students, professors and staff that give the hill life and turn that space into a home.  For four years, Holy Cross was my home and my family, and if given the choice to rewind and redo my undergraduate experience, I’d choose Holy Cross in a heartbeat, without a second thought.

Until later, Go Cross!

March 17, 2009

Inspired

I’ve been pretty sure for awhile now that I wanted to specialize in pediatrics, but when I’ve thought about the practice setting, I’ve always pictured kids with ear infections, colds, or scraped knees.  I’m sure that the majority of times that’s what I’ll see, but at my clinical placement, the picture has been much different.  My floor at MGH sees a variety of diagnoses in children of all ages, with both acute and chronic conditions.  Observing the children with chronic conditions and their families has been eye-opening and inspiring.   The children are such strong fighters and are generally extremely knowledgeable about their condition and care.  I’m also always amazed by how grown up they seem for their age, as if the condition has matured them years beyond their biological age.  The parents and family members of these children are also incredible.  They are more in tuned to their child’s status than many of the doctors are and often times know everything you could possibly know about the child’s diagnosis.  I’ve been so impressed by parents who have become experts at giving injections or physical therapy to their kids without ever having received formal medical training.  For these parents, taking care of their child’s medical needs is a 24 hour job, and you really get to see the true meaning of a labor of love.  But what is probably the most heartwarming thing about these children is the bond they form with the people around them, whether it is with their parents or the health care staff that’s treating them.  You can tell that they’re leaving an impact on every person they meet, leaving us inspired.

Until later, Go Cross!

March 8, 2009

Spring Break

My spring break so far has been quite lovely.  I’ve been sleeping a lot, which has been really nice.  I sometimes forget how easily you fall behind on sleep during the semester.  I’ve also been working and visiting some friends and family.  But probably the most enjoyable part of my break has been getting the chance to visit HC and go to some basketball games.

One thing that I always loved about Spring Break was that it meant tournament time for the basketball teams.  Being a part of the band, we were usually fortunate enough to travel to the big games, which was always a huge honor and so much fun.  Between the Patriot League and NCAA tournaments, I got to travel all over: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington DC, and Ohio.  Win or lose, it was always a fun trip, whether you were spending 10 hours sitting on a bus, or running with your instrument through BWI Airport, praying that you wouldn’t miss your flight home.  Another nice thing was that we always stayed at the same hotel as the basketball team and cheerleaders.  We would make it a home away from home and you really bonded with all of the people around you.  I even remember one former player’s father telling us in an elevator in Ohio that if we had time, he’d teach us how to dance a Tennessee Waltz.   I can’t imagine you’d get that kind of warmth anywhere else.

For me personally, one of my favorite memories from my senior year was a weekend spent following the women’s basketball team during the quarter and semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament.  It was one of those trips where everything seemed to go wrong.  Leaks in the roof of the stadium delaying the start of the game, a power outage at the end of the game, a tree down in the road blocking the bus’ primary route to our hotel, it was just one thing after another.  Even the next day was crazy as we sat in the lobby while Coach Gibbons paced up and down talking on a cell phone trying to figure out when and where the team was going to play their next game.  A lot of people would say, “It’s just the band,” and would have entirely dismissed us.  But Coach Gibbons and Coach Willard for that matter too, have always maintained that they wanted and felt it was necessary to have the band at the games for support.  Coach Gibbons made sure that no matter where his team was going to end up playing that day, we’d have a bus to get there too.  A weekend that could have turned out disastrous ended up being one of the best weekends ever; one where I got to spend time with my closest friend, play my flute, and cheer on the team clad in purple and white to two amazing victories.  It is funny how exactly one year later, I still remember every detail of that weekend like it was yesterday.

You have to love March Madness.
Until later, Go Cross!

February 26, 2009

Lots to do

Hmm… this pattern seems familiar: Last two weeks of February crammed with papers and exams, Spring Break the first week of March, where have I seen this before?  Following the same scheduling setup that I used to see at HC, we’re quickly approaching Spring Break.  All I have to say is, “Thank goodness!”  In typical Holy Cross fashion, BC has also decided to cram the last two weeks before break with as much stuff as possible.  From tests to care plans, to meetings and paperwork for the next year of coursework, it’s been a very busy couple weeks.  What do you know?  Grad school really is hard.  Sadly enough, the thing I’m most looking forward to over break is catching up on some sleep.  There never seem to be quite enough hours in the day to get everything done, so needless to say, I’m more than a little sleep deprived.  It’ll be so nice to relax for the week and recharge myself for the 2nd half of the semester; there’s still a lot left to do.

Until later, Go Cross!

February 18, 2009

Winter Homecoming

I was fortunate enough to get to visit Holy Cross this past weekend and spend a great couple of days on campus for Winter Homecoming.  School has gotten really busy, really quickly, so it was nice to just get away from homework, classes, and my job for the weekend.  I always have fun hanging out with my friends who are currently seniors at HC and it was also great to catch up with some alumni that I haven’t seen for a few months.  The basketball game versus Bucknell was a big draw too, since in recent years an intense rivalry has developed between our two schools.  These games are a lot of fun because the Hart Center is packed with students and fans, so it gets really loud.  Unfortunately, the result of the game wasn’t what we had hoped it would be, but it was an exciting game nonetheless.  Whenever I go to Holy Cross now, the visits never seem long enough and always come to an end much sooner than I’d like, as was the case this past weekend.  But that means that I’ll just have to stop by more often.  I guess that’s what happens when you love your alma mater, you just can’t stay away.

Until later, Go Cross!

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February 9, 2009

A Day in the OR

I thought that when it came to nursing, I had mentally prepared myself to always expect the unexpected.  There are some things, however, that I don’t think you can ever prepare yourself for, no matter how hard you try.  I found myself in this situation recently, when I spent a day in the operating room during my obstetrics clinical.  I was fortunate enough to be allowed to watch and participate in a Cesarean section delivery from beginning to end.  My day started with an introduction to the mom and dad to be.  After listening to all of the preoperative teaching, I was able to help prep the mom for the surgery, including placing her Foley catheter.  With the epidural anesthetizing the mom and the rest of us in caps, masks, and booties, the obstetrician and her technician made the first incision.  It was so interesting to watch them work through the different layers, finally making it to the uterus.  The baby was breeched, so getting her out was a little trickier than usual.  She came out back end first, but in just a few short seconds she was pulled completely out, the cord was cut, and she was handed off to the pediatric team coughing and crying.  I wasn’t expecting the wave of emotion that came over me and I started to tear up as the baby took her first breath.  She was absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful.  When the pediatric team finished cleaning her up and weighing her, I got to give her a shot, measure her length and give her a full head to toe assessment.  She was a very healthy baby girl.  Afterwords, I wrapped her all up and got to bring her over to meet her mom and dad, who were thrilled to see her.  The main thought in my head as I handed her off to her dad was, “I love this job.”

Until later, Go Cross!

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