CRAFTING WELLNESS STORY
"HEALING HANDS; A BSN'S JOURNEY INTO TRANSPLANT NURSING"
MDF Instruments sat down with BSN Samantha to talk about healthcare and how she found her calling in Transplant Nursing. She gives great advice for those interested in pursuing a career in medicine.
SPEAKERS: Samantha, Brooke Smith
When they were telling me about the transplant nursing, what I loved so much was that you get to give someone extra life. And that by giving them an organ, you know, it's got to be one of the greatest gifts in the world. I can't imagine how that probably feels to say like Congrats, you're gonna get a kidney today.
Brooke Smith 00:27
On behalf of MDF Instruments, welcome to our crafting wellness podcast. Today, I would love to introduce you to our guests, Samantha. Hi, Samantha, how are you?
I'm good. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Brooke Smith 00:40
Oh, thank you for being on. I would love to introduce you to everyone watching. Can you tell us a little bit about where you live, who you are and kind of where you are in your journey and in healthcare?
Sure. So I am currently living in Florida, and I am a newly graduated nurse. I just graduated in May from FSU, and I took my NCLEX in June and now I'm about to start working as a transplant RN.
Brooke Smith 01:10
Wow, that's so amazing. You're starting tomorrow, right?
Brooke Smith 01:17
So you're going into transplant nursing. Is that right? Okay. I have so many questions. First question is, um, I do detect an accent. So are you originally? I'm guessing you're not originally from Florida. Can you tell us where you are from originally?
Sure. So I'm originally from London. But I did move to Florida when I was six. So my accent is a little bit mixed. I would say I get a little bit Australian sometimes. So I'm originally from London, but I am definitely a Florida baby.
Brooke Smith 01:51
Well it's a beautiful accent. I love it. So you said you you passed your NCLEX? When did you take your NCLEX?
I took my NCLEX in June. So not too long ago.
Brooke Smith 02:03
Congratulations on passing. I know that's a difficult test. I've heard that it's very difficult. Congratulations on passing that. Were you affected with graduation and everything? Because of COVID?
Yes, so I did have? Well, my last semester of nursing school actually was supposed to be in the clinical setting where we had our kind of preceptorship experience. But that turned into an online experience. And then as well, we never had a graduation ceremony or anything like that. Because obviously we couldn't have all the people.
Brooke Smith 02:45
It's hard though, because you work so hard. You want to be able to celebrate Did you find or were you able to find like a creative way to? Did you have a zoom party or do anything really get together? Anything? Great? Yeah,
I definitely I definitely got to celebrate with my family over FaceTime, which was really nice. And oh, god, really what's important at the end of the day,
Brooke Smith 03:07
good. Okay, so I really want to get into this transplant nursing. That's a really exciting thing. How did you fall into that? I want to hear the story and what that exactly entails because I have no idea and I am sure a lot of people watching don't know what a transplant nurses. So can you tell us a little bit about it?
Sure. So I always Honestly, I always thought I would go into something of pediatric base. It was always what my main interest was. And then as I was going throughout clinicals, I noticed a lot of surgical specialties, adult surgical specialties. And one of the things that always interested me was transplant nursing. And when I saw that it was available at the hospital I was applying to i was i was just taken with it, I thought it would be such a cool experience and something so different to maybe get into our nursing one day in the future. But it basically my role will be so I'll be taking care of patients, I believe pre and post up kidney, liver and pancreas and caring for their you know, making sure everything's good and they're not rejecting their old guns or anything like that. So it will be really interesting experience and I'm very excited to learn about it as well because
Brooke Smith 04:28
we're gonna have to check back in with you later and do like a little follow up and figure out how it's going. Because this is really exciting. She's starting tomorrow. So that's the we're definitely gonna have to check back in and see see how much you're loving it. It sounds like a very exciting, great job to have to apply for that. How long ago did you apply for this job? particular?
This job I started applying for jobs right when I pass my NCLEX and then I applied for this job. Probably around the Around that time around June, and then I heard back probably about two weeks later. And they were really kind by hospital to let us really explore all different units and see what we were interested in and get to have time to chat with the unit managers and learn a bit more about what we would be doing.
Brooke Smith 05:21
So, I know you said that you always kind of had an interest in going this direction. Was there something that kind of inspired that in you that you kind of discovered it? What kind of drew you to that?
Um, well, I originally, like I said, in clinical, I really found that I loved the or in the surgical specialties, I got really lucky in having the ability to scrub in on a couple of surgeries during my time as a student, which usually wasn't the case at my school. So I was very grateful to have that experience, which is ultimately what you know, made me recognize I enjoyed that side of nursing. But when I was learning more about the different specialties and surgical settings, that my hospital opera, they, when they were telling me about the transplant nursing, what I loved so much was that you get to give someone extra life, and that by giving them an organ, you know, it's got to be one of the greatest gifts in the world. I can't imagine how that probably feels to say like, congrats, you're gonna get a kidney today.
Brooke Smith 06:33
It's so true. Like, I'm like misting up just hearing you. And I can tell you why as well, because you're right, like, you are literally a part of the process of giving someone a second chance at life, someone who thought, without this, I will not be here and by some miraculous way, I know, lucky enough to receive this organ, and then people like you are making it happen. It's such beautiful, beautiful job that you're going to be getting into here. And we're really proud of you. For for COVID. Because you talked a little bit about how that affected your graduation. How is that gonna affect? Or will it even affect your new job?
Yeah, so um, honestly, I'm not entirely sure, well, being that I haven't been on the unit yet, I would assume that it probably would be a no COVID zone given that patients who are receiving transplants are extremely immunocompromised for the rest of their life. It's a very big protest on their treatment of making sure that they never reject their organs. And something as simple as a little infection, that one person that you know, a person that doesn't have a transplant couldn't usually kick, they might not be able to so I have a feeling it will probably be very strict and clean on my unit, I hope. But we're definitely you know, as well wearing our 90 fives and taking all the precautions as well.
Brooke Smith 08:03
I wonder for everyone watching too, for people who maybe want to get into a similar field as you can you talk a little bit about the process. Is there? Is there a special process to become this type of nurse? Can you kind of explain that for for someone who's maybe kind of starting out and doesn't really know, oh, how do I how do I even do this if I'm interested?
Sure. So um, there isn't really a specific process that I know of, I graduated just with my regular BSN degree. And I've gone into a residency program, which is I really think the way that you can get into such a specific specialty as a new grad, it really gives you a lot more training. So for example, I'll be with technically in my residency for the first year of my contract. So I will be doing monthly simulation labs and workshops to kind of help further my education as well as specific modules and things to my unit to help me learn a bit more. And I think that way is how you can kind of get into some moral, acute oral specialty areas that typically you don't hear about as a new grad. But people definitely told me, you know, you can, you'll start out as a med surge, and I'll see you, you know, you won't be able to get into a specialty as a new grad. But I definitely would say that that's not the case as a new grad, the residency can help you get into something like that. So that's how I kind of got into transplant that way.
Brooke Smith 09:40
Amazing. Yeah, and for everyone watching too, I think it's important to remember that just because someone else couldn't do something doesn't mean that you can't, and someone else's experiences were one way doesn't mean your experience is also going to be that way. And it's not to take anything away from that person in their experience because they're just telling their truth to Do you but you have to remember, and you have to take everything with a grain of salt, but that you are unique you are you you are on your own journey. And it's not necessarily going to reflect the same as someone else's journey. So in your a great, great example of that of saying, Hey, you know, I'm a new, I'm a new grad nurse, and I'm going straight into my specialty that I want to get into. And doing that. It's great advice. And really, I think important for people watching to remember. For sure, I know you're in Florida, and with COVID-19, and the global pandemic, and you're now starting this job with very immune compromised people. How is how is Florida been for you with COVID-19 and graduating as a as a new nurse and now getting into this new job? and kind of just Can you just kind of talk about like, what COVID-19 has been like in Florida for you, up until now?
Yeah, definitely. Um, so I obviously never thought I would be graduating the middle of a pandemic, it was something that's very, I mean, I think foreign to everyone, since most of us really haven't been through pandemic. But it definitely, as you know, obviously, Florida became the hotspot. And I mean, I've spent a lot of my time staying home, I really, I really have made the effort to stay home pretty much most of the year, I haven't gone anywhere, unless it's been essential. I really haven't seen any friends. And, you know, like you said to some people, they may see that as extreme. But I just feel like, like you said, standing with healthcare wife is it's important to do our crawl. And for me, it was staying home and studying and taking my bolts. And then now we'll be going into the workplace. But definitely, like you said, just wearing masks every time you go anywhere and staying six feet away from people at least, and really just limiting down to what's essential, in my opinion is what's best.
Brooke Smith 12:03
Absolutely. Yeah, that's great advice. And I think, also for people who are watching now that you're kind of through nursing school, and on the other side and getting ready to go into your new job for people who are kind of in the middle still of nursing school or taking those tests, like the NCLEX. And I would love for you to kind of just talk about what that process is. Because I think a lot of people get confused. They're like, what is the difference between an RN and a BSN, and what is a Master's of nursing and just go through explaining that a little bit as someone who's been through it for your specific part. And then also just a little bit of the difference between the roads people can take into nursing.
Yeah, definitely. So a BSN would be a Bachelors of Science of nursing. That is what the degree I obtained. But you can also attain a associate's degree, which is two years, which is a technically classed as a lower level to a bachelor's degree, but it is still a nursing degree, you can still be an RN, the exact same scope of practice. So I did my BSN as a four year undergrad, undergraduate degree. So my college experience was my nursing school experience at the same time, which I feel like is honestly kind of common, but not as common. I know a lot of people go back to school to become a nurse, they decide later on in life or whatever it may be. But so there are a few different roads you can take. And then and MSN, which is your masters is obviously a master's degree posts having a Bachelor's. And then there's also you know, you can become a nurse practitioner after you have your bachelor's or associate's as well. So there are definitely a ton of different scopes. So now saying, which is really cool to be able to switch around and always further your education of it. But for me, personally, I have my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. And that allows me to be an RN. And then when it comes to roles and NCLEX, they they're the same thing. Essentially arboles is an S RM is the NCLEX exam. You take that once you have graduated nursing school and you get to schedule. There's like a paperwork processing time that your school can be through, but then after that, it's kind of scheduled on your time as to when you want to take the exam. I believe you can take it quite a few times if you need to, whatever it may be, but it is a pass fail exam and then once you pass that exam, you're officially licensed and can work as a register. That's
Brooke Smith 14:55
amazing. Okay, so that brings me to another question when you went to college. While nursing Did you know like, automatically when you started going into your freshman year, I'm going into go to like to become a nurse, I'm going to go into this for years, and I'm going to become a nurse, or did you start out like, like a lot of people do just like, I'm gonna get my bachelors in something, but I'm not quite sure what and then I just take my core classes and then kind of figure it out as I go, or did you go in like, No, I know this, this is what I want.
I actually didn't go in straight away knowing what I wanted. I applied to start school in the summer of 2016. So I graduated in May. And then of May of 2016, I graduated high school. And then I went into college that summer. And I went in actually, as a political science major, I always thought I was going to do some sort of law degree or something of that time ever, though anything medical. And then I had my own experience where I was the patient. And I got diagnosed with graves disease, which is a thyroid condition. And I really noticed what the role of a nurse was and what they did for people. And it really sparked my interest into the medical field, which was something I never thought I would honestly get into at all. And it really just kind of made me look at what I wanted out of a career. And I always knew I wanted to have something that was rewarding and made me feel like I was helping other people at the end of the day. And it kind of all sort of came together for me at that moment. And I ended up doing my research and realizing I still had time to apply to my school's College of Nursing, because it started in the fall semester. And I was only there in the summer at that time. So I did apply, I got my application and very last minute, but I got even they accepted me. And then I guess the rest is history.
Brooke Smith 17:02
I love I love that so much. I think, you know, as I've been talking to different different healthcare professionals all over, I feel like it's a running theme where someone goes through a health issue of their own, especially at a young age when we're supposed to be the healthiest because we're young, and we're just supposed to be given health. It's not the case. And I know that struggling with that and finding out what is wrong with you when sometimes people don't want to take you seriously because you're young, and they think oh, you're fine, I'm sure you're fine. There's nothing that can really be that wrong with you, you're young, you know, it kind of fighting that battle of standing up for yourself and saying, Hey, no, something's wrong, like I something's not right here. And then finally getting to the bottom of it. And just feeling like you have an ally on that side of a caring nurses or another medical worker that just makes you feel like, I'm scared because when you when you're when you're like losing your health or something's wrong with your body, it's really the scariest time because you feel very alone and very, very scared. You don't know what's going on. And and you look to these people in these in this careers, to kind of support you. And they do that so well. And I think it's it's very beautiful that by someone giving you that support to for example, you kind of expect inspires ignites in you that need and desire to do that for someone else. It's kind of this this beautiful, kind of just flow of, in a weird way, just empathy and love and care. That kind of just starts with one person. It's like a domino effect. It just starts going down the line because you're affecting people and like what you do matters. I think for everyone watching what you do matters, what the energy you put out into the world matters. how you treat people matters, you know, you don't know what people are going through and just being kind to them can make a huge difference and impact their lives in a positive in a positive way. Yeah, no, definitely. Yeah. And I think it's just so beautiful when it kind of comes full circle, because now you're going to be on the other side, helping that person who's going to be scared, but also very grateful. But also, you know, scary because it's surgery and you just never know. But you're going to be on that side of the process of being able to be there for them the way that someone was there for you in offering that comfort. And it's so so, so beautiful.
It's such a cool thing to realize that as I always say like it's I really feel like as cheesy as it sounds. I feel like it's kind of a privilege to be able to be in this profession and to be that person for someone. Because it's very true. If you ever think about, you know, if you were in the hospital and you had a loved one in the hospital, they'll always remember the people that cared for them. And I think it's just a very cool experience. Be able to be there for someone when they're at such a vulnerable and like scary time of their life. And it's definitely beautiful. And I'm definitely very grateful to be able to be that for someone else. Now,
Brooke Smith 20:13
you say that you feel privileged to do that job. And then I can also say, as someone who, you know, has been on the other side of meeting to help, you know, we feel privileged to have you because we're like, oh, thank you, you know, someone where we feel so lucky. And, and comforted and grateful and privileged to be like, in your presence, and to get that hope and that support from you guys. So it's just this really beautiful, beautiful thing, healthcare is amazing. And, and the people who get into health care, you guys have amazing hearts. And we recognize that and it's a very giving, giving profession. long hours, you know, you're giving a lot of yourself and your heart and your emotion. And it takes a very, very empathetic kind person that wants to help others, I would love to kind of let everybody get to know you a little bit better just on like a personal level. So can you tell us a little bit about other kind of things you love to do passions you have. And then also, kind of, on top of that, I'd really love to talk about your blog, and kind of what you do that over there, as well. Um,
I would say one of my passions or hobbies that I like to do is definitely writing and that kind of translates over to my blog, it's kind of become like a hobby of mine. I definitely growing up always love to write I love to English classes, and all of that kind of thing. So one day, I just kind of had the idea to write about nursing school when I believe myself to my blog, my sophomore year of nursing school. And I just kind of had the idea to start writing, and I separated it into a separate Instagram page, and it just kind of, you know, got people's attention, which is still crazy to me at this day that you know, so many people can to read what I have to say. But it's definitely become a hobby and content creating as well and being able to work with so many cool friends. And that comes down to you know, loving the photography, side and editing. And all of that is really become something that I'm so passionate about. And something that I love to do. In my free time, I honestly find it so fun.
Brooke Smith 22:32
It's great to have a creative outlet when you're doing something so logical when you're in healthcare. And it's so great for you to have this other passion of like being creative and writing and like letting all of those feelings out. And then also reaching out and helping others and doing photography and creating content. And doing all of that I think it's a great also thing for people watching to know that you can't just focus everything on one, one little part of your life, you have to expand and find other outlets and ways to be creative. And because we're not just one dimensional, we we you know we have to us and it's great to find whatever those are for you. So photography, writing, anything you can do to kind of release all of that. And it's just going to be helpful for you when you start your new job. And you're going to have a lot of probably things you are feeling and experiencing that you're going to want to just get out and process and now you have your blog to do that. And we are excited to watch that journey. I do want to ask you another question that, that I was thinking, what was like the hardest thing for you and your journey to get from where you started to now? What was your biggest challenge? And getting to this point.
I think the biggest struggle is definitely keeping the momentum and not burning out because I feel like a lot of people talk about, you know, nursing burnout once they're licensed. And you've worked for years. And people often discuss that for health care workers. But I think it also is a thing in nursing school for sure. And I'm sure other healthcare degrees as well can. I'm sure people who have pursued other health categories can also say the same thing. That it is very, it can be very emotionally draining. It can be a lot of work, a lot of coursework, a lot of studying and it can make you feel like you're missing out on a lot of different things in life. And I think that's something I definitely recognize and I struggled with for definitely at least the first few years of nursing school I really struggled to find my balance in between, you know, so being a person like you said, not being one dimensional and still being a person and having fun and spending time with friends and family but also learning to not feel guilty for doing that. Taking away from study time. So I think that was finding my balance. And time managing is definitely the struggle that I have the most, I think during my journey of nursing school, but it definitely is possible. And that's something I actually really liked to write about. Because I feel like it's very easy to say it is possible, but it's one thing to implement it into your life as well. But I kind of lived by the rule of thumb of doing something small for yourself each day, whether it's in an hour going to Starbucks and getting a coffee or, or going to lunch with a friend for half an hour and taking a break. and spending time with family watch a movie or something silly like that, I think really makes a difference to your own mental health and can kind of keep you going and help you push through that and not feel so burnt out at the end of the day.
Brooke Smith 26:01
Absolutely, yes, you have to take time for yourself. And I get that, that struggle of feeling guilty, because there's so much to do, and it's like I have this test coming up, or I have this, I have this, I have this. And you can get overwhelmed with all of the things that you have to do. Because it's really a never ending list. I mean, you can write a list today of all the things you have to do. And tomorrow, you're gonna have a brand new list, even if you finished everything today, so it's never gonna stop. And it's, it's just about creating boundaries, I think, for yourself and saying, okay, you know, maybe from this time to this time I'm studying and, and then from this time to this time, I'm going to like, give myself this time, whether it's like taking a bath, or like you say exercising, going to get a Starbucks or staying with a friend, finding this little kind of moments of peace in your day, where you can kind of just get your mind off of it for a moment, because I feel like in our time now, we're just constantly connected, because we have our phones. So we're constantly connected to like, all of the things that are going on, and all the things we're missing and all the things we have to do that mentally it can be very, very taxing on our bodies, on our spirit on our mind. And so yeah, I think boundaries are really important giving back to yourself and, and finding that guilty feeling that I think we all feel of Oh, I should be doing this, I don't have time, I don't have time to do this, I should be doing this. Um, one thing that I I say when I'm feeling like that, is if I'm, you know, studying for something, let's say hypothetically, this for nursing, but I want to like, watch TV for a little bit, because I just need to like, make my take my mind off something I just want to like, relax for a second. Maybe I've watched Grey's Anatomy, you know, because it's like selling the faint theme of what I'm, I feel like I'm kind of still doing something because I'm still kind of kind of learning something even though it's TV and it's not real, you kind of staying focused a little bit. And then there's other times where I think you really, really have to unplug, you have to you have to just put your phone away. And you have to say, I'm not doing this anymore. It's time to go to sleep or it's time for me, I've studied enough today. And I think one great way that I would say is just to like you say time management, time management, from this time to this time I'm studying, once I put my work in, then I'm, I'm off, I'm turning my brain off, and I'm going to like, just not think about this anymore. Because your bet you go through so much school to become to go into medicine. And then once you're in it, and especially now with the global pandemic, the hours that people are working. I mean, the burnout is unreal. Yeah, the potential for it. And another thing that I want to remind everyone watching as well with Samantha is because she's going through it, she's been through it, she's now starting her job. That doesn't mean she's never going to feel burnt out. But she's also here for you, we're here for you, you're not alone. You know, there's people who are, who have been through where you're at right now who got through it and are on the other side. So you can kind of take a look at someone like Samantha, who went through, you know, studying for the NCLEX and went through all of those things, and is now on the other side preparing for her job. I'm sure there was days that she felt extremely burnt out, I'm sure he felt they're very anxious, stressed out, depressed, all of those things. It's normal to feel that. But what you have to do is you have to get back up, and you have to keep going and you have to take care of yourself and you know yourself the best, you know, your body, your mind your spirit. So I think that's also just a little advice that I would say and reach out to Samantha please write your Yes, there.
And I do my best to respond to everyone. And like you said, I think it's really important as well, to make sure you do take care of yourself and there is no shame in doing that. I mean, I can say I've been to therapists during school, I went to my colleges Counseling Center quite a few times. And it helps it really does to just be able to unload and kind of pick yourself up sometimes because you do need it. And I think it's safe to say that everybody has felt all those emotions that you were saying at some point in my life, whether you're in healthcare or not.
Brooke Smith 30:22
Yes, it's normal. It's normal to feel it. You're not alone. It's not weird that you're feeling it. You're not the only one feeling it even though people go along their lives and they pretend like everything's perfect all the time. And it's not hard. They just took the test and passed. That's not real. You know, what's real is you didn't see all the hours they spent studying, you didn't see all the stress all the answers they didn't get right, while they were trying to study the frustration of like, I'm not going to remember this. You know, all of that stuff. So you got to remember that there was a whole journey between there and now. You know, there's lots of this. Yeah, for sure. Oh. Well, Samantha, thank you so much for joining our crafting wellness podcast today with MDF. I would love to link down in this video, all of your social handles, so your Instagram as well as your blog. And for everyone watching, please know that you can reach out to Samantha, she's here for you. She's been through it. And we're also here for you to connect you with people. So please know that and thank you so much Samantha for joining and it was a real pleasure having you on.
Thank you so much for having me again. You guys know I love MDF so much. So I'm so glad to be a part of this content. Be able to get to know every one of them. Well, thank you for giving me that opportunity.
Brooke Smith 31:45
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