CRAFTING WELLNESS STORY
"Life Is a Journey: Some Dreams Find You"
Having recently passed her NCLEX exam, Stacy Bianchi took some time to talk to MDF about her journey in nursing; A calling that found her.
SPEAKERS: Stacy and Brooke Smith
Health and fitness has always been number one pretty much until nursing came into play. My husband and I actually met at a bodybuilding show I used to compete in bodybuilding.
Brooke Smith 00:18
This is Brooke, and on behalf of MDF Instruments, I would like to introduce you to Stacey Bianchi. Hi, everyone. Hi, Stacey, how are you doing?
I'm doing wonderful. How are you?
Brooke Smith 00:31
I'm doing well. Thank you so much. So we really want to get to know you a little bit. Um, and I just wanted to kind of find out what, what's schooling has been like for you, I know that you just took the NCLEX and passed. And we're so excited for you! Can you tell us a little bit about that journey, and what that was like preparing for that?
Oh, my goodness, well, nursing school, anybody who's been through it can tell you it is a journey, and it will test you. Like you've never been tested before. But you know, I didn't have the more traditional journey like everybody else. I did get pregnant throughout the nursing program. So I had to take like a little semester off. And you know, there's been bumps in the road, like it's not always smooth sailing, like everybody thinks nursing school is. It's really difficult. But, you know, I didn't give up. So it took me a little bit longer than most, but I made it through my program. And I just graduated in May 2020. And I just took my NCLEX on Monday and received a passing grade the next day. So I guess I'm officially a registered nurse. Um, so yeah, of course, it's been an experience. I mean, I never thought that I would be tested to those limits ever. And I'm just really proud that I made it on the other side. I, I really am. It's it's it was an experience. That's for sure.
Brooke Smith 01:49
Wow. Awesome. So you, you are going to school and becoming a mom. And so that is a lot of challenges juggling school and motherhood.
Not my first child, my second actually. Okay, start nursing school with a two year old. And then, to my surprise, we had number two right in the middle of my program, actually.
Brooke Smith 02:12
So. So that just shows that like you can, if you're determined and have a good support system, you can really get through anything. Absolutely, absolutely anything. Yeah, that's amazing. That's awesome. Well, I want to say congratulations on passing your NCLEX and becoming an RN, because that's a huge accomplishment. And we're so proud of you. And I know that that's not an easy thing to do. So I am so happy for you. And I want to say congratulations.
Thank you so much. It still doesn't feel real. Like sometimes I feel like I'm still dreaming. It's been such a long time coming.
Brooke Smith 02:45
Yeah, I bet. So how long were you in school like in and out to to get through?
My program, I did an ASN program. So that's an associate's degree in Science in Nursing, I went that route, because I am a mom. So I wanted to be able to start working as soon as I can. So a traditional like bachelor's program would be four years where an ASN is like 18 months to two years, depending on what program. So because of, you know, the non traditional route that I took, I took a little over two years. So like I said, generally it's 18 months to two years, and I was like just a little over two years. And then if you count now, it's been about two and a half years, up to the date that I took my NCLEX. So a little bit longer than most, but that's okay.
Brooke Smith 03:33
Very fast. So that's actually why I chose that route. It's really important when you're like deciding to go into nursing to, you know, see what you can and can't put forth because it's detrimental to your success, you know, you want to go into a program where you know that you're going to be successful. So obviously, I have a family and I have a very hard working husband, but I couldn't be out of work for that long. So I went with the ASN program. So that's why I chose that one.
Brooke Smith 04:04
Oh, that's great. That's great to know. And so you I guess we're graduating during all through COVID so did you not have a graduation?
I did not. My original graduation date was actually 2019 may 2019. So I was like a little bit over a year with the brakes and everything that I was taken. So you know, I was all set up with graduation and everything. And of course, it's frustrating, you know, having to watch everyone graduate and you kind of like hold back a little bit even though I had great reasons for it. And then when it came time, this whole COVID thing hit so I mean it had been such a long time coming so like actually graduation was what was keeping me going because you know, having a family and my husband and everything. I wanted them to experience that with me. So it was something that I was looking forward to so much And then, you know, it didn't happen. So they did kind of like a little drive by type of graduation thing. But honestly, there wasn't that many people there with reason, you know, people were scared. And may is kind of like, right when it was like, really in the hotspot and the unknown. So, yeah, I mean, I took some pictures with my children and everything in my all white, but that's about it. I didn't get the traditional graduation that everyone else gets, that's for sure.
Brooke Smith 05:30
Yeah, that has, that has to be hard, because it is such a huge, huge accomplishment. but it's great that you were able to still take those gorgeous pictures that you'll have forever and have those memories with your family. I know that that has to be a bummer, though, that you didn't get to do that. The actual graduation walk and all of that.
Yeah, definitely. Um, I think the the, the hardest part was the pinning ceremony. It's such a traditional experience for a nurse. So like, it wasn't so much the graduation than that. But actually, my husband organized this little, like, pinning ceremony he like, looked up the the everything that the traditional pinning ceremony has, and you did like a mini one at home. It was cute. So I got to experience it a little bit, which is nice. But I did come to terms with it. Because at the end of the day, you know, my family's healthy, I'm healthy. I'm still a nurse, you know, I still got through it. So yeah, it was a bummer for sure. But I try to look like you know, on the brighter side of things is like, I'm still here, I'm healthy. I'm not sick. And you know, there's sick people around us. And so I'm still super grateful. I mean, super grateful for the experience and everything. So it's okay, it's it's not that big of a deal.
Brooke Smith 06:45
Absolutely. Well, that's a great way to look at it too. And how sweet. How sweet is your husband? That's where I'd say, well, that's, that's amazing. And I think it's I know, it's been a really hard difficult thing for people. And I'm glad your family is healthy and you're healthy. And how has it been pretty crazy in Florida? What is it like right now with COVID?
Oh, so in the beginning, it was very crazy, obviously, because it was so unknown, and it's still really unknown. We don't know too much about COVID. Um, but we came off of quarantine pretty quickly in Florida. Because our cases weren't so bad. And everything started opening back up. We're already well through phase two of reopening. And now the numbers are looking pretty crazy. As far as me and my family, I've made the decision to continue to try to stay home as much as possible. And you know, obviously we go through to our little, you know, grocery store trips and things like that, but you know, the necessary and we still we have allowed to start seeing like family and stuff. But as far as like going to restaurants or going out I'm still being super cautious because the numbers are actually on the rise here. So it looks like we're getting our second wave. It's, it's a lot.
Brooke Smith 08:04
The same in Los Angeles. I think that we're starting to see a second wave too, I think with the protests and other things and just being able to be tested more and whatever the reasons for those numbers, but we're definitely seeing spikes too. And we're in the same situation with the phase two of the reopening of everything. So yeah, it's a little scary to see what happens. But I think it's great to be smart and to you know, everybody for them to wear their masks and I agree. 100% Yeah, still quarantine and stay safe because it COVID-19 hasn't changed. It's still. Yeah, that's okay. Awesome. Awesome. So tell us a little bit like why did you grow up? And did you always know that you wanted to get into health care?
Oh my gosh, no, I actually grew up in Florida. So I'm a born and raised Floridian local girl. I've moved maybe 30 minutes away from my childhood, childhood home, but never too far. It doesn't look like we'll be moving anytime soon, too. We have like good roots here, our whole family's here, you know. So I'm pretty local. I'm very familiar with the area. I know pretty much everything around here. But as far as healthcare was actually the very last thing on my list of things to do. Um, I knew that I always wanted to help people. But I grew up in a family of bartenders, my, you know, hospitality was kind of like, our thing, literally, my entire family. My dad and my mom were bar owners my entire life. So naturally, when I was 18, and old enough to work, I went straight into hospitality and I did that for about probably six or seven years. Um, you know, my parents never went to college. So it was never really like enforced in the, in the family to like, meet for me to go. They were totally, totally Fine with me taking the hospitality route. And then when I had my daughter, I had such a wonderful experience with my nurses and the staff. And you know, being that I was a healthy individual, I had never really been exposed to health care at all, besides like maybe checkups here and there. So when I really saw like, what healthcare really was, and like how it had the potential to make people feel, I instantly felt like drawn to it. And I didn't even know where to start. I had no, no knowledge of where to start. So I, you know, started doing some research, and my husband and I sat down. And we talked about it. And he really believed that it was a smart choice for me. And he saw a future for me and there and the fact that he believed in me, I kind of just, you know, called my local college, and it was a community college. And I was like, What are my first steps? And I mean, I guess the rest is history after that. And then as soon as I started the program, because you have to do like, prerequisites and stuff. First, I was still really nervous, because I had no idea if I was gonna like it. And I just felt right at home. I fell completely in love with the nursing profession. And I realized that, like, I finally found what I was looking for, for so long. And I never turned back. I've had two jobs in healthcare since and I mean, I love it more every time I stepped foot in the hospital, so I can't see myself doing anything else at this point.
Brooke Smith 11:28
Yeah, it sounds like you found where you were meant to belong. Yes, exactly. So do weather advice do you have for students who want to get into healthcare? Do you have any advice on on what that looks like? And, and how to kind of get through all of it.
Yes, so much advice. But realistically, at the end of the day, it's just the start, because we know if you listen to what other people have to say, I mean, nursing is tough. There's no sugarcoating it. You know, nursing school is not easy, but it's so doable. And it doesn't matter who you are, if you love it, and you have a passion for it, you know, you can get through it. I mean, I did it with two kids. And I did 80% of my nursing program pregnant, like in clinicals, 12 hours on my feet, because I wanted it that bad. You know, and I think that so much stigma is around nursing school, and how difficult it is and how you have to be this genius to get through it. And it's not the case, you just have to start and I think that starting is the hardest part. And unfortunately, in nursing school, you're not going to pass everything with flying colors. I mean, I had setbacks, I failed a whole class in nursing school, but I'm still a registered nurse now. So I think it's just having the perseverance to just get up and do it. And just understand that even if you fall, like it's not the end of the world, and, you know, see students still become incredible nurses. So, I mean, you know, I think just getting up and doing it is the number one thing because I think that there's so much fear behind that. And once you do it, you realize that, you know, in 18 months, you're a nurse, like you're there. And then you look back and you feel so like crazy for even being scared, you know, and, and that's coming from someone with zero healthcare background, and I had no idea what I was going to do. I took a huge leap of faith and you know, I still got through it. So I think just like I said, starting is the advice.
Brooke Smith 13:27
Yeah. And I think like, it doesn't matter how many times you fall down, it matters how many times you get back up, you fall down seven, get up eight, because anything worth doing, you know, you're gonna have, it's not gonna always be easy, you know, you're going to struggle, you're gonna have setbacks, you're gonna fail, but that's how you learn. That's how you grow. And that's what makes you better. And at the end of the day, if you really want something as long as you persevere and are determined, you will get through it and you get our side. So true. 100% that so um, what is as as your jobs now that you said you've had two jobs in health care? Can you tell us a little bit about what those jobs are. And also, if you have any, like advice on like, what you would like to see improved in the jobs that you've had any, any kind of things that you feel like in healthcare you need that you don't really get.
So I started off, I think my second semester of nursing school, wanting to just get more knowledge because in nursing school, you have about like 12 hour clinical once a week and I just you know, wanted to be better. So I decided to get a job as a patient care technician. So basically what that entails is, um, at least at my job, we involve phlebotomy so I did like the lab work for the patients and then you work very closely with the nurses as well. You do you know the activities of daily living for the patients so that includes like, morning care Bed, Bath Changing the patient repositioning the patient checking vital signs, things along those lines. So basically, we are the nurses right hands. And in that you get, you know, really great experience, especially if nursing is something that you want to get into, because it just teaches you organizational skills, and you know how to go through 12 hour shifts and get ready for things like that. And then also see, you know, the nurses work closely and see what nursing really does entail. So and then my second job was, I actually moved up the ladder a little bit and became a nurse extern. So basically, what that is, is you have a lot more clinical leeway. So I was able to do more procedural stuff, as long as I was under the supervision of a registered nurse. So um, that's basically just the step below Rn, registered nurse. So I think that and then also, I started that nurse extra position in December, and January is kind of when we started seeing this whole COVID stuff happen. So I was able to, like experience that and kind of see how, you know, a hospital would react to a situation like that. And I just think that, I mean, it's hard to prepare for something like that. And I do think that maybe we were, I think, as a nation completely underprepared for it. So equipment, the way the staffing was handled, just the unknown of the situation. And constantly, I mean, every shift, something was changing. So I think that what needs to happen is maybe more efficient planning now that we've gone through something like this, I'm not saying that the reaction was bad, because again, you can't really prepare for something like this. But I think that hopefully we can learn from what's going on and then from then, you know, capitalize on that, and kind of come up with better preparation to keep, you know, our staff and our patients, you know, safer and be more well organized, and well prepared for something like this. Because if it's happened once, I mean, there's potential that it could happen again, so...
Brooke Smith 17:13
Absolutely. And I think we're all not going to be safe until we come up with a vaccine, and then even then, you know, things can happen, it can mutate, things can change. So preparation is is always best, and I think protecting healthcare workers and making sure that you guys have what you need to save us. We got to help you help us. So I think, you know, also just having that, having that support from people actually listening and taking it seriously. And, and, you know, in social distancing, and quarantining, and making sure that, you know, you guys have the proper medical equipment that you need to do your jobs. Yes. And that you, you are not in disposable, you guys are really important. And you guys should be treated with the utmost respect and protection, because you guys are literally, the, you're the only thing keeping us from, from that. So we commend you and, and, and appreciate so much that you what you do, and that you want to care for people who can't care for themselves. I think it's such a beautiful, beautiful profession and takes a person with a really amazing heart. So I'm usually able to be there for people in moments like that. It is, yeah, you're there for the most intimate parts of people's lives also, when they probably feel the most alone or most desperate, or most embarrassed, you know, because bodily things and you know, to be very, very vulnerable with you. It's it's definitely scary from like a patient perspective. But it's people like you who make that, you know, so much easier and make families and loved ones feel comforted by, you know, the care that you give and the love that you show up with every day. So I think that that's cool. That's awesome. Um, aside from from Nursing and Health Care, what what else are you like passionate about, like, what is what drives you?
So health and fitness has always been number one, pretty much until nursing came into play. My husband and I actually met at a bodybuilding show, I used to compete in bodybuilding. And then I also used to coach a fitness team as well. So I mean, nutrition and health kind of help all the way around. If you really want to look at it with nursing, you know, it's just always been a passion of mine. I've played sports my entire life. I've always been a very active person and then once that kind of fell off after high school. You know, I found In bodybuilding, and nutrition, and fitness training, and all those things. So health kind of all the way around is huge for me, and it's huge for my family as well. So we practice that in our home. And I try to emit that, you know, because I feel like that's a really important aspect of nursing as well, you know, kind of like, practice what you preach, you know, I can't tell people to do all these healthy things. And then I myself, not be practicing those things as well. So that is a huge passion of mine. It's kind of like my mental release my therapeutic thing that I do. So for those that don't know that about me.
Brooke Smith 20:40
I love that. Yeah. And is the thing still have like health care. So it feels like you were just really meant to kind of get into this field. And yeah, I think health health is so important. It's so important for people to get enough rest, drink their water, you know, simple things that we know. And we don't know it. But we just need that sometimes that extra little push to be reminded, like, did I drink enough water today? Did I get enough sleep today?
Not so much to think about on a daily basis? Well, what are those? Yeah. Actually sleep as a nursing student. And as a mom of two, I mean, sleep is just not the easiest thing to come by.
Brooke Smith 21:19
And also the challenges of like, different shifts, right? Like, you could go from working a night shift to like a day shift. So is that kind of does that happen Are you like it, or you're like night, and then you're on night all the time, or...
I'm actually kind of nervous about that, because I've heard that a lot of new grad positions actually start you off at night. It's kind of like a pay your dues type of thing, which I'm okay with, but it is going to be a huge transition. Because I've always been a day shifter, you know, especially, you know, with the kids and everything, but now they're a little bit older and they go to school, so might be a little bit easier to manage. But it is a very big possibility that I'll be transitioning into night shifts. And then while you're doing that, as long as it's within your, you know, your scope of practice and your specialty, you could always pick up day shifts, and I know a lot of nurses that like do you that if you know they want some overtime, or if there's a nurse needed for the day shift, and they're sure a night nurse will go to day shift. So yeah, it's definitely something it's the great part about the flexibility, you know, for the job of nursing is you can go day, you could go night, weekends, you know, whatever you need. But um, yeah, I'm actually a little nervous to be, you know, up all night. I don't know how I'm gonna handle that.
Brooke Smith 22:34
You're gonna be just fine, I think yeah. I definitely think it's gonna be an adjustment but you've proved that you can do anything you set your mind too excited to watch her journey and see and support you from from afar and and watch your journey. As you get dive more into this. I think it's it's just beautiful to watch. And I'm really excited for all the wonderful things you're gonna do.
Oh, and I'm so grateful for all your support and the support even as a student, MDF has literally always been my first choice. So being able to collaborate and connect with you is it's just it's a blessing. So I appreciate it so much.
Brooke Smith 23:13
We appreciate you as well. So the feeling is mutual. Cynthia was so nice chatting with you. Thank you so much for taking the time today to talk with us and in slicer and motivate people and answer some questions. It's been really a pleasure to to have a conversation.
Oh, it's been a pleasure for me to thank you so much for having me.
WELCOME TO THE NEW SCHOOL.
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