Sunday, March 16, 2014

First Week in Family Practice

 It is official - after 18 years of formal education (Associate, Bachelors, and a Master's Degrees, Doctorate - all but dissertation, and a post Master's Certificate) - I am a Nurse Practitioner, my name is on the door.
Seeing the first patient was exciting and scary at the same time. Exciting because,  I am finally doing what  God has lead me to do.  Scary because I suddenly realized, I am making decisions that could harm a patient if I don't get it correct.
As a Nurse Practitioner I do have a safety-net my collaborative physician is in the next hallway. If I have a question he is there. 
My family has been very supportive throughout this process. Everyday my boys (3 sons) and the Big Man text me to see how I am doing - they ask about how many patients I have seen or have scheduled. They know I am a little anxious about getting started and growing my patient population.
My baby-girl sent me the most awesome plant.
I know the next six months is going to be rocky trying to find my groove, getting some structure to my day.  But, I know I have a strong support system and I am where God wants me to be.
Have a Great Week
~ Connie ~
 

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Winter in Arkasnas - Stranded Motorist, Four-Legged Babies and A Stationary Bike

Wow this had been a week - Last Sunday the rain started before we got out of church, followed by hours of freezing rain, sleet and ending with snow after we went to bed.  Little did we know when we got up Monday morning that all of Northeast AR would be shut down.

I had planned to start seeing patients in the clinic - but no electricity, internet, or phone service and hazardous road conditions kept me from starting to see patients.
The Big Man and I spent most of the day at home, trying to keep the four-legged babies (14 of the them) warm and occupied and feeding the birds.  The Big Man and youngest son did go out late Monday night to help rescue a friends daughter who was stranded about 15 miles from our home on I55 in Missouri. 
 
Tuesday the weather was still horribly cold and the travel conditions continued to be hazardous.  Most of the day we could see I55 (from our house) at a standstill. We went to be Tuesday night praying for warmer weather and for those stranded on I55.

On Wednesday morning we learned just how horrible the conditions were on I55. Friends were calling asking if we could help the motorist stranded - facebook was full of comments about stranded motorist on I55.  So, I called the office of emergency management (OEM)- only to be told by the OEM director  that the conditions were not as bad as everyone was making them out to be.  So, I asked why was the governor sending AR National Guard to every other county but Mississippi.  He didn't know but he said he would call me back.  Within 30 minutes he called back and said I had his full support do what needed to be done - wow wait a minute, I hadn't planned on doing anything except take care of my four-legged babies, I just wanted everyone to do what they were supposed to do. 
 
I spoke with the Mayor, who said the same thing, I had his full support and resources.  So, the Big Man and I opened a shelter and found places for stranded motorist to stay.  By Wednesday night there were no hotel rooms, no gasoline, and some grocery stores had empty shelves.  Stranded motorist - were truly stranded.
 
The shelter was opened for less than 24 hours, we were able to provide people with a warm place to sleep and a little breakfast before they got back on the road.  People think what the Big Man and I did was amazing and something extraordinary, but it was the right thing to do.
You can read the letter to the editor one of the stranded motorist wrote.
Praying for warmer weather
~ Connie ~
P.S. I did get in 2 bike rides this week on the stationary bike and the exercise felt great.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

New Clinic and a Stationary Bike

February has flown by - It is hard to believe that March has arrived.  I have been busy the last two weeks setting up my clinic (family nurse practitioner).
When it comes to picking out a color scheme, I usually head for the tans and yellows,  but I think the colors in the clinic are perfect (green, cinnamon, and a pale yellow).  My vision for the clinic - warm and comfortable.  I want my patients to feel welcome. 

I envision my clinic as a place where patients are more than a number.  I want to know the patients by name.  I want to remember to apologize if they have to wait. I want them to know they can ask questions. I want the patient to feel like they can call anytime they have a concern. I will always remember to say "thank-you" to the patient for allowing me to be part of their healthcare team.  I refuse to forget the golden rule.

A little about my training - the last two weeks I haven't had the energy to get up and run in the morning. So, after working at the clinic, grading papers for the online classes I teach, I have been riding the stationary bike.  I get a couple of miles a night.

Riding the stationary bike has made me realize that I have lost muscle and stamina.  This  week my goal is to ride everyday.  Check back next week to see if I achieve my goal.
~ Connie ~


Sunday, February 09, 2014

Using My Voice and Talents

I have been MIA for a couple of weeks from my blog for good reason - I have been studying for Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam.  All of my study paid off -
I PASSED!  Connie Ash, MSN, RN, FNP-BC. 
Woo Hoo!  I can now provide care to the residents of Mississippi that can not afford care.
 
 
For five years I have been the volunteer administrator for a free health clinic, The Great River Charitable Clinic. 
The mission of the clinic is to provide free medical, dental, optometry, and pharmacy care to the resident's of Mississippi County who do not have access to healthcare. 
The clinic has had an issue trying to attract volunteer physicians.   Two years and seven months ago I decided to return to school and complete a post-master's certificate in family practice so that the clinic would always have a healthcare provider available. 
I Did It!

Now that doesn't mean I will not have a full-time career as a nurse practitioner - I have also accepted a position with a local physician's office.  I will be providing primary healthcare services  to a variety of patients  (newborn to death).  
It is a dream come true.
I may not change the world, but I can make my little corner of Northeast Arkansas that I live in a better place to live.

~ Connie ~ 





Sunday, January 19, 2014

Starting a New Year with Shalom

Wow - we are starting the third full week of 2014.  I did not understand when my parents said the years go by faster as you get older... but, today I suddenly realize there is some truth in the statement -  time seems to move faster as we age. 
 
Everyone says I am a master of multitasking - this morning at church a friend commented that the only downtime I must have is when I collapse to sleep.  Personally I don't think I manage my time wisely. There are a lot of things in my life I want to do, but I never seem to have the time to accomplish them. 
 
"Stress does not come from being busy, stress comes from being busy about things we don't want to do, or form not being busy about things we do want to do" Patricia Sprinkle, Women Who Do Too Much.  
 
I have been reading a few books on how to simplify my life. Marcia Ramsland book "Simplify Your Life" .  As I was reading one sentence jumped out at me "We must want change more than we want status quo."  Currently I think I am living the status quo...a fulltime job as the quality / compliance officer for a rural health system, volunteer director of a free health clinic, part-time online faculty for a BSN to RN nursing program, I serve on the board of 2 community organizations, I teach diabetic classes, I am rescues mom to 14 four-legged babies, mom to 5 adult children, and wife to my best friend.  All of this while completing a post-master's certificate in nursing family practice and now studying for boards..  Ugh---- I am tired just writing it all down. 


There has to be more to life???  Running a half-marathon, developing a yoga practice, sewing a quilt, knitting a scarf in less than 6 months. 
 
All the time I was in school I had two goals - to be able to teach from home and to provide healthcare to those who do not have access.  When I look at my life now, I can finally achieve both of these goals - so why do I keep doing things I really don't want to do... why do I continue to create stress in my life?
All of the above being said, this morning I had a moment of clarity.  I have been off work from the hospital system for 7 weeks with The Big Man (he had a knee replacement). Yes, I could have gone back to work, but he has supported me for the last 20 years and I was not about to leave him till the physician says he is cleared.  So, why do I not  just stay home, study for boards, teach my online classes and find balance?
 
So - here it is, this week I resign from the best paying job that I have ever had...it is just a job.  I know that "God's plan for our lives is not that all the circumstances will be peaceful or even pleasant.  God's plan is that we will experience shalom in each of them and know that our future has hope" (Patricia Sprinkle, Women Who Do Too Much).

 How are you finding balance? Do you experience Shalom in your life?
~Connie ~

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Training Thursday~New Shoes

Well today did not go as I had planned.  While the Big Man was at physical therapy I got two calls from two of our children.  Youngest daughter crying saying she had lost the oldest son's dog.  Second call was from the oldest son on vacation in Hawaii saying the youngest daughter had lost his dog - Lexus
Lexus somehow got of the backyard - she would not come back to my daughter, she was running.
I called the youngest son, and told him as soon as the Big Man finished physical therapy we were headed to find Lexus - like most children my may fight among themselves but let one of them get in trouble - and they rally.
Youngest son said he would help and headed that way.
  Being the grandparents we are, we drove 60 miles to where the kids live.
It is 35 degrees, feels like 25 and drizzling rain.
Since I hadn't planned on running today I was wearing dress boots.
Lexus was terrified - we saw her a couple of times running across an open field and hiding in a tree-lined ditch.  After running across the field a couple of times - I went back to my son's house and picked up Lilly - awesome sister to Lexus
 
Lilly is the awesome sister because with her short little legs she is very near to the wet cold ground.  She doesn't like wet or cold - but she didn't balk at trying to help find her sister. 
Do you ever wonder what goes on in a dog's mind?
Lexus saw Lilly but she was too scared to come to me or Lilly.
Lilly looked at me - like enough, let's go get her - and we are running across the field again.
Remember the black boots?
Well they are not made for wet, muddy, 35 degree weather - my feet were cold and wet.
Just as Lilly runs up on Lexus - I slipped.
Pulling a groin muscle and landing on the ground. Awesome grandpuppy Lilly comes back to check on me and Lilly follows.
Nanny - having dogged a few calves in her life - grabs scared cold Lexus.
 Sitting in the mud, holding a terrified Lexus - I call youngest daughter to help me get out of the field.
2 hours of running in 35 degree weather in dress boots - Lexus is home safe and sound.
Doggie Dad (oldest son) is now enjoying his vacation in Hawaii.
And, Nanny with a pulled groin muscle got a new pair of socks and shoes.
What would you have done?

~ Connie ~ 


 

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Getting Started - Finding Balance

As I sit here with a lap full of Chihuahua's listening to wind whip across a frozen Northeast Arkansas, I am reminded of how blessed we are.  
January is the month when people start over - they make resolutions, joining gyms, and stock up on healthy groceries.  Me - no resolutions, no gym memberships, and I have been focusing on eating healthy for 9 months. 
At the start of 2014 I am focusing on finding balance in my life.  All work and no play makes a girl get old and grumpy. 
I have come to recognize the "superwoman syndrome": the idea that I should be able to fill all needs, including my own, all the time.
The next few days I am going to be focusing on the following:
Thinking about what is most important for me to accomplish, and why. How can I make the most of my talent and energy in order to reach my goals? What is the benefit of focusing on these few things? Does it give me more time with my family, open up more opportunities, provide additional income?
 
The last year and half of  imbalance has created a sense that my balance is slipping. But I have come to realize that  occasionally you have to lose your balance in order to regain it. The mistake we often make is accepting our imbalances as part of who we are -- giving up instead of trying to recover balance ~ Not this girl.  
I haven't wanted to believe that I have taken on too much, because I want to do it all and are hesitant to let anything go -- whether it's a job, obligation, or opportunity. I know that the imbalance in my life has been affecting me, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
 A great way to experience balance in my life is to change the way I do some normal, everyday things. Of course, changing everything at once is sure to throw me off, but try I am thinking I will try one thing at a time.
 I have found over the last six weeks of my husbands rehab, I love to cook.  I hate how my kitchen has fallen apart over the last 18 months while I was in school. This week is my kitchen  - I am going to organize and decorate.
How do you find balance in your life?
~ Connie ~