Clinical Cluster

This summer semester has been a bit of a mess. (Understatement of the year…)

Where to start?

We have three terms to go ’til graduation (including this one). Which means in May it was time to start working on our required clinical hours for certification as Clinical Nurse Leaders (CNLs). We need 500 hours to sit for the exam after we graduate. So they divided the terms as follows:

  • Summer 2011: Needs assessment of site, initial formulation of clinical problem (100 Hours)
  • Fall 2011: Continue designing intervention, conduct patient and staff education (100 Hours)
  • Spring 2012: Implement intervention to improve clinical outcomes, evaluate program (300 Hours)

We were emailed in January with questions about our preferences for sites/types of placements. I asked for oncology, of any type. Adult, kiddos, inpatient, outpatient, I didn’t care.

Then we waited.

And waited.

In late April I finally got an email from our school’s clinical administrative assistant that I’d be at the VA and would need to fill out all kinds of crazy paperwork. Which I did the next day and returned via email.

A week later I received word from my professor that I’d be at one of the VA’s long-term care settings (known as a Community Living Center). They include hospice units. My first-choice was an oncology unit, but this was pretty awesome too. I was excited to work with hospice folks.

Since then it’s been a nightmare. Not because I’ve hated my placement. Not because my preceptor is horrific. Neither of those are true. In fact, my preceptor has been pretty awesome through all of the uncertainty and connected me to their resident services coordinator, who is also amazing. There’s a lot of support for me on a local level.

It’s because I haven’t actually been allowed to set foot on my site (except for my initial orientation and occasional staff meetings) because I still don’t have my freaking VA security clearance. It’s July. I’m supposed to have 100 hours by August 2.

‘Ain’t gonna happen.

I’ve been told that since this was not my fault or the school’s fault (don’t really believe that second part), I can take an “Incomplete” and finish up my hours in the fall. But most of our assignments are tied to our clinical site, so I’ve literally had to make up “fantasy” scenarios, knowing full well I will have to redo all of these processes when I actually start working at my site.

Not to mention this that means cramming almost 200 hours into the fall semester, and 500 hours total into two semesters. I don’t see how that can happen either with my full-time job. And I’m not willing to cut down on my work hours either. I need to live, for God’s sake (and I REALLY need my benefits).

So here I am, less than a year from graduating with my Master’s Degree and I’m not sure it’s physically possible to do so, through no fault of my own.

What’s a nurse to do?

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