Thursday, April 20, 2017

Building Your Portfolio

The process of building your portfolio can start when you are in nursing school. Participation in extracurricular service activities, especially when they are related to nursing, is one way to boost your marketability after graduation. Community service activities (CSER), for example, is a great opportunity to use your skills to benefit others as well as a great addition to your resume. When I was sophomore nursing student, I taught a class on the effects of drug addiction on the brain to a group of women recovering from various addictions at a local Teen Challenge. Other great opportunities to serve and simultaneously hone nursing skills and expand your knowledge base is volunteering in the nursing skills lab and tutoring student nurses in nursing courses, such as Patho, Med/Surg, and pharmacology. I did both of these when I was an upperclassman, and there is so much truth in the old adage that the teacher learns more than the student.

You also don't have to wait until you pass your boards to start attending continuing education (CE) activities such as professional conferences. There are usually plenty of offerings for local CE opportunities. Honors students might be interested in petitioning critical care as this involved attending a single critical care conference when I attended LUSON. See your instructor for current petitioning requirements.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nursing Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Your Honors Thesis will likely be one of the more challenging writing projects of your undergraduate studies, but it can be very interesting and rewarding if you pick a topic that has the potential to contribute to the body of nursing knowledge and is something you are passionate about. Writing your Honors Thesis does not have to be a dry and dreary task, although it can be at times. For me it was a scholastic adventure that took me down a road I did not expect. I discovered pieces of evidence I was not looking for, and it took on a shape that I had not anticipated. But that is the wonder of nursing. God's creation is so complex we are continuously surprised and delighted by the mysteries of His handiwork. Our earthly bodies daily testify to the glory of our King and tell of His wondrous deeds (Psalm 78:4).

If you are a sophomore or a junior nursing student figuring out your thesis topic, I suggest looking in and looking around; look in to find what is really important to you or what interests you, and look around to find out what is going on in nursing and medicine. Once you pick a topic, find a mentor, this will usually be your thesis chair, to help you to find a searchable question to answer in your thesis. Formulating a question using Patient Intervention Comparison Outcome (PICO) can help you narrow down your search.

Using your resources is also important. Even though I used to work in the Library, I still sought input from the nursing librarian when I was writing my thesis. Another resource I wish I had used when I was an undergraduate was the residential writing center. As a grad student, I have used the graduate writing center multiple times and found their feedback very helpful and informative.

Finally, have the grit to stick with your thesis topic when you get tired and bored. If you pick a topic meaningful to nursing and yourself, the laborious process will be well worth the effort.