My Guest Appearance on the “Kojo Sarfo Show”

This week I had the opportunity to sit down with a fellow RN, Kojo Sarfo and appear on his Youtube channel. Not only is he a Nurse, but he’s a Clinical Instructor, Business Owner and Blogger who finds the time to balance it all. We dived right into discussing modeling, what inspired me to go for nursing and future goals.

Check out the interview below, and let us know what you think.

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CURLY HAIR ROUTINE — with Curly Weave

I’ve been getting a lot of compliments lately on how my hair has “grown” so long…. well I hate to break it to you, but ISSA WEAVE. Lol! I got this sew-in for a photoshoot that I had about 3 weeks ago and I swore I would go right back to my natural hair… BUUUUTTTT this weave is everything. It looks just like my hair when styled properly and adds that extra oomph that I like.

Check out the video below:

Overcoming Test Anxiety

Have you ever had feelings of chest discomfort, an unsettling stomach, nervousness, tachycardia and even insomnia either the day or days before an exam? If you answered yes to any of those symptoms, you’re probably a nursing student going through something called test anxiety.

Let me tell you test anxiety is so real! There were times I walked into exam day on ZERO hours of sleep. Toss, turn all night, tried sleeping aids, essential oils– any and everything under the sun… it just wouldn’t work. I would constantly worry about things like: “Did I study enough?” or “What if I don’t pass”…

I kid you not, you end up having a whole private conversation with yourself about any and everything under the sun. And before you know it, it’s 4:30am and you’re driving to school when your test isn’t even til 10:00am! But you know what’s even crazier?? That night that I didn’t sleep and arrived to school at 5:00am, one of my classmates were already sitting there. Freaked out just like me. And then it hit me.

Although this was totally unhealthy (the whole not sleeping thing)– it was totally normal.

Come to find out most of my classmates were dealing with test anxiety. It’s just not something we all want to talk about or admit to. It started in my first semester of nursing school and now that I’m in my third semester, it’s gotten much better.

Here are some things that I have learned to help me decrease my test anxiety:

1. Acceptance: Accept and realize that this anxiety comes from the fact that you don’t want to fail. That’s a good thing. I realized I was being so hard on myself because I really wanted to do well. If I didn’t care about passing with good grades then I would sleep like a baby the night before exams and not even bother to study as much as I do. I stopped beating myself up for holding my OWN self to a high standard when it came to my education.

2. Preparation: Once I realized that I had to accept that I was an overachiever, I made sure for every single exam that I prepared well. Here was my routine. Step one: Attend every single lecture. Take bomb notes– writing word for word what the teacher says. Highlight what he/she emphasises on. Step two: Go home and the very next day, start re-reading what the teacher covered in class. Step three: Make your own notes. You can rewrite concepts, print out diagrams and photos also. This was honestly the best part of learning new material for me. Im a visual learner so this helped me a lot. Now if you’re an auditory learner, ask your teacher if you can record him/her during lecture and play them back on your own time. Then re read the material and formulate your own notes. Step four: Read your notes, re-read the book on any concepts you’re not comfortable with, listen to audio recorded lectures at least 3-4 times. Every single day, dedicate at least 1-2 hours (minimum) to study. Pack this info into your brain. If you prepare well, you won’t have as much test anxiety because you know you did your part. Now you can get a good nights rest.

3. Pray: I truly believe God wouldn’t have led me on this path if he didn’t think I was capable. Every time I feel weak, every time doubt tries to settle in. I pray and ask God to provide me with the strength to keep going. I don’t expect him to do all the work, but if after I have 1. accepted the challenge, and 2. prepare well, I PRAY. Prayer has taken me from doubt to triumph on so many occasions in this past year. Many times I went into exam days on no sleep or doubting myself. But I believe God never left my side… if you reach out to him, he will do the same for you.

As my motto remains… Keep going!

Surviving 1st Semester of Nursing School

IMG_2019When I finally passed the first semester of nursing school, I remember a complete sigh of relief. Just going through the fact that you have to change the way you study, the way you think and even the way you take exams is stressful enough. Pair that with clinical hours, content exams and standardized testing exams. Ugh, get me out of here please! Lol. Anyway, I survived, despite it all. If I can do it, so can you.

I basically took two courses at a time. Here’s my review on each course that I IMG_2012took in the 1st semester, and how I studied for each one.

  • Pharmacology:
    Memorization, memorization, memorization!! What I vaguely remember about this course is that it was a lot of information to remember. Classification, drug name, side effects, adverse effects, nursing interventions, teaching and any contraindications. This course was particularly difficult because it was so much content to remember. I tried making flash cards once, but it was entirely too much info. Instead I made little charts with my notes, and that seemed to help a bit.
  • Pharmacology Math:
    In my school, we used the dimensional analysis method of learning to calculate drug dosages. Thankfully, our instructor provided us with lots of exercises to practice. I basically did all of the exercise worksheets provided, and I did fairly well in this course. Pharmacology Math is one of those pass or fail courses. Since medication administration is so important, they don’t really allow you to have room for error when calculating the right dose. I found that repeating the equation at least twice helped me catch errors and get the answers correct. Just as a note* In the real world, if you’re unsure about a dosage amount, always grab another nurse to verify you’re giving the right dose.
  • Medical Surgical Nursing:
    Content, content content….. *le sigh*… Med-Surg is one of those courses you’ll be GLAD to finish. Ask any nursing student and they will tell you this is one of the hardest courses you take. For me, it was the course that “broke me in.” It changedIMG_1493 my study habits, changed the way I thought as a nurse, and changed how I answered questions. It was one of the most draining courses for me because it included anatomy and physiology, labs, pharmacology, nursing interventions and teaching. It was the course where I had a few, “Ah ha” moments and realizing why microbiology, chemistry and anatomy were so important. If you can make it out of Med-Surg, you have a pretty good chance at finishing nursing school.
  • Transition into the Professional Role as a Nurse:
    Of all the courses I took, this one was the easiest for me. I have no tips on how to study for this course except to understand the laws with regards to nursing practice act and what covers you according to your state board.

My advice to all 1st semester RN students is to not give up. This is the semester that will define who you are. This is the semester that pushed me and tested me. There were times where I called my best friend balling in tears because I wanted to give up— but I didn’t. Now I’m just 3 months from graduating. I proved to myself, my family and friends that I could be courageous enough to push through a time that made me super uncomfortable. If I can. You can too.

I’m an LPN, now what?

Many of you may find yourself asking the golden question, “What do I do now that I’m an LPN?” I remember after graduating and passing my board exam, I thought to myself, “Vanessa, you need money.” At that point, I was still involved in modeling, so a gig every now and then did keep me afloat. In the meantime, I began searching the internet for job opportunities. I applied to many places, which unfortunately required at least 1 year of working experience. Well, how am I supposed to get experience if no one will hire me? **HOW SWAYYYY????

So, here I will go over 5 tips that I believe will help new grad LPNs find employment. Nothing is scarier (besides passing your boards)– then not being able to find work. After all, you went through a very tough program, probably used the last of your savings, and now you need to make your money back!

  1. Gather your portfolio.
    Grab an 8×10 binder, draft up your resume. Include all copies of your CEU’s and if you can, get a letter of recommendation from your school. When you go to places to apply for a job, it speaks volumes when you have your documents in hand and ready. I added a nice touch by purchasing plastic sleeves to place my papers into. It allowed for easy, quick access, and this showed that I was responsible and ready to work. 
  2. Return to your clinical sites.
    When I started looking for work, I applied to all of my dream jobs first. I thought to myself, “Wow I can finally apply to the hospital of my dreams.” After a few weeks of receiving denial letters, or “Thank you for your submission, but we’re going to move forward with another applicant”– I decided to return to all of the places where I did my clinical hours. I’m fortunate that I did this, because it helped me land my first nursing job. I had to accept the fact that I was not going to get hired at my dream job fresh out of school.
  3. Its not what you know, but who you know.
    Networking is key. It’s probably a little too late for this piece of advice if you’re already an LPN– but this is useful for someone who is still in school. When you go to clinicals, MAKE FRIENDS with the nurses, nursing aides and housekeepers. Once you graduate, if you did happen to exchange numbers they could help you land a job once you graduate. Introduce yourself to the unit managers and charge nurses. When you’re at clinicals, HELP EVERYONE. Not only are you learning how that particular floor is ran, but you’re showing you’re genuinely interested in being there.
  4. Be confident.
    After all, you went through nursing school. That shows you’re resilient, ambitious and dedicated. When you go on your interview, show that you’re excited and ready to start your career in nursing. NEVER ever answer a question with, “I don’t know.” The correct way to respond when someone asks you something you don’t know is, “I’m not sure, but let me find out so I can give you the correct information.”
  5. Be flexible.
    Nursing is unlike other professions. You must work holidays, weekends and nights. Fresh out of school, you may not be able to land a job in a hospital working on the day shift. Keep this in mind. As flexible as you were in nursing school, is as flexible as you need to be once you’re looking for work. Nursing is one of those jobs that operates 24 hours. There will always be a need during natural disasters, holidays, weekends etc. Hospitals don’t close just because a hurricane is coming *FYI.*

All in all, be positive. Take these tips I’ve offered you and keep applying! Don’t be discouraged. Keep moving forward.

How I went from video modeling to nursing

So I was 21 at the time, a full time waitress at Hooters. I made great money. I worked for tips, about 4-5 days per week. My hair, nails and makeup were always on point. It was easy. Act friendly with customers, take their orders, cash them out and earn my tips. I spent 9 months at Hooters, and even gained my own “regulars.”

My trick was getting the customers to like me. Which was fairly easy. Even after messing up their orders every now and then, I still earned a decent tip just from giving a pleasant smile. During this time, I also found myself attending castings, hosting parties, booking photoshoots and videos. While modeling, the key for me was to take advantage every opportunity to network with others in the business. I soon became one of the new upcoming haitian models in South Florida, and that was an honor for me.

So how did I go from dressing cute and prissy to nursing? Well.

One day I seemed to have some sort of epiphany.

filepI was literally at work one day, and said to myself, “Vanessa, you’re smarter than this.” The thoughts began to cross my mind that I couldn’t do this forever.

That was enough to get me to start thinking about my future and getting something under my belt. See, I was 21 years old and a college drop-out. I only took one semester of college courses when I was 18, and stopped attending after a few weeks. So, those 4 classes that I enrolled in, I received “F.” I spent the next 3 years going from one odd job to the next. First, a legal assistant at a law firm, then a customer service rep for a windows and door company, then a call center representative for a mobile phone company and before you know it– Hooters. Sure, I made decent money out of all of the jobs that I had, but I wanted more.

My mom saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a nursing school about 20 minutes from our house. So there I went. I applied for the CNA program (4 weeks).

I said wow, only 4 weeks to become a Nurse??

IMG02486-20111118-1137Sign me up NOW! Little did I know, it was not what I thought. I learned the basic skills like how to take vital signs, give a bed bath, measure intake and output for patients with foley catheters. Anyway, I did complete the course but never went to take the board exam. I was terrified the day we entered clinicals and I saw what life would really be like working as a CNA. I don’t knock anyone who works as a CNA, but I couldn’t see myself working so hard like that. Instead, I applied for the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program, and the rest is history.
IMG02481-20111118-0801I fell in love with learning about the human body. I fell in love with nursing and everything it stood for. Being the patients advocate. Being the eyes and ears to the doctor. Actually making a difference and not just serving wings and fries. So I spent the next 12 months focusing on the LPN program. All while appearing in some of your favorite artists videos. Yes, thats right, I needed a way to make

money while I went through this “career change.” I appeared in many videos and worked with several artists during this time including: Nicki Minaj, Big Sean, Lil Wayne, Sean Garrett, Pitbull, Wale and Rick Ross to name a few.

It was all worth it, because in the end it landed me the opportunity to make money with my brain– not just my body.