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After much self-reflection and assessment of my low NLN results, I have room for growth in empiric knowledge in pharmacology. I received an overall score of 52% in pharmacology, which not only shocked me but also humbled me (NLN 2017). It is apparent that I need to change my fixed mindset and improve in this area. The gap in my baseline NLN pharmacology score and being an oncology nurse prove that there is room for growth and mastery in this area. Proficiency in math is necessary because nurses routinely use addition, fractions, ratios and algebraic equations each workday to deliver the right amount of medication to their patients or monitor changes in their health (reference). Measurements in medicine are based on the metric system, however, which requires sharp conversion skills. To provide safe care, pounds must often be converted to kilograms, ounces to cubic centimeters, Fahrenheit to Celsius, and inches to centimeters (reference). Because I am an oncology nurse, filling the gap between pharmacology and the population I serve at the hospital seems the right choice for my gap analysis. When I took the pharmacology portion of the NLN exam, I was under stress due to the fact that my passwords would not work. I started the exam late due to confusing classroom directions and I did not have a calculator. Time was becoming an issue so I chose not to answer the math questions that required a calculator. This kind of stress is no different than the stress I feel at work.
In researching for how to fill in the gap between my NLN scores and the population I serve in the hospital, it occurred to me that I have been leaning toward not renewing my chemotherapy-biotherapy certification. I have struggled with whether to renew because the chemo regimens are getting more complex and require sharp math skills and pharmacy skills. Lacking in both these areas on the NLN exam made me realize that I am only thinking of not recertifying because of the large knowledge-based needed for both. I have school, clinical, work, and family obligations and the thought of studying for one more thing overwhelms me. The population I serve at the hospital are not just cancer patients. I am not doing as much in-patient chemotherapy and I was contemplating letting my certification expire. Receiving a 52% on the pharmacology portion of the NLN exam was a not only a blow to my ego but left me embarrassed and upset. When I received this low score, I make up my mind not to renew the certification. However, not that I see where my gap is, I am electing to now recertify. There are two reasons I chose this path: I love being an oncology nurse and it is in the nursing code of ethics that we are patient advocates. This means nurses work as part of an interdisciplinary team to provide patient care.
There are many online math calculation courses that I can do at my own pace. Attempting to brush up on my math skills with a growth mindset may be just what I need to be open to mystery and allow miracles to enter (Watson, 2007). Even though I am not passionate about math, I am passionate about my nursing practice and the care I deliver to my patients. I will integrate Caritas Process #3, cultivating one’s own spiritual practices and transpersonal self, going beyond ego self (Watson, 2007)
Filling the Gap
Embracing my brain plasticity by allowing my neurons to fire and wire together will allow me to become more proficient in math and recertify my certification in chemotherapy-biotherapy administration I will complete my chemotherapy-biotherapy certification by the end December 2017. By the end of my 2018 summer trimester, I will complete an online math course with practice math tests each week until I feel that I have mastered math calculations and no longer feel incompetent about my math skills. Unfortunately with smart IV pumps, dosing calculations done by a pharmacy, and having gone to nursing school many years ago, and a fixed mindset of not liking math, I have become complacent in these skills. When attempting these math courses, I will integrate a Make It Stick approach to learning (Brown, 2015). People earn better if they practice spaced repetition of key ideas (Brown, 2015). I will spread out my study of math comprehension, returning to it weekly to that I will remember it better. Learning on my own timeline and in the comforts of my own home will afford me an opportunity to create my own lesson plan and not be intimidated by my own failures. I am competitive in nature and mastery of mathematical calculations will not only boost my confidence at work but also allow me to be a “go to” person on our unit.