Thursday, January 19, 2017

(Belated) Happy New Year!

It's been almost a year since my last post and life has been busy!

I've switched jobs from a community clinic nurse manager at an FQHC to a specialty role as a population manager for patients with type 2 diabetes per diem and as a virtual nurse for primary care working from home. I really enjoy different things about both roles and am learning so much, get paid more, and have more flexibility.

On top of those jobs, I'm also working side gigs for blood pressure clinics, holidays, weekends, and evenings. After a decade of being a college student, I finally started paying back my student loans in 2014 and instead of coming down, they'd go up a few thousand dollars. So part of working so much is to try to get them to a more manageable level (or pay them off) before any more major expenses come along (like a family, house, new car, travel, etc.). So our goal is to bring them down from $194,030.32 to $150,000 by the end of 2017 as a realistic goal and $100,000 as a idealistic goal. And then my ideas about the rest include maybe getting a position with the HRSA loan repayment program as an NP. So this year we've decided to sacrifice some things like: Netflix, Hulu, international and domestic travel (I went down to see my family about 5 times this year and we went to 3 countries: Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico), shopping for new clothes/shoes (I really struggle with this and good sales), going out to eat, gym locker, and hubby's gym membership, my massage membership, Costco membership, and generally large expenses. So I've been cooking lots of healthy vegetarian meals at home and have really avoided going out to eat the last few weeks. I feel like I'm eating better at that.

And don't forget my research position at the university doing research for Latino families with children with special health care needs (CSHCN). One of my nursing professors actually wrote the book on CSHCN. Anyhow, we present at a roundtable discussion in Monterey at the American Pediatric Academy regional meeting on Feb. 11.

This has all been in preparing to return for a post-master's FNP program starting in summer 2017. And today I submitted my application (due 2/1/17). It's actually been sitting ready for weeks, except I just had to pay the $65 fee to submit it and when I went to the info session, the director (not only begged me to apply but) said that the don't review prior to the deadline so I didn't feel rushed. I'm 99.99% sure I'll be admitted, assuming my application was done correctly (I hope it was). I think that if I don't get in this year, I will abandon my NP dreams for now and just focus on my RN career and on getting some specialty certifications. While they don't increase my pay at my current roles, they would allow me to pursue future opportunities.

I plan to stay in chronic management as a future NP/certified nurse and so I changed roles into a population health manager as an "RNX", or extended nursing role. So basically, I work of very defined protocols to go above the traditional RN role into a higher scope of practice based on my specialty knowledge of diabetes. Despite having a passion for diabetes and working with lots of patients with diabetes, I'm learning so much in my new role and am realizing how little I know about diabetes. So part of my role requires that I get the CDE, diabetes educator certification. It's a super expensive test ($300+), it's super hard, and fewer RNs (and pharmacists like the ones I work with) do it compared to dieticians, which is surprising considering how much you need to know about medications. So one of my goals this year is to get my CDE.

So, generally I'm keeping pretty busy right now. This week so far I've worked 7 days in a row and will likely work 2-3 weeks straight (4-11 hour shifts each day). Today I did 11 and it wasn't as bad as I had expected. Last night I had tea that must have had caffeine because I was up till 2 am unable to sleep and I had work from 9-3 PM across town and ended up leaving at 3:30 pm, got home by 4:15 pm, made dinner and worked my next shift from 5-10 pm from home (which is fantastic!). And I'm still up writing!

Tomorrow my day compromises of some self-care waxing, maybe a couple of hours working in the AM, some therapy, eating lunch with a friend, and then back to work an evening shift. Tomorrow will be working out, short morning shift, the Women's March. Sunday will be a working, church meeting, church service, haircut, and then working a short evening shift. Then back to my per diem working 8s M-W, 5s Th/F, with an extra per diem 6-hour shift on Thursday. So this month will be a great boost to my unpredictable schedule. I can always do 10 hours at my part-time job, which also happens to pay half of what my per diem job pays so I prefer to work more hours there, but it's also more brainwork to do that role. But essentially the goal is to work to learn and pay off my student loans as much as possible.

For a moment I even considered Uber driving, but nursing keeps me busy already, I don't have time for much else. A patient did tell me this week that I sound lime Drew Barrymore and should get an agent, so voice talent work? LOL! I'm also trying to get rid of (awesome) clothes I don't wear anymore on Poshmark if anyone is interested (, to make some extra cash. So far I've sold $1,853!!! I don't even want to think about how much more I spent on those clothes! I'm happy to start a new year off fresh. And in just a couple weeks, my hubby and I have already paid down $16,000 on my loan by pulling some savings and his bonus. I can't be more grateful for a spouse who is so sacrificial and supportive. I'm super lucky there. So now, we have $178,063.24 for January. Next month, hopefully we can throw about another $4k since I'm working a lot at my per diem role. I'm thinking we can get to $150k by July, assuming we get a small tax refund and I get several hours/week at my per diem and work those holidays for my part-time. I'll keep ya'll posted!

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