Getting your CNA/LNA

Most medical schools would prefer if you have some patient contact experience. One of the easiest ways to acquire these hours, while getting paid, is obtaining your CNA/LNA. A CNA is a Certified Nurse Assistant, and an LNA is a Licensed Nurse Assistant. Essentially, they are one and the same, but the requirements and terminology vary from state to state. If you’re not applying to medical rschool but are thinking physician assistant (PA) or even nursing school, your CNA/LNA will give you the upper hand. In fact, most PA schools require 1000+ hours of patient contact experience, so getting your CNA/LNA early can help alleviate a lot of stress and help you save for school.

What does a CNA/LNA do?

I’m not going to sugar coat it. A CNA/LNA gets the $h!tty end of the stick, quite literally. A CNA/LNA’s job is to help a resident or patient with activities of daily living (ADLs). For example, an LNA is in charge of helping a patient get dressed, brushing their teeth/hair, helping them toilet, and even eating. That being said, your job description varies depending on the facility that you’re working at. In a hospital setting, there is a lot more cleaning involved and a smaller person to patient ratio. In a nursing home or assisted living facility, the residents tend to be more dependent and there is a larger person to resident ratio. All in all, if you’re not willing to get elbows deep in human excrement I wouldn’t suggest this particular career path.

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How do I become a CNA/LNA?

In order to become a CNA/LNA you will have to take a course that has anywhere from 40-80 class hours, 40+ shadowing hours, and then pass a state board exam. The class is not cheap, usually they range from $1,000 to $1,500. That being said, many classes offer scholarships and a lot of facilities will pay for your course if you agree to work for them for 6-12 months.

The easiest way to figure out what classes are available near you is google. Simply type, “CNA or LNA classes near me,” and a list should come up showing you nearby facilities. Most classes have websites for you to look in order to see the class requirements, syllabus, and cost. Use the websites to compare prices and potential experience gain when deciding which class is best for you. Classes may also run for different lengths, i.e. there may be a Monday-Friday course for a few hours a day for ~six weeks or a Saturday/Sunday course for the entire day for ~10 weeks. Make sure that you pick a class that suits your lifestyle. For example, I took my class on the weekends during the spring semester of college because I was a full time student Monday through Friday. In my opinion, it was not hard to manage at all.

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Once you’ve finished the class you have to take the board exam. It is typically divided into two sections, writing and practical. In the writing portion you are given a multiple choice exam and in the practical you are required to demonstrate skills that are chosen for you at random in front of a state examiner to prove your proficiency. For example, you may ave to demonstrate how to clean dentures, reposition a patient, take a patient’s blood pressure, dress a paraplegic patient, e.t.c. Although this sounds intense, your class should fully prepare you for this exam. As long as you do well, pay attention in class, and feel comfortable with the skills you should have no problems passing the exam.

What should I do once I have my CNA/LNA?

Start the job search. Keep in mind that some facilities will offer to pay for your course if you agree to work for them for 6-12 months. This is a great option if you’re looking for a job immediately after the exam, and you don’t want to pay for it. However, if you cannot seem to find a facility to pay for your exam, a lot of facilities will offer you a sign on bonus if you agree to work for 6-12 months which will essentially reimburse you for the class.

As a CNA/LNA you can work in a lot of different patient settings. There are acute and long term rehabilitation centers, hospitals, assisted living facilities, memory care facilities, long term facilities, and even doctor’s offices and clinics. Basically, the possibilities are endless, and CNA/LNAs are always in need.

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As an LNA you can expect to make anywhere from $11-$18 dollars an hour starting out, depending on where you work and your preferred shift. Health care is a 24 hour job, so you get can choose from day, evening, or night shift.

To sum it up, being a CNA/LNA is not the most glamorous job in the world, nor is it something I would suggest making a 30 year career out of. However, it is a great stepping stone into the field of healthcare and the experience you’ll earn is priceless.

Best of Luck, 


-XO

 

 

Flyin’ Frugal

A lot of people ask me how I can afford to travel the world while in college, but to be brutally honest with you, I can’t. Whenever I decide to go on a trip I start planning about eight months in advance. I have to think about my destination, the time, and most importantly the cost. Everything I do is calculated and I fund almost all of my trips.

The Destination

The first thing that I do when planning an excursion is sit down with a calendar and look at possible dates. The two things that I keep in mind are my desired duration and destination. For example, I don’t want to travel to Asia in monsoon season, nor do I want to go to Africa for only a week. To me, in order for a trip to be enjoyable it should last anywhere from 10-30 days.

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Europe is typically cheaper in the fall and winter months (November to March), while Asia and Africa are cheaper in the summer months (May-August). That being said, make sure to research the weather patterns during the time in which you wish to travel. Cheaper flights typically correspond to a less picturesque experience.

Guesstimating The Cost

Once I have settled on a place and time frame I check lots of websites in order to estimate the cost of the flight, living, and potential adventures. I find that one of the easiest ways to keep track of everything is to make a spreadsheet listing the cost, activity, and website link– just in case I accidentally close out of something or forget where I saw a coupon.

I typically start my search by using an incognito browser. I’ve read articles in the past that explain how an airline company tracks your interests and can potentially raise the cost because they know you’re interested. That being said, I’ve also read articles that debunk the myth, so to each their own– but I personally like feeling stealthy.

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With my incognito browser open, I first go to Skyscanner or STA Travel. Skyscanner/STA are some of my favorite tools because you can set a range of destination dates (Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually cheaper), which allows you to see a range of flights for all different prices. It also helps you get an idea of layover lengths/locations. In Skyscanner/STA, I play around with various departure locations as well. Sometimes flying out of JFK vs. YUL can make a $500 difference and it would only cost you $50 to take a train/bus or you could opt for a 7 hour drive. Once I’m satisfied with the departure location I take my search to other websites in order to find the best deal.

In addition to Skyscanner/STA Travel, I like browsing other travel websites in order to find deals. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing your ticket from Skyscanner, you could from STA but in my experience I always find a slightly better deal on the other websites. One of my favorite websites to visit is Student Universe, they have endless deals for people who are trying to fly frugal. I also really enjoy Kayak and Google Flights. That being said, do not forget to check the host airline company’s website. Sometimes you’ll find that they are providing the same deal and you can earn miles for future trips!

 

All in all, the key to flyin’ frugal is patience and research. The more research you do, the better deals you’ll find. Rome wasn’t built in a day, meaning I don’t know how you thought you could plan a trip there in one either.

Bon Voyage! 

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-XO

 

Berry and… spinach smoothie bowl?

Out of all of my friends, I think I consume the most amount of pureed fruits and vegetables and there is only one explanation– smoothies. This is by far my go to, and it costs less than $3 to make. Every time that I drink it, I feel ready to accomplish anything and it is great for both the summer and winter. Whether you’re trying to boost antioxidants or cool down, a smoothie is always the answer.

The Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups of frozen triple berry mixture
  • 1 cup of frozen spinach
  • 4 oz of greek vanilla yogurt
  • 4 oz of orange juice
  • Granola
  • Fruit of Choice

 

If you’re really into organic produce you can go to a co-op or your organic produce section and then pre-freeze the ingredients. However, I’m ballin’ on a budget so Walmart/Price Chopper are where my spare dollars reside. At Walmart, I typically buy the 48oz Triple Berry Mix for $10. At Price Chopper I buy the bag of frozen spinach that is on sale (usually $1 or $2) and the cheapest tub of vanilla greek yogurt ($5). I also buy the granola ($4) and fruit of the week ($5) at Price Chopper– this week it was BOGO strawberries and 1.99/lb cherries! As for the orange juice, I’ll buy it from either place.

The Layering

Most people don’t understand that the key to efficient blending and equally distributed flavor is all in the layering. The thing that is furthest from the blade should be the largest/hardest ingredient (the berries) followed by the less hard/ big ingredients (spinach). After that, the liquid can be added so that it reaches the top of the frozen ingredients (orange juice). Finally, add in the yogurt– this should be closest to the blade.

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The Presentation

I get it, you’re busy, so I’ll let you in on a little secret. You don’t actually have to eat this in a bowl and/or add fancy decorations. Simply skip the granola/fruit of the week topping and blend a little longer in order to reach a smoother consistency. All you have to do now is throw in a straw and call it a day.

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That being said, if you have a little extra time on your hands and are a Pinterest lover like myself, the smoothie is your canvas and the fruit, your paint. I typically add two fruits ranging from strawberries to clementine. It all comes down to what is on sale and in season.

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If you’ve never had a vegetable/fruit smoothie combo, the first sip may taste a little more Earthy than you’re used to; but like cheap alcohol, the more you sip the better it tastes.

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At first you get this cool, sweet, berry flavor that is hushed by the spinach, and then brightened by the orange juice; followed by the added thickness from the yogurt as the refreshing bolus slides down your throat. Wait… sometimes there is an added burst of texture or flavor from the granola/fruit that keeps you wanting more until you hear that dreadful pang of the spoon against your bowl.

Keep in Mind

The world is round, do not limit yourself to my preferred ingredients. Add and swap as you please, and if you find something better let me know!

Hope you enjoyed!

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-XO

 

What does it mean to be pre-med?

Medical school is typically thought of as an unattainable facade that only the most brilliant and privileged can reach. However, in my experience that is not even close to the case. Medical school is not for the smart and privileged, it is for the passionate and dedicated. The people who are willing to put in extra work in order to make a difference in the lives of others.

Many people assume that medical school only requires an impeccable GPA. Unfortunately, being able to regurgitate facts in an exam will only get you so far. You have to show that you are a well rounded person, someone who can handle stress and all types of people. After all, you never know who is going to walk into your practice and what their circumstances might be.

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Most medical schools require the following:

  • One year of general biology with lab
  • One year of general chemistry with lab
  • One year of organic chemistry with lab
  • One year of general physics with lab

Although it may not be required, I suggest taking the following in order to give you an outside edge:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Neurology
  • Pharmacology

 

 

Aside from academics, most medical schools will look for the following:

  • Shadowing medical professionals
  • Volunteer experience
  • Research experience
  • Leadership skills
  • Healthy habits
  • Mind broadening/life altering experiences

All in all, what ever you put in is what you’re going to get out, and not everyone’s path is the “standard” four year plan. There are many options; such as a 5+ year plan, post-baccalaureate programs, or vocational schools. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is a good thing to be different, and it is YOUR journey to success. You are human, you will make mistakes, but maintain desire and enjoy the hardships. The road to medical school is not a sunny interstate, it is a winding backroad that has black ice and unplowed spots in the depth of a frigid winter. That being said, it is important to remember that winter is not forever, spring and summer are always just around the bend.

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XO

Vietnam

Vietnam is a country abundant in opportunity. Whether you’re interested in religion, history, or relaxation, there is something for everyone! I spent a month exploring the country and these are the things worthy of your interest.


Hanoi

Hanoi is home to the Noi Boi International Airport (HAN), an excellent place to start your journey around the country. Due to the immense time difference from the United States, I landed around 22:00 Vietnam time in an attempt to rectify my soon-to-be shattered sleeping schedule. I was fortunate enough to start my trip off in style and stayed at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi.

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Once I was rested and bathed in a fresh coat of SPF 70, I decided it was time to let the adventure begin. In Hanoi, there are no road/lane marks, and the only traffic rule seldom followed is that red lights means stop. It is almost impossible to navigate your way through the city without calling a taxi (if you’re in a group) or renting a moped. The moped is the cheapest option, but be prepared to honk and WEAR YOUR HELMET.

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In Hanoi there are a lot of temples/pagodas and museums. Some of the religous sites wirth noting are: The Tran Quoc Pagoda, Quan Su Temple, Temple of Jade Mountain,Cua Bac Church, and the pagoda in the Hoan Kiem Lake. Some museums worth seeing are: The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and The Vietnam Fine Arts Museums. However, if temples and museums aren’t your style I suggest visiting the Old Quarter or taking a trip to the Hanoi Botanical Gardens. The one thing that everyone should experience in Hanoi is a water puppet show.

 


Halong Bay

If you get the chance to visit Halong Bay, I suggest a junk boat cruise or outing. An outing will be cheaper and you’ll still have access to dangerously sweet beverages, but some of the cruises offer extra exploration activities such as kayaking away from the ship through caves in order to find hidden temples and fishing villages.

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Warning: The jellyfish in the bay can be very large, they look comparable to a gallon of milk and spiders may fall onto your canoe while kayaking through caves. That being said, wear a life jacket and you’ll be set.

 


Hue

Hue is a city full of exquisite detail and history. I would highly recommend visiting the Imperial City in order to learn about the dynasties and a few temples if you have time. In my opinion, the ones that are worth your time are The Pagoda of the Celestial Lady and Thê Mieu.

 

If you’re feeling athletic and would like to hike or climb stairs I would recommend Mount Ngu Binh (Royal Screen) or the Tomb of Khai Dinh. Any other interests should refer to google search.

 


Hoi An

Shop until you drop, relax on a beach, drink pure coconut. Simply indulge. However, if you’re feeling adventurous head into town and make a wish on a paper lantern at night while eating food on the river.

 


Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Night life, traffic, and more shopping. Check out the amusement parks if you’re traveling with kids who need to cool down in the Sun. Eat a bowl of pho, I promise it is more flavorful in the South.

 


Mekong Delta (Vietnam’s Venice)

One of the coolest places to explore, both literally and figuratively. Enjoy fresh fruit from the river market– obtained by linking boats that are MOVING– and see how the other half lives. If river lounging isn’t your pace head into the depth of the delta and bike around winding narrow paths with the locals.

 


HOPE YOU ENJOYED TRAVELING WITH ME!

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-XO