An Ode To The 90's

An Ode To The 90's

Unfortunately, the dog days are over
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Let's throwback to the time period when Democrats and Republicans may have once decently gotten along; the "life as we knew it" type of world which was inhabited with technology naive individuals, and (slightly importantly), a decade where wearing denim on denim did NOT make yourself a social standout.

As foreign and distant these attributes may all sound, and call me bias, but the 90's may have been the greatest generations of all time.

Born in 1996, I obviously may have been too young to socially experience the 90's, but from an observationalist perspective, I seriously wish I had.

For someone who is quite "old-fashioned" at times, an era of face-to-face communication, reliance on print newspapers for information, and simple technology is only enticing. As simply put, due to the lack of preposterous innovation back then, creativity was the center of the 90's world; granting a laidback and unique lifestyle I've always seemed to value.

Rather than impatiently waiting for the "next big thing" to arise, appreciation settled on existing resources. The paper shopping lists, the aimless walks around bookstores, and the worry of whether or not the right choice of VCR would be chosen at the local Blockbuster. We could only reflect, rather than welcome the world where the little things mattered the most.

The times of sneaking out of bedroom windows to meet up with friends; constantly wondering if the stereotype one innocently fell into was an accurate representation of themselves, is now only an idiosyncrasy of the past. Lessons and ideas may have been learned from films with hidden social commentary, but at least nothing was ever handed to others.

Time travel may not exist (just yet), but when it does, I know exactly where I am going.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Sandis Helvigs on Unsplash

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Not My Michigan

A Michigan student-athlete turned Registered Nurse on the Michigan Medicine contract negotiations in 2018.

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It's May 1st, 2016. I'm bright-eyed, eager, and graduating from the University of Michigan as a Nursing Student and Student-Athlete.

I am ready to take on the world the way that Michigan taught me how: fearlessly, compassionately, and wholeheartedly. I bleed blue. I know what it means to be a Wolverine and to represent the Michigan Difference in everything I do. I wear the block M on my School of Nursing scrubs and my Michigan Dance Team uniform well aware that it represents goodness, tradition, and excellence. I am determined. I am inspired. I am ready.

It's Monday, September 17th, 2018. What does Michigan mean to me now? I used to be so sure. Now, I simply don't know. So, what's the deal? How did my view on an institution become so indifferent in recent months?

I chose U of M to start my nursing career because it had the widely known reputation of putting its patients first, respecting its nurses, and providing the best care to patients in the state (5th in the country, to be exact). In my first year, as I was clumsily learning how to push patient stretchers, titrate intravenous vasopressors, and to communicate with the medical team, I proudly participated in our hospital's effort to achieve Magnet status.

When Nursing earned Magnet Status, an award given by the American Nurses' Credentialing Center and indicator of the strength and quality of Nursing at Michigan, I felt that same pride as I did in May of 2016.

I knew in my heart that I picked the best institution to develop my nursing practice and to give high quality, patient-centered care to anyone who walked, rolled, or was carried through the doors of Adult Emergency Services. The hospital's goals were aligned with mine and those around me. We put patients first, and more specifically, we put patients over profits.

I am lucky enough to work at a hospital that has been unionized for more than four decades. When I started working, the concept of a union was foreign to me. For those who may need a refresher, unions promote and protect the interests of all employees. They collectively bargain with employers to secure written agreements for employees regarding pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Collective bargaining agreements are legally enforceable contracts holding employers and employees to mutually agreed-to workplace rules and process to provide a fair and just workplace. The University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council, an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association, has been working diligently since January to bargain with the University of Michigan to protect me, the 5,700 nurses who work within the institution, and our patients. I'd like to think they're the good guys in this story.

Here's where things get sticky: David Spahlinger, president of our prestigious U of M health system, has publicly stated that Michigan is "committed to maintaining current staffing levels," but will not make this commitment in writing. Common sense is reflected in the most high-quality research on the topic of nurse-patient ratios and its direct effect on patient care.

Appropriate staffing allows me and my coworkers to give the quality of care that I know we have the ability to provide. High staffing levels are associated with reduced mortality, falls, medication errors, ulcers, restraint use and infections. Unregulated staffing is a significant barrier to nurses' abilities to provide optimal patient care and prevents Nursing at Michigan from providing what we know to be the Michigan Difference in healthcare.

UMPNC held voting on a work stoppage for unfair labor practices last week. Out of 4,000 votes cast by nurses at the U, 94% authorized a work stoppage in protest of the University's unfair labor practices. No date is set, but our elected nurse bargaining team now has the authority to call for action.

Thank you to Katie Oppenheim, who chairs our union, for reiterating in an article to the Detroit Free Press that a work stoppage is not our goal. "Our goal is a fair agreement which respects nurses and guarantees safe staffing. The university can remedy this situation immediately by stopping their unfair labor practices and bargaining in good faith."

I am proud to be a nurse and I hope that our efforts to keep Michigan a patients-over-profits institution are recognized at the community, state, and national level. Anne McGinity, David Spahlinger, and those who have the power to make Michigan the magical place I once thought it was, make like Nike and just do it. For the love of patients, nurses, and our great University. I know we are better than this.

(Stay Tuned, folks).

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Thinking About Your Future Is Hard

College is where you really have to start planning your future.

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Since I'm still an undergrad, I have some time to plan my life after college - that is my life once I graduate and get my Bachelor's.

When I first came to college, I didn't expect much out of what I'd do once I received my Bachelor's in Animal Science. I just assumed that I was going to go straight into vet school, become a veterinarian, and open my own practice.

Nope. Not today.

I, of course, switched my major to English so I could concentrate my skills in creative writing. I didn't know what I could do as a creative writer and everyone assumed I wanted to be a teacher. During my panic, I took several career assessments and found some similar career paths that appealed to me and now I have a plan. I'm not saying it's full proof but it's a plan nonetheless.

It's nerve-wracking trying to make sure you're on the correct path. So I'm planning to go to grad school and get a masters and then a Ph.D. It's just the process of applying and funding grad school makes me want to curl into a ball, in a corner, on my bed, and under the covers. My mind freezes whenever I have to think about the fact that I, Jacqulea Anderson, will be going to grad school once I graduate. Me. ME! It's mind-blowing because I have a clue as to what I want to pursue relating to my Master's but not for my Doctorate's. Creative writing has a master's program, but to get my Ph.D., I would have to just get it in English if I want to stay that route. Which adds to the stress of planning my life after college.

Everything changes: your mind, tastes, and wants change. They develop the older you get and once you realize you don't want to pursue your dream major, then it's back to the drawing board. While you can change your degree in grad school, it's also a good idea to have a slight clue as to what program you want to apply for.

Along the way, you figure out the adult part of life. Such as taxes, insurance, rent/mortgage, random bills, credit scores, and everything else under the sun because who actually taught us what we needed to know about adult living? You have to figure out where you want to live and if it's convenient enough distance wise from your job or school. There's just so much to factor in once you leave undergrad and you have a support system (hopefully) that will help guide you, but in the end, it's still you. You have to be the one to make the decisions on what you want to do with your life based on the choices you were given. If you can make your own choice then more power to you.

Life is hard. College is hard. Learning to be a functioning adult that has 85% of their life together is a dream I'm just trying to make come true.

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