In this conversation, The Nurses and I discuss how they came up with the idea for the “Caffeinated Nurses” instagram account and how that grew into what it is today. We also discuss what their plans are after nursing school and how they have been, and will continue to encourage, inspire, and guide people in nursing programs around the world.

Intro:  Bringing you conversations with leaders within the operating room and healthcare community. This is Scrubbing In.

Todd Schlosser: Hello and welcome to this episode of Scrubbing In, a podcast powered by Specialty Care. I’m Todd Schlosser, and today my guests are the Caffeinated Nurses, nursing students at University of Fraser Valley. In this conversation, the nurses and I discuss how they came up with the idea for the Caffeinated Nurses Instagram account and how that grew into what it is today.

 We also discuss what their plans are after nursing school and how they have been, and will continue, to encourage, inspire, and guide people in nursing programs around the world. Enjoy the conversation.

 Thank you so much for joining us here on this episode of Scrubbing In. Joining me this week is Caffeinated Nurses, and I should say, it’s really Delanie, Leia, and Sydney from Caffeinated Nurses, and they run an Instagram account and blog of the same name.

 I like to start off all the podcasts by asking this question, and because there are three of you, we should go through and get all three responses. Delanie, since I have your name first, do you mind if we start with you? What is it that drove you guys into healthcare? And if you want to start Delanie, we’ll start with you and then move through Leia and Sydney as well.

Delanie: Sure thing. My grandmother used to be a psychiatric nurse, and I actually didn’t know that until my last couple years of high school. I really had no idea what I wanted to do and I was intrigued a little bit by nursing as a specialty. My high school had a program where you go and you job shadow nurses in different units, so I was like, “Oh that sounds kind of interesting.” And I signed up and I ended up getting chosen.

I kind of went through and I thought I wanted to be a psychiatric nurse and I did my psychiatric rotation and was like, “Maybe not so much for me.” But I ended up going in the ICU as well and I loved it. I loved the aspect of caring for people and how much of a difference a good nurse can make in someone’s day and the teamwork of everybody working together. I’m very a very team-working person I would say.

Todd Schlosser: Excellent. So your grandmother was in it and that sort of drove you to an interest and you mentored with people when you were in high school and that’s what got you into it?

Delanie: Yeah exactly.

Todd Schlosser: It sounds like the mentorship drove you out of psychiatric nursing though.

Delanie: Yeah I’m not as assertive I guess. I’m working on it.

Todd Schlosser: Absolutely. So Leia, let’s move to you. What was it that got you interested in getting into healthcare?

Leia: My story’s very similar to Delanie’s actually. I needed 30 hours of volunteer experience to graduate high school so I had a few options and a couple of the options were in healthcare. So I actually ended up volunteering at a senior’s care facility, [crosstalk 00:03:03] facility, and most of the seniors there either had Alzheimer’s or a disability so they provided around the clock care for them. I volunteered there for the 30 hours and I actually ended up staying for 3 years because I loved it so much. I did it after I graduated as well. I took a year off after I graduated, and throughout my volunteering there, that’s when I realized that I really wanted to go into nursing. I loved working with the residents, I loved the one-on-one aspect of care. So that is where I started.

Todd Schlosser:  Awesome. So was it a predominantly elder care or was it completely elder care facility?

Leia:  It was completely, so it was usually over the age of 65.

Todd Schlosser: Oh wow okay. And you stayed there for 3 years in a volunteer capacity or did you move into–

Leia: I did.

Todd Schlosser: Wow. That’s incredibly giving and charitable of you to work for free for 3 years because you enjoyed it so much. That’s awesome though, that’s very very impressive.

So Sydney what was it that got you into healthcare?

Sydney: So my story’s a little bit different than Delanie and Leia’s. I never had any family members that were in healthcare and I didn’t do any work with older adults until after high school but I had always been, as a child, drawn to helping other people and helping my classmates. I’ve always been wanting to care for other people and the nursing profession was always in front of me and I always had that in the forefront of my brain from a young age. And going through high school I did the same program as Delanie where I job shadowed in the hospital and it just solidified my desire to go into nursing and it’s just stuck ever since and now I’m halfway through my degree and we’re on our way.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah absolutely. I remember when we were corresponding back and forth setting this interview up that you guys were like, “Hey, we can do it in a month. We have finals coming up so we need to focus on that.” Which, believe me, I’ve been there myself. Probably many many years before you guys got to it but yeah, I’ve been there myself. So I completely understood that.

 So okay, you guy’s graduate, you volunteer, you’ve always been compassionate so you’ve always wanted to be a nurse or you had that grandmother connection that got you into a desire to be in nursing in general, not psychiatric nursing specifically. So you guys came together at school, I’d imagine? At the collegiate level?

Delanie: Yeah so we never knew each other before staring out nursing program. We met on basically the first day of our first semester and we became friends.

Todd Schlosser: So you guys are all at the same school? Would you mind sharing what the school is that you’re at?

Leia: Absolutely, we’d love to. So we go to the University of the Fraser Valley. We’re located in Chilliwack, BC, which is just outside of Vancouver. So there’s eight semesters, so it’s four years in total, and we’re halfway right now.

Todd Schlosser: Awesome. So you meet on day one, and you can’t have come up with the idea for Caffeinated Nurses on day one, so how did that come up? How did you decide to start this process of reaching out to social media with what you’re learning and also the trials of going through nursing school? Because it’s not easy.

Delanie: We came up with the idea after… Was it year one or semester one?

Leia: Semester one.

Sydney: So it was a year ago.

Delanie: Yeah so we started in January. So we had the summer off after the first semester and we were hanging out a little bit and we like, “How cool would it if we started a page that we could post our experiences and look back four years from now, let’s say, and be like “Oh wow that’s where we started and look how far we’ve come.”” And then it kind of grew from there and it became something like we would never imagine and now we’re more so focused on having a platform for people to reach out and have a conversation with or share their experiences and we wanted to inspire other nursing students and nurses as well and share what we’re learning and bounce ideas off of everybody. It’s a big community. We didn’t even realize but we’re really excited to be a part of it.

Todd Schlosser: Awesome. Well I wanted to ask you a few questions about that but before we do, how did you come up with the name Caffeinated Nurses or was it just what you were and then were becoming? [00:07:32]

Leia: We actually went through a few names. I don’t remember what they were. We weren’t sure what we wanted to do because we didn’t want something so long and funny enough we ended up with a really long name. We wanted something that people would remember that was easy to say. We were going to go with our names but nothing matched up, and then we all had a common ground. We all really love coffee. Coffee is a staple for nursing school. I don’t know someone who could go through it without it to be honest with you. So we connected over that, and during our first semester we went for coffee a lot together just to de-stress throughout school. So we based it off of that, and that’s how we came up with Caffeinated Nurses.

Todd Schlosser: Excellent. So what started as a photo album of your time in school grew into a social media community. So you started it a year ago, or a little over a year ago. I guess January would be a year, so a little over a year ago. When did you start to see it actually developed a following for lack of a better term? How long did that take?

Sydney: I would say we grew a larger following probably in September-ish. We started picking up in our school and we had more to share in our followers and we started reaching out to more people that were online, similar accounts as us, and we gained the support of our classmates and people in our school, and even a smaller community of social media within our school that we relate to and they help us. We really picked up from there and we just kept with it.

Todd Schlosser: Awesome. Did the Instagram account come first, and then the blog grew out of that?

Delanie: We started with the Instagram, and with Instagram you’re limited to how long of captions you could post, which is probably good.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah, they can be very long, but I did notice that you guys use that as a platform to give messages of hope, but inspiring people to stick with it or continue going through nursing school or things like that. Or that things get tough sometimes but you can get through it.

Sydney: Yeah exactly. We wanted to make some longer posts about educational stuff, like what we’re learning in lab and stuff like that. And we have so much to say about that kind of stuff so we need somewhere we could post longer posts and if people want to read it then they can go to the blog and they’re not forced to scroll through that forever. So that’s kind of why we decided to make the blog, for longer posts like that.

Todd Schlosser: Awesome. So I’d imagine that when you started, for lack of a better term, digital networking with other people who are in the same space as you, did you search out other Instagram accounts that did similar things to you? Because I don’t really see a lot of people in the space that you are in on Instagram. There are other accounts. There’s honestly another Caffeinated Nurses account but it has two posts on it. I’m sure you guys have seen that.

Sydney: We wanted their username.

Todd Schlosser: And to be clear, you guys are Caffeinated dot Nurses. In case people want to follow you guys, and should follow you guys. I reach out to doctors all the time to have them on the podcast. And someone of them have Instagram pages or some of them used to and they’re just not up to date anymore. Were you guys running into that sort of thing where you saw someone post four years ago but haven’t really posted anything since then or what was it like to try and find other people to connect with online?

Leia:  We actually started connecting with people just as far as actually how to run the Instagram efficiently. We weren’t really sure what to post, when to post, how to post, so we connected with other nursing pages, which we actually just put in “nursing” in the search bar, and found other accounts. We connected with them, who are quite active actually and continue to be active with us today, and they guided us in the right direction as to how to run the account, how to gain followers, and meet people, and be productive. And then we started creating friends through Instagram actually who we continue to be friends with today, other accounts. We lean on each other, but a lot of the accounts we connect with are active today. We did find a few people who never responded because the account was so outdated, but a lot of the people we connected with today are quite active.

Todd Schlosser: So you plan on doing this for your entire time in nursing school. That’s how it started right? As a photo album for you guys in nursing school. Was there a shift in that? Did you guys plan on turning this into a social media platform for the three of you or did that happen more naturally and that’s when you guys started to reach out?

Sydney: I think it happened pretty naturally. Our initial motivation was to document our journey through nursing school, but pretty quickly we all discovered that we wanted to share our story with others and help as many people as possible and be a part of that nursing community that’s so prevalent online.

Todd Schlosser:  Sure. Do you guys all handle writing the blog posts or coming up with the messages for each post? Or do you segment that into like, Delanie has a certain responsibility for Caffeinated Nurses and Leia has her own and Sydney has her own?

Sydney:  I would say that we all share pretty equal responsibilities. However, Delanie is very excellent at writing a blog post. She is the best at it, so we let her take the reins but we do obviously give our own input and we help [inaudible 00:13:23] as much as we can. But I would for the responsibilities of taking photos and writing captions and the actually posting of photos is pretty spread out between the three of us.

Todd Schlosser:  I did have a question because a lot of your photos have all three of you in them. Well, not every one of them, but almost all of them have all three of you in them. So is there a silent fourth member of Caffeinated Nurses that is just your photographer?

Leia: We usually have people in our class who take the photos for us because actually one of our main goals is to have all three of us in the photos just because we want everybody to see all three of us because we are Caffeinated Nurses. So a lot of our classmates help us take the photos. We have a few that have some good photo skills, so we usually rely on the help of our classmates. Every now and then when we’re out and about we will just ask strangers.

Todd Schlosser: Have you guys talked about what happens in two years at the end of nursing school?

Delanie: Yeah, kind of. I don’t want to speak for you guys, but Leia and I have similar interests as far as what unit we want to work on and stuff like that. We want to work in the ICU and then Syd wants maybe work in the NICU or in peds, like pediatrics. We won’t be seeing each other everyday once we graduated, so we all do share the password for the Instagram and we do have a group chat on text. So we don’t see each other every day during the summer, we try and talk a few times a week, if not every day. So hopefully we’ll be able to connect over coffee once we graduate and still run Instagram from a distance from each other. But we are good friends, so we do hang out as friends would so that’s our plan.

Todd Schlosser: I don’t know what your plans are as far as moving to maybe a different city after you guys graduate but it’s not something that couldn’t be done, all three of you living and working in different cities. If you’re all communicating and sharing where you want the messages to be, that could easily be done in all different cities. But it sounds like you guys already have a system in place for that now because you’re not always around each other. You mentioned in the summer and stuff, and you guys still post during the summer months.

Graduation, because it’s two years away it may seem like a very very long time away for you guys, but I understand you did a lot of physical nursing this semester. So what was the hardest part of the nursing school classes and clinical?

Leia: So as far as class, I can speak to that. I found, and we all agree on common ground, that balancing school life and outside of school life is probably the hardest part. We found it was extremely difficult this semester just to keep up with the amount of content that there is to be learned for surgical nursing, because there’s so many different surgeries, so many different things can go wrong, there’s so many things to watch out for, so we really found the hardest part about class was keeping up with all of the work and trying to also keep a life outside of school.

Todd Schlosser:  It’s like that work-life balance you’ll have to deal with after you graduate.

 So are any of you planning on post-graduation, continuing your education in any other specialized healthcare fields?

Sydney: I think so far all of us plan to. Definitely our focus is to get through the four years and becoming certified, but I think we all do plan to become specialized in some area of nursing.

Todd Schlosser: Have you guys given any thought as to what that might be?

Sydney: Yeah. Currently I’ve been thinking of pursuing a career in the neonatal ICU. Initially when I graduate, I’d like to work in maternity or peds, but I think eventually I’d like to specialize in the NICU.

Leia: Me and Delanie we share the same goal, so we’re both interested in emergency and ICU. We love the fast-paced environment and all of the different relationships and patients we can see. So both of our goals are very similar. We want to do bedside nursing after we graduate, hopefully in either ICU, intensive care, or emergency.

Todd Schlosser: To kind of circle back around to the Instagram aspect of this: How do you think social media impacts healthcare? Do you guys feel like you’re making a change in people at least seeking out nursing school?

Sydney: I think so. I think we give a positive spin on what is known to be a very stressful program and degree. So I think we at least try to inspire other people to look at nursing and see it’s not as terrible and as hard as it can be. We like to put a positive light into the social media universe and I think we try to do that.

Delanie: And to add onto that, we get a lot of people, multiple times a day, are asking, “I’m really interested in nursing but I’m really scared,” or “I don’t know how to go about applying or what to do after,” and it’s kind of like a big conversation like we said before. We really want to inspire people and tell them it’s not that bad or give them some tips like, “Oh try this on your application.” That kind of thing.

Todd Schlosser:  So the messages that you receive on Instagram, are they mainly focused around questions people have about, “Hey how to I get into nursing school?” Or “What is it really like in nursing school?”

Leia: Yeah, a lot of our followers are actually aspiring nursing students or current nursing students. So a lot of our questions are related to, “How do I get into nursing school? What’s the best tips to put on my application? What are you best interview tips?” Or, as far as current nursing students, “How did you guys ace this class? How do I excel in clinical? How do I do this?” We find that a lot of our questions are related to how to get into nursing school and how to excel once you’re in.

Todd Schlosser: Is it strange, because you guys are nursing school students yourself? You are in it right now currently. So is it strange to have people reaching out to you and addressing you like you’re an authority on nursing school when you are currently in nursing school?

Delanie: It’s a little stressful. I think a lot of nurses are seen as role models in the community anyway and we’re learning how to filter that role, and this actually helps a lot in terms of what people want to hear, stuff like that. It is a little stressful though.

Todd Schlosser:  Especially for someone who doesn’t seem themselves as super assertive I could see how that could be very daunting.

So Delanie, Leia, and Sydney, thank you so much for joining us here on Scrubbing In. If you guys wanna follow the Caffeinated Nurses on Instagram, it’s Caffeinated dot Nurses on Instagram and of course you can link directly to their blog from there if you want to catch up on previous posts. But guys thank you so much for joining us today and giving us so much of your time.

Thanks for listening to Scrubbing In. Please take second to give us a rating on your podcast app and subscribe so you won’t miss out on what we have coming up. See you next time.