We’re always excited to meet fellow bookworms, so you can imagine how fun it was chatting with Jacqueline Clair, who runs the blog York Avenue, about all things blogging, photography, and of course, books! Not only is Jacqueline a blogger, but she’s also an operating room registered nurse. (Pretty awesome slash career, right?) Jackie decided to pursue nursing after earning her degree in Psychology, and she spends her days caring for patients, managing the equipment off the sterile field, and working under pressure.
When she’s not at the hospital, Jackie is exploring New York City with her camera in tow to snap photos of great places around Manhattan. Lucky for us, she also shares interior design tips and book recommendations. Keep reading to find out what it’s like to be an OR nurse, how Jackie balances her job with blogging, and how she makes time to read.
CJ: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?
JC: I would define seizing your youth as seeking out opportunities and making the most of any opportunities that come your way. I would define it as also enjoying your youth, but at the same time making smart decisions to set yourself up for the future.
CJ: Where did you go to college and what did you major in? How did you decide what to study?
JC: I went for the first two years to SUNY Fredonia and then transferred to Stony Brook University for my last two years, where I finished up my Bachelors in Psychology. Then I went back for an accelerated nursing program and got a second Bachelors in nursing, which is how I became an RN. I decided to study Psychology because I just loved it. I thought all of my classes were so interesting and intriguing.
CJ: How did you decide to earn your nursing degree? How did you go about finding the right nursing school for you?
JC: I decided to earn a nursing degree because I wasn’t quite sure where to go with my Psychology degree. I wanted to do something active, where I wouldn’t be sitting behind a desk, and I was looking for a career where I could learn something new every day and always be doing something different. Nursing certainly fit the bill! I talked to a few nurses and it seemed like a good fit. I also liked that it incorporated Psychology in a way, since you’re dealing a lot with people.
CJ: You are an Operating Room Registered Nurse. What does your role entail, and what do your daily tasks look like?
JC: As an OR nurse, you’re either the Circulating Nurse during a surgical procedure, or the Scrub Nurse. When you’re scrubbed, you work directly with the surgical team, passing instruments, sponges, and sharps. You’re in charge of maintaining the sterile field, and together with the circulator you’re responsible for surgical counts. As a circulator, you interview the patient at the door, and help position them and maintain their safety during the procedure. You’re the one in the room who isn’t sterile, so you’re responsible for managing the equipment off the sterile field and getting anything that is needed during the procedure, like extra sponges and sutures, extra instruments, additional pieces of equipment, etc. You also do the charting, obtain medications needed during surgery, and discharge the patient from the OR to the recovery area.
CJ: What are the top three skills you need to excel as an Operating Room Registered Nurse?
JC: I would say you need to be adaptable, you need to be able to work well in a team setting, and you need to be able to work well under pressure.
CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be an Operating Room Registered Nurse do to set him or herself up for success?
JC: If you’re in nursing school and you think you may be interested in the OR, talk to your teachers and advisors and express that interest. See if they can set you up with any mentors, an OR rotation, or anything else. They may be able to set you up with someone you can talk to about it or interview, to get a sense of what it’s like. They may even be able to secure you a clinical rotation in an OR setting. You could also try volunteering in a hospital and expressing an interest in the OR or the procedure areas. You could also look into volunteering in some kind of outpatient or ambulatory clinic. Your OB rotation is likely to bring you into the labor and delivery area or into the OR for C-sections, so that’s where you really want to focus your efforts if you’re interested in the OR as a career choice.
CJ: You are also the blogger behind York Avenue. How do you balance blogging with your day job?
JC: I work on my blog after work and on the weekends. On weekends I’ll get started on a post or two and edit photos, or I’ll take photos of something I’m baking, something I want to feature on the blog, or places that I visit and am shooting for the blog. During the week, after work, I’ll edit pictures and write posts. Sometimes I use a vacation day to be able to visit a place that I want to photograph for the blog on a weekday, when it won’t be super crowded!
CJ: You have an entire category dedicated to books on your blog. We love that! What are some books that have changed your life?
JC: Well, I’m not sure that any books have changed my life, per say, but I certainly do have a few favorites! Recently I loved The Goldfinch, and some other favorites are The Little Stranger, I am Charlotte Simmons, and The Ruins. They weren’t life-changing, I just loved them.
CJ: What tips do you have for making time to read?
JC: The biggest thing that has freed up time to read for me personally has been giving up television for the most part. I’m not that into TV anyway so it wasn’t very hard, and I’m saving lots of money on cable. I’ll never give up Girls and Game of Thrones though!
CJ: How do you stay healthy and do you have a fitness routine?
JC: Unfortunately I don’t devote as much time to fitness as I should, but I do make it a habit to basically walk everywhere, even in the winter. I actually love walking around the city so it’s not very hard. I basically have been refusing to take cabs as of late, and it’s saving me tons of money and providing me with more opportunities for exercise. I do take the subway though!
CJ: How do you combat really hard days? What do you do to keep yourself positive?
JC: When I have really hard days I usually just think back to other hard days I’ve had, and remember how those were just moments that passed, and so I know the current bad moment will pass. I try to do things I enjoy if I’m feeling down, like go for walks, read, take photographs, or treat myself to a new book or a box of macarons or something. Talking to my Mom and Dad always helps too!
CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? Why?
JC: I get pretty passionate about the food industry. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Animal Vegetable Miracle, and some Michael Pollan articles I became pretty disgusted by all of the questionable and unnecessary additives and chemicals that are pumped into processed foods, even seemingly innocuous ones like bread and cereal. I’m not a particularly healthy eater (anyone who reads my blog knows about my massive sweet tooth), but I try to eat sweets that are handmade and small batch, many of which I’ve written about on my blog.
The places that I write about on my blog are usually the small producers that are making high-quality items by hand, with amazing ingredients, like Stick With Me Sweets and Orwasher’s. If I’m going to treat myself to something, I don’t want it to be full of artificial dyes and other weird things made in a lab. I strive to eat mostly organic when it comes to produce, dairy, and meat, and to eat as little packaged food as possible. It’s not easy because I absolutely have a weakness for cereal, but I just don’t trust the food industry at all. So I’m pretty passionate about the whole issue of GMO labeling, which I absolutely think should be required.
CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?
JC: I’m constantly working on saving, de-cluttering, and paring down. Saving especially is something that I’m really working on. It’s so, so important to have a 6-8 month emergency fund and to start contributing to your 401k the MINUTE you start working. Youth is the biggest advantage you have on your side when it comes to growing a retirement fund – the more time your savings has to grow, the more money you’ll have down the line – and you will need it.
CJ: What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?
JC: Don’t rush things. I thought I needed to have everything figured out and nailed down right when I graduated college, but looking back, that wasn’t the case.