To The New Nurse
Life is exciting and full of opportunities! You have just accomplished probably the most difficult thing in your life, nursing school. And believe me, it is hard. Plus, you just passed the NCLEX which is amazing… no more studying!
You think you know what to expect with all your hands- on experience (clinicals), and you kinda do… but not really. We never really know.
I have been a nurse for 10 years. I have struggled through some days. Days when I have failed to make those meaningful connections. Days when I just went meaninglessly through the tasks. Days when I have been so stressed out, I just wanted to scream. But then there were days I was able to develop real relationships. Days when I prayed with patients and families. Days when all the tasks made sense, when I saw the whole picture. Days when I ate lunch before 2 and got out on time. And through all these days, I kept learning…
So what would I tell you, new nurse?
1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Be prepared to look stupid. Looking stupid is better than providing unsafe patient care. Your patients are more important than your ego.
2. Look up unfamiliar diagnoses and medications
Always. If you understand what’s going on, you will know not to hold that beta blocker for a BP of 105/60…
3. Write out a loose plan for your day (including lunch) immediately after reports
Be prepared for your plan to go haywire, but “if you fail to plan, you will plan to fail.”
4. Know your patients’ plan and history before you start patient care
Before I start patient care, I always read the H&P and most recent progress notes. After doctors come and visit, I look at their new documentation. Sometimes, I stay in the room with them when they are talking to the patient. This helps you see the big picture,but it also helps you as you talk to the patient when the doctor isn’t there. Often times, patients don’t know what the doctor is saying and just say “okay.” Then they turn to you and ask you all the details. You must know the details to share that with them. And if you don’t know, do not guess. Call the doctor to clarify.
5. Work on small talk with your coworkers (this includes the housekeeper, security, transporter, etc.), doctors, and patients
You will be spending 12+ hours in this place. Get to know who you are working with. “Teamwork makes the dream work”… or at least it’s super helpful for a Code Brown…
6. Buy good shoes and replace them as needed
Your feet, your back, your legs… they will all thank you. Find what works for you and run with it.
7. Volunteer to try new things
Again, don’t let your ego get in the way… learn new things. Often times, you will be surprised at how well you do… which is a total confidence booster! And if not, now you know what to expect.
8. Don’t give up after a year
It’s hard. I know that. You feel like you are just running around like a chicken with your head cut off. That first year is the worst. You don’t really know anyone. Everyone is so busy, they can’t help you, and you feel that you are just fudging it. Things will get better.
9. A bad day doesn’t mean you can’t do this job
We have all had horrible days. Days that we could blame on ourselves. We think that nursing isn’t meant for me. Don’t give up. No matter how long you have been a nurse, you will have random terrible days, but you will survive.
10. It will get better
You can do this. You have the training. You will learn. And before you know it, you will be teaching new nurses yourselves!
Congratulations on becoming a nurse! The best is yet to come!
Until Next Time,