This is pretty much how my first year in nursing went. Hopefully it will help those that are dreading the first 365 day journey:
Graduated on 12/16/06 in California. Was hired to ICU two days later. Took a good week off to basically drink coffee, play World of Warcraft, stare at the wall, and pack all my school stuff away (yay!).
Beginning of January I started studying for the NCLEX with a good friend from my graduating class. We lived and breathed the Saunders NCLEX review book (awesome study CD included). I practiced about 300 - 400 questions per day and wrote down all the questions and answers I got wrong. The hospital that hired me put on a free, week-long NCLEX review course with a MD; was an awesome refresher.
Took the NCLEX down in LA on February 24th. Computer shut off at 75 questions in 35 minutes. Found out I passed by checking online two days later.
Worked in ICU from January to May. I won't lie, the "real world" nursing is soooo much different than school. YOU are now the nurse and have to act accordingly. Took my ACLS, went to multiple codes, had very complex patients, and was loving it. However, I was on night shift (7pm to 7am) and was only making $24.75/ hour. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. I was getting burned out by realizing that the hospital I worked at didn't pay very well at all and was frustrated that I wasn't making enough money (for a house, car, etc). I loved the patho and science of where I worked, but I was monitarily depressed.
I was hired by CDCR in May and have never looked back.
Last year at this time I was working as Loss Prevention in a local Target. For the year of 2006 I made just over $7,000...total. As this year comes to a close, I have made almost $109,000 (go-go overtime). It's crazy to think how much can change in one year.
So, to all of the new grads and those that are trekking through your first year: there is light at the end of the tunnel. You will arise from a timid and insecure new employee to a confident and experienced nurse. I can't count how many times I wanted to quit, find a new job, etc. I was frustrated, wondering "why didn't school teach me this?," and wanted to call in sick numerous times. However, looking back, I can say that I have definately gotten my "land legs."
Don't ever give up. The longer you're in nursing, the more you realize just how many different kinds of jobs are available to a licensed RN. If you truely aren't happy with where you are at: MOVE. I love nursing; more than I ever thought I would. If you were smart enough to get through school and the NCLEX, you're definately smart enough to be a competant RN. Never doubt yourself, use every experience as a learning tool, ask thousands of questions, and do your thing.
All of the best to those of you who have stuck it out and I salute all of you who are getting ready to start your own 365 day journey. You'll all do wonderful.
Oh, and remember to unclamp haning IV bags before you turn the pump on. Not that I have done that or anything...