A Little Perspective Goes A long Way

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    My entry on helpful advice to new nurses, and a lesson to seasoned nurses.

    When it comes to my career as a nurse I consider myself lucky. I did not consider myself lucky in the beginning of my career. But hindsight is a beautiful thing, if self—reflection has taught me anything.

    I am not one of those nurses who loved their bachelors’ program and reflect fondly on memories of clinicals, lectures, and professor reviews. Most of these events were traumatizing and left me in tears. My first experience with “nurses eating their young” began in nursing school. I should have counted how many professors told me I would make a terrible nurse. (It is a pleasure to work with my patients today, and the cognisant ones all are very appreciative of our 12 hours together.)

    The summer before my senior year in nursing school, I was accepted into a nursing residency program. It was one of the best decisions I made in nursing school. I learned more working with my preceptor in this program than I did in all my clinicals combined. I had the best preceptor; we are friends to this day. She did not talk behind anyone’s back, she was constructive, she gave me praise, and she let me form my own opinions about nursing and the workplace. She was everything my nursing professors lacked.

    She was such a positive influence on my experience with nursing; I choose to work in her unit upon graduation. She was my preceptor while I oriented to my new role as an RN. Upon the end of my orientation she went on maternity leave with a pending promotion to return as our assistant nurse manager. The veil was lifted from my eyes in her absence. My sign on bonus/contract was for two years in this specific unit-no transferring to another unit. These two years did not pass quickly. I experienced more “nurses eating their young,” generation differences among co-workers, poor scheduling, day and night shifts in the same pay period. I ended up going to a gastroenterologist for stress induced health issues, and seeing a therapist regularly. My friends called less because I only complained about work; my boyfriend developed a “no work talk ever” policy. My negativity seemed to spread through all parts of my life.

    One pay period after my two-year contract ended I began in an ICU at a magnet hospital. The things that people complain about in this new setting pale in comparison to my first job. I am actually enjoying being a nurse for the first time in my career. I am no longer thinking I chose the wrong profession. I am considering going to graduate school in nursing.

    There are many stories of nurses eating their young. But I have read few articles that address solutions to this problem. AACN has the “Bold Voices” commitment, which states the importance of identifying problems and creating change to make the work environment positive. I signed this statement for my new job. The culture in this ICU is phenomenal compared to my first job. It is our responsibility to treat our colleagues equally and respectfully. We cannot decrease the shortage if we cannot keep our new nurses in the field. We must consider the trickle down effect.
    Last edit by joaks on Feb 27, '11
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    About joaks

    I am an ICU nurse at a magnet hospital. I have my BSN, working towards getting my CCRN. I recently have begun to enjoy being a nurse.

    Joined: Aug '08; Posts: 9; Likes: 24
    RN; from US
    Specialty: Surgery/ICU

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  3. by   cpilny
    Nice to hear that there are nurses out there that feel as you do. The best years I spent in nursing, I spent teaching clinical nursing. I would charge all our nurse educator to remember what it is like, and teach your students just how important nursing is. Don't beat them down or belittle them, and always remember "someday, you may be their patient"!
  4. by   learner1108
    So true.
  5. by   fludddwrn
    Nursing is a rewarding field. Looks like you have found a setting that is right for you. The thing you talked about at your first exist everywhere. It is up to people to stop and listen to what they are complaining about and work together and make things bett. I have since learned that the saying that there is always someone worst off than me. So I learn to see the good in everything. Does not mean everything is good but it can be made very simple. No the sun does shine all the time but it does rain all the time either. So God Bless You. And enjoy your career. Mine is 25 years and growing
  6. by   mehitabela
    I am a month and a half from being at my first job as an RN for the required year before I am free to transfer. I have this mantra I repeat to myself when things are especially rough on my unit: I will NEVER be like them! The few times I have had a student follow me, I tried to be everything my supposed mentors were not. Patient. Calm. Willing to explain. Then explain again. I fully get how it can be frustrating to do this when we are busy or having " a day" but I also remember how I looked up to the nurses I followed and how hurt I was when they treated me like a moron because of something I didn't know.