I decided to start my career on a Medical-Surgical unit. Looking for advice

  1. I decided for several reasons to start my career on a Medical-Surgical unit. I will be doing 12 hour shifts on the 7pm-7am shift. The pros definitely outweighted the cons for reasons why I should start on a Med-Surg unit. I feel so confident with the decision I have made and feel it is a wonderful choice for me as I sort through decisions of where EXACTLY I want to end up rather then where I think I want to end up. I also feel Med-Surg will definitely help me with my long-term goals that I have more than any other area out there. I am thinking of becoming a Family nurse practitioner. Plus my instructors told me a strong Med-surg background would strongly help with my career goals.

    Anyway, what kind of advice would you give for a new grad starting on a Medical-Surgical unit?

    Thank you
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   Disablednurse
    Good luck, that is a good area to start out as you will see a wide variety of ailments. You will get a small taste of surgery and other things. Is the hospital a large one or a small hospital. According to the size of the hospital will also depend on what you will be able to experience and do.
  4. by   Teshiee
    You pretty much answered your own advice! I think it is benefical when you are learning Med surg is the foundation of all nursing areas and what way to start. Some may disagree but you ultimately have to do what works for your career.
  5. by   RN-PA
    Originally posted by peaceful2100

    Anyway, what kind of advice would you give for a new grad starting on a Medical-Surgical unit?

    Thank you
    I've worked Med/Surg for 9 years now and my first thought for advice is to get a good and long orientation. My orientations were lousy and I didn't know any better at the time, but as I've seen new grads with their preceptors over the years, I'm convinced my early years in Med/Surg would've gone a little better with decent preceptors and better orientations. Please speak up if you aren't comfortable with or aren't learning enough from a preceptor. However, you can learn from a variety of preceptors, too-- Some will demonstrate for you what NOT to do as a nurse And you will observe a variety of styles and organizational methods as you are oriented and work with different nurses. Try some out and see which work best for you.

    Keep a notebook with you and jot down meds, diseases or procedures that you need to know more about and you can look them up in your nursing textbooks when you get home.

    Ask questions and if you can find a mentor or someone helpful to new grads, latch on to them. You will quickly find out who you can ask questions of and who to stay away from. A mentor can help direct you with navigating the various personalities on a unit, too. (I'm available for questions or encouragement so feel free to pm me anytime!)

    As I think of more suggestions, I'll add them-- Best of luck to you!
  6. by   peaceful2100
    Thanks everyone!!

    DisabledNurse the hospital is a fairly nice size hospital. It has close to 600 beds total at this particular hospital system.
  7. by   Brita01
    Make sure you get a great pair of walking shoes. The Dr. Scholl's with the gel insoles make you feel like your walking on air. Believe me, it's much easier to face a busy 12 hour shift if you're not starting out with sore feet.
  8. by   majrn
    Congrats, you made a good choice, I agree with RN-PA she said it well. I have worked Med-Surg 15 years. You can go anywhere and deal with anything with a good med-surg base. You learn alot as Disabled nurse says. Keep your med-surg text and nursing assessment text if you have it for excellent references after you begin your job. Good luck.
  9. by   Sleepyeyes
    Agree with the above, but you also might want to consider a Palm Pilot. Wait a little while before you buy, so you'll know which programs will be most helpful to you.

    In addition:

    I use a clipboard that can hold things like an extra pen or a couple of alcohol swabs. On the front of that, I have the phone numbers for the Lab, the Supervisor, the Respiratory Therapist, and the blood bank.
  10. by   RN-PA
    Originally posted by Sleepyeyes

    In addition:

    I use a clipboard that can hold things like an extra pen or a couple of alcohol swabs. On the front of that, I have the phone numbers for the Lab, the Supervisor, the Respiratory Therapist, and the blood bank.
    Only in the last year did I make a list of frequently used phone extensions on my clipboard and I wish I'd done it a long time ago! I have around 2 dozen that I use most often and it's so nice to not have to run and find a directory when I need to make a call. Below the phone numbers, I have a few common labs and what's included in them: Chem 7, CBC, Chem Complete, Renal panel, Liver Chem profile, to name a few. Also, I kept a card in my pocket with the hospital's times routinely used for meds. For instance, our q8h times are usually 0800, 1600, and 0000; BID is 0800 & 1800, etc.

    You might want to buy a handbook for quick reference that you can check during a break at work or as a handy reference at home. I've used "The Nurse's Survival Guide" put out by Skidmore-Roth publishing (authors: Brenda Goodner and Linda Skidmore-Roth) and "Nurse's Problem Solver" published by Springhouse Corporation.
  11. by   Sleepyeyes
    Oh, and feel free to PM me about any other questions you might have. The first year's the hardest, but once you get into this, it's one of the most challenging and awesome areas you can be!
  12. by   VivaLasViejas
    Ditto to all of the above. And whatever else you may learn during your time in Med/Surg, always remember this: panicking NEVER makes anything better, especially when your patient steps on his chest tube and yanks it out!
  13. by   altomga
    I agree with everyone here.
    The only other advice I have for you....don't let another grumpy, rude nurse (okay guys you know they are out there..some are famous for eating the young get in your way of learning and expanding your knowledge base. When you are new your're out to save the world and we love that type of excitement in a new grad. Ask Questions...lots of them. Most of us would tell you it is those that DON'T ask that "scare"us. If one nurse won't answer you, go ask another. Ask doctors to. For all their faults (LOL) they are excellent resources. I have learned a lot from just listening to them discuss a pt's case. I take that and incorporate it into my work, Critical thinking, and memory. (whatever is left with that
    Anyway, just like you said...NO ONE OR NOTHING IS GOING TO STAND IN YOUR WAY.....SO MOVE!!
    walk around the obstacles and never let anyone tell you "that's a stupid question, or you should already know that"
    We all have brain "farts" every now and then

    GOOD LUCK and CONGRATS!!!
  14. by   surgorthonurse
    Take all the responses and roll them into a big ball. Excellent pieces of advice.
    When I started working on Med/Surg i was given a few pieces of advice. They are as follows:
    1. treat everyone with the respect you want. All are important from the housekeepers to the Big Kahuna.
    2. Everyone is human.
    and the best tidbit
    3. If you want to work med/surg grow big balls because surgeons have an larger than life ego.

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