1) I graduated from a 4 year, BSN program. Knowledge was crammed into my head but clinicals rarely focused on the down and dirty aspects of patient care. I was fortunate enough to have been an aid for 3 of my 4 years. I do believe I was given a solid base to start from but I had a LOT to learn also.
2) Support, and lots of it. Having a kind, patient and supportive preceptor is a priceless gift from your first employer. Having someone to vent to at the end of the day makes a big difference too, coworker or family member.
3) My orientation was the standard 6 wks for the facility I worked at. I was fortunate enough to have a brilliant preceptor who was both kind and stern. I've heard horror stories of new nurses crying their way through orientation, I never shed a tear. The majority of the nurses on the floor were under 25 and so they hadn't lost their sense of compassion for being a new nurse.
4) I love EBP and I promise no sarcasm is implied there. I always want to know WHY we're doing what were doing, following my orientation I subscribed to nursing journals and websites, it's wonderful to find articles that apply to my patients and finally have puzzle pieces fit together.
5) The majority of the nurses I work with now are not BSN grads, I think they're great. They're helpful, knowledgable and fabulous. Often times ADN nurses spend much more time on the floors during school than BSN grads do. The times I notice differences between nurses are the ones who were aids and the ones who weren't.
6) Unofficially I have found myself mentors in the two positions I've held since graduation. They have both been nurses for >20 years and ironically both were ADN nurses. Once you're on a unit for a period of time you'll be able to pick out the nurses who are older and encourage your baby nurse development.
7) In terms of work load I don't feel I experienced a 'reality shock' -- being an aid made a big difference in my transition because you already know you're not above a massive bowel mvmt clean up. I think I experienced my 'reality check' when it came to families and their roles in end of life care decision making.
8) A woman I worked with at my first job was extremely hostile and often, not just towards me but towards the majority of the staff. I did what I had generally always done and just tried my best to ignore her and her bad attitude.
9) I love nursing and would never choose another career, the one thing I find myself doing frequently though is looking to see what else there is for me to try. I'm anxious to get a lot of experience and sitting still is hard but know that staying with a job for a couple of years will be better for me in the long run.
10) I could never imagine myself in another field, I'll be around forever.
11) I've greatly considered Advanced Practice Nursing or CRNP degrees, I'm not entirely sure what I want yet.
12) Take your time learning and soak in everything around you. I recommend critical care areas for new grads, don't freak out about your boards (being relaxed is the most important thing, and don't tell anybody when you take them, it's your business and yours alone...this also takes the stress of everybody asking you away). Really get to know your patients, when bathing them ask them about their lives, family, etc., it makes a big difference and they appreciate that you don't see them as just a patient but also a mom/dad/grandparent.
I wish you the best of luck, nursing is so fun, rewarding and challenging.