What Graduate Nurses Need To Know About Nursing

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    My co-workers and I were sitting at the nurse's station the other morning after a rough 12-hour shift. It was the first time we had sat for longer than 10 minutes all night long. We were sleepy, exhausted and a tad irritated.

    As we sat resting our poor feet, the student nurses arrived on the floor. Taking in their crisp white uniforms, we glanced down at our wrinkled scrubs. Noticing their bright, shiny faces, I sneaked a peak at my co-workers. Our hair hung in our faces, mascara streaked under our eyes and on top of that, we could barely put three words together to form a sentence. We were whooped!

    I spoke first.

    "I remember those days."

    My fellow nurses nodded agreeably.

    My charge nurse spoke next.

    "Should we tell them to run now...before it's too late?"

    We all laughed, then instantly sobered.

    I got to thinking....If I were a nursing student again, what would I want to know? What would have made my transition from student to graduate nurse easier? If I were mentoring a student, what would I tell them?

    I would tell them that being a nurse means you have met your goal. You did it! You are now one of us. So jump in, hold on and get ready for the ride of your life.

    As a nurse, you are required to be many things: We are teachers. Doctors do not have time to teach patients what they need to know about their condition. That's where nurses come in. You will learn how to do a little teaching each time you are face to face with your patients. We are counselors. At times, we must help our patients and their families to utilize coping skills. Sometimes all we need to do is listen. Sometimes, we are the enemy. Some patients really do not like to be told what to do. Sometimes they are angry or scared. They will lash out...at you.

    Nurses do not learn everything they need to know in the first day, the first week, the first month. There is a steep learning curve. Give yourself time to adjust to your first job. Don't beat yourself up because you don't think that you are learning fast enough. AND don't let others beat you up either. If someone seems to be giving you a hard time, tell them nicely and with a smile, "I am still learning".

    As a nurse, you will learn to use every resource at your disposal. That means fellow nurses, reference books, the pharmacist, the social worker, and the doctors. After a while, you will learn who enjoys sharing their knowledge, and who doesn't.

    As a nurse, you will be witness to miracles and to mayhem. You will learn to be compassionate, but strong. Sometimes challenges will invigorate you and some will exhaust you. Be cautious when making friends with fellow nurses. Be aware that not everyone is as they seem. If your work environment feels stifling and toxic, it probably is. Staying positive in a toxic environment is extremely difficult. Don't feel bad if you decide to leave for greener pastures.

    As a nurse, you will have good days and bad. You will see people at their best and at their worst. Sometimes it will seem as if you aren't making a difference, but even if you touch one person's life, you have done your job.
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  3. by   ohioln
    Beautiful! I have been a nurse for about 26 yrs and this is true! Love to all of you.
  4. by   MySimplePlan
    This is very timely. Thanks for sharing this with us as we begin to have graduation and new jobs on our minds.
  5. by   rashan1053
    I am a new nurse and thank you a great deal for this article. I have a tendency to be very hard on myself, and this puts things into perspective.
  6. by   AngelFromNepa
    How Beautiful....and Thank You
  7. by   SpookyCat
    Oh my gosh. Thank you. As a student, I could use all the info that I can get about nursing. One thing though.. I know it may have been just a figure of speech but we are not all smiles and cheery. I scared to death every time I step out on that clinical floor. What am I so afraid of? Not patient care really so much. I love people. If I didn't I wouldn't even attempt this profession.

    I am afraid of getting walked on even more than I already am. Not only do I get walked on by most of my instructors, who I swear play so many mind-games with us (my ex-marine dad seems to think so after the stories I've told him). I get it from the staff at the community hospital where we do our clinical, who will deliberately steal your pt's MAR so that you look bad for not being able to admin meds or will walk away while you are mid sentence trying to tell them about your pt's recent change in LOC. Then I also get it from my fellow class mates who are such perfectionists that they will insult you to your face or behind your back if you question your knowledge either to one of them or to the instructor in front them. I don't pretend to know something when I do not. Isn't that dangerous?

    I worked retail for seven years so I have had my fair share of horrible treatment from customers(especially Black Friday). But I have never been belittled and treated to horribly in all of my life. Why do nurses and nursing instructors have to yell at you? Have they ever heard of constructive criticism? Do they secretly enjoy making students cry themselves to sleep every night? I cry now just thinking about it.
    I have never felt so low in all my life and I was on the deans list last semester.

    I'm trying to stay with it and wake up every day with a clean slate. However I'm not so sure I want this, if this is all nursing is all about. How am I supposed to learn with all of this 2-faced Cattiness? Why are these nurses and instructors like this to students/me?

    I'm sorry for going off topic like this but I did not realize how much I really had to say. I'll probably post this on another more related thread. Did anyone else feel like this as a student? Either way what did or would you do???? Please help!
  8. by   cota2k
    this is excellent reflection and advice at the same time. not only does this apply to new grads but, to those who have been at it for any length of time. i feel there is always more to learn and greener pastures. if your environment is not fostering your qualities then move on. don't get stagnant or we risk loosing another nurse. bravo!
  9. by   StudentOzGirl
    Wow, thanks for these simple truths. They'll make a difference to me when I graduate.
  10. by   suitebliss
    Being a student, this was just what I needed. Thank you....:heartbeat
  11. by   2KevsnHayley
    Today I was so discouraged after my final this was such an encouraging thing to read thank you so much!
  12. by   cj169
    Very good article. Thank you so much for that helpful information as I will be needing it come August when I graduate! No wonder the nurses don't always have much to say to us, they're EXHAUSTED!
  13. by   cj169
    Yes, Spookycat. It's almost like you are trying to make it through some kind of initiation or something. Let's see what they're made of!!
  14. by   Bugaloo
    Hey you all! I found a great article on Monster.com about being a stand out nursing student. Check it out. By the way, thanks for all the nice remarks. Bugaloo