5 must knows when you graduate nursing school

  1. I wrote this to share with an upcoming graduate class and thought I would share it here with you all as well! Good luck as you graduate and start your new career!

    5 things you need to know as you graduate nursing school:

    -You don't know what you don't know- keep learning, keep growing, and never feel too comfortable in any situation.

    This statement cannot be any truer. As you graduate nursing school you feel you have conquered the world. That if you can make it through the grueling adventures of being a nursing student that you can do anything! It's a great feat, and certainly not one that just anybody can do...so pat yourself on the back for that. But the knowledge that you get in nursing school only skims the surface. It gives you a sense of what nursing is all about and the skills necessary for critical thinking but most of what you will learn will be on the job. Be open to that. Don't shy away from new and sometimes scary situations. This is when you will grow. When you are uncertain of something, ask questions. The only stupid question is the one you don't ask. Empower yourself and never stop learning.

    -Nurses can and will eat their young.

    This is true. Being a nurse can be very intimidating and often trying. A new job is stressful in itself but being a new nurse in new and scary situations brings this statement to a whole new level. Nursing units have a set of social rules that aren't written down anywhere and sometimes they are so hard to figure out. Don't give up. If you want it, I mean really want it; you will survive. Find yourself a mentor on the unit, someone you can look up to and trust. Someone you will have your back in any situation. Keep your eyes and ears open. Don't get too comfortable too fast. It takes a long time to develop trust but if you are patient and willing to stick with it, it will come, I promise. Just remember, in 10-20 years from now how you felt as a new grad...and treat your young the same way you wanted to be treated. We need to stick together. Strong relationships make strong teams.

    -Teamwork is an essential for survival.

    It takes immense responsibility and commitment to dedicate yourself to a place that never closes, where fragile lives hang on the line, where you can celebrate life and grasp for it all in the same day. But you cannot do it all alone. Don't try and be a soul hero. It takes a team for things run smoothly and it's essential to have each other's back in every situation. Never shy away from another nurse or co-worker who is overwhelmed with a sick patient. You will be that nurse one day and you would want others to have your back too. It takes courage to conquer fear. Do it early and often in your career and you will grow to be everything you wanted, imagined and dreamed you'd be as a nurse.

    -Take time to be a nurse

    As nurses we get caught up in numbers, statistics, and pathophysiology. We are often so focused on the medical aspects of our job that we overlook the actual experience of being a nurse. The moments that can only be claimed by nurses. Step back and pause for a minute and put these moments into perspective. Take time to focus on the now and be clear and present in your specific task. I promise you there can be peace found in even the most hectic of days, the kind of peace that can't be seen by the naked eye, but felt by the heart. Look for these moments and celebrate them. They exist in every day.

    -Nobody cares how much you know until you show you care.

    You WILL leave an impact that can last for years to come. Decide whether you want this to be negative or positive. It really is a choice. Remember why you wanted to be a nurse to begin with. Ask yourself the question- if everyone I work with interacted with patients and family member the way I did today, would it be a better or worse unit? Answer it, and if it isn't the impression you want to leave then make sure you make an effort to change it. Stay grounded and keep asking yourself this question. Remember being perfect is never the goal, but being aware of your attitude and your interactions is. Never lose site of its importance.

    Being a nurse you have the insight and opportunity to see change in people. But more importantly these same people will change you. Your career will have moments of intense happiness coupled with moments of sorrow, love, and sometimes loss. Celebrate and acknowledge all these moments, learn from them, tuck them away in your heart, and refer to them often. They are what will make you a great nurse.
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    About EarlyAdditionRN

    Joined: May '08; Posts: 20; Likes: 31
    NICU Nurse; from US
    Specialty: 20 year(s) of experience in Neonatal Intensive Care


  3. by   akilah530
    This is such valuable information...thank you so much for sharing
  4. by   HouTx
    I can add . . .

    How to maintain your cool in a crisis

    There's no time to fall apart -- it's all about the patient, not you. Learning to deliberately compose yourself prior to entering the situation is an essential skill that differentiates the professional from the newby. Maintaining your cool will help diffuse the situation and decrease the patient & family's anxiety/tension. As time goes on, you'll undoubtedly discover that this will spill over into your civilian life as well.

    How to go through an entire shift without going to the bathroom

    You'll be surprised how often this occurs. And most of the time, you won't even realize it until afterward - LOL

    Put on a happy face

    We encounter tragedy and sorrow on a regular basis, not to mention sights and smells that are shocking, disgusting and horrifying. Patients watch our faces when we are dealing with their wounds. Our reactions have a huge impact on their self-perception and their overall ability to deal with their disease/condition. As an ICU nurse, I discovered that patients became fearful if I focused too much on the monitors or even had a 'worried face' when I looked at the waveforms. Try to be aware of how the patient/family sees you - you are their primary representation of the healthcare professions that are caring for them.
  5. by   MedChica
    Quote from PeekabooicuRN
    5 things you need to know as you graduate nursing school:
    -You don’t know what you don’t know- keep learning, keep growing, and never feel too comfortable in any situation.
    -Nurses can and will eat their young.
    -Teamwork is an essential for survival.

    It's, like, #TeamNursing on my floor. LOL I work psych so it's necessary, but I don't understand how anyone (let alone, a new grad) could make it in a dept where everyone didn't interact or support each other.
    Four heads are definitely better than one, as I see it. Where I work, we bounce ideas off each other. Everyone pulls from each other's knowledge to brainstorm or back up a course of action.
    I was a little surprised when the more senior nurses asked my opinion about things.
    About meds or whether we should send a pt out or whether I agreed that a particular nursing intervention would be appropriate?

    I sometimes have a hard time trusting my judgement, but no one ever makes fun of me or pushes me towards the 'kiddie table'.

    I've made one med error (non-narc) and I don't know what I was thinking. It was just a day of distraction. I was all over the place. I was rushing and thinking about one pt's O2 levels when I realized that I'd forgotten to take the b/p+ pulse before I gave the -olol to another pt...even though I brought the freakin' cuff in the room!
    Yeah, 'one of those' mistakes. Stupid!
    I didn't even think about it until I went outside to chart. The problem? Her vitals were low to begin with: 80-something/60-something. Pulse was low. I don't even remember what it was. It was between 50 and 60.

    So, I was embarrassed and a little scared to say anything. No one wants to be 'The Dumba--s New Nurse'. But...I went to get a set of vitals, put on a brave face, marched to the nurse's station and was like, "This is what I did. Here are her vitals. She's ok at the moment. No resp difficulty. No strange heart sounds/activity?"

    No one crucified me for it, though. They were remarkably calm.
    "Yeah, that is low. How is she doing....? Ok, you're going to --"
    In the end, I tried to push fluids (water). I gave her a soda. Monitored+took the vitals q15 min for an hour...and I took the vitals so often because I was silently wigging out at that point.
    She was fine. Her vitals held steady.

    It feels good to contribute and to know that these ladies (and some gents) support me.

    Don't get me wrong? They can gossip and talk pooh with the best of them --
    As one senior nurse (now my coworker) told me 2 months back?
    "I usually don't like precepting people. But I'll train you because you don't annoy me."
    Was that a compliment? I'll take it! LOL
    -- but they're good people. They're not the types who'll let you flounder about and sink. They'll back you up.

    I'm not sure that nurse's eat their young. Maybe it's the environment? Nurses don't seem to care for nursing students, though. That seems universal. LOL

    I haven't been at it long, but I have some to add to the list:

    -- For a career in healthcare? A backbone is not optional.
    You need to learn how to stand up for yourself.
    I say this, especially, to those with no healthcare experience. It's not what you think. You flouncing around in scrubs Florence Nightingale, reincarnate?
    No. You're dealing with people at their worst...and their families are usually bonkers.
    These people will try you. I'm talking about pt's, their families (especially...the bulk of which are insane), management, the providers (yes -- I recently ran across a b...tchy NP who's clearly forgotten her roots). Where I work? I was treated well - but I've seen and heard of management shafting the crap out of baby nurses.

    -- An extra uniform set should be kept in your car. Always.

    -- Treat the patient, not the numbers
    I never really understood this saying until I began working as a nurse

    -- 'Pt teaching' occurs on and off the job.
    Studying doesn't end in nursing school.

    I don't know what it is, but everyone from pt's to families to CNAs to family members to perfect strangers (how weird is that?) will track me down and ask random medical/pharmacological questions.
    In addition to wanting to know more to help my pt's? I have to stay on my toes for the public. I don't want to look stupid.

    People hear that you're a nurse and treat you like their personalized WEBMD. LOL
    "Hey, I got a question. I got this boil under my left arm and --" or "What's it called when --" or "I went to the ER with Tasha and we were the first ones there but waited 3 hours to be seen...' pauses to assess my reaction before continuing.
    From one of our fabulous CNAs who overheard me talking about melatonin with a resident, "Melatonin. What's melatonin? Does that knock you out or what, because my doctor prescribed --"
    While assessing a pt's ulcer wounds, a CNA says, "What do you mean by that?" and "What's silver nitrate? What's that do?" So, then I had to explain. Signs of infection. Wound care.
    Ya know?

    This past week, I had to explain to one of my cousin's what a stress test was. She couldn't be seen by the doc because she wouldn't get the test done. BUT... she wouldn't get the test done because because her kids didn't want her to do any 'invasive' procedures.
    How ridiculous.
  6. by   Esme12
    great advice!
  7. by   shamrokks
    Good advice, thanks all for sharing!
  8. by   Pengino
    Thanks so much for posting this. I am starting my first year of RN school in a month, and grateful for the original post as well as the additional posts made.
  9. by   nurseprnRN
    Not to be too picky but you graduate from a program. The program graduates students, but the students graduate from the program. I know you see it a lot lately, but "I graduated school" is incorrect. So perhaps I would add:

    Your communication skills will be critical for your success and your patients' safety.

    Take the time to be sure your written work is clear and accurate. While you may be used to using spellcheck for schoolwork, oddly, not all pens and pencils are equipped with this feature, nor do many computer-based charting systems. Spelling and punctuation really do matter. If others can't get an accurate understanding of your assessments or actions, your patient will be at risk for errors in care. You, yourself, may decrease your chances of advancement without being able to produce a good written piece of communication. Good luck!
  10. by   donk
    Great advice! I'm going to save all of these points to remind myself in the future!
  11. by   lpark000
    Good advice! I'll definitely keep these in mind!
  12. by   Mopples
    Wonderful advice and definitely things I can take into practice. I finish my last placement tomorrow and therefore uni as all my final assignments have been submitted. I will be starting a grad program in two months.
  13. by   BetaFish-1
    Thank you so much for sharing! I will be definitely referencing this in nursing school.