The best thing about nursing--feels like the worst

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    The great thing about nursing is that there are so many opportunities and directions I can go, and I am very thankful for that..but I have no idea which path is for me, yet. I will be graduating in August with my BSN, and plan on going back to school for my masters within the next 5-10 years (but I don't have the experience to tell you what I want my masters in).
    My question is, what is the best thing to do after graduating with a BSN if you aren't quite sure where you want to end up? I have talked to every person I come into contact with and brainstormed:
    -needing ICU experience right off the bat so every option is available to me
    -a nurse residency program (especially to get into ICU) since I feel like I don't know AnYtHIng and feel like I need more education--but then I hear they are just using you as a form of cheap labor here and you are getting the same thing as normal orientation
    -getting a job on a med-surg floor where I work as a NA/PCA now, just to get a good foundation of nursing experience and knowledge before moving on to something else
    -is starting off as a float nurse a good idea for a new grad? If I could manage it, that is. It seems like that would be a good experience and help me to figure out what I like.
    -any other options?
    All in all I just want to be a good nurse. I know making mistakes is a part of learning and being young but I don't to make the wrong decision to start my life and career.

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  2. 2 Comments...

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    Going through a residency program or getting on a med/surg floor is a good option for new grads. I think a graduate nurse program is better for finding your niche. I don't think they are used as cheap labor, but to play devils advocate, the nurses know that of the GN's are on their way out or already have their mind made up for another floor. Stay interested and use that time to ask questions and apply your skills. If you are on a med/surg floor and all you talk about is pediatrics, then they aren't going to invest time. Use the rotations as an extended form of schooling. Learn and find out what you want.

    I don't think floating is the best. I know that some people have started out as a float, but here's my opinion. If you are in one area, you will be able to fine tune your skills, learn time management, and learn to be comfortable in your environment. One of the challenges of a new nurse is learning were everything is and what the protocols are for your unit. It took me weeks to memorize where things are in the stock room. Nurses still stand in the stock room, trying to find the darn temperature probes. If you are floating around, you are going to spend all your time just locating stuff. And, each floor has different protocols. I think you should use that time to apply the knowledge you've learned. Create bonds with your co-workers and get to know your manager. After you are seasoned, then you can float around.

    See if shadowing can help. You should have an idea of what interests you...or what doesn't interest you. Make a list of areas that you do not want to work. Then, make a list of where you might want to go. See if you can shadow someone in an area they you might want to work. I wanted to work in the ER after a spent some time there. Try and pick an area that won't burn you out in 6 months. I think shadowing is great tool. Good luck!
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    I think the best two options for a new nursing graduate would to either A) Do a nurse residency program, or B) Get experience as a nurse on a med-surg unit first for a year (at least). You are exposed to a wide variety of patients on a med-surg unit. You will get wonderful experience. If you jump immediately into a specialty of nursing (i.e. trauma, ICU, ER, etc.) you are really limiting yourself! You need the med-surg experience to really hone in on your assessment skills. It will make you a better nurse in the long run, and a more efficient nurse in a specialty-type field. After that, then you can consider specializing! Just my opinion


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