Oh, I can think of a million things that I wish I'd known when I was a brand-new RN........like:
1) Whatever you do, don't, I repeat, DON'T freak out! Panic never solves anything, and indeed may make it worse. Even if your confused elderly patient just yanked out his triple lumen and is wandering around the floor bleeding.......or if you realize you've just discharged a patient without a doctor's order........or if your 30-something patient codes during an iron-dextran infusion......at least pretend
to keep your cool. You can fall apart when the crisis is over.
2) All bleeding/vomiting/diarrhea/coughing stops....eventually.
3) Learn to prioritize. No matter how insistent a patient is about having her pillow fluffed RIGHT NOW, your post-op's pain meds are much more important. Also, watch the experienced nurses and to see how they prioritize tasks of equal
importance.......that happens more often than not.
4) The best way to encourage some patients to get up and pee is to wave a catheter under their nose and tell them: "If you don't 'go' within the next hour, I'm going to have to put this in".
5) Documentation: No matter how ingenious your interventions, if you didn't chart it.......you didn't do it. Give yourself credit for your hard work!
6) It's OK to cry.
7) It's OK to laugh.......A lot of what we deal with every day is just plain funny!
8) It's even OK to get mad.....people do some incredibly stupid/dangerous/foolish things, and you'd hardly be human if it didn't piss you off sometimes. (You cannot, however, tell the patient they are stupid/dangerous/foolish.)
9) You will have good days and bad days.......unfortunately, the bad days are the ones that always seem to come in groups.
10) IV starts: The more you do, the quicker you'll get good at it.
11) Be flexible. This prevents you from getting bent out of shape.
12) Above all: Med/surg nursing is the toughest job you'll ever love, and if you don't love it, leave it! There are already too many nurses in this field who are doing it only because they need the money, or because they're just marking time until they can retire, or because it's all they know and they're too tired and burned-out to learn another area of nursing. Our patients deserve the best care possible; only those who truly enjoy med/surg nursing are able to give it.