1. Realize that you are a life-long learner at the beginning of your journey. Do not expect to know everything BUT utilize your co-workers, your agency, yourself to supplement your knowledge in areas where you perceive your deficits. At the same time, do not submerge yourself in nursing exclusively; develop hobbies and outside interests: "get a life."
2. For a variety of reason, I am no longer a hospital nurse, but was one for 16-17 years of my 21 years in nursing, straddling the hopsital and community health for the last 6 years I was in the hospital. I am still driven by a desire to practice my helping art. As a new grad, I defined the hospital as the ultimate arena in which to do that and I no longer feel that way. In addition, I find that I am passionate about prevention, impacting the lives of teens and young people and some of the concepts of public health. I STILL view nursing as an arena in which I can make a difference one person at a time.
3. To the burned out (of which I have numbered in your ranks): I can only tell you that the return to school was instrumental for me in becoming a happier hospital employee and opening the doorways to where I have gone today. And I was afraid and resentful of the idea of going back to school, but I was fortunate to happen upon a strong BSN program that subtly reshaped my vision of nursing and prepared me to go forward to new endeavors.
The very best of us often become immersed in nursing; doing the extra shifts, attending lots of continuing ed etc, etc and then we find our unit "doesn't love us back." Make sure you have a rich, "outside of work" life.
I continue to worry about hospital based nursing. Shift work and week ends are incredibly isolating. My year and half (a minute portion compared to many) on nights is a blur of constantly being in search of restful sleep. In a Maslowian way, it became the focus of my existence (not even close to self-actualization). That constantly shifting schedule prevents many of us from even trying to join church choirs, clubs, parenting groups, hobby groups etc. Life becomes narrow. Larger communites can and do have activities that cater to shift workers, but it is challenging at best. It would be nice if we saw in health care the shift we've seen in other industries of administrations noting that a happy and stable work force is an incredible asset and could see better consideration of evening and night shift, not just in the shift differential, but in other ways.
MollyJ, RN, MSN Community Health
Substance Abuse Prevention in a high school and middle school (providing primary, secondary and tertiary prevention to students)