I grew up trusting others and understood the importance of caring for others, along with myself. I went to a nursing program
that focused on Jean Watson and her 10 Carative Factors and considered the program and instructors holistic in their teaching. After graduating, and getting my R.N. license, I started working on cardiac step down unit. Bad idea!
Most of the midnight staff (where I started) modeled the type of nurse I wanted to be, but you can't make everyone happy...after proving myself (within a year) I was moved to days. This was like starting a completely new job, dealing with more doctors, NP, families, other departments (OR, Radiology, etc) and the patients all had a very high acuity compared to the issues of midnights (mostly respiratory). I was exhausted each day I left after my 12 hour shift.
That one nurse who I could never please made it her mission to get me off the floor. When it eventually happened, (I actually took a leave of absence to find a "better fit") I didn't even fight it, because I had spent the entire year trying to prove to my peers and myself that I was good enough to say I was an R.N. My manager was kind to me, said I was a good nurse, even gave me a wonderful reference, etc. but it just wasn't a good fit. I was relieved to be off that floor. All experiences are good, in my opinion, because we learn better from hardship than from the easy road.
I found a job within the same hospital on the mental health unit. I loved psych in nursing school and from the moment I stepped on that unit, I knew it was for me. My year on the cardiac floor gave me ample time to learn basic nursing skills, start understanding the nursing process, and learn the realities of nursing.
It is very obvious to me why many nurses leave their jobs within the first year. My main reason was my peers were different nurses than me. They were more technical, where I am more empathetic and compassionate. They other nurses would make fun of me for picking up the slack and helping my team (cleaning my patient's rooms, helping with bed baths, answering call lights, emptying garbages, even spending more than ten minutes TEACHING MY PATIENTS). It takes a team to provide patient care. They weren't modeling the type of nurse I want to be and it almost seemed like they were trying to break me.
This resulted in me thinking I was a weak nurse, but now know that I am stronger in many areas than they will ever be. You can always learn technical skills but compassion is hard to acquire for many. So now, I lead by example. My oath is to try my best to treat each patient with dignity and how I would want my family member treated. I can't even tell you the last time I had a bad day because patient care is so satisfying to me. Even if I don't feel like getting up that day, the second I walk into a room, I put on that smile. My secret is I never fake it. Ever!
What I bring to my new floor is a fresh viewpoint and skills that the older psych nurses don't have. I understand medical-surgical issues. I WAS the IV team on my old floor. I understand all those "medical" meds they take. And I can thoroughly assess my patient and provide proper interventions, where others may want to call a code immediately. My VERY experienced peers respect me and what I have to offer my team.
Each day, I leave my floor satisfied with my contribution to the team and the care I provide my patients. My old manager was right, it wasn't a good fit. But what I learned from it all is this. It was never MY problem, or an issue I had....it was theirs. And they only took it out on me because I let them.
The moral to my story is this. Please, remember who you ARE and who you want to be. Always practice as if you are being watched by others, because you are. Find a role model OUTSIDE of your hospital. The first year is hard, especially if you don't have anyone you trust to talk to. And never ever forget, it does get better.
Keep your chin up! Nursing is a profession but professionalism is not learned overnight. It's a skill that takes some time to learn. It took me a year...
Apr 15, '10
"What I bring to my new floor is a fresh viewpoint and skills that the older psych nurses don't have. I understand medical-surgical issues. I WAS the IV team on my old floor. I understand all those "medical" meds they take. And I can thoroughly assess my patient and provide proper interventions, where others may want to call a code immediately."
I hear your joy at having found your niche and feeling your contributions are appreciated. I'm sure your co-workers would like for theirs to be also, even if their viewpoints aren't as 'fresh' as you believe yours to be.
Last edit by whodatnurse on Apr 15, '10
: Reason: left word out
I went into mental health directly out of nursing school, and I found myself in a charge position on an adult/CD unit. My unit was new. I literally opened it, taking in the first admission we ever received. The attitude around the hospital evolved as the unit was open for a while. At first, ancillary personnel were afraid to come on the unit because they might be attacked. Then, the perception was that we weren't "real" nurses. One comment from an ICU nurse on the elevator was that "you don't even wear uniforms." I said "I suppose I will have to tell the DON that she isn't a real nurse either." That pretty much ended that conversation.
Because of this attitude around the hospital, some staff began to get discouraged. I told them that we save lives all the time, we just don't always know it. While we don't get the immediate feedback you sometimes get from a life-saving medical procedure, something that we say or do can make a world of difference to a struggling patient who is having trouble coping or finding answers. It may make the patient think before acting in a self-destructive way. I also told the staff that in psychiatry you have to give of yourself. You can't hide behind medical procedures and never have a meaningful interaction with your patients. You put yourself on the line every day.
The turning point for us in terms of respect came out of the blue. I heard the code for a psychiatric emergency paged overhead, but the location was our telemetry unit. The charge nurse from our companion gero-psych unit and I responded to the call. We arrived on the floor to find the charge nurse from the tele unit in a virtual fist fight with a patient who looked to be 75-80 years of age. I said to the gero CN, "We had better take this over." We approached the woman and talked to her to find out what the problem was. She had fallen asleep, and when she awakened she was convinced that someone had taken her to another hospital. Through conversation and demonstration we managed to show her that she was in fact exactly where she was when she fell asleep. She got into her bed and went to sleep. The staff on the floor were amazed. The exit conversation went something like this:
Staff: Where is the patient?
Us: She's in her bed.
Staff: What kind of restraints did you use?
Us: She doesn't have any.
Staff: What did you give her?
Us: There was no need for chemical restraint. She just needed an explanation and a little of our time.
From that point on, units began calling on us when they had issues with patient behavior, restraints and psychiatric medications. All the comments about us not being "real" nurses stopped. We finally became a full-fledged, respected part of the hospital.
Best of luck to you in your new specialty. You seem to have the right makeup to be successful at it.
Last edit by Orca on Apr 23, '10