Are you satisfied with your first RN Job?

  1. Hi All,

    Just wondering if everyone is satisfied with the position they chose. I was really happy to get my first choice of hospitals, but after only a month there, I'm considering looking into other hospitals in the area. I was told in my interview that New Grads are started off slowly (to get the feel for the floor, how things are run, etc.), then gradually build to 5-6 patients. From day (1) on the floor I was told that I was expected to get in and out of the patients rooms in 15 minutes and have all morning work - assessments, charting, meds, etc. done for all my patients done by 9am. At the facility I did clinicals and where I worked as a tech. through school, the Nurses there considered it a good day if all their morning work was done by noon.

    What I wanted was the time to do really good assessments, be extra careful with meds (especially those I'm not familiar with) and get a good feel for everything before being rushed. But - I've been rushed and pushed from the start. I really don't like being rushed at the Pixis - I don't want to make a med error, so I'm taking the time to compare the pixis to the MAR. I'm told to look at the clock before I go in the room and make sure I'm back out in 15 mins. - knowing someone is watching the clock is making me a nervous wreck and I'm scared I'm going to make mistakes or forget something important.

    My preceptor said she noticed that I take the clipboard out of the pt's door to look at it before going into the room. It's something I was taught to do in school and I think it's just a good practice in case something was overlooked in report. She said I got everything in report and looking at the chart was wasting valuable time and I needed to work on my time management skills.

    I'm just not comfortable where I'm at, it's just get in and out as quickly as possible, leaving no real time for the patient and true, hands on patient care is the main reason I chose Nursing. So, my question is - is this the way most of you are being trained or are you given more time to perform everything until you feel comfortable in the job? Thanks, Sue
  2. Visit RNSuzq1 profile page

    About RNSuzq1

    Joined: Jan '04; Posts: 446; Likes: 49
    Registered Nurse
    Specialty: 7 year(s) of experience in Med/Surg.


  3. by   EricJRN
    Quote from SusanNC
    Hi All,

    Just wondering if everyone is satisfied with the position they chose.
  4. by   llg
    Is it just your preceptor (and/or 1 or 2 other people) who are pushing you and telling you these unwritten "standards" of quick performance? .... Or is it an official unit policy? Are the leaders of your unit, such as the unit educator, the manager, etc. saying the same things about not looking at the clipboard, etc.?

    From your post, I can't tell whether or not the hospital/unit as a whole expects you to skimp on care, or whether you just have a couple of preceptors who have set these standards on their own. I think that's an important distinction to make and you should assess that before you make a final decision about what to do.

    If it's just your preceptor, then a talk with your unit educator is in order. Let her help you resolve the situation. If it is just that particular unit that expects such fast service, perhaps you would be best off transfering to a different in that hospital -- assuming you chose that hospital because it has something about it you like. If it is the entire hospital that has that philosophy, then you will probably have to switch hospitals to find a better match for your philosophy of care.

    1. Maintain positive relationships with all involved. There is no need for things to turn ugly.
    2. Assess the philosophy of your unit and hospital. Is it just your preceptor whose philosophy is different from your? Just the unit? The whole hospital?
    3. Base your actions on your assessment.

    Good luck,
  5. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Look at the 'first year in nursing' forum. I think this is, indeed, a common sentiment. It's a reality check, eh? But, it's also a gut check.

    Some environments are better than others, but there WILL be a push for you to time manage 5-6 pts instead of just 2. And that IS a learning curve, for all new grads.

    Don't freak because you aren't 'in your comfort zone'. You're not supposed to stay within the 'comfort zone' you learned in school. The way to expand that zone is by learning to push and exceed your own limits. Worry more about being in a 'danger' zone. Work on knowing your limitations and balancing against working to expand your comfort zones without being dangerous.

    If you feel you're being dangerous, set limits with those pushing you along. But, don't presume that you can set those limits to the same comfort zones you learned in school.

    I'm fond of saying that nursing school arms you with the skills and tools to learn to be a nurse. OJT is what actually teaches you how to BE a nurse.

    This is some advice I've given in the past for new nurses (long):

    Until you know your way around practical pharmaceuticals, never give more than two of ANYTHING: vials, pills, etc. without double checking w/ a more experienced nurse.

    Some of the biggest med errors in new nurses that I have encountered had something to do with "I didn't know 3 of them were too many". And let's face it, doctor's aren't known for clear handwriting and intent with their orders. . .

    (There used to be a chemo med that required 10 pills per dose. After the FDA approved it, the off-label use required a much higher dose. There are times when 4 or 5 or 10 pills IS the right dose. But, you're better off being able to say, "I checked the dose with the charge nurse.")

    At the end of a shift, decompress the shift before you leave. Spend 10 minutes going over everything you did and didn't do. Critique how you 'time managed' with the goal of learning from what you did right - and what you did wrong.

    Then, give a follow-up report if needed (so you don't have to call back) and THEN, let it go.

    Nursing can be so stressful you HAVE TO LEARN when to leave work at work.

    More than anything else you learn, learn to chart as you go along. Consider having to 'stay and chart' to be a time management failure that you have to work on improving.

    Too many times, you have 10 things to do at any given time, and that will completely take over your shift. Charting must be a higher priority item in that list.

    Besides, I find that, by taking 'time outs' to chart, I can get a better handle on the chaos. Humans work better when they can take a few minutes and decompress and reanalyze their situations. A few minutes here and there charting does JUST THAT FOR YOU.

    If you want to learn to 'work smarter, not harder', then learn to chart as you go. DECIDE that 10 minutes of every hour is 'charting' time and ONLY pain meds and emergencies can invade in that sacred time slot.

    Remember: you don't HAVE to chart EVERY assessment in one sitting. Break it out, take it one bite at a time.

    Find an older nurse or two you trust and enlist them to be a 'mentor'. Not a 'preceptor', but someone you can turn to to help you analyze a situation. Someone you trust there is no 'stupid' question you can't ask.

    Respect your contribution. You can only work so hard. Work diligently and learn and be proud of what you are doing.

    All of us have situations that overwhelm us. Just don't let those situations overwhelm the value YOU place on your efforts.

    Don't get so caught up in your own routine that you can't find the way to observe the 'learning' stuff that happens on your unit. Get in to see the codes, the central line placements, etc. Watch not just in awe, but with an eye as to the nursing roles you see going on about you.

    Start every IV you can. Make sure everybody knows that YOU will try their IV first. My first job, I was REQUIRED to try twice on every IV on my unit before anybody else could look: no matter how busy I was.

    Stressful to be sure, but 500 IVs my first year as a nurse, and hey, I'm fairly good at it.

    Ask nurses from other job types (OB, ER, OR, med/surg, etc.) about their jobs. Learn not only what they do, but get to know THEM. Network. It'll make you a better known nurse around the hospital, and it will give you insights about where you might like to end up.

    Grab all the certs (ACLS, PALS, TNCC) and CEUs you can. Your hospital will probably even pay for most of them.

    Volunteer for committees, especially P&P (policy and procedure) committees. Being a voice there will not only help you make a real difference in YOUR job, it'll give you insight into WHY things are the way they are. Besides, your manager is always looking for such volunteers: the brownie points are just a bonus.

    Smile and never seem hurried in front of pts. I won't go so far as the goofy "how can I help you, I have the time" campaigns, but nursing is as much acting as it is caring.

    Spend 2 minutes 'acting' the calm unhurried part (even though you're frazzled and falling apart) and the reassurance you give your pts is worth hours of your time.

    I can't tell you how many times I hear in report, "so and so was on the call bell ALL DAY". When I get out of report, sure enough, call bell. I'm johnny on the spot. Five minutes later, call bell - johnny on the spot again. Now, once that pt knows I'll materialize when called, they don't feel the need to hit the button NOW JUST IN CASE they need something in twenty minutes.

    It never ceases to amaze me how the pts that are 'always on the call bell' never bother me again after that 2nd or 3rd call that I promptly answer.


    Nursing as acting: never admit you don't know something to a pt. Their confidence in YOU is based on your competence. Always front that competence. If a pt asks me a question I don't know, I'll say something like "give me a sec to take care of xxxxx, and I'll come back and explain it to you." Then, I go look it up.

    ON the same topic: never give a med if you don't know what it does. Always look it up again until you learn it. Nothing is more deflating than a pt asking you what x pill does and then getting a blank stare from you.

    After all, if YOU don't know what it does, why are you giving it to ME?!


    When I first started out, on a medical unit with 10 pts, I organized myself into 3 first rounds. The first time through, I just introduced myself and stated I would be back soon.

    That way, I could make sure that everyone was where they're supposed to be (not on the floor) and nobody was in acute distress (my first priority on everyone).

    Then, 2nd rounds: I'd go back through and do my assessments (and vitals if that is your job).

    3rd rounds, med pass and taking care of 'creature comforts'.

    I found that those 3 'first' rounds organized my shift better, highlighted the priorities more soundly, and gave me time to 'impress' my pts. Nursing is at least part an acting gig. You can't 'take the time' with x pt when you don't know anything yet about 'y patient'.

    I never stopped until my 'first rounds' were complete. But, at that point, my shift was well organized.

    When a new med comes out, ask the pharmacist to send you a package insert and read up on it. You can learn all kinds of things that way.

    For example, did you know the molecular wt of Viagra is 666. Don't believe me? Look it up!

    Also, I used to drive my co-workers crazy by sing-songing about the drug, integrillin, "eptifibitide, the cyclic heptapeptide!"

    When you are doing assessments and giving report think in the following terms in the following order:

    1. Overall appearance: Stand back and take in the scene - in distress? talking on the tele? Annoyed (means a little emotional massaging from you)? etc.
    2. Neuro - most important specific assessment, yes? Whether chronic or not, a pt 'not with it' is in a high order of distress. Act on that.
    3. Cardiac - even if not 'on tele', you can make quick assessments about circulation, cap refill, pulse, etc. Look at the skin color of extremities as a CARDIAC assessment. A mottled pt should either be on 'comfort measures' or, your highest priority. (or have a severe and long hx of uncontrolled DM or Raynaud's DX - NCLEX hint: look it up.)
    3. Pulmonary - look at 'work of breathing' not just 'lung sounds'. Working hard at breathing will tip you off to all kinds of problems, not just pulmonary ones. When YOU'RE STRESSED, what happens to your breathing? (I'll tell you: your metabolism kicks into overdrive, dramatically raising your lactic acid production which has to be blown off by the lungs in order to maintain metabolic balance. Breathing hard is a tip off to a pt that is stressed or in distress, whether the root cause is pulmonary - or not.)
    4. GI - bowel sounds, dietary intake, mental note of NPO status/restrictions, etc.
    5. GU. Eyeball the foley bag NOW so later you can compare to see how much is 'flowing'. Start thinking in these terms: the kidneys are often the first hint YOU can observe to impending general organ failure. If the kidneys aren't working, your thoughts should be: what ELSE isn't working? (But don't call a doc to tell them that their anuric dialysis pt isn't peeing. Please. I've seen that happen before. It's never a pretty sight to behold.)
    6. Integumentary - skin, et. al.
    7. IVs and 'lines'. - patency, fluid, rate. Your first few times w/ things like chest tubes - ASK. Those are not 'stupid' questions and you'd be surprised at the discomfort level even EXPERIENCED nurses have with uncommon 'accessories'.

    This not only organizes your assessments by priority, but your reports.

    During report:

    1. name
    2. dx (why are they HERE)
    3. allegies
    4. docs
    5. general info (nursing home pt, PIA, etc.)
    6. Assessment in the above priority. (this will include things like diet, IVs and O2 status)
    7. Upcoming tx and procedures next shift needs to know about
    8. A summary of what happened on your shift.

    Quick and to the point. Leave out trivia and cut to the chase. Each pt should take less than 2 minutes. If not, work on honing in on what's important. I consider 'reading the doc orders' to be a useless report. I CAN DO THAT.

    Start to think like this. If you build a 'mental template' of what you are doing and in what order, it is a foundation to build upon.

    Never apologize for or diss co-workers EVEN IF YOU AGREE WITH THE PT'S ASSESSMENT OF THEM. 1. Nothing will cause you more interpersonal co-worker grief. 2. Some pts just love to manipulate and play off the 'changing of the guard'. It's pretty flattering to hear 'what a great nurse you are', but if that is in the context of 'as compared to the last nurse', then, however true that might be, you're being played.

    The pts and families that most loudly complain "I'm going to report you", are, in my opinion the least to worry about - at least as far as being reported. The ones that report YOU for your honest efforts, have already reported 4 more for real concerns and yet again, another 3 that worked as hard as you did. That lends to discredit them.

    Answer their concerns, but don't be put off by, "I'm going to report you". I always respond, "My name is Tim and I'm the only Tim that works on this unit. My manager will know to whom you are referring to." And then I smile and say, "But, I'd be happy to do whatever is WITHIN MY POWER to resolve your concerns, NOW." Key phrase: within my power. That does not mean I'll kiss your booty, but that I will deal with you professionally and courteously.

    Trust your gut and be assertive about it. If 'something is wrong', then 99% of the time, SOMETHING IS WRONG. Every experienced nurse out there can tell you about the 'steep' learning curve of not 'trusting your gut instincts". You KNOW more than you think you know, and lots more than you consciously know. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gotten this far. ACT ON THAT.

    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Aug 19, '06
  6. by   LeesieBug
    I'm sorry you are having problems with this.

    I am very happy at my hospital, NOW, but I DID have a few really rough days, that turned out to be more related to who I was precepting with. It was really, REALLY hard for me to do, as confrontation gives me knots in my stomach, but I talked with my assigned nurse educator about what was going on. Basically, I had a few days in the ER where I was thrown in with 5 patients and no direction...after two weeks on orientation. I went home thinking how unsafe it was, feeling as though I was letting down the patients, and that maybe this wasn't the job for me. After talking with the educator and the charge nurse, I felt much better. They allowed me to voice the problem, what I felt comfortable with, how I felt I was progressing and where I felt I needed to be...and they aslo changed my schdule so I would no longer be with that particular preceptor. It's been smooth sailing since (well, as smooth as can be expected 5 weeks in to the chaos:spin: ).

    Now, if it is the case that the UNIT and the HOSPITAL have these standards, I think I would consider a change. There is a hospital in my area notorious for having the nurses where locator devices around their necks. If they are in a pt room longer than five minutes, they are questioned, if they are at the nurses station "too long" they are questioned, in the bathroom too long? well...... That is NOT the kind of facility I could tolerate.

    I hope you make some progress. Good luck with everything.
  7. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Quote from LeesieBug
    Now, if it is the case that the UNIT and the HOSPITAL have these standards, I think I would consider a change. There is a hospital in my area notorious for having the nurses where locator devices around their necks. If they are in a pt room longer than five minutes, they are questioned, if they are at the nurses station "too long" they are questioned, in the bathroom too long? well...... That is NOT the kind of facility I could tolerate.

    I hope you make some progress. Good luck with everything.
    Those IR tags are why I sought out allnurses in the first place. I couldn't believe my employer wanted me to wear a dog collar. I'm not a dog, I don't need a collar, or a leash.

    I eventually quit that employer because of philosophical differences that begin with a demand that I 'buy-in' to their collar/leash.

  8. by   mariedoreen
    Tim, Thanks so much for your above 'advice' post. I'm a new grad, fresh into my first med-surg position, and it was a huge help. Much appreciated!
  9. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Quote from mariedoreen
    Tim, Thanks so much for your above 'advice' post. I'm a new grad, fresh into my first med-surg position, and it was a huge help. Much appreciated!
    You're welcome. I've actually posted it before and just re-post it in places where I think it can help.

  10. by   RNSuzq1
    Thanks Tim and everyone that responded - lots of good advice.

    I didn't mean to complain about my Preceptor, she's really nice - just felt like they were pushing too much on me too fast. Anyways, not sure what happened (perhaps they read my post), lol -today went great, despite the fact that I had a bigger pt. load. I was left to do most of the care on my own, so maybe that's what I needed - just a bit of breathing room to figure out how to juggle it all on my own. She told me it's the best work I've done, so I'm going to stick around and hopefully it will just keep getting better.

    Thanks again, Sue
  11. by   NurseBunky
    So far so good!! The nurses I work with are awesome and very helpful. My preceptor is wonderful. The hospital I work for is great, and I love all the new things I'm learning everyday about my patients and families on my floor.
  12. by   kellyo

    I'm glad to hear that things have gone better since your last post. My preceptor has told me that one big thing I need to work in is getting in and out of the rooms quicker. She's not timed me yet (thank goodness) but I think I'll time myself this week! I think it's just something we'll all get with experience. It's difficult to be speedy when we want to be thorough and complete, and we don't want to cut the patient off in conversation, as we also want to be warm and sincere. It will get better (so I'm told!).

    (pm me if you want to meet up at Leapin' Lizards sometime!)
  13. by   RNSuzq1
    Hi Kelly,

    I tried to PM you, it said that your mailbox was full. Susan
  14. by   st4wb3rr33sh0rtc4k3
    Wish I could say the same. Unfortunately, my problem was some managers how some real power trips.

    First, tone down my personality.

    Second, I can't wear pig-tails.

    Third, I cannot punch out an hour late. Although, I just sent someone out at 6:00 a.m.

    Finally, I was asked to stay another 8 hours - so someone didn't have to float. Thirty seconds later I said no forget it. I had tons work to finish before I had to switch to the other side. Well, the manager said I was being selfish and she was telling on me to the DON.

    These were minor problems - it was worse when the manager was new and didn't know how to manage. They would yell and say, "I am the manager so I say what goes!"

    It was too much for me. Never got written up or made mistakes. But, I was targeted. I started in Long Term Care and I would like to continue it. Give me luck with looking for something new.