Memory on the job

  1. I just finished my orientation with my preceptor on the progressive care unit. He was a good preceptor, very smart and willing to teach. My question is does a nurse's working memory come with time? He would remember labs, vitals, orders, and other info about patients after hearing it once and I always have to write stuff down. Any tips for getting the memory better? Maybe I'm still lacking in putting the big picture together.
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    About RugerNurse

    Joined: Jan '17; Posts: 6; Likes: 1

    7 Comments

  3. by   Flatline
    Right now everything is exciting and new to you so it can feel overwhelming.

    When you have taken care of hundreds/thousands of patients that end up being more of the same over and over again it will all just come naturally and things you are actively thinking about will come automatically and naturally. Until then, take lots of notes and organize them in an easy to read and reference fashion.
  4. by   JKL33
    Quote from RugerNurse
    I just finished my orientation with my preceptor on the progressive care unit. He was a good preceptor, very smart and willing to teach. My question is does a nurse's working memory come with time? He would remember labs, vitals, orders, and other info about patients after hearing it once and I always have to write stuff down. Any tips for getting the memory better? Maybe I'm still lacking in putting the big picture together.
    Very happy to hear that someone had a great orientation experience for once! YAY!

    The answer is YES, your "memory" will get better the more experience you get at seeing the bigger picture. I put memory in quotes because I don't think it's that you can't remember things, it's that right now you're in the situation of needing to remember tons of seemingly unrelated facts. Once you start to see how they're related it will get so much easier.

    Write things down for now, but don't forget to ask yourself how all the various little facts fit into the bigger picture.

    Best wishes!
  5. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from RugerNurse
    I just finished my orientation with my preceptor on the progressive care unit. He was a good preceptor, very smart and willing to teach. My question is does a nurse's working memory come with time? He would remember labs, vitals, orders, and other info about patients after hearing it once and I always have to write stuff down. Any tips for getting the memory better? Maybe I'm still lacking in putting the big picture together.
    My memory is about the same as it was when I started seven years ago. It might even be worse. What's different is that I know what to pay attention to ...so after I "ignore" all the less important information, there's not much left and it's more likely to find spare room in my head.
  6. by   Guy in Babyland
    That is why the forms we use throughout the day are called "brains". Without them we would be lost.
  7. by   Julius Seizure
    Yes this takes time! There is so much information - it takes a while for your brain to get used to prioritizing the most important parts and filtering out the background noise. After getting some experience, it gets to be much more natural. And there is NOTHING wrong with referencing the electronic chart or jotting down important numbers! (just don't lose the paper!)
  8. by   KelRN215
    Some people have better memories than others. I have always had an excellent memory. I can have a Case Manager call me and say "do you remember a patient by the name of Sally Smith?" And I'll say "yup, she's from Connecticut, we did NG feeds for her last year." I am following anywhere between 20-45 patients at any time and can keep up with what's going on with all of them in my head. I don't print my patient list out or write down what I need to do with each of them every day. The person who came before me had to print out the list every day and write down what state/branch of our company they belonged to because she didn't remember off the top of her head. That is not to say that one of us did it the right way or better, we just work differently.
  9. by   tyvin
    Unless you have some deficit already, this all takes time. It's like any other job. Think of being a waitress...are you going to memorize the menu and all the stuff they have to do and if the chef will substitute and all that in 1 day (I've done it and there's tons of info you have to remember)? No way! Same thing with nursing; once you get comfortable and know what's happening, it will come. When I use to bartend prior to nursing people would come in and I would remember them by their drink.

    I don't think it has to do with good memory vs bad memory. I believe it has to do more with familiarity of the subject and your surroundings. You're new so you want to impress. Write things down and eventually a system will come to you and in 2 years you can look back at this quesiton and help others. Once the confidence kicks in, things will also definitely get better. It also depends on where you work and in what specialty. Know your scope of practice per the state you're working in. I remember people by their meds and diagnosis. Right now it must seem like everything is buzzing right by you but it will all be good once you get familiar with the job...you'll be fine.

    The biggist critic of your work is yourself.

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