new grad/rehab unit HEELLLPPP!!


So... I graduated in Dec 08 and accepted a job in the brain injury rehab unit. This is my very first nursing gig...and I can't stand it! The work is entirely too physical and it's killing my back already--think zero-mobility patients. My main beef, tho, is that I really don't feel like I'm getting much meat-n-potatoes nursing experience. None of the patients have IVs. They all have feeding tubes, that's really the only nursing thing I do. I can't interact with the best they just garble. The family members who visit are thankful and gracious so that's nice. But I'm already forgetting stuff I learned in school because I'm just not using like I would on a med surg or cardiac unit. The experience I am getting seems like it will be pretty useless on any other unit. It's not like I can transfer a year of rehab experience to a med-surg unit and look like I have experience, KWIM? I'm still in the orientation phase, so I think I'm gonna talk with the manager and hospital recruiter to see if I can do a shadow shift on another unit. I hope that's allowed, since I'm not carrying any weight on the unit by myself yet.

PLUS...since these are total-care patients, one of my five/six assignments is always in need of a diaper change or shower or chair transfer, and we all help each other out of course, but this means that there is NEVER a chance to sit down. Charting (computer) is done on the fly. The break room is down the hall but it seems like only the unit secretary is ever in there. The other unit RNs are making me feel lazy for trying to chart comprehensive nursing notes ("stop daydreaming, let's go") etc.

Am I being a baby for feeling this way? I am both overwhelmed with the amt of work, and underwhelmed with the complexity of work. I don't even want to go back in this week.

What to do???

All responses are welcome!!

Has 5 years experience.

also a new nurse on a med/othro cote rehab ward. do get iv not all the time though and rare to have a feeding tube. and yes my pt interact with us but there is a lot of fundamental nursing care delivered. I feel that if i was to go to a more acute area i would have to get into gear but i am learning other important thing. managinga caseload, directing cna liasing with the mdt espically the familly and are pat can become critical one of mine near crashed last week.


329 Posts

Specializes in FNP.

I started on rehab a year and a half ago as a new grad, and am feeling more comfortable with more experience. It can be hard - sometimes floating to ortho or neuro is a very nice break - but I do find that the experience I've gained transfers into those units at least (think transfers, assessing, neuro checks, dressing changes, etc). I've found that I have more patience with my own patients, as well as family members, and have had time to really focus my assessments. True, I don't get the IV skills, or the dressings and skin issues I'd see on other floors, but I am also realistic that most nurses don't stay in their first positions forever - so I'm getting everything I can right now, knowing that I plan to attend grad school in the future and head in a different direction. If it's really not the right spot for you, and you dread going to work, look at other options - you won't be the first nurse to change her mind, and that's OK - your supervisor, co-workers, and HR are probably used to it - and if you have options within the same organization, they don't lose the basic orientation time and things, so may rather have you move than simply quit. Good luck with what you choose and can find :)

MtGypsy, ADN

30 Posts

Specializes in Physical Rehabilitation.

I don't think your being a baby. I've worked rehab for the majority of my 15+ nursing career and have the back injuries to prove it!! Thru the years I have done traveling in Med/Surg to keep my acute skills. It is actually harder to go to other areas after being in Rehab. As a new grad I would consider transfering to an area where you will learn acute care skills. You can always work in a less skilled area after you learn acute skills, but its really hard to get into a more acute area when you've worked in a less skilled unit.

From a job security point of view: Thru the years I've seen Skilled/Rehab units close because of payment issues (it's rare that the other units close!!). If you ever want to do travel nursing you need one year med/surg, and most the jobs are critical care. As a new grad you need to keep your options available.

I've seen many new grads over the years get "stuck" in rehab because they lack the experience to move into other areas. Don't get me wrong..I love rehab nursing, but it's a hard area. It kills your body after years. You can't always use text book transfers/body mechanics and I have had disc problems, rotator cuff issues etc.


85 Posts

Thanks so very much to all of you who have responded---keep em coming! I sent an email last night to the nurse recruiter in HR with instructions to forward it to the unit manager; I explained my desire to get more experience--did not mention the physicality issues. I asked for a shadow shift on a med-surg unit that has an opening. We'll see if they let me---I phrased it diplomatically, but made it clear that I would also be exploring options at other facilities otherwise. I turned down a job on the isolation unit at the local charity hospital and I'm already regretting it. That would have been awesome experience!

In this economy, I know I should just suck it up and be glad to have a decent-paying job. But my husband has back issues, a friend has back issues...and I DO NOT want back issues! And I'd also like to enjoy my work. I'll keep you posted on the outcome.:nurse:

Specializes in rehab.

I noticed this was written some time back in march....OP, I could have writen this post myself. I am in the exact same position as yourself, working rehab, feeling the same way. Employers don't think Rehab nursing counts for much so despite my 1 and 1/2 years experience in rehab as an RN, I'm still treated/concidedred a new grad :(

Keep me posted on your search. Like you the only way out is to transfer within the hospital, because with the economy as is, its the only way out!


13 Posts

Specializes in Rehab, LTC. Has 5 years experience.

I feel the same way, this is my first gig after RN school and I am finding out rehab is not my thing, it is a battle to make myself go to work, I would give a 2 week notice 2 day if I had somewhere else to go. There is little to no IV exposure a few dressing changes here and there but I do not feel like I am getting experience in basic RN nursing duties. If or when I get a hospital job it is going to be expected I already know these skills and it will not be very impressive when I do not. The place I work NEVER has enough CNA's so I do the RN's job and the CNA's. (CNA's are worth their weight in gold treat them nice) Being a male if there is ever any "lift assistance" needed I almost always get called no matter what I'm doing or where I'm assigned, been there 90 days and it is REAL OLD already.

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