Advice for the first year of Nursing
In school you learn a lot, but nothing that can prepare you for actual working knowledge. I'm sure you have heard again and again about your first year of nursing and how it is the hardest. I just finished mine and here are some words of wisdom that I have reflected on.
Being a new nurse is freaking scary. All the time you spent binge drinking coffee, cramming for tests, memorizing lab values and texting under the desk seem so heavenly and pleasant in retrospect, for once you pass your state board exams and set off into reality, thats the actual tough part.
After 2pm tomorrow, I have officially 3 more shifts at my job before I hang up my stethoscope, and try some new adventures for a bit. This doesn't end my nursing career by any means, I am just taking a small hiatus to travel, and enjoy being young - for if this job taught me one thing, it taught me to enjoy life while you can, because getting old and sick is super lame. This also means that my last day will mark one year of employment with one of the more challenging nursing facilities in my neck of the woods.. One year may not sound like much, but to me it is a major accomplishment, as I had found days where I wanted nothing less than to crawl into a soft cozy blanket cave, and stay there for days, eating ice cream and crying in the dark.
In this year I have learned SO Much. Things that school was completely wrong about, and things that were spot on.
Here is what I can tell you:
Doctors aren't all total A-Holes! In fact, as long as your efficient and nice, they're usually okay, Its the mean tired nurses you gotta worry about, they do eat their young, but not before stalking the hunt for weeks behind the victim's backs, then shredding them into pieces out in a desert safari.
There is never enough time in your day. Ever. and you will never finish all your work. so quit trying. You will probably forget to drink water, eat, use the bathroom, or stop running for like the first 9 hours of your shift, and whatever you're scheduled to work, expect to stay about 1-2 hours past that, and you still wont finish. Oh and your scheduled "Days off" will be filled with calls from work, trying to take away your day off.
You should probably get a sleeping pill prescription. Ambien is a beautiful thing, but the $2 "Sleep Aid" works just fine.
Poo Happens. A lot. And Puke and Pee and Bedsores and Skin Tears and G-Tube intestinal fluid explosions.
Many-a- Laughs will be laughed, so lighten up and retain your humor with every day. It will get you very far.
Many a tears will be shed, so don't wear mascara, and dont think it's a bad thing to breakdown into a waterfall of sobs to your boyfriend at 12AM, hopefully he's nice like mine
They can try and try, but Nursing Home food will never taste good. Especially Puree Ham Sandwiches.
Sometime's your patience will wear so thin, that you need to step outside and breath, or shout into a pillow, or smoke a cigarette once in a blue moon, even if you don't smoke. Call me crazy but sometimes all you need is Three Words: After Work Cocktail.
Death isn't as scary and sad as you'd think it to be, in fact, at times, it really is a beautiful release and a happy thing for many. I have experienced so many eerie, magical events happen before/during/immediately after a patient's death that it's made me reconsider alot about our existence on earth. and when people say "I just dont wanna die alone" Trust me, chances are you probably will, I think some people end up choosing it that way, and its not necessarily a bad thing.
Buy good shoes. The uglier the better!!! Just do it. Those ugly shiny clogs are just perfect. Pink Snakeskin, Breast Cancer Ribbons, Whatevs! Your knees, back and feet are about to be sore and ruined for the rest of your life, so try to slow the process a little bit.
Just Listen. Over and Over again on NCLEX questions, class exams, lectures, They told us, when a patient is talking, the best thing you can do is just listen. It sounds easy enough. Just do it! Even if your rushed, which you will be, don't scramble for quick answers to problems, or ways to solve their emotional hardships, just sit down and don't say a word. They will do all the talking for you. They might cry, or yell, or whatever, but sometimes all they need is for one single person to just give them time to sort things out.
TRUST NO ONE. Seriously. Friendships in the workplace can ease the pain, but when there is a bunch of high stress women in a big room together, it is a big recipe for drama. Dont trust anyone else with your keys, dont tell anyone anything personal, dont add any coworkers on Facebook, just do your work thing, and keep the rest of your life separate. It has been the best decision I have made this whole year. I have seen employees get girls "they dont like" fired, Narcotic Diversions, Marriages have split up, Cat fights have happened in the middle of the hall. All things I have had the pleasure of staying way out of. As if your job isnt hard enough, you dont need that extra Bologna. Just do your job, and leave.Last edit by Joe V on Jun 15, '18Mar 20, '14Good luck in your new adventure and enjoy your time off! I enjoyed reading your post as I am hoping to start getting some acceptance notifications very soon!Mar 20, '14Quote from visionary123Dont be scared!!! It will happen when its supposed to. Just focus on finishing strong and be positive! Graduates of nursing programs are highly skilled individuals!The more I read, the more scared I am about getting the first job!Mar 20, '14I loved your post, you are an excellent writer and everything you wrote is so true. The "not adding co-workers to facebook" thing is GREAT advice. I did not decide to add my co-workers until I had been at my job a year and was about to transfer and I thought I knew who I could trust, but still I came to find out that I couldn't trust some of them afterall. Also, that one Charge nurse or night nurse you cant stand might try to add you and that would be awkward.... You also cant rant about work or be as open on facebook about your private life as you could have otherwise been if your co-workers are your friends on facebook, so I totally agree with not adding them.Mar 21, '14Spot on! I totally relate. Working in LTC wasn't what I really wanted to do but it's turned out to be great experience...honestly I find something to laugh about every single shift I work. Attitude is everything. Also...totally agree with not adding co workers on FB. Oh and good for you for taking time off to be young! Time is gonna pass whether you're having fun or not...so you might as well have some fun!! Anyways...good luck to you!Mar 21, '14Good luck on your new adventures! Reading this has given me great insight on what to expect when I get my first nursing job. Thank you for sharing your point of view.Mar 22, '14Great article. I couldn't agree more with the no friends at work. I don't even have a facebook page!!!Mar 24, '14I agree, school is the easy part, actually working in the real world as a nurse is the hard part. You have to learn what you don't know, manage the anxiety, deal with cliques and other nurses that will find fault with you. Not all nurses are like this, just a few that are power hungry and get off on putting others down, the rest of us are too busy taking care of our own patients to take the time to judge the new nurses. Working 12 hour shifts is a great way to dodge the trouble makers and cliques because you can go a month without seeing someone! I'm impressed with the new nurses I work with, many appear calm, confident and stress free, although if you ask them they'll say they are stressed. They don't show it! In some ways it's easier now to be a new nurse because most hospitals have emergency response teams you can call if a patient isn't doing well or you want some advice! Also the computer prevents many possible med errors. Over time you will learn who you can trust and who is a reliable resource person. Every fellow nurse has different personalities, abilities and expertise some are really good at IV's, other's are good in emergencies, or have lots of knowledge and wisdom. I agree to be careful about who you become friends with and not oversharing too much about your personal life. I too would caution having coworkers on facebook, but that is difficult to do in real life because many coworkers will seek you out to friend you and then if you don't respond it might lead to awkwardness at work. Just remember facebook is public, whatever you put on it can be sent to almost anyone because any one of your facebook friends could tell many others what you say or do! A friend of mine used an alias for her facebook page so she could maintain her privacy and limit friends to family and who she trusted. Also I would remind people not to put their picture on their all nurses profile. You never know when something you write might offend someone and you are making it easier to be identified by a coworker or manager! I would even advise you to use a separate email when you are on blogs like all nurses than the one you use for work or job applications because their is such a thing as the deep web or dark net search engines that can be used by employers to learn more about you than you would want them to know!Last edit by brandy1017 on Mar 24, '14
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