"I believe that everyone should spend their first year in Med-Surg." These are the words as spoken by the Director of my nursing school. As one that has always liked a challenge, I made my case as to why one shouldn't go to Med-Surg. I am not against Med-Surg nursing as a profession. My belief is that you should only go there if that is where your heart leads you. Going into Med-Surg, if that is not where you want to go, leads to lost time, wasted money, and lost sanity.
If you follow the crowd to Med-Surg post-graduation, you will find yourself with a lost year. The year will not be wasted. Med-Surg offers the new graduate plenty of learning experience.
Besides solidifying your nursing skills, you will also learn invaluable organizational skills that will serve you no matter where you end up spending your career. So, why not just go to Med-Surg then? Well, it depends on where you want to work.
You can learn invaluable nursing and organizational skills in telemetry, renal, ICU, or just about any floor that you go to. This proves that going to Med-Surg for your first year is not needed in order to learn nursing or organizational skills. So, why would the year be lost?
Let's say you really wanted to go into ICU nursing. If you go straight into ICU, you now have one year of ICU experience. In your second year, you will be an experienced ICU nurse. If you had listened to those that say, "spend a year in Med-Surg," you would be an experienced nurse without any ICU experience. Also, you do not even know if someone has an ICU position for you after your first year. You may be spending another miserable year in a position that you did not want in the first place.
In addition to losing time, you will also be wasting money. I am not talking about your money. I am talking about the hospital's money. It cost the hospital good money to recruit and train a new graduate. What do they get for their money?
They get to train a nurse for a whole year. It will take you a good full year to really get comfortable in nursing. After your first year, you should be able to take on any assignment. You should be able to organize and plan your nursing care without having questions for the experienced nurses. At the time when you are really ready to function, you are now telling your manager, "I'm sorry; I did my year in Med-Surg. I am off to the ICU." Now, the manager has to spend more money to recruit and train another nurse.
Time and money may be lost, but you can always find misery. This one does not apply to everybody! I do know some Med-Surg nurses that love it; however, I have seen many new graduates, as well as experienced nurses, in Med-Surg in misery. I have witnessed several new graduates on Med-Surg crying. Nursing school prepares you for the NCLEX. Nothing prepares you to have 6-10 patients with 20 medications a piece, complex wound care, total cares, angry doctors, and short staffing. I would not want to put myself through all this just to get some nursing skills and learn how to organize my day!
To truly enjoy your first year, I say go into the field that interests you most.
You will spend that first year learning the medications that you need to know. You will learn how to care for the types of patients that you are interested in caring for. You will learn how to organize your day for the type of unit that you are on.
I went straight into ICU. While my peers from school were running up and down the halls of Med-Surg, I was studying my two ICU patients. The first year I learned about vasopressors and advance life support. I learned the skills that helped me succeed and better contribute to my unit as I went into my second year. Learning is easier when you are interested in the subject. I really wanted to learn ICU; so, I got more from my first year. But most of all, I spent my first year happy!!