Nessa, RN - November 28, 2022
5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Nursing
So you’re in nursing school or recently graduated. You think you know everything when you're in nursing school. You think you know everything there is to know about nursing and that you're ready for anything that comes your way. You’ve aced your exams, passed clinical and simulation labs.
How hard can it be? Well...
Here are 5 things I wish I knew before starting nursing...
1. YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES.
What a scary thought!
However, every nurse has made some sort of error at some point. In your first year as a nurse, you'll probably make a lot of mistakes; just be careful they're not major ones. Keep your focus on what you are doing, be present, carefully calculate and recalculate your medications and fluid intake, and don't be afraid to ask questions and get clarification if you are unsure.
Even though mistakes are unavoidable, how you handle them is more important. Acknowledge your mistake, take responsibility for your actions, inform your charge nurse, learn from it, and put in the effort to ensure that you don't repeat it.
2. YOU'LL MEET NURSES WHO ARE NOT SO NICE
The truth is that there are some nurses who simply couldn't wait for you to make a mistake so they can correct you. They believe they are the most knowledgeable.
My recommendation is to ignore these individuals. All you can do is brush it aside and get on with your work because their behavior is a reflection of them, not of you. However, be aware that they exist because they can sneak up on you, and before you know it, you're sobbing in the break room, feeling like a lousy nurse for forgetting to update the whiteboard.
Being reprimanded will break your self-esteem, but these experiences will also help you recall the lessons. Don't worry about the kind of people who criticize your errors in an improper manner. Get ahead of them by being professional. Keep in mind that it's typically them, and their own low self-esteem, not you.
You're doing amazing!
Remember that there will be other colleagues who will be more than happy to assist you; they are the small joys of nursing life.
3. ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS AND ASK FOR HELP
If you're unsure, always, always ask for help or clarification. No one will think any less of you.
I always felt more at ease with students or recent graduates who aren't afraid to questions and instead seem to assume they know everything.
I continue to have questions! ALMOST ALWAYS. I triple-check everything with my colleagues; it doesn't hurt anyone, and it contributes to our learning. Therefore, asking questions and seeking instructions will aid your growth as a nurse.
4. YOU WILL WEAR MANY HATS
Once you become a nurse, you'll discover that you wear several different hats at work.
You'll be the housekeeper, the social worker, and the supporter when someone needs a shoulder. You will play the roles of the family mediator, waiter, case manager, electrician, and secretary.
After you become a nurse, you can literally be anything that you can imagine.
Thus, nursing involves more than merely doing high-tech stuff and saving lives. The majority of the time, adopting all these roles is what gives your patients a sense of safety, security, and care.
And that's pretty awesome.
5. AFTER YOU GRADUATE FROM NURSING SCHOOL, THE STUDYING CONTINUES
As nurses, we make a lifelong commitment to learning and staying current on the most recent evidence-based practice. Hence, if you think you'll never study again after graduating from nursing school, think again! You're mistaken. More studying is continuously to be done. As you get more confident in a field, you'll need to undertake more and more in-depth research to develop your expertise. But it makes sense; after you graduate from nursing school, you can't be an expert in everything. You're expected to have some basic knowledge of everything. Therefore, you could say that the real studying happens after you graduate from nursing school.
I have many more nursing tips and tricks, but these 5 should give you a good idea on how real world nursing is.
Looking for ways to stay organized at clinical or as a nurse? I got your back! I made these awesome nurse "brain" sheets to help you organize your shift report, patient assessments, hourly shift schedule/to-do list, etc.
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