Being a “New Nurse”

After four weeks of working as a nurse there is one thing I can say for certain: you can graduate from the best nursing school in the world, but it won’t prepare you for actually working as a nurse.

I realize now that the expectations that I had for myself as a new nurse were unreasonable. I’ve always done well in school and I typically receive good feedback from my clinical instructors. But taking care of two to four patients for 5 hours in the clinical setting is a heck of a lot different than caring for twenty-two during an 8 hour shift.

I know that twenty-two sounds like a lot, but it is doable. As a Certified Nurse Aide I had seen the nurses safely care for twenty plus patients multiple times. I just never realized how much they had to do until I started training.

Along with morning med pass (and early afternoon med pass), there are multiple treatments that must be done. Then there’s charting, writing orders, discontinuing orders, skin assessments, calling the doctor, calling the pharmacy, dealing with the family…you get the point.

The first day that I was on my own I was completely overwhelmed. I think I finished my morning med pass around noon – two hours too late. Just about every patient has 5 – 15 pills in the morning and almost all of them have MiraLax to mix up. You’ve got to learn how they take their meds: whole, crushed, whole in applesauce, etc. Do they have any patches? Eye drops? Nose spray? Inhalers? Breathing treatments?

I started my afternoon med pass right after lunch. When I was finally done I looked up and it was time to report off to second shift. I couldn’t believe it! I hadn’t done any of my treatments nor had I started any of my charting. First shift is 6:45am – 3:15pm. I didn’t leave that day until 6:00pm. And I left in tears.

I’ve worked several times since that day and it has gotten better. I left today at 3:50pm! I have my good days and my not so good days. It’s been a great experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything, but like I said, there’s no way school can prepare you for real life.

Speaking of school, it started back last week. I'm in the upper level courses now which means I'm that much closer to my RN! I should be done in December. Until then, I'll keep you posted...like always. :-)

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