|Posted by MANS MNA Student Liaison on May 22, 2016 at 12:00 AM|
I graduated nursing school 5 months and 3 days ago (but who's counting?) and if there's one thing I've learned to be true during that time, it's this: Nursing school does not really prepare you for the reality of being a nurse. It's true that nursing requires a lot of medical knowledge and technical skills, but it is also an art form to be perfected over time. For my final blog post as MANS MNA Student Liaison, I want to share some wisdom I’ve gleaned from my first half year in the profession so that you might be a little more prepared for what to expect when your time comes to leave nursing school behind and join me in the trenches.
1. You will have trouble with IVs. This has been the hardest part for me. I was generally used to learning techniques fairly quickly in nursing school, but IVs are a whole different ball game. Between identifying a good vein, anchoring said vein, keeping your own hand steady, trying to find the vein when it moves away, getting stuck in a valve… It’s a lot to manage. Don’t get discouraged and give up, because the only way to get better is to keep practicing. A lot.
2. Be prepared to swallow your pride. We’re all used to do doing this as nursing students. You work 7 to 14 weeks on a unit that you’re not very familiar with and spend the rotation knowing that you are probably the least helpful person there. As a new nurse, you feel that again, but this time it lasts for months and eventually you’re actually supposed to master how the unit works. After three months it’s tough to keep going in day after day knowing that you will make mistakes and have questions about seemingly mundane matters, but it’s normal and all part of the process.
3. You may be treated like a tech. Techs are awesome and let’s be honest: It would be darn near impossible to do our job without them. In the first few months that you’re on orientation learning how to be a nurse, your coworkers may start asking you to take vital signs for them, run to the pharmacy, and so on. And you, being an energetic new nurse anxious to please your peers, will acquiesce. This is fine from time to time, but make sure you stand up for yourself when you need to and let them know you’re happy to help… after you finish your nursing duties.
4. SBAR is actually important. You might not make it through the whole thing – I usually find myself being cut off about halfway through the B – but it really does help to know your stuff. The person you’re reporting to really will want to know the details, and sometimes you’ll find that if you gather all of the information, you may even be able to answer your concern yourself.
5. It gets better! Recently I had my two-month meltdown – which, according to my nurse educator, is pretty common – where I felt like I was getting nowhere. Luckily part of my orientation has involved weekly self-assessments of 10 different nursing areas. When I reviewed them, I was amazed at how far I felt I’ve come from Day 1! If your workplace doesn’t offer something similar, keep a journal or blog your reflections yourself. It’s a real self-esteem boost when you’re feeling down.
It has been a joy to navigate the struggles, joys, pitfalls, and achievements of nursing school with you over the past year. Best of luck finishing your program. I hope these reflections make you feel a little more prepared to enter the world of nursing!