What’s It Like to Be a New Graduate Nurse?

March 25, 2014 in On the Job

I survived my first week off orientation!!!  I write to give you all a taste of one new grad nurse’s experience throughout the first couple months in the real world of nursing.  I offer my experiences as something to which some of you may relate and something for which others may expect after finishing nursing school.

I am part of a new graduate nurse residency program in a pediatric hospital.  In just starting out, there have definitely been challenges, but overall, I am loving it!  I was extremely fortunate to have a wonderful and patient preceptor, to work on a unit with exceedingly kind and helpful nurses, and to meet several others who constantly offer themselves as resources to me.  I also had bi-weekly meetings with my manager, nurse educator, and preceptor both to check in with me and to see how I was progressing.  Starting my career in such a welcoming and supportive environment allowed my nerves to subside quickly, and I could concentrate on learning well.

However, since I am new to this role and I work in an often confusing and stressful environment of a hospital, there have certainly been challenges.  These have included time management, coordination of care with other disciplines, and literally orientation both to the unit and the system.  In talking with the nurses on my floor and other new grad nurses, time management seems to be one of the most common difficulties at first.  Different aspects of both the environment and this profession can occasionally feel overwhelming; I have found that I just need to stick with it, keep practicing, and continually improve with experience.

Here are a couple things I’ve found to help me not only survive but thrive through these first few months:

  1. Be patient with yourself.  I’ll admit, this is not my strong suit.  I want to be great at everything right away and be able to meet everyone’s needs and exceed expectations.  I often need to remind myself that I won’t be a SuperNurse right away.  There is a learning curve in any new profession, and this is especially true in nursing.
  2. Remain vigilant and keep a questioning attitude.  With several simultaneous demands and pressure to be quick from multiple sources, it is relatively easy to get mixed up and turned around.  Always double, triple, quadruple check everything.  Always ask questions, especially if you are unsure or if something doesn’t seem right.  Being cautious keeps your patients safe.
  3. Know your resources!  It took me a while to figure out who to call for what and when (and I’m still working on it!).  I asked my preceptors for a list of important phone numbers that I keep on my ID at all times, and I use it constantly!  It is a huge time-saver and I highly recommend it.
  4. If you ever feel like you’re drowning or really struggling, ask for help.  It is never worth risking patient safety, your brand new license, or your own mental health to suffer silently.  No one knows to help you if they are not aware of any issues you may be having.
  5. Find enjoyment!  We have a tough job.  When I start to get discouraged, frustrated, or flat-out exhausted, I try to remind myself why I wanted to become a nurse and remember everything that I love about my job.  Also, finally getting paid for the work that you had to pay to do in nursing school is also pretty nice, too.

Best of luck to all my fellow new nurses and future new nurses!  Please leave comments or feel free to send me an email!  I’m happy to help as much as I can and offer any insight I can provide.

Nursing love <3

Katie O’C