I'm not even sure what week I am up to with my grad year but I can tell you for certain that it's going fast.
It seriously feels like yesterday that I had no idea what I was doing, where things on my ward were or who's idea it was to give me three of my own patients to be 100% responsible for. But now, now I feel like it's all coming together; like maybe I do know enough to be a real nurse. I'd like to share with you some of my highlights and low-lights of being a new grad.
Having patients and their families appreciate you and the care you provide is definitely the greatest feeling. Being the person that your patient comes to with their concerns or questions gives me an amazing sense of pride, even though my first thought is usually 'ummmmmmmm please don't ask me questions I know NOTHING!' when in actual fact, I do know (some things, definitely not all things). Seeing patients walk out of hospital to return to their normal life partly due to what you have done is amazing and I think that being a new grad, these moments are what you should spend time enjoying and reflecting on as opposed to stressing all day everyday about being a new grad.
I have had quite a few patients and their family members pull me aside to personally thank me for everything I have done for them. It's so easy to treat nursing as 'just a job' but at the end of the day, we are involved in some of peoples most vulnerable moments; some of their highest highs and lowest of lows, so I really value those reminders that this (nursing) is so much more than 'just a job'. I treat these as my highlights so far.
Making an error or having a near miss error is as stressful as you think.
I am yet to make a medication error or have anything drastic go wrong, however, I have had one shift where, for the first time, I didn't want to leave because I felt like I could have done more for a patient or maybe had missed something and then when I finally did leave, I couldn't stop thinking about this patient and continually going over the day in my mind trying to work out if I missed anything. Side-note: If you follow me on Instagram this was something I talked about in my Insta story a week or two ago about advocating for patients and making sure your concerns are heard.
On my ward, the nurse to patient ratio is 1:3 on one side of the ward and 1:2 on the other side so (obviously) the more acutely unwell a patient is/whatever the reason they're in hospital for, will depend on what side of the ward they're on. I was told when I started that grad's rarely get put on the more acute side, however, my ward decided to change this so that there was more opportunity for experience to be gained and knowledge to be shared.
I've been allocated on the more acute side (1:2 ratio) a few times now (yes, I almost had a heart attack the first time I was allocated there, no pun intended since its a Cardiothoracic ward) and this time that I couldn't stop thinking about this patient was one this side. I didn't feel too overwhelmed throughout the few shifts I looked after this patient but once they were deteriorating consistently by the day and I had time to reflect, I couldn't help but think that maybe I was way out of my depth and I didn't even know it... this mind-frame and fairly constant stress that you're going to do something wrong and someones life is potentially on the line is definitely something that I think every new grad will struggle with.
For me, I really just focus on the positives and try not to let all this stress of 'what ifs' stay in my head too long. That's what leads to burnout and I don't want that to happen to this new grad at all if I can.
It's all much easier now than it was when I started, but being a new grad is still pretty stressful, intimidating and fumble-y all at the same time. I'm just glad that it's getting easier by the day.
How six weeks has passed already is beyond me, but yesterday I graduated officially from my degree and I'm kind of feeling like a real nurse already.
In these last few weeks I have really focused on getting into some sort of a routine with shift work, making sure I'm not getting too overwhelmed and trying to learn something new every shift (which isn't hard being a newbie). I have really enjoyed every shift (even the hectic ones) and I don't feel very overwhelmed at all. I asked on my Instagram what my readers wanted in this update and most people said tips for new grads, so I will share with you the things I have learnt in six weeks and the things that I think have made my time as an RN not as overwhelming as I thought it would be.
I could write for days about things to help you and I promise I will give you more tips to get through your rookie days, but for now, I think these seven things will help you immensely in your first few weeks. Oh, and don't forget to have fun! Laugh at yourself, smile and don't be too serious. I do this all the time, like the other night I accidentally pierced a TPN bag to prime the IV line and somehow pulled the tip out again and TPN started spraying all over me. I just started laughing and ran to my preceptor and told her what happened and we sorted it out. I smelt like TPN which smells like salt and vinegar (but gross) for the rest of the shift which wasn't ideal, but I wasn't stressed, worried or sad at all because it wasn't that big of a deal. It was a little mistake that was a bit messy, but that's it. Nothing to stress about.
Send me a message on Instagram (@happylittlehumanaus) and let me know what you want me to talk about in my next update.
Endless love and appreciation,
Four days of being a real nurse. Taking all the patients, having to make all the decisions and having all the responsibility.
This week was a massive learning curve for a number of reasons. I guess you don't realise how much you rely on your buddy nurse/preceptor when you're a student as they're always there to remember all the little things you forget to do. But being a grad and having to do everything has definitely made me realise this!
The main challenge this week for me has definitely been to not have such high expectations and not be so hard on myself. But also, not letting the 'little things' have such an impact on my day. Let me explain.
Myself and other grads I have spoken to have all said the same thing: the little things like not knowing who the right doctor to speak to is, not knowing the right paperwork for certain things or not knowing the paging system are all more frustrating than the actual nursing aspect of work. Don't get me wrong, having full responsibility for three very acute patients is stressful, but those little things definitely caused me more grief this week than anything.
My first two shifts were really good. I felt like I was pretty good with time management, medications and everything else new grads stress about, but then when my preceptor would explain more in depth about the pathophysiology of my patients illness' or their disease trajectory, I was back to feeling like a student. Like I didn't know enough and there was no way I could ever know that much. So it was at those times were I felt quite exhausted.
My third shift was not great. Not because I had bad patients or anything like that, but because I was in a not so good mood and was in a negative mind frame and my preceptor was trying to push me by constantly asking what I was doing, where I was up to, what I should be doing next and so on. The more my preceptor did this, the more annoyed I was getting that sometimes I didn't know the answer and that she was pushing anyway. She kept asking if I was okay because I wasn't my normal cheerful self and I kept saying yes, but inside I was just saying to myself 'don't cry, don't cry, don't cry' all day.
At the end of the shift, my preceptor and I sat down to reflect on the day and to choose goals for the next shift and she asked me what I thought I did well during the shift and my response was 'I didn't cry' because I didn't think I did anything well at all apart from that (dramatic, I know). She went into telling me again that this year (especially in the first few weeks/months) are so overwhelming and it's okay to be stressed and get upset because you're literally thrown into the deep end, in a completely new job, new environment with new stressors. No surprise that in that conversation I had a little tear or seven. I went home, had a shower, received the most beautiful, supportive message from my preceptor and went to bed.
With all that weighing on me, my fourth and final shift for the week was... amazing!!!
I woke up determined to have a good day because I knew that the previous day's result was no ones fault but my own. I was being grumpy, difficult, stubborn and just sulky so it's no wonder that my day wasn't good!
During my fourth shift, my preceptor left me alone. She didn't question me like she did the day before (I think maybe she realised that I don't respond positively to that) but I constantly checked in with her and she helped me whenever I asked for help. We even had time to sit down (twice actually) to go through a few questions that I had along the way.
I think I've found my groove much better now! I will definitely still need help and support, but I feel really good for next week which is when I don't have my preceptor working directly with me. Instead, we will work on the same shift but she will have three patients and so will I, making the time she has to help me much more limited. But don't stress, there are plenty of other people that I can turn to for help so I'm sure I'll be a-okay.
My main lesson from this week is: be adaptable! Accept what you can't change and work out how to work around it. Nursing is so diverse and if you want to succeed you need to accept that not everything is going to be/go/turn out exactly how you planned and that's okay. Don't let it get you down.
Wish me luck for next week, I think I'll need it!
I am on an absolute high right now as I am writing this (natural high obviously)!
I just got home from work (feels so weird to say work haha) and I've seriously had the best day and week for that matter. Today I took one patient and it was SO WEIRD being able to give meds on my own, plus everything else that comes with caring for a patient.
I found myself continuously checking in with my preceptor as if I was a student because honestly, it still doesn't feel like I'm an RN. I feel like a student playing dress ups in scrubs...
There has been so much support this week with regular education sessions and plenty of opportunity to share experiences with the other grads. Honestly, I could not be happier with my preceptor, ward and literally everyone I have worked with. I'm so excited about work and life right now it's hard to type because I'm so full of energy and happiness!
As of next week I am taking a full patient load with my preceptor still with me for a week or two then I'm solo! I'm so excited and not really that nervous because there is so much support and everyone is so friendly so I would be more than happy to clarify anything with my colleagues as I go. Wish me luck!
Three long years of study and all of a sudden it is the night before I start my grad year.
What. The. F**k.
I feel like I have waited so long for this but at the same time it feels like it's come out of no where and I'm not sure if I'm ready! Well, that's how I was feeling, but now I definitely feel more ready to smash my first week as a grad nurse after doing these few simple things. Here is what I have done to prepare for my grad year as best I can:
I hope my tips can help you in some way to help you feel as ready as you can be for this exciting time! I am so excited to start my career tomorrow and I can't wait to keep you guys posted on the amazing things I learn and experience.
Well hello and welcome my fellow nurses, student nurses and anyone else reading!
I will be updating this section of my website regularly with nursing stories and content from my grad year which I am starting January 2018.
If you have any questions, want to know anything specifically or want me to dedicate a post to a certain aspect of nursing or being a new graduate nurse, please feel free to contact me here or send me a DM on Instagram!