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.