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!