What It Is Like to Be a New Nurse
by Arina Smith Job & Career 17 July 2021
If you’re graduating from nursing school and thinking about what your life will be like – you’re in the right place. We often think the same – we typically see composed and skilled nurses. But they all had to start somewhere and somehow. Most started in a Medical assistant program in New York or somewhere close to them.
We had a chat with pros at Ventura Medstaff who shared some of the experiences they had with new nurses and how people deal with their problems in the first years of nursing careers.
1. Learning Never Stops
This might be true for most professions, but it is doubly so for nursing. Just because you graduated from a nursing school doesn’t instantly mean you’re an expert in everything in your field. The sooner you’re able to accept it, the better – both for you and your patients. Consider creating a skills checklist for travel nurses for a better perspective.
There is a lot of learning on the job when it comes to nurses. Try not to be discouraged by it. Rather, embrace it as a way to better yourself and help your patients even more. We all get better with experience, so try to get as much hands-on experience as possible. It will be good for your future career.
2. Listen to Your Superiors – They Want to Help
Young people tend to think particularly highly of themselves – which is not a bad trait if used in moderation. If a senior colleague or a superior tells you that something you’re doing is wrong, or that there is a simpler way of doing it, listen.
Preceptor nurses are senior nurses with a wealth of experience and a penchant for teaching younger colleagues – if you have one close to you, listen to them and follow their lead. Naturally, you are allowed to ask questions and even disagree with them, but keep an open mind and be teachable.
3. You will be Busy – Very Busy
The job of a nurse is a multi-faceted one, there are just so many things that are expected of you as a nurse, that you can pretty much expect to be working all through your shift – and work hard. Everything will require hard work, from NCLEX grading to preparing for exams.
New nurses, in particular, experience a kind of a shock when they just start in this profession – oftentimes there’s no time for a formal lunch break, and you’re lucky to have 5 minutes to eat a sandwich. Over time, as you learn and get better at your job and time management, you will be able to snag some breaks here and there, but as a beginner, expect a steep learning curve and not a lot of free time during your shift.
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4. The Physical Impact of the Job
Nurses tend to work long hours and sometimes have erratic shifts which don’t lend themselves particularly well to having a regular sleeping schedule. Over time, this disruption to your sleep cycle can cause serious physical problems.
But sleep aside, there are many more straightforward ways this job can impact your health. For instance, most nurses, especially ER nurses spend a lot of their workday on their feet. That’s why you will see seasoned nurses choose the most comfortable shoes available, regardless of their fashion appeal.
5. The Psychological Impact of Nursing Jobs
Even though the physical toll of nursing can become quite jarring and unbearable, what shocks most rookie nurses is the psychological impact of it all. After all, you will be spending a lot of time among people who are in pain, as well as their families. And that is not something that is easy to witness, especially for compassionate people (which most nurses are).
You will need to keep your composure and do your best work in less than ideal circumstances. And you will often have to shift between providing expert medical help to patients, employing your technical skills with medical equipment, your bureaucratic skills when dealing with paperwork, and compassionate and people skills when dealing with patients’ families – all in a single day, or maybe even a single hour.
If you feel like you need help reach out to professionals that your job should provide – we all need a little support every now and then.
However, ultimately, nursing is a noble and worthwhile profession, and most experienced nurses agree that they would not substitute their job for any other – the satisfaction of helping a patient simply doesn’t have a price.