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Entering The Working World: Challenges In Transitioning From School Into Practice

Entering the Working World - Challenges in Transitioning from Grad School into Practice

First of all, congratulations. You did it! You made it through the rigors of grad school, and now, you’re ready to go into practice as a nurse. That’s a huge achievement, and you should be incredibly proud of that.

Transitioning from school into the working world can take some getting used to. Chances are, you’re in your mid-20s or so, and you’ve been in school for quite a while now. Now that you’re done, a lot of things in your everyday life are going to change. For the most part, studying and exams are a thing of the past. You should always continue learning over the course of your career, but for the most part, the college classroom is behind you.

These tips can help you manage the transition from a grad school environment into the workforce as a practicing nurse.

The Transition Can Sometimes Be Stressful

It’s not uncommon for new nurses to face a lot of stress and performance anxiety when they make the transition into practice. There are a lot of factors you might not have encountered during school or during your externship. You manage not only patients, but also interactions with their families, and also with other healthcare providers. Taking care of patients, especially patients whose medical cases are complex, can be incredibly taxing if you don’t have a lot of professional mentorship and support in your early career.

Real-Life Medical Cases Aren’t As Straightforward as Textbook Examples

One of the biggest challenges that new nurses face is the fact that in real life, things can get complicated. You’ll encounter patients with complex conditions or multiple comorbidities. And these days, such complex medical cases are arguably becoming more common, presenting new challenges for early-career nurses.

Socioeconomic factors have contributed to an increase in the rates of many chronic health conditions, such as diabetes type 2, hypertension, obesity and metabolic syndrome, and even mental health issues like anxiety and depression. These conditions can all complicate other medical conditions that arise later on. These issues are especially prevalent in uninsured and underinsured populations in low-income areas, whose access to preventive care is lacking. These patients are often reluctant to seek medical attention for financial reasons, until their condition becomes severe.

Lack of Mentorship

Dealing with these patients is difficult when your on-the-job experience is limited because you’ve only recently graduated from grad school. But in many cases, it can be difficult to get coaching or mentorship from more experienced staff. Throughout the hospital industry, there’s significant turnover of nursing staff. This can be due to unreasonable scheduling and workloads, declining resources, lack of upward career mobility, or the presence of better opportunities elsewhere. So in many hospitals, there are very few experienced senior nursing staff members present.

Burnout & Fatigue

Nursing professionals are prone to fatigue, stress, and “burnout.” The job itself can be mentally, emotionally, and even physically taxing, and nurses often work long and irregular hours. Burnout is not a good thing for professional performance and productivity. Burnout has been examined from a behavioral sciences perspective, and equated with three key self-reported measurable phenomena: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and perceptions of one’s own personal accomplishments.

Burned out employees tend to become detached from their work, and in some cases, even from themselves.

Workplace Bullying

Believe it or not, adults can bully one another, and it does occur sometimes in a healthcare environment. This issue interferes with your socialization as you enter a new workplace, and it can take a major emotional toll on you. If you have a pre-existing history of a mood disorder, the effects can be even more profound.

It’s Not All Negative: Nursing Is A Wonderful & Rewarding Career

So far, we’ve kind of dwelt on the negative aspects of transitioning from grad school to practice. But although these issues can affect new nurses, and may need to be addressed on an organizational level, nursing is an incredibly rewarding career.
Every day, you make a truly positive difference in people’s lives. Healing the sick and injured is a truly noble undertaking. It’s a career path you can be proud of.

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