I am coming up on my two year working nurse anniversary. I can’t believe I have almost worked as a nurse for two years. I still feel like I know nothing! I definitely didn’t see myself making it this long. I soon realized that I needed to stop feeling hopeless and overwhelmed in my situation regarding my new career and find the positives. The more interaction I have with student nurses, I realize they are just as unsure as I was and sometimes still am when it comes to being a registered nurse. If we admit it, we were all there. You pass the NCLEX, secure a job, and you may start asking yourself, now what? Here is my perspective on how to change your outlook on nursing and how it can elevate your quality of life and help you live out your dreams.
Generally speaking, nurses work three 12 hour shifts. There are seven days in a week. That leaves four days off. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE having four days off. I can think of plenty of things I enjoy partaking in that can be done during those four days.
This point goes hand in hand with scheduling. You will accrue PTO, which is great for longer trips. If you become a pro at scheduling, you can easily have 6 days off in row. That’s enough time for a good, relaxing trip. I took a trip earlier this year in January to Mexico and only needed to use one day of PTO. I had 6 days off in a row. Work three days on the front and back end, and all the time in between is yours to do with what you want.
Variety and Opportunity
Now, of course, as a new graduate, you’ll have to complete your training in the unit you were assigned. If you are placed in the unit of your choice, great! For the rest of us, we do our time where we are placed before moving to a unit or specialty that interests us more. Six months to a year is all you really need before you can start looking into transition programs and new units. There are so many specialties, settings (outpatient/inpatient/hospice/home health/management), locations you can choose from. Now, don’t just bounce around from training program to training program. That costs money for the hospital. Nevertheless, you do not have to stay somewhere you aren’t happy. Your RN license gives you the flexibility to find your happy space. Once you have enough experience, travel nursing may be for you. Getting paid to travel? How can anything be wrong with that? Of course, you’ll have to be quick on your toes going to new units and hospitals where the rules are different, but if you think you can handle it, why not? I know I truly enjoy paperwork, so management is in my future. If you have a love to teach, you can become a preceptor at your job. Teach the new nurses coming in how it’s done. Help to stop the cycle of nurses eating their young. If you can stand giving up one of your extra days, you can always have a per diem job. That extra money can be used for the fabulous trips you’ll take.