“I did it! I graduated! Finally. No more studying.”
Have you ever caught yourself uttering these words to yourself (or out loud)? After many years of sleepless nights, long days and too many moments of not knowing what the heck is going on, you have finally arrived. No longer a student. Whew.
Well, let me first congratulate you on your accomplishment. Graduating from nursing school is no easy task (I’ve done it a couple of times).
With that in mind, I hate to be the bearer of bad news (OK, not really bad news per se), but you’ve only just begun.
As student nurses, all we can think about is reaching that holy grail called graduation. If you could only get to that point, things will get easier. “Life would get easier if I could just get past this ‘not-knowing’ stage and get to the ‘knowing’ stage.”
The problem with that particular way of thinking is that we nurses never really leave the “not-knowing” stage. Sure, we flirt with stepping across the line into the “knowing” stage. Heck, we might even live in that awesome stage for a short time, but our profession won’t let you stay there long.
You never stop learning as a nurse. Ever.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Formal education might not be the primary medium for learning once you graduate from school, but the concept of learning never leaves you.
It will always be something. Something will make you ask questions. Something will make you search for answer. Always.
Here are just few traditional ways you will never stop learning as a nurse:
- New job
- New position within the same employer
- New employer
- New leadership role (preceptor, charge nurse, unit director, etc.)
- Maintaining continuing education
- Attaining a new certification
- Advancing your degree
The list is endless. Even if you find a way to avoid all possible ways of advancing your career and hiding out in some remote corner of the universe, your patients will be that “something.”
No two patients are the same, no two illnesses are the same, no two disease processes are the same, no two admissions or discharges are the same. (Do you see the theme here?)
By advocating for each and every patient you care for, you will ask questions and seek answers. Your patients will teach you. Your patients will keep you learning new things every day at work. Welcome to one of the greatest jobs you could ever have.