Advice for the nursing school graduate


Vintage Nurse Postcard | Flickr

It’s graduation time for nursing classes all over the country. Let’s celebrate!
As you, New Graduate Nurses, begin this marvelous adventure, I have some words of hard-won wisdom to share. I don’t have any uplifting stories of people triumphing over the odds or pithy, humorous comments that would fit on a bumper sticker, but I like to think that what I’ve learned over (mumph) years of nursing might stand you in good stead.

First, to the NCLEX: Everybody thinks they failed it. Very few people actually have. Still, it’s not a bad idea to take the day after the NCLEX off, just so you can mope around and imagine life working at Big Bob’s Burger Barn. That’ll make your passing score, when you get it two days later, that much sweeter. Back in my day, we had to wait two weeks, and Lord, was that a beating.

Buy really good shoes with your first paycheck. It doesn’t matter if they’re cute; nobody’s looking at your feet. The best shoes are supportive, with firm insoles and enough technology to keep you from twisting an ankle as you walk down the hall. Only the most coordinated of you should even attempt backless clogs. There are good reasons for a bunch of hospitals to have banned those, chief among them being that nobody wants to deal with a barefoot nurse during a code. Clogs do tend to come off if you have to move fast.

With your second paycheck, stock up on permanent markers, a penlight or six, a couple of cans of that stuff you can use to reinflate a flat tire, and a bottle of ibuprofen. You’ll use all of them more than you care to admit. There’s nothing worse—and here I speak from experience—than waiting for the AAA people to come bust your lug nuts loose when you’ve got to be back in the parking lot at 0600 the next morning.

Don’t worry. Being a nurse is way, way easier and more fun than being a nursing student. For one thing, it takes a whole bunch of simultaneous mistakes to hurt a patient, and everybody looks out for everybody else. For another, once you’re out of training, there’s much less studying to be done at night. And finally, you’re in the company of a bunch of really smart, really fun people who all want to be at work on any given day. (Nursing is not something you do for lack of better options.)

Enjoy, New Grads! I look forward to asking you about studies I’ve not had time to read and developments I haven’t kept up with.

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