How it feels to be a new nurse

Yuri Arcurs | Veer

I’ve been a working nurse for three and a half months now. It’s not a lot, and I still feel like a beginner in many ways.

But even though it’s been only a short time, my career has launched and I’m on an amazing ride.

As I reach my fourth month of training, this is how I’d describe my life as a nurse so far:

  • Stressful. In nursing school, you learn about stress. It’s not always a bad thing–remember, there is eustress (the good kind!) too. It’s like the stress of getting married: It’s intense and there’s anxiety, but it can be both positive and negative. In a bad way, nursing is stressful because there is so much to learn and remember, and there is so much at stake with your every action. But it’s stressful in a good way because with every day that goes by, you know you’re making a difference.
  • Emotional. I always knew nursing was an emotional job, and I got a taste of it when I was a nurse’s aide, but there really are some things you can’t prepare for. We see people at their very worst; kids who are sick and parents who are worried sick. Sadness, hopelessness, frustration, anger–nurses get hit with the brunt of it. It’s all about being therapeutic and trying to remember the more positive emotions we get to experience–happiness, hope, love, caring.
  • Intense. I’ve had a few patients who have been in some intense situations. I haven’t been in a code yet, and I haven’t called for an RRT, but there have been some close calls. In those moments, I’ve really been surprised at how quickly I was able to think, and how calling the doctor (which is usually pretty intimidating) is not an issue. In fact, it’s in these moments that I really feel the whole team unite.
  • Not. Real world nursing is NOT like nursing school. I haven’t yet figured out if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s not that what we learn in school is wrong or misguided information, or that we don’t follow policy and EBP on the units. It’s just not the same.
  • Fun. Nursing is fun. I think #4 has a lot to do with this. When you’re in school EVERYTHING is so intense, you can’t even enjoy your time with the patient because you’re worried your instructor is going to come by and think you’re not staying on top of your tasks. Nursing isn’t all tasks, and a lot of the time, you can do so much more for a kid just by giving him or her some TLC and having a good time than any med will do.
  • Love. I use this word for many reasons–I love my job. I love my nursing team, my unit, my managers. I love leaving work feeling like I made a difference for someone. Despite the challenges, I love that it’s stressful and keeps me on my toes. I love that it’s emotional–it should be; when it’s not, it’s time to leave. I love the intensity and I love that it’s fun.

Nursing is an amazing career. Is it everything I expected? It’s way more! Here’s to another month and a half of training, and a long career ahead!

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