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When the going gets tough, even the tough can start to feel discouraged. And boy, is nursing school tough.
Our best advice for when times are especially trying?
“When you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Winston Churchill once said that; now we’re saying the same. Of course, we realize that a disheartened nurse-in-the-making needs a little more than just a splash of positive reinforcement. You need personal anecdotes, somebody to relate to, maybe even just some good old-fashioned advice….
Luckily, Kati Kleber has been there, done that and come out on top. If you’re starting to doubt that there’s a graduation light at the end of the nursing-school tunnel, check out Kati’s post below to discover that not only are you not alone, but that you’re also learning and growing each day (yes—even thanks to the bad ones):
Whether you’re working on your prereqs and going through nursing school, are in your first few years of nursing school or have just switched specialties, it gets really tough sometimes. So much information is being thrown at you that you have no idea what’s important and what’s not, and you begin to wonder if you’re just totally clueless because everyone else seems just fine.
They’re not—they’re just really good at pretending. They’re as good at pretending as those people on Facebook who make a big obnoxious deal about how fantastic their life is when you know that it’s not. Ugh. I hate those people. Sometimes I wish Facebook had an “I think you’re making this up” or a “Stop exaggerating” button.
So when you’re looking at those people in class or orientation and wish you could be them, know that good grades do not automatically mean someone is a safe and awesome nurse. Many phenomenal nurses that I know did not graduate summa cum laude or land the perfect nursing job after graduation. They didn’t know all of the answers to their professors’ questions and some didn’t even pass the NCLEX on their first try. It takes a lot of experience to be a good nurse, not a high GPA and good connections.
So when you want to quit…DON’T!
Every single experience as a nurse makes you better. Every failed IV attempt, every messy code, every rude and demanding patient will make you better. You will learn how to be better with each crappy (ha!) situation. You will learn what works and what doesn’t. You’ll grow into your Nurse Face (the “it just got real, real serious” face). You will know which battles are worth fighting and which are not. You’ll learn how to explain things to patients and families better each time. Before you know it, you’ll know how to handle most situations that come your way with confidence instead of fear. And people will be looking to you for guidance.
So when you’re down, overwhelmed, frustrated…persevere. All of that will make you better.
Do you want to know two common denominators of great nurses? Resiliency and the ability to take constructive criticism.
Great nurses know how to learn from not only their mistakes, but also the mistakes they see their coworkers make. They ask doctors and advanced nurses what their thought process is when they’ve made decisions about the plan of care (“Sooo…just curious why we did adenosine rather than a synchronized cardioversion?”). They ask for feedback on their personal performance after codes. They watch people who are more skilled when they’re doing procedures. They look up policies and procedures when they’re not sure how or why we do something. They get backup when someone was a jerk to them and don’t let it wreck their day. They learn how to be more organized so they don’t forget things. They learn about about common disease processes of their patient population to make their job easier. They’ve been through the ringer and have learned what is worth freaking out about and what’s not.
There’s too much gray area in nursing for it to be straightforward. In a field where literally everything is important to someone, it takes time to learn what’s important enough for you to pay attention to so you can provide safe, efficient care to your patients and still clock out on time. You figure out what’s important, learn how to take constructive criticism (and ask for it from people you trust), and have your personal and professional growth be your motivation…not your ego.
Seriously, before you know it, you’ll be in charge and won’t even remember those days in nursing school that you were on the verge of tears when you realized you completely forget about a test in the morning.
Poof—gone. Like your deaf patient’s hearing aids or your brand-new Sharpie that someone “borrowed” or your patient’s four extra pillows—gone, never to been seen again.
To read more, visit NurseEyeRoll.com.
Becoming Nursey: From Code Blues to Code Browns, How to Take Care of Your Patients and Yourself talks about how to realistically live as a nurse, both at home and at the bedside…with a little humor and some shenanigans along the way. Get ready: It’s about to get real, real nursey. You can get your own copy at NurseEyeRoll.com, Amazon or Goodreads (ebook).