It’s that time of year when nursing and medical students shed their label (and protection) of student and head out to the workforce with their new licenses. Over at Emergiblog, veteran emergency room nurse Kim McAllister shared advice with new nursing graduates.
Here are her words of wisdom.
To the new nursing classes of 2008:
Your first year will be the most difficult as you acclimate to your new role as a professional nurse. Hang in there! Keep your focus on why you went into nursing to begin with.
Keep your eyes and ears open. Watch the nurses around you. You will be surrounded by role models. Take the best of what you see and incorporate it into your own practice. It may be hard to believe, but by the time the next class enters the profession YOU will be the role model they look up to.
Ask questions. Ask a lot of them. Keep asking “why?” This will keep
you learning every day. I still do it after 30 years. Don’t take
symptoms or lab values or behavior at face value. Find out why.
Don’t let yourself get cynical or burnt out. Don’t work so much that
you are exhausted on your days off. Work what you need to work to get
by – keep overtime to a minimum. Yes, the money is nice but so is your
mental health. Nursing is hard, demanding work. You need your downtime
Speaking of cynical or burnt out, you will work with nurses who
suffer from both. Don’t let their attitude bring you down. (And I
hereby apologize to all those nurses who had to work with me when I was
suffering from both those maladies). You will feel the same on
occasion, but keep in mind that “this, too, shall pass”. It does.
You are professional nurses! Don’t let anyone treat you like a
housemaid, a slave, an underling, or anything other than the educated,
professional people that you are. Don’t accept the status quo. Don’t
accept that things “have always been done this way.” Don’t accept
stupid water bottles with hospital logos on them.
Please, please remember that you practice nursing and not medicine.
The professions are complimentary, not identical. Should a patient
refer to you as “Doctor”, let them know you are a registered nurse. Act
like the consummate professional, and you will find that the doctors
will treat you accordingly. Those who don’t have a problem. You do not.
Tell everyone what you do! Promote the profession! Encourage young
people to consider nursing. Explain the difference between nursing and
medicine to those who are confused.
And finally, there will be days when you leave work exhausted,
emotionally drained and aching from head to toe, wondering “What the
hell was I thinking?”
On those days remember that you made a difference in someone’s life.
Because you are a nurse.
Congratulations to the Nursing Class of 2008! I’m proud to call you colleague.