New To Nursing? 8 Things You Need To Know.


By Regina Thomas

Many people go into nursing because it offers a unique opportunity to care for others and make a profound difference in peoples' lives. However, you need to balance these lofty aims with an awareness of the day-to-day realities of the profession. You should certainly hold on to your ideals -- they make the daily grind worthwhile! -- but make sure you enter your career with your eyes open.

If you are a new nurse just starting out, here are eight things that many veteran nurses wish they had known at the beginning of their careers.

1. There is a lot of fine print

While your schedule on paper may seem doable, with a few 12-hour long shifts or so, this quickly expands when your commute time, changeover duties, and key patient information exchange after and before every workday are factored in. Additionally, you may not have as much time off as you expect. Your promised off days will very likely begin with early morning calls requesting you to come in when the hospital is understaffed.

Weekends and holidays are not guaranteed to be off and loved ones may not be able to see you. Furthermore, the term "nursing" is a nebulous one that goes beyond simply the medical care you had been trained to provide. A nurse can be anything from a counselor and advocate to an engineer and deliverer. Thus taking a more holistic approach to the profession is the best approach.

2. Memory matters, and mistakes are inevitable

With all the patients you will come into contact with, you will have to deal with large quantities of information. Apart from the quantity, the quality also matters, as this information is not only strongly protected by medical privacy laws but is essentially a matter of life and death. You will be expected to know it all and at all times. Finding a way to recall facts and keep things in order is vital in a profession where so much is at stake all the time.

At the same time, though, mistakes are inevitable. How you react to them makes all the difference in the world. Learning from your mistakes and not repeating them is a more realistic goal than seeking outright perfection. Medications are something to be mindful of, as they are the easiest to confuse.

3. You will learn to cope with death

As you learn to handle mistakes, so too will you learn to deal with death. Nursing school, for all it teaches you, does not prepare you for coping with death. Each death is as unique as the patient and does not get easier, as each one hits hard in a different way. Part of the way you will learn to cope is by way of a dark sense of humor.

4. You will be on the phone a lot

In the midst of dealing with large quantities of patients and pressure, you will be spending very large amounts of tedious periods of time on the phone, calling, answering, and mediating among staff, departments, and companies.

5. Your body takes a beating

Long shifts involving standing, lifting, squatting, and walking are bound to take their toll on your body. For this reason, stretching properly and wearing supportive garments can help you manage these stresses.

6. Work and life become one

With nursing, the line between work and life becomes blurred. An example of this is that your family and friends, while seeing less of you on holidays, nonetheless become extra patients who will look to you for your expertise. Conversely, your coworkers and patients become like a second family to you, weathering the storms of your career with you as one.

In addition to family, fashion bleeds into nursing, too! You need to be comfortable, and there are certain fashion scrubs for nurses out there to make wearing them all day and into the night a lot easier on you.

7. You will be underpaid

Unfortunately, the pay is not going to match the work that has to be done to fulfill the basic duties. However, there are plenty of chances to take up overtime and more shifts, through which you can earn more so long as you are willing to do the additional work.

8. Nourishment matters

Breakfast is something too many people skip as they begin their workdays, but given how few chances there are to eat, it is imperative to have that first meal in order to have the energy to keep up with the demands. Stocking up on nutrition bars and beverages can help.

Nursing is not an easy profession to get into and succeed in, and it is not for everyone. Make yourself aware of the realities of the job and learn to take them in stride. If you love the job, then you can surely persevere.


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