I have 4 weeks of experience as an R.N. I’m accomplished. Friends and family have asked me how it’s going, and how I like being a nurse. I model all new fashionable anti-microbial scrubs. I spent a fair amount of money on the royal blue and white attire, and justified it by thinking ~ it’s much cheaper then the business suits most women have to purchase. I sport a new pair of gray Nike’s that are not only cute, but comfortable. I make the choice between two stethoscopes every shift; one that I bought during nursing school and another that was gifted to me as a graduation gift. I walk onto the unit carrying a cute little Red Cross nurse bag that eventually makes it’s way atop my portable rolling computer station. I feel and look like a great nurse. I get compliments on my scrubs and fancy stethoscope by my fellow nurse friends. Any experienced nurse could definitely pick me out of morning huddle as the newbie nurse.
The night before every shift I lay out my stuff, and occasionally modify the personalized report sheet that I created in Pages. I go to bed thinking about how I’ll wake up early and be in the hospital 30 minutes prior to my shift, to start looking through the online charts…in order that I may be prepared. I get butterflies in my stomach and feel excitement as I doze off to sleep, like the night before the 1st day of school or a new job. This happens still, before every shift, even after 4 weeks. On the morning of any given shift, I swing by Starbuck’s for my morning coffee and say hello to friends there, who at one time watched me study nursing books in the early a.m. Now they watch me grab my pre-ordered coffee, wave a quick hello and run on my way, with a mission to be ahead of the day and focused.
In the beginning days as a new nurse, I go through the motions. I pass meds. I chart. I call doctors. I perform physical assessments on each of my patients. I talk with family members. I insert IV’s. I help with procedures. I chart. I chart. I chart. I give Insulin. I hang fluids. I coordinate with the social worker, patient care leader, tech’s, the charge nurse, doctor, and physical therapist. The list goes on and on. My report sheet keeps me on track. If I miss something, my preceptor Yola gently reminds me. She is wonderful.
Right now, my brain hones in on the extensive to-do list, making sure nothing falls through the cracks, and making sure to keep a close eye on those patients who might be a little more fragile then others. There’s so much I’m responsible for, and it’s an honor to be trusted to care for people in this way, but it leaves me extremely focused and intense. My friends who are used to my cheerful chipper spirit, are wondering where I’ve gone. I’m much more serious and focused now, which is different than when I used to wear hunter green scrubs and carried the title of PCT (patient care tech). I know this, and I know they sense it. I also know this is all apart of life as a new nurse.
I can imagine the day when the tasks and mandatory items of my day become less of the main focus and more of a side note. I can’t wait until it all comes together and I have more time to be. I long to see the bigger picture, and critically think. I want more time with the people I care for. I want to dig deeper, and do more for my patients. I know this will come, but right now the only thing I can hope to do is stay afloat, making sure that at least the minimum is complete before I clock out at 7:30 pm. And, there have been times when I’ve frantically called the hospital on my way home to speak with the nurse who took over my patients, in order to tell that nurse one more important thing about a patient or something I had forgotten to do. I spend time researching and learning on my days off, because I’ve found myself in situations in which I hadn’t an answer I deemed quality, to give to the patient questioning. I want to answer swiftly and confidently when my patients ask me questions, and believe me, they have loads of questions (especially family members). And they should, as most are scared. Some of the doctors don’t answer those questions, because they’re on their way in a jiffy with busy schedules. This leaves me in the spot light, and with many eyes staring at me, waiting for answers, in a small hospital room. It’s like I’m on stage and the questions start flowing from a multitude of voices, some through tear filled eyes; “What did the doctor mean when he said I have cancer and I need to have a port placed?” I never realized how much the patient and family members ask, trust and rely on the nurse. I mean I kinda knew, but now I’m the nurse and I’m like, I’m going to bow out now and grab your nurse to explain….oh wait that’d be me.
My lovely preceptor Yola is amazing. She is aways available when I need her. She answers the 5 million questions I throw her way every shift, and she acts as though she’s never annoyed by it. She checks everything I do, but I never know she’s checking. She does it quietly and never interferes, because she’s smart to know that if she just gives me time, I usually catch things myself and resolve issues on my own. She’s also very encouraging. Most importantly she’s a great nurse, and someone I emulate. I love her.
I enjoy being a nurse, and I know there will be a day when I love it even more then I do now. That will be the day when the task list’s won’t be as important as the patient’s the task lists were created for. Each shift I learn so much, and each shift I become more efficient. I was upgraded to 4 patients during my last shift, and I did it! I even spent time holding the hand of my young 52 years old patient who received horrible news. This is what I want. I’m feeling more confident every day, and slowly working my way towards the nurse I’ve always wanted to be. I love it, and I’m thankful to be where I am. Thanks to those lovely trusting souls who let me care for you! I’m honored.
Lorena Webber R.N.