Advice to My Younger Self as a New Nurse: What I Know Now

I was recently thinking back on all the things I have learned over my past three and a half years as a nurse & it’s a lot. Most of it, I didn’t even learn in nursing school. In fact, most of it was learned in real life practice. Through my mistakes and successes, the good days and the bad, I became a nurse. 

I thought it would be interesting to write a blog post on advice that I wish I could tell myself as a new nurse, now that I know what it is like. Anyone who is a nurse (also applicable to several other professions) can attest that starting out as a brand new nurse is overwhelming, daunting and challenging. I remember knowing that I learned all of this information in school but it was so different trying to translate everything in practice somehow. It was like I had a big arrow pointed at me that said “NEWBIE NURSE” and I felt insecure in my abilities to be a nurse for a long time. It definitely took a while to become comfortable with my role and my knowledge, and to feel like I was a nurse, not just someone pretending to be one. I remember getting a lot of advice from fellow nurses and friends at the time about how to cope with this transition.

I wish I was able to give myself back then advice from myself now, knowing what I know now. I would tell myself that it is going to be okay- that you know what you are doing more than you think. That a gentle nurses touch can go a long way, and active listening can make any patient feel like a PERSON, not just a patient. That silence is sometimes a good and necessary thing. That your instinct is sometimes more powerful than anything you may have learned in a book, lecture or conference. And that you WILL grow as a nurse, it will become more natural, and you will be confident in your nursing abilities one day. That it is always okay to ask questions, no matter how stupid or crazy you think it is. No one is going to fault you for asking questions, seeking answers and furthering your education. That is the beauty of nursing, it can open many doors for you, if you let it.

I asked a bunch of my nurse friends and colleagues to help pitch in with their advice they would give their younger selves and the results were beyond amazing and powerful. Not only do I think they are a good guide for new nurses, but also serve to be true for any nurse, experienced or not.

Advice to your Younger Self as a Newer Nurse:

  • If you don’t know, just ASK. There’s no way anyone can possibly remember everything from nursing school- plus every hospital/unit is a little different. Also, don’t feel like an idiot for not knowing! “Veteran” nurses will be happy that you’re attempting to do things right. (I personally recommend complimenting them on how knowledgable they are before asking them my question- everyone loves a compliment!)
  • Asking questions does not make you dumb! Ask ask ask! Ask things you don’t know, ask things you think you may know but want a second opinion. Ask anyone. Ask doctors ask nurse practitioners ask respiratory therapists, physical therapists, anyone and everyone. The more you know, the more confident you will become.
  • Never stop asking questions!
  • Stay calm, think before you speak and listen!
  • If you’re unsure of something– seek out experienced nurse for some feedback and advice. No question is a dumb question.
  • Go with your gut… If you feel like something’s wrong with your patient there usually is. Nurses intuition is a real thing.
  • Join a military branch, become an officer with goal of retiring from the military. Excellent benefits for rest of life, health etc.
  • Nobody loves staying in the hospital so be extra sensitive to the emotional piece. Patients and families might not be themselves when they are flooded with worries/fears. Be kind, be understanding and you’ll be more resilient.
  • Listen. I mean, really listen. Hear what people are saying without the words. Everyone has a different story and you are only seeing a tiny snapshot of their life. Don’t judge. Instead listen. Listen to their bodies. Listen to their tone. Listen to their eyes and their face. They say so much more than what you ask.
  • Nursing gives you the opportunity to explore your interests, you can’t possibly have covered all the different types of patients to care for in nursing school (elderly, med surg, cardiac, cancer, pedi, mother baby, ICU, surgical,neurological) take a chance that something you haven’t experienced yet might be your true passion. And don’t be afraid to change it up and learn nursing in different settings, the hospital is not for everyone. Take advantage of the fact your license allows you to be a lifetime student, constantly learning.
  • Always remember you were once a student…so when you have an opportunity to mentor a new nurse…think of what your mentor did to help you…and do the same. Not only will you help someone else but you will grow in the process
  • After a few years of consulting – An easy one is to put your cell phones away. Be present. Make sure your attention is on the patient and your fellow staff members. Save the face-spacing to break time. Healthcare is personal, important and intimate, treat it that way.
  • Make a mental list of things you can “fix”and things you can’t! Some things can’t be fixed, and some things just shouldn’t be! Learning that lesson helped me prioritize my care and keep my sanity in the ICU. And advocate for your patients, even when it’s not easy to do so!
  • Never be afraid to ask questions… take those patients that scare you the most… be forgiving, 1) towards others, we haven’t walked in their shoes, no matter how much we THINK we know about them, and 2) towards yourself, cut yourself some slack, do your very best always, and if you weren’t as successful with something as you had hoped, scrutinize, learn, then move on. … and always listen to your gut!
nurse-new-with-questions

Nurse humor

What advice would you give to your younger self as a new nurse? Or what advice would you give to any new nurse?

xo

Hannah

(Special thank you to all you awesome nurse friends who posted  in response to my question-prompt on my facebook page that helped to contribute to this post! You know who you are!)

 

Masters of Science: I Did It!

It has been a crazy, wild, stressful two and a half years, but I am happy ecstatic to say that I am finally done with graduate school!

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Matt & I after the Ceremony. I am so lucky to have this great man in my life. 

School has always been important to me, so when I decided that I wanted to go back for my masters degree and was accepted, I was beyond thrilled. Looking back now, I kind of have to laugh, because I thought it was going to be fun, not-that-hard, and manageable with my work schedules. Boy was I wrong. Grad school is a different demon than nursing school– which says a lot because I don’t personally know too many people who openly admit that nursing school was a breeze. However, I will say that grad school made nursing school feel like a breeze after the fact…

Anyways, over the past two and a half years while I have attended grad school full-time I have:

  • Worked 5 different RN jobs, 2 of them travel positions (which were full time)
  • Broken my right ring finger/hand keeping me out of work for 8 weeks while on a travel contract
  • Had to cope with my younger sister being hospitalized and diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease
  • Met the love of my life and best friend, and subsequently had to deal with a long distance relationship
  • Ran in 4 half marathons
  • Adopted a stray cat “Audrey” from the local animal shelter
  • Struggled with severe anxiety (yes severe, as in it affected my friendships/relationships/school/work)

 

This is probably not even an exhaustive list, but it helps to make my point. It was not an easy ride. There were so many times that I wanted to quit and  said ” I am done with this” or wondered why I was putting myself through this. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I managed to do it, and graduate on time, but I did. It feels like the greatest accomplishment and it makes all those hard times even better.

I didn’t do it alone though. I could not have done it without the help from my family, especially my mother who believes in me with the entirety of her heart. I also owe a big shout out to my wonderful, handsome, supportive boyfriend Matt because he has had to deal with me during some of the darkest times of my life. He has been a huge supporter of me from day 1 and he has been there for the highs and lows, some of them not very pretty. How I didn’t scare him away is really beyond me- but that is another story.  I also couldn’t have done it without my professors and advisors who supported me on the way and served as mentors to me through and through. I remember when I broke my finger and I called the school of nursing at UVM and asked to take a leave of absence because I would have to be  in Boston for almost 2 more months than planned to finish out my work contract, which would overlap with one of the busiest semesters of school. Not long after I had called about taking a leave of absence, I received a phone call from my academic advisor and the director of the program I was in. I will never, ever forget this conversation. She took almost two hours out of her busy day and life to talk with me about all my possible options; about how I was doing, what I wanted to do, and most of all she reassured me that I could do this and that she would help me through it. She discouraged me from taking a leave of absence, but instead encouraged me to continue through at least part-time. She was honest, kind and helpful through my tear-filled phone conversations with her and we decided together that I would try to make this work out somehow. And guess what? I did. I did it all somehow, despite all the obstacles that were destined to drag me down. But like I said, I would never have been able to do it without the people in my corner- my professors, my family, my boyfriend, my co-workers.

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My mother and I. My rock, my number 1 supporter, my biggest cheerleader.  I wouldn’t be here today without her.

The one thing that I have heard the most recently is “I don’t know how you did it all”. Well, I don’t know either, I would like to say that I believed in myself, but honestly, at some points I really didn’t. But I didn’t want to give up just because things got hard. I have always been someone who is used to being busy or doing twenty million things at once, so I could do it right? Right. Did the last two and a half years challenge my sanity, patience, willpower and strength? Absolutely. Would I do it again and repeat all of this? Umm…Probably, because after all was said and done, it felt really amazing. It really felt like the biggest accomplishment of my life to date. Being able to walk on stage during the Hooding Ceremony to receive my Master’s of Science regalia with my family and loved ones watching was one of the happiest moments of my life. I am even smiling right now thinking about that moment.

Although I doubted myself at many times, I have realized that anything is possible when you put your heart and soul into it and when you have people that believe in you.  I am so blessed to have the opportunity to the education that I have been given and I am so grateful for every little bit of it, even the hard times. I have learned so much over the past two and a half years, but most importantly I have learned to believe in yourself- we are resilient and we can persevere so much more than we can imagine. Dreams really do come true.

Next up: I have to take my boards so that I can officially be a NURSE PRACTITIONER!!!! Watch out world, I am ready to do great things!

Thank you for reading & feel free to share any personal experiences with your schooling!

xo

Hannah

 

 

Friends Come & Go

I remember being younger and thinking that “friends are forever” and that I would be so blessed to have my closest friends in my life forever and ever and that nothing would ever tear us apart- we wouldn’t be like other people who grow apart- because that just would not happen to us. I am blessed to have had the people I called my closest friends in my life at some point, because I truly believe they helped me become the woman I am today, but we were not lucky enough to stay “friends forever”. The funny thing is that people come and go in your life everyday, some of them strangers, and some of them friends. Life is such a crazy, fast-paced ride that before we even realize it, sometimes we lose some friends and acquaintances along the way.

At High School graduation, I remember crying relentlessly, hugging my friends close. It was a mix of excitement and sadness; I would be leaving behind my friends, my best friends to go off to college. This is one the first experiences I had with losing friends. It isn’t like I even lost friends, I just lost touch with my friends and the relationships became strained between lack of communication, distance and different interests. I think this is a fairly common experience for this age group as we moved out of our comfort zones, tried to become independent and make friends with completely new people.

Fast-forward to college:

In college, you meet so many people it is almost overwhelming. But during this time period, I believe you meet some of the people that will become your lifelong friends. This was such a fun time in my life because I felt like I had such a wide variety of friends and so many acquaintances and I just remember it as being an extremely happy period in my life. We learn so much more than what we are studying in college; we learn how to live with others, how to deal with others and how to create bonds with people that will last a lifetime. I have a couple of friends from college that I consider lifelong friends and hold dearly to my heart and cannot imagine my life without them.

Then you graduate and things change again (FYI I hate change if you couldn’t tell). You move away, or your friends move away and everyone gets real people jobs or are studying for GREs and applying to more school. Friendships and relationships become estranged and you start to see which of your friendships are resilient enough to overcome all the changes and strain. Unfortunately, you realize that it is no longer convenient for certain friendships, or that without binge drinking on weekends you and another friend no longer have common interests, or simply that you just lose touch with one another. This is a sad time because I remember reflecting on just a few months prior when I was so happy and seemed like I had such a close group of friends. Now I had a real job, and my hours were crazy and I hardly got to see my friends and it was challenging to plan outings with everyone’s varying schedules.

Over the past few years, people have come in and out of my life- for better or for worse. There have been times when I have been so upset, stayed home and cried over a glass of red wine and sulked about why my friend doesn’t want to be my friend anymore , or why I heard that this friend was talking to that friend about me and I wondered what I must have done wrong.

I still deal with the sadness from time to time because I feel like over the past few months, my relationships with my friends have changed greatly. I have a few close friends who I would do anything for, and I know they would do the same for me. But then I look back and see there are such strained relationships with friends that I don’t even know if I can call friends anymore.

We used to be so close and do everything together- laugh, cry, cry because we were laughing so much. We used to tell each other everything, not fearing judgement from each other, we used to stuff our faces full of junk food just because we didnt care. We used to know each others schedules and we used to enter each others houses without knocking. And now I couldn’t feel farther apart- I don’t know what you are up to lately, I don’t know how I would even start a conversation with you if I saw you. I would hope that it would flow easily, but then again there has been so much lapsed time. Things just seem different. There have been a few challenges our friendship faced, but I never would have guessed they would have brought things to where they are now. I guess this is just part of the changes that occur. I will always look back on these friendships and smile at the memories, and occasionally I will be saddened by the fact that things are so different now. But what I have come to realize is that I can no longer sulk on this. Friendships are tumultuous, people come and go. Despite it all, those who are going to stand by your side will continue to do so and those who will slip away will slip away.  I cannot dwell on how things are different, and I won’t consider these “failed friendships”, but ships that have sailed in different directions. Maybe one day the wind will blow us both in the same direction again, or may it won’t. But I have learned something from every friendship I have had to date: it takes two parties to make things work and I cannot solely place blame or guilt on myself for these friendships not working out- that is just life.

I am so grateful for those in my corner- through all my good times and bad- they have helped me more than I can ever express.  As I move through this journey called life- this hectic, crazy, rollercoaster- I will hold my friends close by and let them know how much I appreciate them. I will not dwell on those friends that have slipped away; everything happens for a reason.

I have always been a people-pleaser, and I always wanted to be friends with everyone and make everyone happy, but I realized that I was doing that at my expense.  I need to care about myself and want to be friends with myself before I can expect others to want to be friends with me and this is one of the things I have learned over the past few years that I still need to work on.

XO,

Hannah

How have your friendships changed over the years?

18 Important, Career-Saving Things I’ve Learned In My Two-And-A-Half Years Of Being A Nurse

Thought Catalog posted one of my first and favorite blog posts!

Thought Catalog

Shutterstock / Minerva StudioShutterstock / Minerva Studio

It’s truly amazing how quickly time flies by. It feels like just yesterday when I barfed in the bathroom of the building I took the NCLEX in only to find out three days later I passed the exam, becoming an official “registered nurse.” Me, Hannah Josephson, RN.

That was two-and-a-half years ago now, but who’s counting? Compared to many nurses, that’s just a blink of an eye, I am still a “new” nurse and I still have many years of nursing ahead of me. I know that. But I also know that there is a wealth of knowledge I’ve gained in these past 30 months. Here’s what I have learned and these are my advice to you.

1. Get a good pair of shoes.

Let me tell you, you will be on your feet more than you will be off of them, and one of the…

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What I Have Learned in my Two and a Half Years of Being a Nurse

It’s truly amazing how quickly time flies by, it feels like just yesterday I barfed in the bathroom of the building I took the NCLEX in only to find out three days later that I passed and was an official “registered nurse”. Hannah Josephson, RN. Wow that sounds so cool I said, and off I was to my first job, as a new graduate nurse just like that. That was two and a half years ago now, but who’s counting? Compared to many nurses, this is just a blink of an eye, I am still a new nurse and I still have many years of nursing ahead of me and I know that. But what I also know, is that there is a wealth of knowledge that I have gained in just these past 30 months. So here it goes, here is what I have learned and this is my advice to you…

1. Get a good pair of shoes: Let me tell you, you will be on your feet more than you will be off of them, and one of the most important things you can do for yourself is get a pair of truly comfortable shoes. Don’t get dansko clogs just because “every nurse has them” if they are not comfortable to you. If you aren’t wearing the right shoes, your feet will hurt, your back will hurt, heck your whole body will hurt. Find something that you feel comfortable walking miles around in, because you likely will be walking miles per shift (wear a pedometer I dare you). See what your hospital/floor policy is, but if you can wear a pair of comfortable sneakers, that may be your best bet. I personally like the XP Danskos because I feel they have a little extra padding, plus they give me some height so I don’t look as short, but honestly after a few hours, my arches hurt, my back hurts and I have probably rolled my ankle at LEAST 10 times (seriously, I cant be the only one who does this right?).

2. Don’t show up on time, show up early. When you are first starting out, you will be so overwhelmed just going to work, especially when you are off of orientation. I remember some days I was so scared and nervous to go in that I would think to myself “well it wouldn’t be so bad if I slipped and fell down these icy stairs, that way I would miss work”. It’s embarrassing, but it is true and I know other new nurses who felt the same way as me. It is scary because as a nurse you assume so much responsibility, literally peoples’ lives are in YOUR hands. As a new nurse, this responsibility plus all the other things you are supposed to remember become a huge burden. Make sure you take the extra time to show up early for work. I’m not saying an hour early but like 15-20 minutes early so that you can settle yourself down, get your assignment, organize yourself and at least try to relax before you find yourself feeling rushed to take report. Trust me, I used to only give myself 5 minutes to get ready before a shift and I would feel so frazzled, unprepared, unorganized and anxious which is not a good or safe way to start a shift. It is worth the extra 20 minutes of your time for your sanity and your patient’s safety.

3. You are NOT the only nurse working. ASK FOR HELP. Seriously, I think I still have an issue with this one. In nursing school, they talk about delegation and delegating this or that and asking for help, but in clinical rotations during nursing school they make you do everything. Somehow this instills into our brains that we, as nurses, must. do. everything. NO, it is not humanly possible. Asking for help doesn’t mean that you aren’t capable of doing something, and any good nurse/colleague/co-worker will understand that and even appreciate you for realizing the need to ask for help. If it is something that can be delegated to an aide, delegate it to them- after all that is their job! I used to be paranoid that if I asked for help from an aide that they would dislike me for using them or that they wouldn’t get the job done as quickly as I could… but I soon came to find out that when done correctly, delegating can be a huge huge help with my workflow. A lot of times other nurses will not come forward and offer help because they assume that you will ask if you need it, so never be afraid to ask for help, ever. And when someone asks you for help, return the favor if you can.

4. You are NOT a computer. I repeat, you are not a computer or robot. You do not have to memorize every single thing you learned in nursing school. You are not expected to know every single lab value range, or medication name/dosage/indication, it is not humanly possible. LOOK THINGS UP. SO many errors happen when people take random guesses or don’t ask a question when they are unsure of something. If you are unfamiliar with a medication, look it up, ask someone, call the pharmacy. Use your resources!  There are so many of them. I will never pretend that I know what something is if I don’t because a) I don’t want to look stupid if asked to explain b) I could do serious harm to someone if I did. I know I am not some einstein genius, and I am not required to be. As a nurse I need to use my critical thinking skills to solve problems and evaluate and intervene when necessary. If you are unsure of an order, question that order. If you are unsure of anything, question it. Because in the end, do you want to be the nurse who overlooked something because you thought you knew it or do you want to be the nurse that catches the medication error that saves a patient’s life?

5. Follow your gut. I know they say this a lot in nursing school, and it really did take some time for this to become a thing for me (like probably within the past 6 months). Once you start to get into the groove of things, you just know certain things. If you have a bad feeling about something, something just doesn’t add up or seem right, let someone know. It could be the charge nurse, another nurse on the unit, a physician or pharmacist, just let someone know your concern, and back up your concern. I work in maternity, and I can’t tell you how many times I have had a hunch or bad feeling about something and had people respond “its fine, dont worry” and then it ends up not being fine. Don’t back down if you truly believe something is going on. Trust your gut, trust your patient. I had a woman recently who was status post magnesium for 24 hours after delivering her baby for severe preeclampsia. When I assumed care of her, she was on a 400mg BID dose of a blood pressure medication ,Labetolol. In report that I received, she was doing much better, feeling better, having no symptoms and her BPs were stabilizing. When I actually SAW the patient, it was a different story. She was sweating in bed, holding her hand to head complaining of the worst headache of her life, dizziness and shortness of breath. Immediately I elevated her head of the bed and took her vital signs. All of which were normal (including her O2 sat) minus her BP which was 140s/80s. The MD was notified and satisfied with BP but wanted a repeat, which ended up being around the same if not higher and the patient was still not feeling well. I felt like I was “bothering” the doctor for keeping her posted on the play-by-play of this patient, but looking back I don’t regret it for a minute because this patient was really deteriorating right before me and needed more intense monitoring than what could have been done on our floor. Long story short, she ended up being transferred to another floor where she received loads and loads of IV blood pressure medication to help stabilize her blood pressures. When I heard how much medication she had gotten on the other floor, I just KNEW that this would be the case from the first moment I saw her in bed, she just looked awful. I remember I even suggested to the MD that this patient may need more monitoring than we can offer, but the suggestion was politely declined at the time. I did not stop contacting this doctor with all the details because I had this gut feeling that something needed to be done with this patient, and I am really glad that I handled it the way I did because I hate to think of what could have happened if it had gone unnoticed throughout the night- she could have had a seizure, thrown a clot, had a stroke or MI…. This is just one example, there are so so so many. follow your gut. If you are wrong, you’ve probably done no harm but be extra cautious, but if you are right, you’re doing your job.

6. You may get eaten alive by some older nurses but you cannot take it personally. For some reason, nurses like to “eat their young”. I don’t know if it is for the sheer fact that they don’t remember what it was like when they were new, or if it is a secret nursing hazing ritual, but you will come across some nurses who will just try to bully you around and scare you. Please try not to let it get to you. Just do your job, be a good nurse, and that alone should prove your competency. Easier said than done, but don’t feed into this mentality, and don’t treat the new nurses after you like this. I always offer a helping hand and advice because I remember being in those shoes not too long ago and I wished that I had someone that I could go to for advice.

7.  Bring snacks. You may not always get a full lunch break, but that doesn’t mean you should not eat. Nursing is hard labor and you will be running around for hours at a time before sitting down. A lot of time, nurses go without getting a proper lunch break, I can attest to this. Bring granola bars, yogurt, a water bottle, anything really to munch on when you get a chance because if you don’t get to take your lunch, you may get cranky or even feel sick/lightheaded/nauseous.  At the very least, drink water. I’m still very bad at this.. I sometimes don’t sit down for hours to have a sip of water or a snack, but make it habit, sometimes you have to put yourself first. You can’t take care of someone else if you can’t take care of yourself first. Oh and don’t forget to pee! Seriously, you’ll get a UTI if you hold it in all shift. You make your patients void, so practice what you preach!!

8. Document document document. I remember a professor I had in undergrad say “If it isn’t documented, you didn’t do it“. Nursing can be so fast paced that it is easy to forget some things, or something may seem more important than something else. Or maybe you thought that baby’s respiratory rate was 77 but you don’t want to document that because then you have to recheck it in an hour and it was probably a mistake right? WRONG. document it, recheck it. It could be nothing, but it could be something. what if you found out that baby started grunting/flaring/retracting and became apneic on the next shift and had to go to the NICU because nobody had noticed ( errhm documented) that the baby was tachypneic. Again just an example. Somethings do NOT get documented (ie: “husband is a pain in the ass”), hahaha, but that goes without saying. There are some things that get passed along in nurse-to-nurse report, but remember, this can lead to error, misunderstanding, and may forget to get passed on again. Make sure you document everything thoroughly, objectively and as brief as possible. I always think to myself, If this had to go to court, how would it look? Document what you are concerned about, document your intervention, document who you made aware, document their reaction. Because in the end, it is your license to protect, and your patient’s lives in your hands. Nursing bears a huge responsibility.

9. You will go home and stress about all the things “you may have forgotten”. trust me this is NORMAL. I used to call my floor and ask to speak with nurse X or nurse Y and make sure that I documented this or signed off that…etc. Talk about paranoia. This can seriously drive you crazy. There would be times I couldn’t sleep at night because I was just trying to remember if I did everything right at work and if I documented it all, if there was ANYTHING I forgot. It is normal in the beginining but try not to make a habit out of it, that is no way to live. Eventually, you have to leave work at work or you will burn yourself out HARD and fast. Trust me, if something was missed or you forgot to document that oxycodone, someone will call you. It is totally normal to be hard on yourself, and alot of that makes for a good nurse, but when you take it to straight panic level, you may have a lot bigger of a problem on your hands than you thought.

10. Not every patient is going to love you, even though you want them to. Even though you may have done SO much for them, and felt like you were the best possible nurse, you are not guaranteed that your patient will be outright loving of you or grateful for you. This is the hard part because a lot of us nurses are overachievers and strive for excellence and thrive off of being a patient’s “favorite nurse”. There really is nothing like building a good repoire with a patient and feeling like you made a difference in their hospital stay, but that is not always the case. Humans are interesting in that we all experience things differently, we all have different stressors and things going on, we all experience pain and joy and love in different ways. You cannot take it personally if a patient doesn’t seem to love you as their nurse, you just can’t. I have spent so much time wondering “why don’t they like me, I have been so nice?”. Well, because to them, I am part of a negative experience for them, where they are in pain and not feeling well and they don’t want to do small talk, they want to be alone. Some people are not lovey-dovey, some people are not as grateful… that is just life. Just go into it telling yourself that you are going to be the best nurse that you can be no matter what. We don’t really know what is going on in each of our patients lives or what is going through each and every one of their minds. And quite frankly, our jobs are to help them heal, not to become their friends. I personally feel like I have connected with so many of my patients and I have felt their gratitude, kindness and companionship, but there are some patients where no matter what, I can’t seem to connect. I have learned to just let it go. As long as I am providing the best care that I can and attending to that patient’s needs, I cannot be selfish and insist to myself that I am their favorite nurse.

11. Don’t overshare personal stories with patients. I have heard some nurses share some real personal stories with their patients. It’s okay to be personable with your patients, but take it with a grain of salt, use your judgement. Don’t say anything that will hinder your patient’s trust in you and don’t make it about YOU, because the patient is the patient at the end of the day, and they want/need it to be about them.

12. Don’t assume anything. Pretty obvious one here. If an emergency bell is going off, don’t just assume someone has gone to answer it, take responsibility. If a patient is walking around clueless in the hall, don’t just ignore them and assume they will make it back to where they came from. Be helpful, don’t assume, ask questions.

13. Don’t forget to say goodbye to your patients at the end of your shift. I mean, I think this is just common courtesy here. I can’t believe that some nurses just leave without telling their patient that their shift is ending/asking if they need anything in the mean time. Just make it a habit to go say goodbye. I spoke with a nurse who told me she used to feel awkward doing this, but once she started, she couldn’t imagine not saying goodbye to her patients. I really didn’t know that people struggled with this until I started my most recent travel assignment. Obviously, don’t wake the patient up if they are sleeping, but I think in general, it is courteous and kind to say goodbye to your patient after spending a solid 8-12 hours with them.

14. Don’t pick up too much OT. It may be tempting, especially at first to make all that extra money, but don’t overdo it. You will learn to resent your job, resent wanting to go into work and you will become burnt out. You will feel like a zombie/robot that is just on repeat mode and you will make mistakes. Realize when you get to the point that you dread going into work, because at that point it’s safe to say you are probably burnt out or well on your way to getting there.

15. Don’t talk smack about your co-workers. It isn’t nice, it helps noone, it doesn’t create a conducive work environment. We aren’t in middle school, we are all professionals and should support a professional, judgement-free work environment. I don’t want to find out someone is talking behind my back, that is hurtful. If I have done something to bother someone, I would rather them come to me directly. Take that into your practice. If it bothers you that Nurse A always does xyz, take it up with Nurse A, don’t go telling everyone else about it- that is gossip. It will get back to Nurse A, it will cause office drama, and really, who wants that? Just be kind.

16. Be thankful. Sometimes I complain about my job, but at the end of the day I am thankful that I have a job- a job that I love, a well respected and well paying job. I get to do my job with passion,  work with amazing people and help build families and learn something new every single day. How many people can say that?

17. You will make some of your best friends/lifelong friends ever at your job. Or as I like to call them, my work wives. These are my people, they have my back & I love knowing that when I get to go into work, I get to spend time with them.  They help support me when I am down, help me laugh when I am sad, help me bear the weight of a heavy assignment and much more. They are my friends outside of work too, which is equally as important. I love my work wives and wouldn’t be able to do my job without them!

some of my work wives & I (Sarah, you are here in spirit I promise!)

18. DO USE caution with social media! This is a really important one. In this day and age, everyone is connected to their phones which are connected to twitter, instagram, facebook,etc but it is important that as a nurse you leave all that behind. It is not wise to post about patients or your day at work, even if you are leaving out “identifying factors” because someone is bound to see it, someone could get offended, it could get to management. Is that one post really worth risking your job? I have been astounded at what some people do on social media- I have seen people take photos of babies/patients and post them- THIS IS AGAINST THE LAW, you will get in trouble. Just be smart about it. I have posted before things like ” Rough day at work, I am thankful for all of my awesome coworkers”- I think that is fine, and I think you have to use your judgement because it could easily not be fine. Don’t post about how you don’t like your coworkers, or how your assignment was awful, or how unsafe staffing was (if this is the case, take it up in the appropriate outlet, not on social media, if a patient sees this it could open a can of worms). Don’t post things that you are doing if you call out of work! common sense people… I mean I really have seen it all and it amazes me what some people think is okay to post on social media. Is a like or a comment worth it that much that you risk your job to post it? Also, use caution when adding patients as friends on social media sites- this one is a touchy subject. I have a couple of really close patients that I had for extended periods of time that I added/accepted only after I was done caring for them, and I am able to keep up with their growing miracle babies and help give them words of encouragement. Again, I think this is okay, but it is a slippery slop and you have to be really careful with social media in this day and age!

Does anyone have some words of wisdom/advice that they would like to share?