I recently ran into a girl who I cheered with in high school. There is a bond between athletes from any sport that never seems to fade. It is a pretty incredible thing of what working together as a team can do to bond people together. As we were catching up, there was another bond that was found. She is a brand new nurse. She is exactly where I was 2 years ago. No matter what area of nursing or what path you have taken, the letters RN will bring you into an incredible community of people who you will forever have a bond with.
Since 2 years ago I’ve come a long way. Recently there was a blog that went viral Not Just a Nurse. I encouraged this new grad RN to read this. I can’t tell you how many times “I’m just a nurse” has come out of my mouth. There is such a vulnerable truth that is spoken in this nurse’s blog. A truth that needs to be heard. But it also brings up another truth about being a nurse, it is incredibly hard to be healthy in most nursing jobs.
I started my career 2 years ago as a nurse at the bedside. I had spent the last 7 years in school. And the summer before working at a teen weight loss camp. Here I was in my first full time big girl job. Little studying to do, but a ton to learn on the job. I had a brand new schedule that for the first time in my life had no sort of consistency. And I came home from work at least 13 hours after I had left for it. While at work I was constantly stressed and terrified of making a mistake.
Being a new grad nurse was probably one of the absolute HARDEST things I have ever done in my life. All day long my brain was going and my body was moving. You are constantly worried about what you could do to lose your license or worse, lose a life. You have to learn how to best communicate with different types of MDs, PAs, and NPs. You have to learn how to delegate to the nursing assistants and how to keep track of their work along with yours. Your brain doesn’t stop going.
On the outside of work it is hard to get patients off your mind. You wonder if you wasted all the medications you needed to. You wonder how you can manage time better. How are you ever going to be fast enough to get all your things done AND all your charting done?
Nursing takes a HUGE emotional and physical toll on your body. You’re going to struggle to figure out how to stay healthy during your shifts and days off. Here are a few tips.
1. Remember to stay hydrated. You have a very physically active job. Your body needs water not just caffeinated beverages.
2. If writing helps, journal. You have a lot going on in your heart and head after each shift.
3. Make your meals ahead of time. Before a long stretch of shifts make your food so you aren’t tempted to eat just fried food.
4. Keep a healthy snack in your pocket.
5. Remember you CAN’T do it all.
6. Listen to your body and how much sleep it needs.
7. Find ways for you to unwind when you get home
8. Don’t forget to be social
9. Exercise on your days off
10. Develop a support system both inside and outside of work. Do not be afraid after a long shift to call that nursing friend and vent for as long as you need.
11. Don’t bee too hard on yourself
You are entering into one of the most amazing careers. You will struggle. You will doubt. You will look at your fellow nurses and ask “why did we choose this?” My dear friend, you are going to see things you never thought possible. You are going to do things that most people would never be able to handle. You were created to do a very unique and incredible job. It is perfectly ok to feel overwhelmed.
But there will be moments when the patient breaks down in tears and you are there holding their hand. When the family member hugs you after their loved one has passed and says “I’m so glad you were their nurse”. When the new baby is born and you get to help see that beautiful life come into the world. When the patient goes into remission and you are the one rejoicing with that patient as if you were in remission. When the patient hears they are getting the organ they’ve been waiting for. You are there to walk through the valleys and mountains with these patients and their families. When it gets tough, remember the reasons why you chose nursing.
That RN is an incredible gift that means more than you could ever imagine. My dear new grad nurse, its your time to shine! Take it one step at a time. You. can. do. this!