Oncology Nursing Chose Me

This is a guest blog from Erin E. She currently resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her family where she works on an inpatient oncology unit. I (Erica) am honored to call her not only a colleague but one of my dear, dear friends. Your heart is an inspiration, Erin!

I didn't choose to bean oncology

People often ask how I chose to work in oncology. I usually tell them my story and what brought me to Grand Rapids and my oncology patients. The truth is, oncology chose me. As a new nurse, I was hungry to work. I was yearning to put all my nursing skills from school to use. Every area in nursing was new and exciting. I wasn’t fully sure where I would thrive and which area I would enjoy best.

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A Note to the New Grad Nurse Part 2-Things we wish we knew as new grads

I can still remember the day I got my acceptance letter almost 4 years ago like it was yesterday.  It was a crisp fall day when that letter arrived in my mailbox. While in many ways it feels like just yesterday, in reality it was almost 4 years ago.  Since then I’ve finished my masters, gone through an accelerated nursing program, and now have 2 years of nursing under my belt.  Every day I am still learning a ton, but there a few things my now “experienced” nursing friends and I wish we had known when we first put on those scrubs and proudly put on that badge saying boldly and loudly “RN.

27 Things We Wished We Knew as New Grad Nurses

1. If you feel like you are going to puke before every shift or drive to work in tears… don’t worry you aren’t alone. Same thing if this is what happens after your shifts. You are most definitely NOT alone.

2. Don’t accept just any job.  While it is hard as a new grad to find experience, you will be spending  A LOT of time there it is ok to wait for the right fit.

3. On that same note though, your dream job may take time, but a good fit is a GREAT place to learn.

4.  Confidence in yourself. It takes TIME. And that is ok.

5.  Sometimes SBAR isn’t all you need to tell the MD, PA, or NP.

6.  Those silly code runs that are fake and make you feel ridiculous. They actually are REALLY helpful!

7.  The field of nursing is wide and broad. Don’t limit yourself to just bedside nursing if it isn’t your passion, that is ok.

8.  You DON’T HAVE TO KNOW EVERYTHING. It is ok to say “I don’t know” and learn for next time.

9.  Asking questions doesn’t make you a bad nurse or make you stupid, it makes you SMART. That is the absolute best way to learn.

10.  Every place has its own “Policies and Procedures”.  Realize that how you learned something in nursing school may change during your first job… and your second… and your third… and so on.

11. You aren’t going to like every patient you take care of and that is OK. You just have to give every patient the best quality care you can.

12.  Driving home from work… crawling into bed after a long night shift you’re going to realize “OH MY GOODNESS I DIDN’T CHART THAT 300 mL OF URINE!”. You aren’t perfect. If it is something that needs attention you can call in to the nurse who followed you, but if it is something that can be let go… let it go. Learn from your mistakes of not charting in the moment and figure out a system of remembering that works for you.

13.  You have to come up with your own system of writing things down, charting, doing assessments, and managing your shift. It is perfectly ok if it isn’t like anyone else’s as long as it works for you and you can get everything done.

14. The first few shifts on your own you’re going to feel like a truck hit you and you’re never going to make it. But you will.

15.  Don’t be afraid to go in the bathroom, sit on the toilet, and take some deep breaths.  In the end every nurse has taken extra time in the bathroom just to catch their breath for a minute.

16.  When possible…. waste the medications that needed wasted right then and there.  That is just something you don’t want to even chance forgetting.

17.  You are your patients’s ADVOCATE. Don’t be afraid to stand up for them.  And if you’re wrong… oh well… at least you can leave knowing you fought for your patient.

18.  Keep your social life.

19.  Try as best as possible to lead a healthy lifestyle outside of work.  13 hour shifts are brutal.

20.  If you’re in MedSurg… we feel your pain. But know this. YOU ARE GOING TO LEARN A TON!

21.  There is a person beneath that rude and frustrating patient.  Do the best you can to find that person and care for their soul too.

22.  Find hobbies outside of work that help you unwind.

23.  This is a 24 HOUR institution if you are in a hospital.  Leave the patients with the other nurses. They are trustworthy and capable :-).

24.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.  You went to school for this. You’ve done your training. You’ve come this far. You don’t need to be walked all over.

25.  As you learn your area of specialty things will really start to fall into place. You’ll understand things better and you’ll be able to tell earlier and earlier when something is wrong in a patient.  Never underestimate the little things. They can in the end be warning signs for something much much bigger.

26.  You are only one person. Do not be afraid to ask for help! And one of the best things you can learn how to do is delegate appropriately… but don’t forget to double check that things that have been delegated are done.

27.  When you’re tired, warn out, smelly, dehydrated, not sure what is on your shoes, and squinting at the sun light as if you were a vampire know this. YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT! You are an incredibly intelligent person who has fought hard to get this far in your dream.  Keep running after it with your whole heart!  And don’t be afraid to try a few different areas until you find your passion (but make sure you give each area an ample amount of time before moving on).

We hope this helps,

Some slightly more experienced nurses

P.S. It is true the more you know… the more you realize you don’t know anything :-).

Erica

A Note for New Grad Nurses

 

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!

Erica

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