My First Year as an RN — July 23, 2017

My First Year as an RN

It’s hard to believe it has been over a year since I started working as a registered nurse. July 18th, 2016 was a life changing day for me. Since then I have grown so much in not only the nursing profession but as a person in general. It’s only right for me to reflect on this monumental year in my life. There have been so many good moments, so many bad moments, and everything in between. Let’s see…

I have become such a stronger person over this past year in so many ways. When I first started I was beyond scared to do anything. I wanted to see my preceptor do a task a million times before I would have the confidence to even attempt to do it. I’ve gained the confidence to own it, no matter what the task is. I’ve also learned not to be too over confident and to ask for help or clarification when I need to. I’m dealing with people’s lives.

Bouncing off of that I’ve learned how to work as a team. Some people tend to think that nursing is a solo show but that is so far from the truth. Every single patient I have I’m always bouncing ideas off of other nurses about what might be best for them, what might be going on with them, etc. In emergencies your team is going to be your best asset. Accept it and love it. This goes for doctors too. Maybe not so much attendings since they’re damn near impossible to ever get ahold of but definitely the residents. I can honestly say that I love almost all of my floor’s OB-GYN residents (I work on a women’s health floor and we work closely with them). They’re always willing to listen to your ideas and take into consideration your thought process. Residents are learning just like new grad nurses. As long as it’s for the best interest of the patient then roll with it.

I’ve learned to have a thicker skin. I’m a shy person who gets intimidated easily. Over the past year I’ve had patients yell at me, blame everything going wrong on me, and flat out tell me I’m stupid and don’t know what I’m doing. In the beginning this absolutely sucked and sent any confidence I had plummeting. I’ve learned how to take things with a grain of salt. I now remember that I know I’m providing the best care that I can for them and that they’re having a terrible time just because they’re in the hospital. I’ve learned to use my resources to help diffuse situations instead of taking all the abuse by myself. It’s big to remember in nursing that you don’t deserve to be emotionally or verbally abused my patients or their families.

I’ve seen good patients turn bad in the blink of an eye. No, I haven’t had any patient die on my watch (thank god and knock on wood). I have had patients who are completely stable one minute start crashing the next. I remember while I was on orientation I had a patient who had donated a kidney to her sister 11 years ago and then ended up needing to have half of her remaining kidney removed. The patient was perfectly fine throughout the entire shift. Right before I left I medicated her with the smallest dose I could (and it was a pill). I left and my preceptor was picking up my assignment. When I came in the next day I heard that they had to call a rapid response on the patient and use narcan to wake her up. I felt terrible and honestly thought I had killed a patient. It turns out that her body was having problems filtering the mediations due to her only having half a kidney. She went to step down and was sent home a few days later. I learned a huge lesson that day, that things change instantly and you always have to be on top of your game for whatever situation you may walk into.

I’ve gained some of the best friends I could have ever imagined having. The floor I work on is the most open and accepting I have ever seen. I have work moms and girls that are more like sisters to me. I’m the baby of the floor by a good amount of years. I know each and every one of the women I work with are rooting for me and want me to succeed. I can tell most of them anything and know that they’re going to give me the best advice out there, whether it’s about nursing or anything else in life.

I’ve worked with some of the most amazing doctors that I have ever seen, especially the OB-GYN doctors. They’re always willing to teach and communicate with you. It’s fascinating to have a conversation with them and eventually develop a form of friendship with them. They don’t treat you like you’re beneath them, they treat you as a co-worked and it’s really a beautiful thing to see.

There’s so much more I can look back on but it would take me a year to do it. Although no one knows that I have this blog I want to thank everyone. Thank you to my parents who have supported me through this insane year and dealt with my tears and over excitement. Thank you to my co-workers who have accepted me, guided me, answered all of my questions (and I’ve asked a million of them), and who have helped mold me into the nurse that I am today. Thank you to the doctors who have, at times, drove me insane but have also pushed me to think outside the box and learn to question things. Thank you to the manager that hired me that has since moved on in the company for taking a chance on a new grad on a floor who has probably one of the highest turn over rates and believing in me.

365 days seemed like it was going to be a lifetime and that I was never going to get there. Looking back at it, it flew by and I couldn’t be happier or prouder of the nurse that I turned out to be after all of it. The biggest thing I’ve learned these past 365 days…believe in yourself. It may seem impossible but you’re going to get it and it’ll be worth every tear.

6 Months as a Practicing RN — January 19, 2017

6 Months as a Practicing RN

Holy crap! I can’t believe that today marks 6 months of being a practicing RN! It has been the craziest, most surreal time of my life and I can honestly say that I am so happy with my career choice.

Being a nurse has been the most challenging time in my life. There are days where I feel like I am the worst nurse ever and that everything is going wrong. These days I really struggle with. I’ve learned to turn to my coworkers (who usually are having just as bad of a day) and breathe. We’re constantly reminding one another to take deep breaths and that if there’s anything we can do to help we’re there. This is the most important thing. Working with the team that I do has been a lifesaver. I trust almost all of them and feel like I can go to them for anything. They’ve welcomed me with open arms and have taken me under their wing to help me become the best nurse I can be. I love my North 8 girls more than I ever thought possible.

Being a nurse has been the most rewarding time of my life. The good days definitely make the bad days worth while. When a patient tells me that I’ve made their day or when they ask to have me as their nurse the next day makes me smile. When a patient gives me a big hug on day of discharge I melt. Watching someone progress from extremely sick to stable enough to go home is awe inspiring and knowing you played a part in getting them there is the best feeling. I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything.

My advice for any new nurse (and don’t get me wrong, I’m still very new) is to stick it out. There are days that you’ll hate it, there are days that you’ll love it. Take everything in, ask questions and if you still don’t understand it ask the question again. Try and get as many opportunities to have hands on experiences. Nothing you did in the skills lab at school is how it is in the real world with real people and real feelings and emotions. The first 6 months I’ve learned so much and there is still so much for me to learn. I try and make it a goal to learn something new every day. Know that you’re going to make mistakes. Hopefully there are not life threatening. Use these mistakes as learning experiences. Despite being a nurse you’re a human being first.

These 6 months have been life changing. I can’t wait to see where the next part of the year takes me. I love the floor I work on, I love my coworkers, and I love my career choice. Find something you love and it’ll be the most rewarding job out there.


Should I Be a PCA Before an RN? — October 11, 2016

Should I Be a PCA Before an RN?

Hey everyone,

As I’ve mentioned before I was a PCA, patient care associate, at the hospital I ended up getting hired as an RN for a little over a year. I had this job while in nursing school and let me tell you it was the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s tough work being a PCA but it is also so rewarding. Here’s a few reasons why I think you should be a PCA before becoming an RN.

  1. It helps you gain confidence: I am an extremely shy person. I don’t like talking to people I don’t know that much. As a nurse, that’s obviously your main job. You talk to patients, families, doctors..the list goes on and on. By being a PCA before I became an RN I was able to work on developing the confidence that I needed to talk to patients and families. Now I can walk into a patient’s room or talk on the phone with the MD (granted that’s still petrifying) and feel more at ease with it.
  2. You learn basic skills: They teach them in nursing school but for me it was a quick class where they taught you how to change an occupied bed and the importance of using assistive mobility devices. It wasn’t until I was working in a hospital and had to do q2 hour turns, clean up incontinent patients, and walk a post-op patient in the hallway that I really gained the skills that not only PCAs but RNs need as well. Trust me, being an RN doesn’t mean you’re above cleaning up a patient. Everyone works as a team and being more comfortable with these skills that we take for granted is a lifesaver.
  3. Gives you a new appreciation for the PCAs you’re going to be working with: I never realized just how hard PCAs work on a daily basis. Yes, RNs have a lot going on with their 4-5 patient assignment but PCAs have sometimes 10-15 patients. Everyone works as a team. No job is more important, everyone has the same goal..keep the patient safe, comfortable, and help them get better. After being a PCA for a year I’m more than okay taking a set of vitals if I’m going into a patient’s room instead of asking the PCA who has to take vitals on 9 other patients.

So to answer the question should you be a PCA before an RN, I would say absolutely. It’s a different world working in a hospital. Everyone works hard, everyone puts in the time and hours, and everyone is a team. Bottom line..appreciate your PCAs, they’re going to be the ones who have your back when your confused patient is throwing feces around the room.