Nurse reflections on a hectic start to a career.
New grad RN here to chime in and say, what did I get myself into?
Allow me to elaborate. Picture this, you just finished your first semester of nursing school; your clinical rotations at the hospital start next semester; you are ecstatic to begin seeing the critically ill patients.
Fast forward a few weeks into the second semester and then the craziest thing ever happens: a global pandemic. You are now forced to stay home for weeks without knowing the fate of your nursing education. You are constantly checking your school email for updates, for any information on what is going to happen, but basically you get nothing. Your instructor is telling you that they don’t even know what’s going to happen, they don’t even know how the program will proceed, or if it will. What did I get myself into?
Fast forward to the end of the semester. All of your “hospital clinicals” were done from the comfort of your couch, in your pajamas, as your instructor sends you pre-recorded lectures going over pages and pages of care plans. Talk about a lack of experience. What did I get myself into?
Fast forward through a summer of quarantine, and you are finally allowed back into the classroom at the college. Now there is social distancing, masks, and hand sanitizer everywhere. Third semester is much harder than you anticipated, probably because last semester barely counts as learning anything except how to operate a zoom meeting. Since you are pretty much self-taught, you are now very behind and struggling more than anticipated. Classmates are failing tests all around you. And still you wonder, what did I get myself into?
Fast forward to the fourth and final semester of nursing school. The classroom feels bare as the number of classmates is almost half. Not many classmates were able to survive the rigors of last semester with you. You can’t help but be nervous for your own fate. With a preceptorship and a capstone project due this semester, you are stressed about when you will have time to finish everything. What did I get myself into?
Fast forward through the long hours of studying, through passing your final, and through graduation. Now you sit at home and study most of the day, stressing about the dreaded NCLEX. But only after that is over, and thankfully you passed, now the real challenge comes: floor nursing with COVID. As a new grad, you are now expected to take on an increased patient load, that of which even the most experienced nurse struggles with. Not only are you not familiar to the “normal” routines of the hospital, but you are also terrified for yourself and your patients, questioning and second-guessing everything you do. You are exhausted and burnt out, but you just started. Is there an end in sight? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? This is only the beginning, but what did I get myself into?
An exhausted, yet motivated, RN
If you have an experience that you’d like to share in Nurse Reflections, contact American Nurse Journal Executive Editorial Director Cheryl Mee at firstname.lastname@example.org.