10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A Nurse - Newbie Nurse Confessions
By Lee Nelson
Being a newly graduated nurse and starting your first job is a tough road - there are new technologies to learn, life and death situations to deal with, emotional family members to help and Doctor demands to fulfill.
We asked newbie nurses from across the country to share the most valuable lesson they've learned over the past year at their first nursing jobs. Take a look what they said:
1. You Won't Know Everything - And, That's OK.
“One of my co-workers told me, ‘You don’t have to know everything. You just have to know your resources and who to call.’ It will stay with me forever, and it is so true in nursing,” said Maria Becker, who works in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She graduated in 2013 from Creighton University, Omaha, Neb.
2. You Will Be On Your Own. A Lot.
“The most surprising thing to me in my first year as a registered nurse was when I learned that I had so much autonomy,” said Emily Buckley, working in neonatal ICU in Colorado Springs, Colo. She also was a 2013 graduate of Creighton. “Although certain procedures need to take place and certain medications need to be given, every nurse has a different style of tackling the same problem.”
3. Take Your Time And Slow Down.
“I have learned that as a nurse that one must give themselves grace,” said Jacqueline Scott. She graduated May 2016 with a BSN from Duke University. She works in pediatric surgery at University of North Carolina Children’s Hospital. “One cannot simply be in two places at once or do it all. I give myself grace, knowing that it is a day-to-day, shift-by-shift learning curve.”
4. A Little Gratitude Goes A Long Way.
“I have a new respect for life and am very thankful for mine and my health as I have seen many who are suffering more than I can imagine,” said Amy Jones, who graduated March of 2016 as a registered nurse. She now works as a clinical nurse at Unity Point Clinic in Geneseo, Ill.
5. Always Do What’s Best For Your Patient.
In the clinic, Jones can see 20 plus patients in an 8-hour period. “I learned I dislike giving kids shots. But I tell myself it is for the best.”
6. You’ll Change - In All Aspects Of Life.
“I discovered the things that make me tick. I learned how I am rejuvenated, what I find important in friendship, and how to stand up for my values and beliefs,” Becker said.
7. Self-Care Is Not An Option. It’s A Necessity.
“I would encourage each and every new nurse to take care of themselves by eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep and exercise,” Buckley said. “This is an extremely emotional job, and if I didn’t learn how to take care of myself early on, I would not be near the nurse I am today.”
8. A Bad Shift Does NOT Make You A Bad Nurse.
“There are days where you feel so accomplished and proud of your work,” Buckley said. “Other days, you feel as though you’ve failed your patient and their family. It’s important to remind yourself your reasons for wanting to be a nurse in the first place, and realize that some days will be better than others.”
9. There Is No Such Thing As A “Stupid” Question.
“Teamwork is huge,” Jones said. “I ask lots of questions as I don’t want to make a mistake and have so much to learn. Nursing school does not prepare you for what nursing entails. Every patient, every situation is different, even if they have the same illness.”
10. Take The Time To Listen To Your Patient.
“Always listen to the patient. If they say they don’t feel right, then they don’t feel right, and you better get prepared as something may be about ready to change,” Jones said.
Jones started her nursing schooling later in life after watching both of her parents die and watching over a very ill son.
“This all sparked an interest for me in the medical field. I feel this has made me a better nurse when it comes to bedside manner,” she said. “I guess I felt I haven’t done all I want to do before I die. I want to make a difference. I can’t save everyone like I like to, but I am going to do my best to do what I can for them.”
Nurse.org's Popular Guides and Resources
Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses
Read about the top student loan forgiveness programs for nurses and find out if you qualify.
15 Highest Paying Nursing Jobs in 2021
You know all nursing jobs aren’t created (or paid!) equally, but do you know which nurses are making the most money in 2020?
Earn CEUs Online!
Need to renew your license soon? Check out our favorite free online CEU courses.
2021’s Best Nursing Schools
We’ve looked at programs nationwide and determined these are our top nursing schools.