November 30, 2022

Comparing New Grad Nurses “Then” and “Now”

Comparing New Grad Nurses “Then” and “Now”

So much has evolved in nursing since the days of Florence Nightingale – everything from nursing education, NCLEX, health professional roles, scope of practice, patient acuity, the environment in which nurses provide care, nursing specialties, communication technology, documentation, medications, equipment used, cost of healthcare, a pandemic and the list goes on. Along with the many changes the nursing profession has been subjected to, is it also fair to say that we the nurses have changed too? 

Most of us go into nursing because we’re passionate about caring for other people, but what about the other characteristics that make nurses successful in this profession? Traits such as being tenacious, a critical thinker, team player or good communicator, having ingenuity, patience or resilience and being able to care for difficult people while enduring horrible work and staffing conditions. 

Let’s face it – being caring and nice is no longer enough to survive the nursing profession. Most, if not all of us, have had to develop some thick skin which usually takes time and experience, but some people are learning trial by fire. 

So, how are new grads in the profession doing?  Are you surviving the pitfalls, harshness and extreme conditions of the nursing profession climate?

We’ve ALL Been New Grads

First let me start by saying, everyone has to start somewhere, and we’ve ALL been new grads. We should all be able to relate to the anxiety, angst, fear, frustrations and obstacles that come with starting in the profession. Let’s not act like we don’t. 

However, I do want to say that there are some things that the new grads of yesterday may not be able to relate to - simply because certain things didn’t exist, and certain expectations didn’t exist either. Life and the healthcare landscape were just different back then. 

Let’s look at some of the differences I’ve noticed between “new grads, then” and “new grads, now:”

How Nursing School Has Changed Over The Years 

It’s been quite some time since I was a new grad and while yes, it was rigorous, I can’t recall jumping through as many hoops to get into nursing school like many require today. When I went to school the TEAS and HESI exams didn’t exist. ATI wasn’t yet standard in all nursing schools. Nursing study and testing tools like Quizlet, YouTube, TikTok didn’t exist. Back in the day,  nursing schools required you to lug around all of your nursing books because there were no e-books, turn in more paper assignments and we didn’t have all the same types of learning equipment or tools such as elaborate simulation labs, online videos or tutorials. These things didn’t become widely available or popular until 2010. The culture of nursing school was more militant, too, and it wasn’t until more recent years that mental health became more of a consideration for students.  But when it comes to the workplace, there’s no help for practicing nurses. 

The pressures and obstacles that new grads face today is overwhelming. While we need MORE nurses, our current onboarding system, pipeline, and work culture is not conducive to supporting or growing the workforce. 

Do you think new grads now have it easier with all of the technology and resources? Or do they have it harder, considering all of the changes, politics and problems in the workplace?


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