I've been a nurse for about 4.5 years and lately I've been reflecting on ALL the things they did NOT teach me in nursing school - and I'm not talking clinical related.
10 things they should have taught in nursing school
Stop competing with each other and start working together. Nurses are a team.
Nursing school is SUPER competitive. You are all working super hard to get straight A's - otherwise you feel like you have NO chance to make it into the nursing program and then you are a failure right? - You have to "beat" out the other applicants that want to be nurses too. All that matters in your head is getting that A. - When you become a nurse you soon realize that you are all on the same team. You all want what is best for the patient and you NEED each other to make that happen. You ask each other advice. You physically help each other by helping with patient transfers, patient turns, doing CPR on another's patient. Nursing school makes you forget you are all on the same team. Believe me when I say there is enough room for you ALL in this nursing world if you truly want it. There is more than enough room for you to be successful.
Find something outside of working that fulfills you.
In nursing school - school = life. It consumes you. It may seem like you will never get done... but you will. And then you are in the REAL world my friends and you will be wondering WHAT THE HECK to do with all your time! You will feel like you are forgetting to study something. You might even feel guilty going out to have fun. Work should not be all of your life. Don't forget about ALL of your other passions besides nursing and work on growing those too.
Your work will never be perfect or pretty. Nursing is messy. However type A you might be..LET IT FREAKING GO already. You will be interrupted a million times during your shift. Things will never go as smoothly as you choose. Don't even TRY to plan your shift. Seriously. That is like intentionally jinxing yourself. Stop trying to be perfect by "working ahead" - Start practicing extreme multitasking now and be ready for plenty of unplanned road blocks. Don't you dare let them discourage you.
There are some words you NEVER say out loud during a shift. Be prepared to be beat up if you EVER mention that "it sure is quiet around here"
The inevitables: if your patient codes - it WILL be at shift change. Be that code BLUE or code BROWN
Personal Development and Leadership
No matter what your "title" you ARE a leader and you must continue to build those skills. You must ALWAYS be working on being a better you! I challenge you to take TEN minutes each day by doing some sort of reading, podcast, audio or devotional every single day. Sit down. Tune out the world. And absorb it. You can not help others unless you are CONTINUING to grow yourself.
Patients and families can be mean.
Its not like TV where everyone praises you for your services. Families and patients can be rude and disrespectful. You have to learn to let it roll off your back. You have to be confident in yourself and do your best NOT to take it personal. Is it hard? Yes. Do you want to sometimes shout: "Do you know I just saved your life or your loved ones life? Do you know I skipped my breaks today and held my bladder for 12 hours just to make sure you or your loved ones could have the best possible care?" YES. It happens. But you HAVE to remember the stress these people are going through - and unfortunately you are an easy target at the time. Let is roll off. Know that you ARE valued. And there ARE also going to be AMAZING patients and AMAZING families that shout their appreciation from the rooftops. You have to take them both.
Expect yourself to make mistakes.
I hate to break it to you sunshine - but you aren't perfect no matter how much nursing school makes you think you have to be. You are GOING to make mistakes in this profession. Even med errors. Yup. Guilty as charged. What do you do after a mistake? You FAIL FORWARD. You grow from it. Take it and own it and more forward. You aren't allowed to live in gripe for more than a half hour. onward and upward fellow nurse!
Speak with confidence because you know your shit.
Sorry about the language. But seriously. If you want to be taken seriously by other staff INCLUDING physicians - you have to speak with confidence, have your facts lined up and go for it. Concerned about a patient and need to call a doc can be frightening at first - but EVEN if you get "yelled at" - know that you are doing it because you are CONCERNED and want the best for your patient. NO ONE can be angry at that. But PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE have everything in front of you before you call. There is NOTHING more embarrassing than paging an MD at 3 am only to NOT have your last set of vitals in front of you when they ask.
Take care of yourself for goodness sake.
You have to take your nutrition seriously. Believe me when I say there is a TON of crap food around any hospital or nursing setting. Candy bars, cookies, pizza, soda - what have you. And there is NOTHING wrong with these things in moderation! Don't use the words I'm too busy while shoveling your face full of sugar - I know we don't get a ton of time to sit and have a meal. But I'm begging you - pack snacks!!! Be prepared. Eat like crap. And you will FEEL LIKE CRAP. STOP FILLING YOUR BODY WITH GARBAGE AND SET AN EXAMPLE FOR YOUR PATIENTS!
Learn to love coffee
It will love you back I promise.
Be proud of your accomplishments
You are not JUST a nurse. You have worked your BUTT off to be where you are today. You are caring, patient, kind, a critical thinker, a doer, a dreamer & an advocate. OWN THOSE THINGS and go be awesome!
Where my nurses at? - What do you wish you would have learned in school?
Runner. Lifter. Girlboss. Entrepreneur. Nurse. Coach.