As my first Nurse’s Week comes to an end, I can’t help but reflect on my last few weeks as a new nurse. For those of you who don’t know, the hospital I work in has a residency program for new nurses that really helps us transition from the student life into real life. Simultaneously with this program, I’m also in a critical care/ progressive care academy to better prepare me for the cardiac progressive care unit I got hired onto.
These past ten weeks have been intense.
Some weeks I’m in class Monday-Friday (does the learning ever really end? No- & thank God for that!), and others I’m on my unit with my preceptor working full 12-hour shifts. Tired yet? I am. After my first time working three back-to-back 12 hour shifts, I can honestly say I am e x h a u s t e d.
There are days that I come home from work and don’t want to speak to a single soul. I just spent the last 13 (it’s never just 12) taking care of three, four, or five really sick patients, and I’m totally drained- physically and mentally. Some days I don’t eat lunch until 3:30 or 4:00 p.m., and when I finally do get a chance to eat, it oftentimes gets cut short because my phone starts ringing (do you really need to talk to me?). Some shifts I only get to pee one time (TMI? Deal with it). Oh- and drinking as much water as I’m used to? Maybe a few sips when I speed walk past my water bottle. The days are hard, long, and busy, but they are rewarding.
Rewarding because you sense the gratitude patients express toward you when you give them your time.
Rewarding when the old man in room whatever that annoys the hell out of everyone looks at you and thanks you for being so kind and compassionate. Rewarding when you catch something that everyone else missed, and it makes a difference in your patient’s care. Rewarding when your coworkers become your friends, and rewarding when you finally get that skill you’ve been trying to master for weeks.
These past ten weeks have truly reminded me that it takes a special kind of person to really love being a nurse. You’re going to feel behind on your charting, you’re going to have to deal with gross shit (figuratively and literally), and you’re going to mess up. Patients are going to die, you’re going to get the worst patient assignment, and you’re going to forget to do something you knew you had to do. Patients will scream at you, physicians will scream at you, and even other nurses may scream at you. Those stressful days that you just want to go home and cry your eyes out are forgotten when you have that one amazing shift.
So, I survived my first Nurse’s Week
And nine others for that matter. I learned that three back-to-back 12 hour shifts are fucking brutal. I learned that compression socks are my best friend, that it’s possible for a phone to ring 300 times in one day, and that teamwork is an amazing quality for a unit to have. Let’s see how I do when I start having more and more responsibilities on my own (wish me luck!).
I hope all my fellow nurses had a fun, successful, and happy Nurse’s Week. I can’t wait to keep growing in my new career and see where it takes me!