A New Nurse

My first year of nursing was tough. I cried more times than I can count. As a new nurse you feel alone, terrified you’ll make a mistake, you can’t remember anything you learned the past two years, it’s as if it vanished, you are overwhelmed with the amount of work you are required to do, you’re scared to call the doctor-what if you’re wrong? Will they be mad? It wasn’t this hard in clinical was it? Or were we overconfident because we had an actual nurse watching over us? Now we are that actual nurse, we have no one watching over us. We are the life-saver, the healer, the bringer of medication, the feeder, the one that talks to the doctor when we think something is going wrong. It’s all on us now. You feel isolated.

But you’re not. You have countless of co-workers who have your back regardless of what happens. You can ask for help. You can remember everything you’ve learned, you can get all the work done. You can call the doctor and be wrong, and no they won’t be mad. You can wear all the hats of a nurse and you can succeed. The first year is the hardest.

As an ICU nurse the first year is even tougher. Taking care of critical newborns makes it harder. You have someone’s child in your hands, their life, their meaning to live, their whole world. You may be scared, you may be overwhelmed, but these parents just got their life turned upside down and sideways. No ones birth plan includes a stay in the NICU.  No one wants to experience watching their baby fight for their life. You as the nurse are their rock, their support system. You are their life-saver. These parents put 100% of their trust in you, and with each passing day you start to feel more and more confident in the work that you can provide this newborn and their parents.

As your first year continues you begin to feel more confident in the work you can perform and the lives you can save.  During the first year, you get trained to handle higher acuity, babies that require a breathing tube, babies that may die. All those feelings you had the first day of your new job are back. Alone, isolated, afraid to call the doctor, afraid you have no help. But you make it through, you survive the first year. You realize how tough babies can be, how tough their parents can be, but most of all you realize how tough you are. You’ve learned so much, but realize there is so much more for you to learn, for you to go through.

Even though your first year is officially over, you still have all those feelings you had on day one. Don’t they ever go away?

My answer, no. I feel as though they shouldn’t ever go away. If you walk into work and don’t feel a little scared of how your shift is gonna go, something is wrong. This is when you will make a mistake and something will go wrong. A day in the life of a nurse is never a walk in the park. Anything can change in a split second and you have to be prepared for the worst. When you are only thinking of the next best thing to happen is when everything will immediately go wrong.

Don’t lose that scared, terrified feeling, but also remember to feel confident in your skills, ask for help, and know you have the ability to save the life in front of you.