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My first three weeks as a graduate nurse

Hello again!
Hopefully the first blog wasn’t too much of a bore because I think this one will be the biggest help to all the nursing students out there. This blog will track my first three weeks at Peninsula Health.

First day nerves

Waking up I wasn’t nervous, the most exciting part of the morning was putting on my navy blue scrubs. When I arrived at the hospital I felt like something was wrong with me, I didn’t feel anything, I think I was in shock and nothing felt real.

Everyone else was very excitedly chatting away or almost in tears with nerves, but to me none of it felt real – it had taken four years and I was finally starting my full time job in my dream career.

Although I wouldn’t be looking after any patients until Friday – after I had done three days of intensive hospital education sessions and a day of orientation in the Emergency Department (ED) – I was waiting for the anxiety to kick in.

After three very long days of training on medication error, falls prevention and blood transfusion training, the fear set in. I felt so much doubt – “I know nothing” and “I could give someone the wrong medication and kill them” was running through my head, but I had hope that instinct would take over and the four years of university knowledge would somehow come back to me. 

ED orientation went by quickly and suddenly it was Friday and I was on the floor! It was a supernumerary shift, so I was working with another staff member closely. It was difficult to not revert back to feeling like a student, I kept having to remind myself that I was qualified and didn’t need people to observe me or double check what I was doing. I had three more supernumerary shifts and then it was finally time to be released onto the general public by myself.

First shift alone

The biggest realisation that occurred to me on shift one, is how vigilant and comprehensive I must be. The simple task of giving paracetamol was the most terrifying, suddenly I was allowed to give it and many other medications and nobody was there to double check it. I think I double checked the dose, the order, the date on the packaging and the correct patient around five times before I ended up actually giving it to her. It would be so easy to get distracted and make an error that I would forever have to be vigilant and make sure I don’t become complacent. I finished my shift and I went home feeling confused.

This confusion continued for the next two weeks of shifts. It’s an indescribable feeling, one minute in a shift you can have such incredible self-esteem – you’re smart, well educated, on top of your work load, patients are stable with their pain managed and have had some food. With no exaggeration, in 10 seconds flat, you can be feeling the opposite. Uneducated, the smallest person in the world, like you have no idea what you are doing.

It’s true that some people’s comments or actions can make you feel that way and you won’t be alone in feeling like this. My biggest piece of advice is “take it on board”– don’t take it personally, because it isn’t. Your emotions during this stressful time are very heightened, you will often take something personally that wasn’t intended in that way. Your colleagues are there to support you, help you improve and grow. I’m about 3 weeks into my nursing now and have learnt to take constructive criticism a lot better, and I think people respect me for this, I am striving to improve and be a part of the team.

This journey isn’t an easy one, but let me tell you, it is worth it. I am absolutely loving each and every shift that I have at work and the challenges that come along with it.