by Djerica Lamousnery
Upon graduating from Boston College (BC) in the spring of 2011, I took a month to prepare for the NCLEX. After passing the exam, I interviewed and accepted my first RN position at Rhode Island Hospital (RIH). As a new nurse in the ICU and Step down, I was part of the new graduate program, which is for nurses entering the ICU with no previous RN experience. I enjoyed learning with my peers who were all new graduates, partly because we were able to form a support system. Outside of the classroom, we spent our days gaining clinical experience in the units. I worked as a staff nurse on the Cardiothoracic ICU, which primarily served cardiac surgical patients. Although this was a very serious and specialized unit, I learned a lot about the importance of patient care.
During my first year as a nurse, I accidentally gave an IV medication too fast, and although the patient was not adversely affected, this proved to be a scary but teachable moment. As a new nurse it is not uncommon to make a mistake at some point. It is okay to not know everything when starting your first job. However when caring for other people’s lives, it is important to learn from your mistakes and always ask for help or advice, which will ultimately make you a better nurse.
After working at RIH for about a year and half, I decided to move to New York City. The search for a position was long but I finally landed a job at Columbia Presbyterian on the Neuro ICU. I was very excited to work alongside fellow BC alum, Ann Finck. Transitioning to this position was easier than my first job but still a learning experience. Learning nursing practices and customs in another hospital and state was a bit overwhelming, but I persevered and am still on the unit a year and a half later.
My advice to new nurses is to find a hospital with a respectable new grad RN orientation program. Despite where you may end up working in the future, this is where you will build your fundamental nursing skills. I believe hospitals which have a structured orientation program generally provide the tools for their new grads to succeed. My other piece of advice is to foster relationships with your coworkers and draw up on their years of experience in the field. They are a wealth of knowledge and are always willing to help you if you ask. Coworkers can become great friends outside of work as you progress through life and your nursing career.
Currently I serve on the Council for Women at BC and have been a member since graduating from BC in 2011. I enjoy maintaining relations with BC, especially being able to give back to the undergraduates. With numerous networking and career oriented events, it is a great resource for recent alumni. Last spring I sat on a panel for nursing undergraduates and shared my experiences of getting my first job and tips for preparing to enter the workforce. I am always looking for new ways to stay active and involved at BC. Soon I will be looking into graduate nursing programs, taking my nursing career a step further. For now my goal is to soak up all the knowledge I can get at the bedside!