The transition from student to professional is unique, and one that must be experienced to fully understand. Patients and families look to you as the go-to person; you are the extra 15 minutes it will take to explain what the doctor explained in 2 minutes, and patients are still trying to figure out what the doctor actually meant. You grow so much your first year as an RN, and begin to realize how much you actually know, even when you feel like you know nothing.
Starting in a Level I Trauma Emergency Department as a new graduate was daunting. I always said I would never work in an ER, but new grad jobs can be hard to find. I moved away from home (again) to get hospital experience. You may have to do the same.
Working in an ER, I had to become independent very quickly with top-notch assessment skills. In the blink of an eye, my patient’s condition can worsen, and I must know how to respond, even if it means saying, “I don’t know what to do but I need help now.” If I had any advice for new grads, it would be:
- First and foremost, take care of yourself. Your job is second to your happiness and your health. Be intentional about the relationships you form with people. Hold your friends and family close. You will need them when things get tough.
- If you don’t love it, leave it. There are so many directions you can take with your nursing career. Being unhappy in your job will show in your work and how you treat your patients. They deserve the best and so do you.
- Advocate for yourself at all times.
- Treat everyone you meet with the same level of respect. The janitor is just as important as the CEO. Learn peoples’ names and get to know them over time. Some of the people with the most organizational knowledge aren’t always in your direct circle.
I remain grateful for the leadership and networking opportunities provided through KILN-they gave me the skills and confidence I need every day in a challenging job.