By Yvonne Shih ‘15

Transitioning from a student nurse to a Registered Nurse is one daunting task. You are constantly learning about your patient population and yourself. As I reflect back on my first year as a Registered Nurse at UCLA Health, I can see how my education at Boston College has given me the tools to be a nurse in the real world.

September 2015: I feel like a freshman in college again. I am so excited to start my first day of orientation at UCLA Health. It is time to meet new people and make new friends.

October 2015: Sleep? Who needs sleep. I have to sign up to work the day, night, weekend, and holiday shifts. Basically, when you are new, you do it all. On top of everything, I have to figure out how to adjust my sleeping schedule back and forth.

Kelly DiStefano ’15 (left) and KILN alumna Yvonne Shih ’15 (right) celebrate one year as RNs at UCLA Health

November 2015: Can I just feel competent already? Nursing in theory is extremely different from nursing in practice, because you have to care for four to five acute patients who all need you at the same time. However, nursing theory is necessary, because it builds the foundation behind why nurses do what we do. Every preceptor does things differently, so I will try my best to learn all the different tricks here and there.

December 2015: Training wheels are off. I am officially on my own. How terrifying! However, I am grateful to have floor nurses and charge nurses who are willing to help me. Whenever in doubt, I speak up and ask questions. I hate that I still stay overtime to chart sometimes (patients come first)! Sometimes I wish I could just be in two places (or even three places) at once. I still find it hard to prioritize and be efficient as other nurses.

January 2016: Rapid response after rapid response. These moments are powerful reminders to treasure every breath we breathe.

February 2016: I thought I never had to do a research project again. The nurse residency program wants all the new graduate nurses to complete an evidence-based practice project in our respective unit. Our unit already tried many interventions to decrease the number of falls. What else can I and the other new graduate nurse do?

March 2016: Applying something I learned from school. During my nursing clinical at MGH, the nursing unit had a patient education television channel, which made it easy for nurses to teach their patients. Maybe I and the other new graduate nurse can make a video that would provide nurses with another modality to educate patients. The goal will be to create a welcome video with an emphasis on fall prevention. Now, how do we get nursing administration and management on board?

April-June 2016: You know you get it when you can teach it. I feel more comfortable running around the unit by myself. Occasionally, nursing students follow me around and ask me questions. By explaining to students why or how I do things, it is helping me understand how I prioritize my patients’ care.

July 2016: Following Florence Nightingale’s example. It is time to implement our video and get feedback from patients. We need data to support our practice. However, I did not anticipate how hard it would be to implement change in a unit.

August 2016: Remember to use your PTO. Paid time off gives me an opportunity to have some R&R. I do not want to feel burnt out already. I just started this profession!

September 2016: Has it been a year already? We are presenting our project alongside other new grads. It is good to see some familiar faces. Surprisingly, I do not feel nervous (for once in my life) and I really have KILN to thank for that. Thank you for the supportive faculty mentors who helped me complete an Advance Study Grant (ASG) project and the necessary funding to attend the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) and Eastern Nursing Research Society (ENRS) conferences. All these experiences made today’s poster presentation feel like a well-rehearsed dance routine.