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Help for New Nurses

Congratulations! You graduated nursing school…Now what?

November 25, 2012

So there I was finally finished with nursing school, easy street, I thought. I mean I had everything going for me, critical care experience as a paramedic, plenty of extra certificates, and contacts in high places. I even had the manager of a clinic in which I worked previously as a lab technician guarantee me a position as soon as my classes ended. Upon graduation, I immediately printed out the papers from the New York State Health Department allowing for a provisional licence until my NCLEX test date. I figured I would be working the next day.

So how did everything fall apart, and why did it take so long to get my nursing career going? As the old adage goes, “If you want to make G-d laugh, tell him your future plans”. Although I had previous medical experience I did not anticipate the learning curve. There is a big difference between being a paramedic and working as a nurse. Even as a nurse, the difference between the vast array of specialties are huge. Every new career and job require the facility to spend their time and effort training you before they actually start making money.

The problem is that to train you, the facility not only must pay you, but additionally, they have to force or hire a more experienced nurse to show you the ropes. According to an article published by PubMed, many facilities pair up a new nurse with one who has experience while keeping his/her workload full. Although this may seem helpful to the senior nurse at first glance, it is actually an extra burden that the experienced nurse now must carry along with his/her usual load. In addition to her regular chores, there is now the added responsibility to ensure that the newbie does not make a medication error or perform a wrong treatment under your supervision. And then there’s all the questions and demonstrations that slow the work down, causing the experienced nurse to rush and possibly make mistakes his/herself. This may be why nurses are known to “eat their young”.

After my job guarantee fell through, I applied everywhere. I went to hospitals within my two hour radius. I hand brought my applications. If I didn’t get a response, I would bring another one, you know, just in case they lost the first one. I also tried using all my contacts. After about four months of searching, I took whatever sub jobs and impractical nursing jobs I could get my hands on. I became good at faking confidence so that the facilities would think that I wouldn’t require much training. I worked at a hospital an hour and a half away from me on the weekends. During the week I worked in a position which turned my stomach every morning and nearly drove me insane with anxiety. Eventually I put together enough experience to get a real job and three years later I am experienced and helping newbies myself.

References: J Nurs Res. 2011 Jun;19(2):132-40.Preceptors’ experiences training new graduate nurses: a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Retrieved from:

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