By Karen Siroky, RN, MSN, and Christina Orlovsky, contributors
“I’ve learned that I need to be patient with myself. As a new nurse, I’m not going to know everything or always do everything exactly right at first. So, my advice would be to give yourself time, learn from everything and don’t sweat the little stuff,” said Kerry Willis, RN, a new critical care nurse at Tampa General Hospital in Florida. “The worst part is feeling like you just are not prepared. Slowly but surely those feelings subside with each and every new experience. As a new nurse you must learn to grow from every experience.”
Depending on your specialty and the facility where you are working, you may still be in orientation, or be looking at completing it soon. In either case, on a daily basis, familiarity with patients, procedures, other staff and even simple items like how to make sure a sample gets to the lab, are increasing. Just knowing these simple items makes each day “easier” than the one before.
At some point, you transition from “novice” to “advanced beginner,” according to Patricia Benner, who discusses this transition in her book “From Novice to Expert” (Prentice Hall, 2001). As an advanced beginner, you start applying basic knowledge to different situations. Similar patient types or situations are occurring and you can apply the knowledge you have to slightly different situations. As an advanced beginner, you will have gained rapport with staff, patients, physicians and others. You have skills you can perform independently. You can assess, plan, intervene and evaluate accurately and safely. Each day brings new added confidence in yourself, your skills and abilities—and, hopefully, in the fact that you have chosen the right profession. This is the perfect time for you to learn and hone the skills that interest you.
“Take in every experience that you can during orientation, take the sick patients while there is someone to hold your hand, ask many questions, and read everything that interests you,” said Shannon Hilton, RN, BSN, a new nurse in the cardiac ICU at University Hospital of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Reap the Rewards
Nursing is a great profession and probably one of the few careers that give you skills and abilities that you can apply in many different situations. No matter what specialty you have chosen, you are gaining skills and expertise that will apply as you move through your career, whether in your current specialty or in another one. Remember this as you face the inevitable challenges of your first year.
“Working as a nurse is the best job that anyone could have,” concluded Sarah Jaber, RN, a new ICU nurse at St. Anthony’s Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri. “It gives you satisfaction knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life. Whenever you see a patient smile or they give you a compliment, you know that you have done a good job and it makes you feel really good about yourself.”
© 2012. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.