Written by: Amanda Princz, BSN, RN
How The Pandemic Started It All
When the pandemic hit in 2020, I was working in a fast-paced emergency department. It was a crazy time to be a nurse. Patients were incredibly sick and dying, but the community showed up in a way that I’d never seen before. I did end up getting covid, and recovered fine after several weeks, thankfully, but it was a scary time. We didn’t know much about it or best treatment options at that time.
Due to the shelter-in-place orders, there was nothing to do other than go to work. I found myself craving human interaction and yearning to create. A new graduate coworker of mine mentioned she was struggling. Her orientation was entirely covid patients. She was concerned that once the pandemic was over, she wouldn’t know how to care for other types of patients. That’s when I decided to start a platform to encourage and motivate new graduate nurses. I wanted those nurses who were feeling insecure and unconfident to know that their feelings were normal, and that they were not alone. That’s how “New Nurse Navigator” began.
New Nurse Struggles
New graduate nurses learn a lot in nursing school, but it rarely prepares them for real-world nursing. They’re not prepared for unit dynamics, communicating with patients, building confidence, time management, work-life balance, surviving night shift, calling physicians, etc. I want them to understand that everyone struggles with these things as new employees. No one just started out as a perfect nurse! I want new nurses to learn how to give themselves some grace and be patient. Before long, they’ll look back and say, “hey, look how far I’ve come, I actually know what I’m doing!”
What All New Nurses Need to Know
CONFIDENCE… this is what all new nurses want, and you will get it, but it takes TIME and EDUCATION. Focus on learning everything, soak up as much as you can, volunteer to help other nurses, and research what you don’t understand. Day-by-day you will be gaining confidence, even if you don’t realize it right away.
When a patient or coworker is rude to you, please understand that it is about them, not you. If it’s inappropriate/harassment, address it, otherwise try to brush it off and move on. Never let someone else’s bad attitude ruin your shift, your week, or your month!
Do not take shortcuts, even if a seasoned nurse does it. That is how mistakes happen. Remember that you are the only one who is going to protect your nursing license so tread carefully.
With that being said, you will make a mistake. It’s human nature. Take time to be upset about it, learn from it, and then keep going. There is not a nurse in the world who hasn’t made a mistake.
Your first job doesn’t need to be your forever job. Use the opportunity to learn everything you can. Ask questions, help with procedures, practice new skills. When the time is right, you will be in a good position to land your “dream job.”
Your mental health is more important than your job, always. You’re not obligated to pick up extra shifts, you can leave a toxic job before a year is up, you don’t have to start out in a hospital setting, and it’s okay to say no to being the charge nurse before you’re ready.
Nurses could not do their jobs without nursing aides/techs, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, doctors, social workers, pharmacists, dietary staff, transporters, etc. We are a team and need to treat everyone with respect and you deserve respect from the team too!
Remember that you are not alone. Every single nurse (even the mean ones or “perfect” ones have been in your exact same situation). When you look back a year or two from now, you will be shocked at how much you have grown as a nurse and changed as a person.
Amanda Princz, BSN, RN has been a nurse since 2015 and has experience in medical-surgical, emergency, and endoscopy nursing. She lives in the metro Detroit area with her husband and two kids. She started “New Nurse Navigator” to motivate, inspire, and hopefully spark joy in new graduate nurses’ lives. Please reach out and say hi, she loves hearing from new nurses.