When you prepare to venture into the world of nursing, it is not uncommon to feel mixed emotions. As you begin this new adventure, it is important to realize that you are not alone. Each of us seasoned nurses who consider ourselves lucky to be a part of the process of your nursing education would like you to know that we all started somewhere. It is for that reason that I felt compelled to share my first day story.
As a newly graduated nurse in 1996, I was pleased to accept a new position on the Bone Marrow Transplant department at HSC. I arrived for my first independent shift as a nurse after receiving two weeks of intensive orientation. Nervous did not even begin to describe how I felt. I came onto the unit about 45 minutes early, wrote out my assignment, started to plan out my day, and saw that I had a student nurse assigned to one of my patients. When we met, she recognized me from the hallways of nursing school. The day only seemed to go downhill from there. The four patients assigned to me were all acutely ill. One was having seizures and required MRIs (the one with a student luckily, because she knew the patient better than I did), one needed to go for a lung biopsy (I needed to prep her for this, and I did not know where to begin). Both of these patients needed to leave the unit, and this required a lot of planning because they were neutropenic. Another needed platelets, and the last needed 2 units of blood. They all had central lines, each with about 3 IV lines with hourly ins and outs and multiple IV medications due each hour. By the end of the 12 hour shift, I was completely drained. I remember crying when I got home and thinking how am I going to do this? I went back the next day and it got better, not perfect but better.
This first day taught me a lot. It taught me to trust my colleagues, to ask for help, and to admit when I did not know something. I learned to listen to everyone. The student came to me about her assessment findings. The patients’ wife shared that she had been noticing the seizure activity for a while, but it had been dismissed so she thought it wasn’t important. It’s funny that I still remember that day with such clarity. I understood that I was a novice still learning, and needed to give myself a break. The key I believe to my continued success was resilience, a wonderful support network, and unwillingness to give up. That is what I want to say to you all. That I believe in you. I am still here for you because I understand to this day what it’s like to feel lost and overwhelmed. I also understand the rewards of sticking it out and living to tell my tale.
Post written by Corrina Zacharkiw RN MN