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Where Are You Now

Where Are You Now: Donna Oige

February 6, 2020

Donna Oige shares her experience and insight since graduating from the BN program in 2018:

Where are you now?

The NICU at St Boniface Hospital.

How easy was it to find a job after graduation?

It took me almost 3 months to get hired after graduation from time of application, to when I was interviewed, to when the job offer came. However, I was applying for specific areas and also during a very trying time in the health care field. Many changes were occurring and as a result hiring managers were very back logged and many others I knew also waited this long.

How did you manage the responsibility of going from student to nurse?

Asked lots of questions! I went from doing my practicum in a specialty area (Public Health) to being hired in another specialty area (The NICU). Many skills which transferred over however many new ones. Nursing school provides you with an important foundation of knowledge for entry level practice into the profession however there is so much more you learn based on the position you are in. My first few months as a nurse I still felt like a student again, as I was still asking questions and not quite confident yet in my role. I was also many months out of being in a hospital setting which came with a learning curve. I had my buddy shifts and a training course once I was hired and I continued to ask question after question until I eventually started feeling more and more like a real nurse.

How did you build your confidence as a new nurse?

Worked lots and gained lots of experience. I started in a full time position which I found to be very busy but it helped me to learn my job more quickly. I took deep breaths. I asked questions; lots of questions (how? what? why?). Admitted when I didn’t know or understand something. Tried to have thick skin. If someone gave me a criticism, took it constructively and learn from it. Read the policies. Observed the variations on how all of my coworkers do their jobs and utilized this to develop my own way of doing it. My confidence continues to build each day.

Thinking back, what were the most important lessons from school that you took into the workforce?

That the patient is a part of the health care team. Allow them to be a part of the discussion surrounding their health as they are the most important member of the team and why we do what we do.

Self reflection allows us the opportunity to grow. I disliked this in school however I’ve now come to realize when I reflect back on a situation it helps me to better myself as a nurse.

It’s true that the learning never stops.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were a student?

That it’s okay to not always know the answer. As a nurse I will continue to learn and the learning never stops.

What piece of advice would you give to current students?

– Ask questions to help you understand; to your instructors, classmates or even a mentor. Raise your hand in class, make sure you understand. When you’re new to the profession don’t be ashamed to admit you don’t know something.
– Support those around you who you can see might be struggling and help them to understand (be a mentor).
– Follow your passions; do your practicum in the area you are passionate about even if this means you may not get a job. The experiences I gained were invaluable. Also know that it’s ok if you don’t get a placement where you hoped. Remember that it’s doable to still become a nurse and apply to that area later and that’s okay.
– When you are halfway through your practicum you will be told you can start applying for jobs; do not wait to do this as the process takes a while. Apply right away.
– Take care of you! Time with friends/family, the gym, a walk or a warm bath or a glass of something bubbly. Do something for yourself once in a while as this time helps you refuel for what’s ahead.
– When you graduate; celebrate and pat yourself on the back as this nursing program was the hardest thing I have ever endured in my life. It’s a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of yourself!

Thank you Donna for sharing your experience and words of wisdom!

Where Are You Now: Emma MacLennan

December 12, 2019

Emma MacLennan shares her experience and insight since graduating from the BN program in 2018:

Where are you now?

After completing my senior practicum at the NICU at Health Sciences Centre, I am currently still there working my dream job!

How easy was it to find a job after graduation?

I was very fortunate to be able to accept a position during my senior practicum. I started applying for jobs as they came up during practicum. I started in a full time term position and have since then been able to secure a full time permanent position.

How did you manage the responsibility of going from student to nurse?

I think I had a pretty smooth transition from student nurse to nurse. Of course it was a little bit intimidating your first shift on your own but you come to realize very quickly that there are many nurses around to support you. I believe it’s still important to ask questions and take advantage of any learning opportunities. Your learning doesn’t stop after you transition from the student role; for me it really had just begun and I learn new things almost every shift!

How did you build your confidence as a new nurse?

As I became more familiar with the unit and the babies on the unit I became more comfortable with the care I was providing and the conditions I was seeing which allowed me to become more confident in my assessments and advocating for my patients. I also found building relationships with other nurses, RTs, OTs, doctors and other members of the health care team helped gain other perspectives which helped me build my knowledge base and look at things from different perspectives. Having a good understanding of why you are doing something and the rationales for it really helps you feel more confident in the care you are providing!

Thinking back, what were the most important lessons from school that you took into the workforce?

I think for me the most important skills were organization, communication and a willingness to learn. Obviously your fundamental knowledge is important but in my experience I was given so much education upon starting on my unit that I didn’t feel I was stressed out or worried about not remembering things I learnt at school. I also don’t think I would have learned as much as I have without having a willingness to learn; you really get out what you put in. I have fully taken advantage of seeking learning opportunities on my unit and seeking out information and communicating with those around me what I feel comfortable with and what I would like more experience with.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were a student?

It’s ok not to know everything! In fact no one expects you to know everything. It’s important to be able to recognize what you don’t know or aren’t comfortable with and seek out help from those around you.

What piece of advice would you give to current students?

Don’t forget to take time for yourself and do the things you enjoy! Nursing is one part of your life; don’t neglect other aspects of your life that are important to you.

Thank you Emma for sharing your experience and words of wisdom!

Where Are You Now: Paige Procter

November 14, 2019

Paige shares her experience and insight since graduating from the BN program in 2017:

Where are you now?

I never expected to end up working in paediatrics. I thought I wanted “hard core nursing” (whatever that meant). However, after one clinical day at children’s hospital I knew I had found my home. I feel lucky, not everyone finds their niche right away and they have to entertain a few different positions before finding what is right for them. That is the beauty of nursing. We have a skill set that can allow us to work in a variety of settings, in varying roles, and we don’t have to stay in the same position forever if we don’t want to! The diversity of nursing has always appealed to me!

I currently work on CH5 a long-term/transitional/acute paedatric medicine ward where we see almost everything! It is challenging and I learn something new every day! I work with kids and their families from ages 1 day old to 17 years old. Our ward takes on children who have cystic fibrosis, eating disorders, traumatic brain injuries, and cerebral palsy, but we are equipped to take on whatever walks through emerge’s doors. Every day is a fun new challenge sprinkled with peppa pig stickers and popscicles. When I started nursing school I thought that peds was cute and fluffy but every day on CH5 proves me wrong. These kids are strong and resilient and as their nurses we have to be even stronger while keeping a smile on our faces and make them forget they are sick in a hospital even for a moment. That’s hardcore.

How easy was it to find a job after graduation?

I started applying for positions halfway through practicum and had secured a job in the child health float pool by the end of my practicum. I started in a term position and after 7 months I was in a permanent. I stayed in this position for a year and then took a term on CH5 and eventually took a permanent. I loved the float pool and I encourage any new nurse who is unsure of where they want to nurse to consider a position. You get to explore different areas and take care of populations you never expected. Through the float pool I learned that I did not care for NICU nursing and that I loved the challenging fast pace of acute mixed with long term patient continuity that I get to experience on CH5. The float pool definitely helped me become a more well rounded nurse and find a ward I wanted to call home.

How did you manage the responsibility of going from student to nurse?

Make friends with other nurses! I cannot stress this enough! Learn from your peers, learn from your seniors, learn from your mentors and educators. The transition from student to nurse is a lot less scary if you surround yourself with people you feel safe asking questions to and who will help you when you are feeling overwhelmed. I was pleasantly surprised at how willing nurses were to help because we hear horror stories of nurses eating their young. While I believe that this does still exist unfortunately I do believe that the culture is changing and I think that nurses are realizing by helping raise each other up we are all becoming stronger nurses and a more efficient team.

How did you build your confidence as a new nurse?

Again, through meeting other nurses who lift you up instead of tear you down! (see above)

Thinking back, what were the most important lessons from school that you took into the workforce?

In a nutshell, the best way to describe nursing is “nothing like what I expected”. When I started nursing school I thought I was doing it simply because I liked helping people, but I quickly learned that nursing is not only about heart. Nursing is a science, an art, a discipline, and a public service. Being nice is just a small sliver of the character, skill, leadership, and brainpower you need to develop and exercise in this profession. There were definitely many days in nursing school when I didn’t think I was cut out to be a nurse and even on my worst days as an RNBN I doubt myself. That is to be expected in a field that is forever growing and changing and I feel privileged to be able to learn from within it.

I completed my practicum on a pediatric unit. I loved my placement, but I had a very challenging practicum that tested me mentally and emotionally and I almost didn’t complete the program as a result. I had a difficult preceptor who expected more from me than I was capable of as a student; she intimidated me and made me feel unsure and incompetent. Fortunately, other nurses on the ward took note of what was going on and advocated for me on my behalf and encouraged me to speak with my practicum advisor. Ultimately our preceptorship ended and I was placed with 2 other preceptors who helped me rebuild my confidence and skill set and I graduated on time. I never regret the way my practicum journey played out; while I didn’t appreciate being bullied I learned valuable lessons that can’t be taught in school about managing conflict and maintaining professionalism. Practicum taught me that nursing is not black and white but a complicated web of technical and assessment skills and knowledge intertwined with teamwork, collaboration, personality differences, social inequities, and emotional burnout.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were a student?

It’s okay to make mistakes; being unsuccessful on a proficiency test doesn’t mean you are incompetent! You are in school because you are not perfect and you are learning. The best advice I was ever given in school was that learning is uncomfortable and if you are not feeling queasy at least once on a daily basis then you are not going to get any better. You won’t learn from doing things right; you will learn from making mistakes and getting feedback. Feedback is your friend! Don’t take yourself so seriously!

What piece of advice would you give to current students?

1) Take every bad experience and learn from it! There is a lesson you can learn about yourself and about nursing in everything that you do!
2) Maintain your professionalism during conflict. It is easy to get hot headed and say mean things but you will gain more respect from staying professional.
3) You don’t need to be perfect in practicum and you don’t need to know everything. Your practicum is a safe place for you to learn prior to being on your own.
4) Where you do your practicum is not where you have to get a job after.
5) Make friends with unit clerks. They know the ward better than anyone else.
6) Advocate and stand up for yourself; just because you are a student doesn’t mean that you are always wrong.
7) Get involved with your professional bodies like ARNM while you are still a student. It will open doors.
8) Get your assignments done early! All nighters suck!
9) When you feel like you are alone remember there is always someone else going through the same thing. Reach out to your friends, teachers, coworkers; they have all probably been there before!
10) Nursing school goes by way too fast! Enjoy it while you can!

Thank you Paige for sharing your experience and words of wisdom!

Where Are You Now: Kelsey Hannah

October 10, 2019

Kelsey shares her experience and insight since graduating from the BN program in 2018:

Where are you now?

I currently work at the Health Sciences Centre, the same hospital where I completed my senior practicum. At the moment I am on a trauma/complex spinal surgery unit, but I also work in acute medicine.

How easy was it to find a job after graduation?

I received two job offers before I even completed my senior practicum! I accepted a position in acute medicine where I was doing my final practicum, since I was already familiar with the unit. Even if there is not a position right away when you finish practicum, a lot of managers will hire new grads into casual positions until a position opens. This is a great way to gain experience, earn money and study for the NCLEX.

How did you manage the responsibility of going from student to nurse?

I used the same principles I learned from student nursing and applied them to my new practice as a nurse: ask questions, work hard, be on time and take accountability for your actions. I also relied heavily on my nursing co-workers to help with the transition; many experienced nurses are more than willing to help mentor new grads if you ask for their help and show interest to learn.

How did you build your confidence as a new nurse?

I tried to take every opportunity that scared me. If there was an especially complex patient that required a lot of nursing skills I was unfamiliar with, I would ask the charge nurse to place that patient in my assignment. The only way to build experience on the job is by doing the job. Volunteer for these types of experiences, ask for guidance when unsure and confidence will follow!

Thinking back, what were the most important lessons from school that you took into the workforce?

This is the most important lesson I learned in school: when you don’t know the answer to something, always ask! It is impossible to know everything there is to know about nursing when you graduate – not even close! The only way to learn is by asking for help from your team and doing the job. The help is always there if you ask!

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were a student?

Nursing school is hard but it is all worth it when it’s over! The RRC nursing program is incredibly difficult but it prepares you well for transitioning to practice.

What piece of advice would you give to current students?

Work hard, always seek out help when you need it and you will make it through! Nursing is an incredibly diverse field with so many areas to choose from. If you are starting to feel burnt out or that you are not able to resonate with a particular area, move to a different specialty! You don’t know until you try and there is a specialty area out there for everyone.

Thank you Kelsey for sharing your experience and words of wisdom!

Where Are You Now: Chantelle

September 12, 2019

Chantelle shares her experience and insight since graduating from the BN program in 2018:

Where are you now?

General Duty Nurse on the Women’s Health Relief Team at Women’s Hospital. Being part of the relief team gives me the opportunity to learn and care for patients ranging from perinatal, gynecology, post-partum, labor and delivery, post-surgical gynecology, oncology and everything in between. I absolutely love it.

How easy was it to find a job after graduation?

I was offered a position while still a nursing student doing my senior practicum.

How did you manage the responsibility of going from student to nurse?

It was quite intimidating to be honest. I didn’t think of what that would be like as a student. Once I was transitioned from student to nurse, I felt very well supported by other nurses. I felt comfortable to ask questions and had guidance. Many of the nurses I was familiar with as I had met them and worked with them through my senior practicum or had graduated with them.

How did you build your confidence as a new nurse?

I asked questions. Lots and lots of questions. At first, I thought it made me seem incompetent but a fellow nurse explained that I should NEVER feel that I couldn’t ask questions. It was a little difficult at first to ask questions but once I did, it became easier for me. It also helped me build my confidence and my independence.

Thinking back, what were the most important lessons from school that you took into the workforce?

Of course time management and prioritizing is important, but most of all.. SELF CARE!

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were a student?

The workplace environment is forever changing and things can get very hectic and change in a matter of seconds and you need to be able to turn on your thinking cap quickly and adjust your care accordingly. You will always have other nurses and staff members there to help you. You need to find your voice and be confident. As a student, I thought about the scary things that can happen and I thought all the pressure would be on me but that’s not the case at all. You’re part of a team and you will learn to trust each other’s expertise and learn as you go. It’s honestly an ongoing learning experience.

What piece of advice would you give to current students?

Please ask for help when you need it, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and your patients, make sure you set time aside for self care, and remember that mistakes can and do happen, and that’s okay ! Its not “win or lose” .. think of it as “win or learn.”

Thank you Chantelle for sharing your experience and words of wisdom!