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The scary business of being newly qualified

October 28, 2014

A guest blog by Florian Nightingale

Being a newly qualified nurse is quite something. Your eyes are opened wide to the reality of nursing more than they could ever really have been as a student on the verge of qualifying. You think you had it sussed out pretty well and had a good IDEA of the nurse that you were going to be. You may have though that it would be a reasonably easy transition into being a fully fledged RN. For some I am sure that it is the case; for me, it felt like I had fallen off a cliff. I didn’t stop falling for a while.

Falling off that precipitous edge into the reality of nursing as a very newly qualified is a very scary process to say the least. It also shakes your confidence in your abilities to the very core. I took a massive blow to my confidence. As a result I was struggling a lot. I wasn’t working effectively or as efficiently as others, especially when I compared myself against friends who were working with me and have had a few extra months experience in the area. Additionally the lack of vital skills such as cannulation, being able to administer intravenous medications is hugely frustrating. I managed to beat myself up a lot about these and other things besides. I really did feel I wasn’t up to standard and felt like I was letting the team down.

The varying styles of management did not help. However I won’t be going into detail about that. Suffice to say that some were very supportive and others less so. Two distinct schools of thought shone out. Rebuilding the confidence that I lost in the first few weeks after I finished my supernumerary period was exceptionally hard. I really struggled to do it and frankly, for a time I hated the job that I do. I’m glad to say that this has since dramatically reversed.

I think I learned more about nursing in the time that I have been qualified than in most of my degree. I have, to some extent, learned what I have to become to survive and thrive. This is at the expense of the nurse I think I wanted to be when I finished university. The reality, for whatever reasons, be they work based pressures such as staffing or something else, means I have had to compromise on what I would like to be and how I would like to nurse if I am given the chance to do so. That said, I am starting to build back up. I encounter mind sets that I don’t  like in people who have been doing this a lot longer than I have. I’m learning when to wind my   neck in. Quite something for me as I do have a mouth and am not usually afraid to use it.

Starting out in nursing is a hugely scary process because although you have experienced so much and in so many varied areas as a student, the reality is that to some extent you have been sheltered from the realities by having a mentor looking over your shoulder and protecting you from the worst of it. Seeing that safety net fall away from under you and the aforementioned compromises you need to make in terms of the nurse  that you wanted to be is a hell of a shock.

Ultimately, it is a scary process that I didn’t adapt well to. Safe to say I am much better than I was then. The learning curve has been nigh on vertical but good. The first few months of my life as an RN have been sticky and unpleasant but I am now pulling out of that phase. I have made peace with myself about the things I cannot do and such like. I’m a lot happier as well. This is the dawn of a new era for me. Let’s see how it pans out and maybe have a little fun along the way?

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