One Year Later... What I've Learned

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I’ve become an RN. I’ve been on this L&D unit for a whole year now, and at this hospital for two. And that may sound like nothing compared to those nurses who’ve been there since before I was born, but my god I can’t believe how quickly time flies. In this year, I’ve learned so much and have been pulled in so many directions. There have been tears, sweat, amniotic fluid, blood, other bodily fluids.. I knew this first year wouldn’t be easy- and it definitely wasn’t. But I made it! I’m alive! I’ve only been on my own for about 6 months now and I do feel a lot less anxious about going into work, and I still learn something new every day, but here’s what I’ve learned so far in my first year of nursing.

1. You aren’t perfect.

As if you telling yourself wasn’t enough, here is another reminder that you aren’t perfect. But that’s okay. Because no one truly is. Not even that one nurse who seems to have everything together, or that one nurse who seems to know the answer to everything. I am reminded of this every shift, and while it can be discouraging, it’s another reminder that you and I are human and that is what unites us: our imperfections and the ability to learn from them. I’m learning to be at peace with the fact that it. is. okay. to be imperfect. Because it gives us the opportunity to grow and become better. And that’s exciting!

2. Teamwork makes the dream work. Truly.

I couldn’t imagine doing this all alone. I couldn’t imagine not being able to hit the call light in the middle of a decel and have other nurses come in to flip the patient, administer oxygen and a fluid bolus while I’m keeping the monitors on the patient. I couldn’t imagine not having anyone to be with my patient during an epidural administration while I pushed for the 3rd hour with my other patient. Our unit has what’s called “team leaders” and they are basically our moms for that shift. They (usually) don’t have patients of their own so that if we get caught up in a delivery and can’t focus on our other patient, they come in to the rescue and help us out with charting, meds, whatever else that patient may need. Except they do it for all of us in that 1 pod, which is usually 3-4 nurses! So you can think about a team leader as the lucky nurse who has 5-6 patients at a time. But I am eternally grateful for them, especially as a new grad, because not only do they physically help out in times of need, they are always there to answer questions and give advice.

3. People can suck. But that’s okay.

Just like in any other aspect in life, not everyone will be your friend. Some people are straight up rude, some people may spread rumors about you, some people won’t be as supportive as you’d expected. Some people just don’t like seeing others succeed, some people are jealous, and some people just don’t like you. Some people don’t want to help you because they want you to “pay your dues” and “put in your time” and some people will judge you. But, that’s fine because…

4. There are people who get you.

You will find those who will stand up for you and listen to you. There will be people who understand your frustrations and will stand by your side. There are those who will look over questionable orders with you, look up policies with you, help you, eat lunch with you, cry with you, etc. And those are the people who make work feel a little less like work.

5. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness.

It’s a sign of strength because you’re willing to put aside your pride to admit that you just don’t know the answer. And that’s a part of growing! I ask a ton of questions: to fellow nurses, to my charge nurses, to the physicians, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, because I’d rather be 300% sure than let my pride get in the way. Asking for help is good. It is necessary. And it gets less and less intimidating the more you do it! Because you can’t do it all by yourself. You just can’t.

6. You must seek those who encourage and empower you.

I have multiple mentors at work. Some of them don’t even know it haha! But there are so many people I look up to. There are clinicians I look up to, team leaders who I want to be like when I grow up, fellow nurses who handle difficult situations with grace, those in my cohort who know so much, midwives who treat patients with the utmost respect and care, physicians who set the standard for providers everywhere, pharmacists who never make me feel stupid, pastors who care for our grieving parents in the most caring way, surgical techs who know which tools the surgeon needs before he/she even asks for them, respiratory therapists who run to each of our STAT c-sections, maternal fetal specialists who know so much and explain things in a way that our patients understand, the list goes on. These people inspire me day in and day out.

7. You should never stay stagnant.

This isn’t the end goal for me. And probably isn’t for you. Even if bedside nursing is your end goal, you should never stay stagnant, and your unit probably doesn’t allow for it either with continuing education and certifications and what not. I’m learning more and more that I never want to be complacent with where I am. There is still so much to learn, so much progress to be made. And I’ve learned that I just want to keep growing, while still looking back and being proud of how far I’ve come.

So those are some things I’ve learned in the past year and wanted to share with you guys. I’m excited for another year ahead and to look back and see how relevant these 7 thoughts are.