Nursing school, those days when you feel that you are prepared to take on the world.
You know everything that there is to know about coordinating with healthcare providers, monitoring your patients, following up on their daily schedules, double checking to see if you missed out on anything.
You feel that you are prepared for what it takes. And then reality gives you a sucker punch square in the jaw.
Sigh! We have seen thousands of nurses go through the motions.
To be honest, nursing school and nursing in a real life situation are poles apart.
Here are eight things that no nursing school in the world is going to prepare you for.
- Applying critical thinking: So, you were probably told a million times that you’d have to apply your critical thinking. Guess what? It’s a lot more difficult than what it was made out to be. You will need to decide and decide fast. When do you call a doctor? When do you just take an order and get it done? When do you decide that the order is worth questioning? It will be a test of your mettle.
- The burnout: Unlike doctors, who get years to hone their skills, nurses are expected to get mud on boots the day on the first day of their work. Many a time, they feel underexposed to the medical part of the job. To top it off, doctors, supervisors and head nurses screaming at the top of their voice in an emergency situation leads to what many experienced nurses these days call ‘New Grad burnout’
- The lack of holidays: You will be working religiously for at least the first two to three years of your career. Thanksgiving, Christmas, your sister’s wedding, nothing matters. You’d still be giving bed baths in hospital. Be prepared.
- The family members: You always thought that you’d be catering to the patient. Wait till you meet the family members. You’ll be comforting them, giving a patient ear to their rants and sometimes cleaning vomit off the floor.
- The patient: Patients can be stubborn. Yeah, they told you that during school. But they never prepare you for the smart-ass patient who can fend off meds and therapies citing allergies. Good luck administering the IV when the patient pretends to convulse due to an allergic reaction to the meds.
- The doctor: There will be situations galore when you feel that you must question the doctor. Never ever do it. Period.
- The shifts: ‘Thou shall only work in 12 hour shifts!’, said no employer ever to a nursing graduate. Only the Clock-In time is fixed. The Clock Out time depends on a million factors, most of which often turn up miraculously at the last minute. On most days, you will be working a lot more than 12 hours.
- The exhaustion: Right from the moment you clock-in and take over from your predecessor who’s probably down right pooped, you will be on your toes and rarely find a moment to take a breather. Apart from the physical exhaustion, you will also be exhausted mentally.