To the Newly Graduated Nurse

By Jenny Nelson, BSN, RN, CCRN-K Apr 14, 2020

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Hey, you! Yes, you! I am looking at you, the nurse who just graduated last December or is about to in May.

Hey, you! Yes, you! I am looking at you, the nurse who just graduated last December or is about to in May. The nurse who is starting their professional career during a global pandemic. News headlines, changing recommendations, social media feeds all adding information at the speed of light. Trust me, it is overwhelming, even for the most seasoned nurses. You may be asking yourself …"Where do I even begin? Or you may feel like I did …"I am just slowing down my preceptor."

With all the questions that may be swirling in your head, how can you gracefully step into your role, put your insecurities aside, and support your colleagues all at the same time? These are my go-to techniques to help me focus and dig in when I am feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by the circumstances.

One by one

Mother Teresa said: "I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual." She went on to say, "Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest to you.” Ground yourself before each shift with a mantra… One by One. You care for the person closest to you and work your way out. This may be a patient, family member or colleague. It also includes caring for yourself. You are one person and you will accomplish much by taking each task, crisis or emergency one at a time as they come. One by One.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

This is you and your team. Each person, no matter the experience level or department, has skills that add value to the team. You are a valued member of the team. Each shift, your team will accomplish amazing feats. Your contributions are important. Remind yourself of this frequently.

You are a change agent

You have a fresh perspective on new and old barriers. You very well may be able to see and identify solutions that others overlook. Let the possibility of innovation empower you to voice your ideas and challenge tradition. You can spark the flow of ideas.

Find a way to decompress

Practicing nursing now and in all seasons is emotionally charged. The human experience components coupled with the cognitive load of orientation can take its toll on you mentally and physically. Develop, early on, healthy strategies to decompress, such as journaling, yoga, exercising or a hobby. These strategies will help sustain your energy throughout the months ahead, as well as during the rest of your professional career. I’ve selected the following articles for you - take a moment to read them for some motivation and tips.

  • What does it mean to have grit? According to this journal article, one example is the nurses who leverage the power of teamwork to persevere in achieving their collective goals.
  • After a 12-hour shift, learn why a nurse feels her steering wheel is as comforting and as needed as her nursing necessities - a stethoscope and a pair of Danskos.
  • You will survive! Read how three nurses have made it their mission to help their colleagues prepare for and get through the tough times.

Remember, what is happening now is unique and not the norm. There will be a time when your practice aligns more closely with the vision you had in nursing school.

You’ve got this! Your team has got you! Starting your career in these uncertain times will ultimately forge lasting friendships, the exponential growth of your clinical skills and knowledge, and an innate ability to thrive in an ever-changing profession. You are #UNSTOPPABLE!

How do you refocus in challenging times? Share with me and our community of exceptional nurses!