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Nurse First News Blog

Nurse Feature: Things I Wish I Knew As a New Nurse

Posted November 1, 2021
Kelsey Zuppan, RN

If I don’t have some kind of color on me somewhere, you should probably ask what’s wrong. I love a lot of things about this life, but neon and mountains are way up there on the list! I’ve done more traveling than nursing during my time on the planet. But now in my 3rd year of ER work, I’m doing both. It is one wild adventure! I’ve learned that I can survive anything with sour gummies and PMA.

What is PMA you ask? In Basic Search & Rescue Academy we were taught the #1 survival skill is a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA). Let that sink in a minute. Of all the skills, gear, and plans for the backcountry, the #1 determining factor in your survival (in any life situation really) is your PMA. Do you know what else is awesome?! We ALL have access to PMA! We can ALL make it through ANYTHING!!

Below are a few things I wish someone would have burst my bubble and told me straight to my face as a new nurse:

#1 You are going to mess up

Practice good habits from the get-go, and incorporate safety checks into your routine. Nurses work in very high-stake environments. You don’t want an honest mistake to end up costing your patient’s life. Also, give yourself the grace to be human. You will mess up, you will never be perfect at everything. Be true to yourself, do your honest best, and try again tomorrow.

#2 Invest in your emotional intelligence

Everything and I mean EVERYTHING hinges on effective communication. And guess where all effective communication starts?? With YOU! Know your goal in communication, read a situation, and keep your emotions in check. These “life skills” are essential in providing the best care to your patients. Listen to a podcast, take a course, read a book, and practice effective communication tools. The higher the stakes, the more tensions rise in a room. The better service you want to offer, the more essential these skills become!

#3 You will burn out

Self-care is not an “optional accessory” to being a good nurse. It is ESSENTIAL if you want to sustain your best work. Set boundaries, try out the power of saying “no,” and be intentional about how you spend your time off. Also, be wary when guilt and shame are the motivating factors for your decisions.

#4 Build a village

You will work with all sorts of people. Some will drain you, some will drive you up the wall, some will be a breath of fresh air, and some you will always strive to be like. Invest in connections with co-workers you admire, who vibe with your energy, who you look up to. Mentors can save you from reinventing the wheel. Plus, sometimes you need a little extra support! Nursing will challenge you in all sorts of ways. Allow the push to grow you into better things; help each other out, be a team player, have each other’s back. We need each other as we all morph into better versions of ourselves every day. It only gets better from here!

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