Unprepared 

What’s the one thing you wish they would have taught you in nursing school?

For me, it’s definitely time management. I feel like nursing school and the NCLEX gave me this belief that I would have all the time in the world to do everything I needed to do for each of my patients. WRONG! I have 12 hours to provide my patient(s) with the best care possible. That’s it. 12 hours. It sounds like such a long time but sick ICU patient or 5 med/surg patients can take that whole 12 hours and then some. 

It was a big reality check for me when I first hit the floor after graduating. My first nursing job was in a very busy med/surg unit at a level one trauma center. I rarely had less than five patients. I went out on the floor with the idea that I could spend ample time with each patient and still get all my charting done and have my meds passed on time. LIES! ALL LIES! WEB OF LIES! I was one of the ones left behind charting long after my shift was done because I just didn’t have the time management thing down. It took me a little while to understand that I needed to learn to prioritize what was important. Before I could stop and chat with one patient, I needed to have seen all of my patients. I needed to learn how to delegate to my care tech some of the small things so I could do the big things. 

I just wasn’t prepared for nursing in the real world. I was lucky that I had an amazing set of preceptors to teach me how to actually be a nurse. 

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Dear medical student…

Dear med student,

Hi. I’m the nurse that had been taking care of this patient for the last 12 hours. I am the nurse that charted every med given or not given over this shift. I’m the nurse that verified all those vital signs. I’m the nurse that put in that progress note last night. I drew the labs this morning. Yes, I know my patient.

You do not. That’s ok.

While I do not mind you asking me about my assessment, I will not do your assessment for you. You need to check the pupils. You need to check a neuro status. You need to check the lab results. You need to look over the vital signs. You need to look at the meds. You need to know this patient so that you can give your information during rounds.

Walk in. Introduce yourself to the patient and I, the nurse. Put on your gloves and get hands on. Ask questions, we don’t mind. We nurses understand that you are still trying to get your footing. We were there at one time as well.

Understand that ultimately, you still have to assess your patient yourself. Take these moments to build your communication and assessment skills. Each moment of patient contact is a potential moment for learning. Get all up in there!