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3 Stories from My Early Nursing Career

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I want to share with you guys three stories of kind of my first few weeks, first few months, working as a nurse.

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Podcast Transcription

Welcome to another episode of the nursing.com podcast. My name is Jon Haws RN. I’m the founder of nursing.com where our goal is to make your journey through nursing school. A little bit easier with clear and concise supplemental learning that caters to all learning styles, especially visual learners, come over and check us [email protected] and start a $1 trial today.

I want to share with you guys three stories of kind of my first few weeks, first few months, maybe working as a nurse. Now I graduated nursing school in Illinois, and then my wife and I moved down to Texas where I took a job at a large trauma, one hospital in the neuro ICU in Dallas. So I took this job and I didn’t really know anything or have really a desire to work in neuro. It was just the ICU job that I was able to take. And I really wanted to work ICU because I wanted to get that experience as I was planning on going to CRNs school or getting a master’s or something like that. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I wanted to get some critical care experience in that seemed more exciting to me than med-surge. So I took this job in the neuro ICU. And when you take a job in a neuro ICU or in an ICU, or hopefully any hospital, you do a preceptorship, which is kind of the first part of working as a nurse. And in the case of the hospital that I worked at, I did about a 13 week preceptorship with an experienced nurse who kind of showed me the ropes, showed me how to charge, show me how to assess taught me about everything that was, uh, the different conditions and that doctor and the physicians and providers we’d work with. And so that was a really great experience. Her name was Vanessa and she really trained me really, really, really well on how to kind of helped me develop my own theory and philosophy and kind of practice as a nurse. And so it was a really great experience and I really enjoyed working with her, but all good things come to an end. And so I remember, you know, actually, well, first of all, let me tell this quick side note. I remember my very first shift. Um, I lived in North Dallas and the hospital was kind of downtown Dallas. And so I had to drive to work and I worked night shifts. So I was kinda driving during rush hour traffic. And I thought the drive would be much faster, you know, but it ended up taking me well over an hour and a half and ended up being like 10 or 15 minutes late for my first shift as a nurse, with my new preceptor who I hadn’t met yet. And I was just so stressed. I ran up the stairs, you know, just huffing and puffing. Didn’t know where to set anything hadn’t clocked in. Didn’t know how, um, and I run to Vanessa. I said, Oh my gosh, I’m so late. I’m so sorry. Like, I, I don’t know what’s going on. I thought, you know, they’re going to fire me, you know, first shift, what, uh, what a great way to start as a nurse. And Vanessa just said, slow down, take a minute, go put your lunch away, take some deep breaths. It’s going to be okay. And so that really set the tone, like yes, taking care of these patients is critical, but as important is taking care of myself and taking care of ourselves, it’s a lot like flying on an airplane. You know, they say before you help another passenger with their oxygen, make sure you put yours on. And if we don’t take care of ourselves emotionally, physically, he physically, is that aware physically or otherwise, we can’t take care of our patients. Yeah. It can be a massively draining job working as a nurse and being a nursing student. But you must take those moments, take that time to take care of yourself. If you don’t do that, you’re a very little used to your patients because a lot of them are going through a lot of emotional struggles right now, and a lot of emotional pain as they’re in the hospital and working with their family and et cetera. So make sure you take the time to take care of yourself because without doing that, you can’t be the help that you need for your patients. So after that preceptorship, after the 13 weeks or so, that ended. And I remember my very first shift all on my own. I drove to work. I’m freaking out, right. I used to listen to like metal music or like heavy music in the car to like try to get myself pumped up and psyched up. So I remember driving down there and I took the elevator up to the fifth floor. And as I was coming off the elevator, the charge nurse for the day shift was coming on the elevator. Cause she was going to go home and her name was Jennifer. And so I, the doors open on the fifth floor and I’m walking off and she’s walking on. I’m like, Jennifer, do you think I’m ready for this? Like, do you think I’m ready to be all alone? And I swear to God, this is all she said to me. She goes, you better be push the button, the doors closed. And she left. And uh, I think that the lesson from that you know, is to take advantage of every moment that you have to learn, to prepare and to ask the questions that you need to ask, because someday you will be all on your own and it will be scary regardless of how much you prepare. It will feel a little bit scary to be all on your own practicing as a real nurse quote unquote. So take this time while you’re in school, take this time. When you get to start a preceptorship to just learn and ask and, and try new things. And even as you start practicing on your own, you’re not expected to be perfect. Uh, you won’t be perfect. You’ll make mistakes. So continue to ask questions and continue to learn and grow as you become a nurse. Another story I want to tell you guys is this came a couple, maybe two weeks. Sure. So after the first story or two weeks after finishing my clinic, right? Preceptorship, whatever it’s called, sorry. So two weeks into being like real nurse all on my own, I show up for work and uh, I find I’m going to be taking care of a patient who they’re planning on withdrawing care from now. He’s a younger guy who had an ischemic stroke and withdrawing care means we basically turn up all the machines, turn off the ventilator and let the patient expire pass away. And this was my first time to ever do this all on my own. Had done it a couple of times with my preceptor, but I never done it on my own. This is incredibly involved work. It requires coordinating with the chaplain respiratory therapy, the provider, um, filling out forms for the coroner, all kinds of work. And I had never done all this on my own. So I’m really nervous. So I get my assignment. I walked down the hall and, you know, outside his room, all the families gathered. So there’s, you know, 10, 15 people all there because they know, you know, what’s coming. And I walk in there and I try to be as competent as I can. I said, Hey, I’m John. I’m going to be your nurse tonight. And, uh, and they start asking questions and I, I give them the answers the best I can. And like I said, he’s a young guy, maybe in his mid fifties or so, who had a big ischemic stroke and had been in the hospital for a couple of weeks. And they’re now, you know, withdrawing care on him. So The time comes to turn off the ventilator, turn off all the machines and everything and all of his family’s there. Like I said, and his mom is this little old lady, a little tiny old lady. And she kind of stands there next to her son. We turn off the ventilator, pull out the breathing tube, turn off the medications. And he actually had a pacemaker. So we had to get this magnet and put it on the pacemaker to deactivate it. That’s how you deactivate pacemakers. So we deactivate the pacemaker and after about 10 minutes he passed. Okay. So we get the family time. I shut the blinds. I cleaned the body a little bit, um, and closed the door and kind of give the family some time to say goodbye to their brother, to their son, to their friend. And the last person in the room is his mom, this little tiny lady. And I kind of go outside the door and just kind of stand at the door. I give her some privacy and then she comes out and she shuts the door and she leans into me immediately and gives me this big hug. And she says, thank you, John, thank you for taking care of my son. I will never forget you. Now in that moment, you know, in the lesson to get from this is that she, she wasn’t talking to me, John, because in that moment for her, I represented every nurse who had ever taken care of her son. I represented the hospital. I represented the healthcare team and I represented to you who are going to be nurses. I want you guys to remember that, that you will be that nurse. And in that moment she was leaving her son to me. And the next time she would see him would be at a funeral. You will be that nurse one day. And I want you to be that nurse that takes care of patients takes care of patient’s family. Because one day you’re going to represent me. And that’s an incredible responsibility and incredible role that we play in humanity is being the nurses who are there with people in their most difficult times in their best times. It’s such an incredible, powerful experience to have. And that’s the thought, that’s what I want you guys to kind of keep it in your minds. As you continue to go forward and learn and grow. And as you become incredible nurses, cause you’re going to be, and I know that now I know you’re dealing with something incredibly difficult. Now, you know, online nursing school is something that in COVID is something that none of us prepared for or expected to come. And I can’t even imagine the difficulty of navigating clinicals, virtual classes and all your home and family responsibilities. And then that fear of thinking, am I ever going to be enough? And so while you feel alone right now, I want you to know that you are not alone. You are one of the nurses who are going to change the world while you can’t change the circumstances that you’re in right now. I do not want you to give up on your goals. You can do this and we are here to help. That’s what we’re here for. You’re part of this nursing family. nursing.com is a supplemental online learning platform. And it’s for nursing students. It’s to help you cut the clutter with clear and concise visual lessons, cheat sheets, and practice questions. And it’s all taught by world-class nursing educators. And to help you in this time from now until September 21st, we’re offering 25% off. The nursing student membership signing up is easy. It only takes a minute. All you gotta do is visit nursing.com to start a $1, no obligation trial today. We love you guys. We want you to succeed. You will succeed now, go out and be your best self today. Happy nursing.

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