I know it’s a while back, but I’m going to take you back to the 3rd October 2017. Do you remember what you were doing? I do. Its 5am and my alarm goes off. It’s the first time I will be going onto a ward as a qualified children’s nurse. The excitement and nerves are unreal and I felt like everything I’d learnt over the past 3 (or 4 in my case) years had disappeared and I knew nothing. I went back to feeling how I’d felt as a first year student again, on the first ever placement I’d been on. A new team, a new ward and most of all a new challenge.
I’d prepared myself for a roller coaster of a ride and in no doubt did I expect it to be easy. As a student you learn loads whilst on placement and in all honesty you know that journey of learning is not going to end just because you’re now qualified. You know that the journey is really just beginning, but no one knows when the next hurdle or expectation will come where your role and responsibilities increase.
I remember coming home from my first day thinking is this the right decision? Am I doing the right thing, but also what the hell am I doing with my life were the words that hit me. My first shift non-supernumerary I still remember (9th October to be precise), I left thinking oh my god why am I doing this. I am extremely hard on myself and expect a lot of myself, so maybe I kidded myself a bit that I would handle things better than I did. I convinced myself that I should know everything and to a certain extent, was scared to ask for fear of being judged by more senior nursing staff (something I now know made me a bit of a doughnut to start with).
Over the next 6 to 8 weeks, I continued to have days where I thought this is it, I can do this and then days where I was in pieces and struggled. The challenges and training continued throughout, with me doing my PILS (paediatric immediate life support), IV study day, tracheotomy training, optiflow training, preceptorship day as well as just gaining more experience with patients and responsibility. One minute things would look like they’d gone well, the smallest thing would knock my confidence and land me back at stage one, but I definitely got more confident in actually talking and discussing. Slowly, doctors would come and ask me more, which is always nice, I got to know the team around me and began to feel like a real member of the team whom I was working with.
I’d meant to write this post earlier, but I’m now 4 months in. In the past month, I feel like I’ve finally begun to adjust and grow not just as a person, but as a nurse. My responsibilities have now begun to increase and I’m beginning to feel more good days than bad days. This does not mean that I don’t have days where I go home and cry, but I go home more often knowing I’ve made a difference to someone’s life, be it the child, parent or both. I’ve started giving IV’s and begun working on my central line book, so that there will be more that I can do.
The one thing I’ve found difficult though, is losing out on doing things for me. I love being a nurse, I can’t think of anything different that I would want to do despite the pressures which are currently present, but it has meant that I’ve pretty much stopped dancing, the one thing which I would regularly do for me, to release stress, pressure, give myself some much needed exercise, and have some social time. It’s very much seen that with any job you have to have that work/life balance and I hope that at some point, I can get that part of my life back, but for now, it’s just too much pressure and expectations on myself.
What I do know though is my journey has not ended, it will never end. I want to thank every person who has helped me develop and supported me so far. To those of you who have helped to push me at work whilst supporting me, thank you (none of you will probably ever read this but if you do, please feel free to shout out to me and let me know). To those of you who are friends who have supported me after difficult shifts, thank you, I may not say it, but it’s very much appreciated.
I’ve just had my first lot of annual leave and it was very much needed. I go back to work tomorrow, feeling refreshed and ready to carry on growing.
Where my future lies, I do not know currently, but I know one thing, it’s not going to end anytime soon. I will end by saying one last thing; being a newly qualified nurse is challenging and probably more challenging than you can ever imagine, but with the right support around you, you can do it, you will grow and you will make a bigger difference than you can ever imagine.
Thank you for reading.