Throughout my four year nursing degree I pushed myself to the limit because there was absolutely nothing more important to me than the successful completion of my nursing programme
I felt anxious and eager to begin my nursing career and provide excellent care to my patients, as all of the mentors and teachers I looked up to had instilled in me to do. It’s a simple ambition in thought but one that becomes much more complicated once it is right there, facing you in real time.
One of the most frustrating truths I came to discover as a new nursing graduate is that on paper I was not qualified for the majority of the positions being posted. If you look at any given job posting, aside from the numerous courses and certifications required, you must have at least 2-3+ years experience in a clinical setting.
”Young, inexperienced and uncertain I was struggling to find my place”
After a few months - and with some incredible luck - I got a part-time job working in the community. Young, inexperienced and uncertain I was struggling to find my place. I had not kept in touch with many of my classmates but the ones that I did continue to speak to were all working and seemed reluctant to express any feelings of stress and uncertainty in regards to their position.
“What I struggled with most was maintaining my composure and confidence, even when I did not have an answer for my patient”
This led me to feel alone, thinking that perhaps I was not as equipped and prepared for this step as they were. Working in a solitary environment I was teaching myself any necessary skills and using research as a primary tool for information.
What I struggled with most was maintaining my composure and confidence, even when I did not have an answer for my patient. The way in which a client and their family feel about you and your ability is a truly important determinant of the relationship that you will form with them, and this began to consume my every thought.
“As this is the nursing profession - one based on care - I had always taken it as a given that employers would be kind and supportive”
As I transition into my nursing career I find that I am lacking support and encouragement from employers. As this is the nursing profession - one based on care - I had always taken it as a given that employers would be kind and supportive. In most cases my concerns and questions are not taken seriously and I feel I am being a nuisance.
“There is nothing more defeating than advocating for yourself time and time again when nobody seems to be listening”
I wanted to be a part of in-services, skills training, anything to help me move forward. My efforts have been exhausted with no real result. There is nothing more defeating than advocating for yourself time and time again when nobody seems to be listening. Why isn’t anybody willing to help me? Why aren’t they impressed with my enthusiasm and effort? I simply don’t have an answer.
Your professors cannot prepare you for what you will feel, the people you will encounter and the ways in which to handle it all. Nurses need to be more open to talking to one another about the real obstacles that we face coming into the nursing profession. Employers need to start having discussions with their nurses around continuing education and development goals.
I want nurses who can relate to this blog to feel empowered and for those who are not there yet to not be afraid to ask the hard questions and start to prepare for your journey into the working world. Advocate for yourself, participate in discussions around new graduates’ concerns and continue to strive for and be a part of a strong and healthy work environment that allows you to be the best that you can be.
Lauren Smith is a current nurse.