Things I Wish I’d Known Before Becoming A Nurse

Scrubs- Top: Rafaela by WearFigs, Bottoms: Zamora Jogger by WearFigs

I wish as a nursing student someone would have told me not to put yourself in a box. There are so many facets of nursing. You don’t only have to do one thing! Explore and ask questions. -Nurse Veronica, Telephonic Triage | @Veronica_0820

I wish I knew how much we sacrifice our personal time to be a nurse. For example, we miss holidays every year to take care of others. -Nurse Kim, ER Nurse | @nursekimdarpoh

I work on an Adult Neuro Acute Care floor and I wish I had know how heavy the unit was and also that I would be working my butt off for, in my opinion, what is not enough pay! We work sooooo hard and the compensation doesn’t match! I also wish I knew how patients could be violent at times. -Nurse Carii , Neuro Acute Care Nurse @nurse_carii

Tips for maximizing your pay as a registered nurse: Obviously nurse pay varies from city to city and nurses in bigger cities make more than nurses in rural areas/smaller cities; certain specialities can also earn higher rates; travel nursing is a great way to get the big bucks; states like California, Texas, and those in the Northeast are known to pay really well; and union hospitals also have better pay.

Take a look at these links to see how the numbers compare:

IMG_9402The biggest thing I wish I wish I would have known/had more information on before becoming a nurse is that I could go straight into my specialty as a new grad. Upon passing my NCLEX and becoming an RN I was told, new grads had to complete 1-2 years of Med-Surg before entering a specialty. This led me to starting my career as an RN on Med-Surg. I soon learned that advice was wrong! Although my initial job in my desired specialty as a Labor and Delivery  nurse was an hour commute , and undesirably on night shift, I started my job with many new grads. You may have to sacrifice by traveling further/working night shift to obtain a job in your preferred speciality, but as long as you’re persistent and network appropriately you’ll land a job in your specialty of choice! -Nurse Myqueen, Labor and Delivery Nurse | @myqueen_ Note: This does depend on each hospital’s own rules. I was not able to go straight into my desired specialty (Neonatal ICU) because my hospital did not allow new grads into any units that dealt with babies, but there are many hospitals that do allow it. 

I wish I had known how important our role is in the healthcare field.  Initially, I was embarrassed for choosing this profession because I didn’t want to “just” be a nurse.  I’ve come to realize that we are the glue that holds each patients’ journey together and I’m grateful to have continued my education into advanced practice to give myself and my patients even more. -Nurse Nelle, Nurse Anesthetist | @iamnursenelle

As a nursing student, initially I stuck to myself and didn’t really interact with fellow students in the program, but I learned very quickly the “power of the pack.” I found it very beneficial to participate in study groups and have people to help hold you accountable (and remember) all the many assignments and deadlines. -Nurse Julia, Family Nurse Practitioner | @thenursejulia

There are so many organizations that need nurses and thus are willing to pay for your education. -Nurse Shan, Adult and Peds ICU | @_nurseshan

Mine would be a combination of some of the following: your first job may not be your dream job, there will be bullies, methods on how to handle bullying, and other job opportunities outside of traditional hospital positions.  -Nurse Katie, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner | @thekatieduke

IMG_8623How much I would be driving. My school has 20+ clinical sites throughout the state. And while it is great experience, I put a lot of miles on my car. -Nurse Aisha,  Nurse Anesthetist | @aisha_crna

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I remember feeling like I had to absorb EVERY little thing when I started nursing school. I learned to become comfortable with the concept of drinking out of a firehose and holding on to what was important and going to make me a competent and safe nurse (and soon to be APRN). As I’m finishing up my last few months as a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) student, I can’t believe how far I’ve come! -Nurse Katy, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner | @katybpnp

Nursing school failed to prepare bright-eyed students on the reality of the culture of care in our health system. We are trained on “best case scenarios”, however, that is rarely the case. It would be beneficial to find the boundary between caring and business. -Nurse Brianna, Med-Surg Float Pool | @respectmyreal

The number one thing I wish I had been told as a nursing student is to fail forward. It can be so competitive in nursing school when instead it should be about collaboration and celebrating each other’s success. Looking back at my own failures, for example not passing my last nursing course and having to retake it or not passing the NCLEX and retaking that, I realized that it made me capable of overcoming barriers. No matter what, I tell every nursing student that there is an end and it will be sweet. You must keep moving forward. -Nurse Georgie, Med-Surg Oncology | @nurse.georgie

One thing I wish I had known was you never stop learning and growing. Each day will be some type of challenge. Embrace that and don’t let that make you insecure. -Nurse Nacole, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner | @nursenacole

How to make my schedule so that I can do mini vacations without PTO. -Nurse Rozay, ICU Nurse | @nurse.rozay

PROTECT. YOUR. BACK.  At all costs.  Before NICU, I worked with adults (most of my career).  Sure, in school and during new employee orientation we are briefly taught to use proper ergonomics- the thing they don’t tell you is- on your unit you will be pressured not to.  CNAs (nursing assistants) and even other nurses, will discourage you from using lift equipment, i.e. “Let’s just boost him up real quick, let’s just get him from the chair back to bed.  I don’t have time to get the lift equipment! I have a bed bath to do in the next room!”  So here you are, 140 pounds, and the patient is 300 pounds and you’re trying to life him or her.  NO MA’AM! I know nurses, all under the age of thirty, who’ve had chronic pain syndromes, osteoarthritis, bulging disks, and even torn rotator cuffs!  When you find yourself being pressured on your job, or even if you hear yourself saying “The lift equipment is all the way down the hall, it would be faster if I just pulled him up…”  STOP. DON’T DO IT.  -Nurse Tae, formerly Interventional Cardiology, now NICU | @taemichelle_

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Ashley says:

    Nice tips ! Thinking about starting nursing school this summer and was basically at a wall on what to expect . This was a different outlook and helps !

  2. Sharae says:

    This was really helpful! Thanks!

    1. Tae says:

      You’re welcome!

  3. Gbemmy says:

    Collection of Great nurses Thanks for this!

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