The 8 things they don’t tell you in Nursing School.

SURVIVAL GUIDE

I got into nursing after I couldn’t finish up my electrical engineering major. It was a hard 4 years but it was worth it. In another post I will tell you how to survive Nursing School but in this post I will tell you guys the 8 things you don’t learn in Nursing School. Some of these rules are mostly for those over populated areas where there are already too many nurses (and we still have a shortage!! can you believe it!): California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and probably other states.

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1. Use your connections.
It’s hard enough trying to pass the NCLEX (luckily I only had to take it once), finding a job is harder on your own. All of my friends got jobs through their connections, either from where they’ve already worked, from a friend who works there or from a family member who works there. I got my first job from my friend who told me there was an opening at this pediatric home care facility. Home care facilities don’t typically take new grads but there’s such a shortage in those places that they will hire you almost immediately. After my interview I only had to wait a couple of days before getting the job. It won’t be like this in every facility but if you keep at it and keep asking you contacts, there will be those jobs that take new grads.

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2. Don’t be picky.
I know that fresh graduates have their heart set on the perfect nursing job. In most cases, you will not get this job. You might never get that job. Unless you have all the right connections, you will not get this job. There are so many other nurses who have graduated before you who are going through the same thing. They have had more experience and now they are going after the job you want. And they’ll get it because they are more experienced. Unless you want to work in home care or hospice, you will find it hard to get the job you really want.

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3. Nursing shortage is kind of a lie.
This thing about Nursing being in demand in the future because of all those baby boomers are going to retire, doesn’t seem like it’s going to create new jobs for new grads. Facilities are staffing low on purpose because it’s not in the budget to hire new people. And even when they do, some are not reliable and are somewhat incompetent. I’m also speaking about the aides. I’m not talking about all nursing aides. There are really wonderful aides that I have worked with and I wish I could clone them but the fact of the matter is, there are those aides that don’t want to be told what to do (even if it’s their job).

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4. Being in charge of an entire unit.
I can only speak from experience from the nursing home/rehab facility I worked at. But it could be similar in other places. Your nursing professor will tell you that you might be in charge if you work the graveyard shift, but what they don’t tell you is that you’re not going to be prepared for it. You pretty much have to play it by ear. Even if you look at the schedule to see who is working that night, one of the RNs working with you might call out. And being in charge doesn’t really mean that you’re in charge. Since you are new, other staff might not listen to you. Where I worked, the nurses on day shift pretty much had a say on how I was going to run my shift. This made no sense to me and it really irritated me. Being a nurse and pregnant with my first child, I didn’t want to risk my baby’s life by taking patients who had a communicable disease. Well, there was this one nurse (who I really didn’t like) who didn’t think it was a big deal that I had that patient. He had hepatitis. And this particular patient was the kind to just pee on the floor when he felt like it. All I can say is that you have to be prepared for situations like that because some nurses don’t really care about your well-being at all.

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5. Being short-staffed.
You might find yourself short-staffed all the time. In the pediatric facility that I worked at, we didn’t have any aides for some of the days I worked there. We had to do everything. It’s exhausting being that busy and frustrating that they sometimes don’t have anyone to come in for us.

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6. You won’t get the training you need.
This is true especially in places that are already short-staffed. Training is pretty much non-existent and you’ll have to fend for yourself. When I worked at the nursing home/rehab, I had about 1.5 weeks of training and I was told I was going to have about a month. The only reason for the month of training was because I didn’t have any experience with older adults at the time. I had to answer phone calls, talk to doctors, process new patient admissions and do other things

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7. Keep extra pens and watch your belongings.
Many things go missing when you are a nurse. They are mostly likely misplaced because of OCD cleaning or you might forget because you are too tired to remember. I’ve had my stethoscope moved and it took me forever to find it. One of the aides moved it (a pet peeve of mine). Just make sure your things are labeled just in case they are moved. Other nurses might have the same item and yours might be mistaken as theirs. Just make it a habit of keeping track of your things. Also, place your lunch in an actual lunchbox. In one of the places I worked at, someone had been eating other people’s lunches (so ridiculous). Bring your own nursing supplies like a pulse ox and clipboard. Depending on where you work, there could be a clipboard shortage. Bring plenty of pens because you will lose one. Black markers and yellow highlighters are also a plus. Depending on where you work, you might have to highlight when you discontinue a medication. Black markers are just for labeling things.

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8. Emergency wardrobe change
Nursing brings new and exciting things in your life including the gross, icky stuff. One of the nurses I worked with had this patient who is a little trouble maker. He liked to make the nurses day harder (probably not on purpose but it makes the day harder for us). While they were cleaning him he had a huge BM all over the nurse. I bet you she didn’t see that coming. She was right in the middle of it. So she had to change into extra scrubs that were in a drawer. So just in case you run into something like this or something less but still warrants changing, it would be nice to have an extra pair in your bag. It’s always nice to be prepared.

So that’s all I had for now. I’m sure I’ll have other stories and tips in the future. Let me know if you have any questions and I will try to answer. I hope you enjoyed these tips and suggestions. Good luck!

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