Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mama's gotta a brand new bag...

With shoes to match!

I have only two weeks left until I get to work independently. I think I am looking forward to it. I can't complain so far, I work with a marginally decent group of people. My challenge is that I work with almost all women, even the men are woman-like. But during my training, I have not only learned how to be a nurse, but I have been socialized in the culture of nursing. I have come up with some hard and fast survival techniques for new nurses that I will share. Then I am going to take a nap because I have to work until 3 o'clock in the morning.

1. Avoid floor gossip at all costs.
This is probably the hardest of all because when there is a break in the day, every one gets together to talk about how "Nurse A" has migraine headaches and she calls off every week because she has a headache and how it is not fair that she can use FMLA to excuse her absences and how she coincidentally has a migraine on X-mas day, New Year's Eve, Thanksgiving and any other inconvenient time. If you find yourself talking about someone when they are not present, make sure you are saying nice things or things that you don't mind being repeated because trust me, it will be repeated and you might get confronted.

2. Get a tough skin and try not to go off in front of a patient even when "Dr So and So" is being a dick!
This has happened to me, and I act like I don't even care. Don't ever cry in front of an "authority figure" because then they know your weakness and you will get hosed every time. Sometimes, I will even laugh and say some crap like "Take it easy dude, even though I am a DiVa, I am still new." Save your crying for when you get home or in the bathroom or whatever. Personally, I went to school with a whole bunch of (pardon my saying so) Bitches (students and profs included) so I am almost numb to this sort of crap. And besides, they can't kick my ass anyway!

3. Even if you don't know what the hell you are doing, walk around with poise and confidence.
I call this my poker face. Inside I am a nervous wreck, on the outside I look like I have been doing this nursing thing my whole life. If I am confused about something, I ask a question in a way that sounds like I am confirming what I already know. I think it must be working okay because people have an awful lot of confidence in my ability to care for patients. Maybe I am better than I think I am, but I never make any assumptions.

4. Smile and say hello to everyone from the nurse manager to the environmental services personnel. Be genuine and nice. Help out whenever and where ever you can.
You will be surprised where the best help can come from when you don't know which end is up. I am always willing to help someone at all times and I have found that if I overhead page for help, not a code but just for assistance I have a team of people in my room and each one takes a job without even being asked. Seriously, it's amazing. If I feel uncomfortable with the way that anyone treats me I'll ask the person directly if they are having a bad day, or if I did something wrong. Mainly I address the behavior by saying something like "When you speak to me that way, it feels like you are yelling at me" or "Can you show me the proper way to do whatever" and I find that people give me good feedback. If there was a misunderstanding, it is okay. We talk it out like adults. They didn't beat me up or cuss me out or anything.

5. Be prepared to get crappy work schedules as a new employee. Don't complain or whine. Just smile and say something like "Those are the breaks" and move on.
It is just a fact of life. Nurses with seniority get whatever they want and new nurses have to earn their way. But there is always a nurse on the floor who knows how to work the schedule. Find that person and ask them to teach you how to make out your schedule. You'd be surprised how far creative scheduling can get you.

*Bonus! Try to have fun and remember that your job is all about taking care of the patients. If you make a few friends along the way and it is all fine and good, but if not remember you're a nurse!
You can transfer anywhere you want. We are one of the few professions with the versatility to work in any clinical area. I am giving this job two years to happen for me. After that I will re-evaluate my career and make a decision about where I want to go next. I have the ultimate power over whether or not I am going to have a good experience or a bad one. I leave my home life at home and my work life at work. And besides, my personal life is none of their business anyway. And believe me, they will want to know your business. Have a little mystery about yourself. It is fun. None of those people HAVE to be your friends, they are co-workers. The less people judging you the better.

Alright, enough wisdom for today, I will be back soon.


DiVa...A nurse with the moxy to keep it real!


Nikki said...


I just discovered your blog and have to say I am hooked. I am a nursing student (single mom too!) so reading about your experience is extremely helpful! I wish you continued success and thank you for sharing your journey.

overactive-imagination said...

Great suggestions, I will keep them in mind while doing my clinicals (which I started today)

Anonymous said...

I'm finishing my third semester and finally have a little down time and decided to do some "surfing". I'm glad I found your blog - it's wonderful to know that you're not alone. I've been so impressed on my journey on how many people - nurses and non - who have been encouraging and supportive. I'm making a career change in my mid - now late 40's. I love it - and having people like you out there willing to share and root for us - we'll all be successful! Thank you!

Nurse Diva Extraordinaire said...

Hi everyone. Thanks for stopping by, I am so happy to hear that my stories of triumph and (sometimes) defeat are inspiring. As I was going along my journey to professional nurse-dom, I often wondered if I was the only one going through some of the things I experienced. Thanks to all for your continued support and I wish you all the best of luck in your careers.