My first year of nursing has gone by! Hurray! I would love to say that it has been magnificent, but the truth is that it has been rather appalling (and has passed very quickly).
Too Many Night Shifts
I have experienced the very terrible four night shifts in a row (which I should never ever do again!). It lead to a very zombie-like nurse and I got sick the week after. I think my body couldn't handle it. I couldn't sleep much during the noisy day time so I basically had four sleep-deprived nights in a row. It is a very bad thing. Don't do it :)
I experienced situations where I got criticized for not doing things by another nurse. Afterwards, I discovered that no one else had time either (somehow three shifts later no nurse had done it yet) and, in some cases, no one wants to do those tasks either (you realize it's a task that no nurse actually does). So... why am I getting criticized for not doing them? You quickly learn that nurses that complain the loudest and most assertively get away with the most. Unfortunately, I am not that brave and not that loud.
Not Enough Time
I have tried and tried to do everything every shift, but I have realized it is not possible. I get aching feet, super fatigue, and I end up hating my job cuz I'm so burnt out. On the plus side, I have really happy patients and families on those days and the other nurses benefit because the families bring goodies like hot coffee and pastries for the ward as thanks for their family member being so well taken care of.
It's not sustainable though. When you have 8 hours and 7 patients, you can only do so much each shift without completely obliterating every last ounce of energy and patience you have. If you're lucky, some of these patients are independent. If one or more of your patients' condition turns sour, you're screwed.
For a short while, I thought it was just me. Maybe I was the only one getting burned out so quickly after starting nursing. To my surprise, I found other nurses that talked about getting burned out and considering dropping out of the field. They told me that it helped to do things like changing wards to get a fresh start, or getting into a specialty area. Also, they said that not doing night shifts anymore helped.
I feel like I just got out of nursing school and it's too quickly to go back to school again, but getting out of this rut is very important too. I hate feeling tired every day. I'm tired from working so hard every day, but I'm also tired emotionally.
Natural deaths are hard to handle, unexpected and gruesome deaths are even harder to handle, and calming down people is something that I do so often that I'm tired of it. It seems like every patient is panicking because they are confused about where they are and why, they are in pain and need to be medicated regularly all shift, they are puking, and their disposable brief needs to be changed for poop - very, very smelly whole-ward stinkin' poop.
Meanwhile, the other nurses are getting stressed out and they're taking it out on each other. I've heard nurses yelling at each other in frustration or snapping at me if I ask too many questions (I've since learned to just look stuff up instead of asking people, just in case). It is a very stressful work environment.
Anyways, that's all the bad stuff. The good stuff is that I have learned so many new skills. And so many skills that used to be hard, are now much easier. Little by little, I am becoming a more competent and skilled nurse. It's a good feeling. I also still appreciate the little comments my patients give me when they appreciate what I do for them, or the relieved smiles when their families get positive reports from me. I appreciate the nurses that take the time to teach me new things, help me with my work, or that thank me when I help them. Those are good things too.
All in all, year one of real nursing has been challenging. Let's see how year two goes! Fingers crossed!