I recently hit a pretty big milestone; I managed to make it through a whole year as a qualified nurse (without losing my registration). That’s a joke but I can honestly say there’s not a day passes at work where I don’t panic about it. The past year has been a rollercoaster ride. Being a mental health nurse is filled with so many highs and lows and my brain usually feels like mush by the day of the end. It’s such a cliché but there’s truly nothing I’d rather be doing (except living in a campervan with two dogs). But there’s nothing I’d realistically rather be doing.
To mark the occasion I wanted to share just some of the things I’ve learnt in the last year.
- You realise quickly how little university prepared you for being a nurse.
- But on the other hand, you realise that uni put the fear of God into you about how ‘terrifying’ nursing is, when in reality, good organisation, a calm mentality and listening skills make up most of the job.
- You’re allowed to make mistakes – just own up to them immediately.
- Teamwork really does make the dream work.
- If you’re ever considering whether a patient needs their physical observations taking, then yes they do.
- Force yourself to do the things you are scared of. There will be shifts where you’re the only person qualified to do them.
- Listen to your healthcare assistants – they are the backbone of your ward/hospital/community service.
- Familiarise yourself with death, you will see it even if you think you don’t work in that environment.
- Learn your team’s strengths and weaknesses. “Oh you don’t deal with vomit? That’s great because I’m not good with spit.”
- Ask for help. There are no stupid questions. Nursing is about life long learning.
- Listen to patients, to relatives, to staff. Listen to everyone and listen actively.
- Find a pair of shoes that you can walk around in for 14 hours a day.
- Take your breaks. Nobody thinks you’re a superior nurse because you went a whole day without eating anything.
- Take every opportunity to learn something new.
- You’re going to feel like you’re not good enough approximately 5 million times a day. Even experienced nurses feel like this. It’s a good thing that means we want the best for our patients.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt from your job?