Baby Nurse. This is a term we use in school when we talk about new nursing students. That very first semester when your excited and scared all at the same time. When you have all these ideas in your head about what its going to be like and what you think being a nurse means. This is before the tears and the doubts, before seeing your first naked stranger, before watching and helping with your first code, before seeing your first death….
I am graduating in one week and it has me thinking. When are we no longer “baby nurses” and what is it we become? I don’t feel like a nurse. I don’t have any really experience as a “real nurse.” I feel more like an impostor nurse. Yes I’m a good student, I did well on my HESI exit exam. I have been a nurse intern on a cardiac nursing unit for almost a year. But, I have not yet been in charge and responsible for a patients care. Granted patient care in the hospital is a team effort but most of the responsibility of managing the patients care falls on the nurse. Yes the providers write the orders but they are not the ones at the bedside for 12 hour shifts. They are not the ones who need to notice when a patients condition changes. That is the responsibility of the nurse. Nurses are responsible for everything they do regardless of whether the provider ordered it. It is their job to understand what is being done and why, as well as question when something doesn’t seem right or needs clarification. And they need to do this for 4-6 patients at a time. It’s a lot of responsibility. They are the patients voice and advocate.
So I am getting ready to take the NCLEX and enter the work place as a new nurse. But everything that I know about working in the hospital is in limbo now. COVID 19 is this ever evolving pandemic that is changing hospital policy on a daily basis. New graduate residencies have been cancelled, my capstone clinicals have been moved out of the hospital and become virtual. Those 90 hours of one on one training with a nurse prior to graduation are gone. I am thankful that I get to keep my graduation date and don’t have to do the semester over but nervous about lacking this key final experience. Add to that I am going to be started a new job in an unsure environment.
So I guess the best thing to call myself is just a nurse. That gives me some certainty in uncertain times.