10 Things I Have Learned in my First Year of Nursing

I don't think anything could have prepared me for my first year of nursing or "being out in the real world". Not even nursing school adequately prepared me for the journey ahead. And now, looking back on little baby me a year ago, I am so thankful for all that I have learned and been challenged with over this year of being a new nurse. I decided to share ten things that I have learned over this past year from nursing that have perfectly applied to my everyday life. So even if you aren't a nurse or even in the medical field, I think you will find that some of these points apply to you as well!

1. Being uncomfortable is a good place to be. 

As cliche as it sounds, no one grows in their comfort zone. Growth happens when you are pushed farther than you thought you could go and pulled in directions that you would have never gone alone. Be okay with being uncomfortable because when you look back and see how far you have come, you will have so much to be proud of and thankful for.

2. Sometimes when you want to cry, laughing is better.

Everyone has days when all they want to do is burst into tears. Whether it's a rude customer or patient, a seemingly impossible task, or just a downright discouraging day, there are moments where you are on the fine line between bursting into tears or a fit of hysterical laughter. My advice: laugh. There is something about a good laugh that helps to relieve all stress and give you a positive outlook that tears just won't give you. 

3. Never take for granted the people you work with- they are your lifeline.

The people you work with are the ones who understand your good days and bad days at work better than anyone else. Lean on them, look to them for advice, and in turn encourage them, support them, and be a lifeline for them. 

4. Learn to say no and be okay with it.

There will be times in your career and definitely times in your life when you have a million options and fun opportunities in our path and you won't be able to do them all. And the reality is you shouldn't do them all. If you commit to every fun thing ever in your path, then you will be so worn out that you will only be able to enjoy the fun things half heartedly. I don't know about you, but I would rather enjoy a handful of carefully selected opportunities with all the enthusiasm in the world, than every opportunity that comes my way with half of my energy mixed with a bit of regret. Saying no can sometimes be the best thing you can do for yourself.

5. Go to bed early and wake up early.

Yes, I still love my late night adventures and into the wee morning movie marathons, but on a regular basis I have more energy and get more accomplished if I am in bed at a good hour and get up early. Sometimes it makes me feel old, but most of the time I feel like I can conquer the world when it's 7:30am and I have already worked out, eaten a great breakfast, and gotten ready.

6. Always have a questioning attitude.

I would be in a world of hurt if I didn't ask questions at work, and in my field I could seriously harm someone if I don't ask for help, or questions a doctor's orders. Don't ever feel stupid for asking questions! That is how you learn, grow, and gain wisdom so that you can in turn help someone else when they have a question. 

7. Be confident in what you know and humble in the areas that you are still learning.

It's okay to be confident! As you learn and grow, you WILL become proficient in your field and area of expertise. I have patients question me often, sometimes with genuine desires to learn and other times with skepticism. This used to scare me off but I have learned to be speak firmly and kindly with clarity when I know what I am talking about and this helps to build others confidence in you. I have also learned that when I don't know that answer to something, saying "I don't know, but I will find out for you," goes a LONG way. It's okay to not have all of the answers! Just be willing to do the work to find them when you don't know.

8. Learn to leave work at work.

Life is not meant to be consumed by work. Appreciate and enjoy the time you have away from work to rejuvenate and enjoy time with people you love, doing things you enjoy. This can be easier said than done, especially in the medical field when you carry people's pain and loss along with them, but you won't do your job well if you don't take a step back and focus on other things. 

9. Make time for new hobbies.

This kind of goes hand in hand with my last point, but find things to do in your spare time that you are passionate about. Going through nursing school, I never really had time for hobbies, and now I have an excess amount of time to discover new one's and it has been so much fun!! Find things that set your heart on fire and passionately pursue them.

10. Last but not least, learn to have fun and be filled with joy.

I was so incredibly stressed and nervous about work that I didn't know how to have any fun doing what I had spent literally my entire life going to school for. As I became more comfortable I learned how to have fun with my co workers and my patients. And let me tell you- it made a huge impact on my job. I now enjoy being in that environment, working alongside people that I value and respect and sharing joy and hope to people who are in their most vulnerable states. Plus, life is too short to be consumed by worry and fear.