When I graduated from Villanova University I could not believe how I would be a Registered Nurse in a matter of a few months. I had images in my mind of all the nurses I had encountered along the journey of nursing school and did not know if I was truly ready to be one of them. Nevertheless, I walked across the stage to receive my diploma and before I knew it I had passed the NCLEX, packed my bags and moved from my small New England town to Washington, D.C. and began my nursing career.
My first year as a nurse on the Transplant Unit at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital has been an incredible journey. During orientation, my first realization was how much I did not know and still had to learn. ‘Time-management’ was suddenly a foreign concept to me and I could not believe how there could be enough time in a twelve-hour shift to accomplish everything. However, each day I learned countless new skills and gained knowledge of the complex realm of transplant medicine. I developed the confidence to advocate for my patients as well as myself. Ultimately, it was the nurses who I work with that have helped and impacted me the most – they all have given me infinite support and patience and I am truly grateful and honored to work with each of them.
A few pieces of advice I would give to new nurses:
1. First, ask a lot of questions (and never second-guess whether you should be asking one!). People do not expect you to know everything because after all, you have never been a nurse before! Asking questions is the best way to ensure that you are keeping your patients safe.
2. Second, find a mentor on your unit. Whether this be your preceptor or another nurse, it’s important to have a go-to-person you can trust.
3. Lastly, take care of yourself. I think this is often forgotten because it is our job and our nature to take care of others. The first year can be overwhelming and stressful so it is important to set aside time to do things that make you happy.
Despite being nervous in the beginning, my nursing professors undoubtedly prepared me for this profession and for that I am extremely thankful. The College of Nursing not only taught me knowledge, theory, and skills, but it also gave me the ability to recognize and respect the needs of others and to practice with compassion. Each day I am proud to be a Villanova nurse and could not be where I am today without the foundation the College of Nursing provided for me.