So now we come to the part that requires courage for any new nurse, the process of learning that will take you from newbie to competent. There are no express elevators, no shortcuts. For me, in particular, this was especially difficult. A young confident person sees what they do right more than what they do wrong. They aim themselves in a direction and go. I was older, more cautious, and I wanted and needed all the answers so I could see all the options and consequences of interventions. I was acutely aware of any information missing. I spent every day looking at my actions and determining what worked, what didnt, and feeling terrible because I wasn’t perfect. No patient was harmed, they all got good care, but I could not see that then. All the light, noise, people and stress bombarding me was magnifying my issues, and I had at least one meltdown a day, and could not let anyone see what was going on, because normal people dont do that!! Despite this, I loved taking care of people, and all things medical. It was my special interest.
So over time, by working on nights, with persistence, practice, a firecracker of a preceptor, and a few compassionate coworkers,and teachers turned friends, I first got to the point I could tamp the anxiety down, and didn’t hit that meltdown stage til the end of the shift, then until after the shift, and then I had a day where I didn’t cry. I was over the moon happy to have taken care of my patients well. It took me a year. It would be another 6 months before I started to build confidence and realize I did provide good care, I was becoming the kind of nurse I always wanted to be, and it would be at the two year mark when I stood up and advocated for my patients, and another 6 months before I started advocating for myself, and really caring for myself as well as I did others. I would still have moments, days and sometimes weeks of good bad and scary, but I could and was handling it! Next up, how to avoid the melt downs in the first place, how find calm in chaos, how to pick your battles, and ask for help from the coworkers who will become family.