When you’re working on your pre-req’s and going through nursing school, in your first few years of nursing school, or just switched specialties, it gets really tough sometimes.  So much information is being thrown at you that you have no idea what’s important and what’s not, and you begin to wonder if you’re just totally clueless because everyone else seems just fine.

They’re not, they’re just really good at pretending.  They’re as good at pretending as those people on Facebook that make a big obnoxious deal about how fantastic their life is when you know that it is not.  Ugh.  I hate those people.  Sometimes I wish Facebook had an “I think you’re making this up” or a “stop exaggerating” button.

So when you’re looking at those people in class or orientation and wish you could be them, know that good grades does not automatically mean someone is a safe and awesome nurse.  Many phenomenal nurses that I know did not graduate Summa Cum Laude or land the perfect nursing job after graduation.  They didn’t know all of the answers to professor’s questions and some didn’t even pass the NCLEX on their first try.  It takes a lot of experience to be a good nurse, not a high GPA and good connections.

So when you want to quit.. DON’T!

Every single experience as a nurse makes you better.  Every failed IV attempt, every messy code, every rude and demanding patient will make you better.  You will learn how to be better with each crappy (ha!) situation.  You will learn what works and what doesn’t.  You’ll grow into your Nurse Face (the “it just got real, real serious” face).  You will know what battles are worth fighting and which are not.  You’ll learn how to explain things to patients and families better each time.  Before you know it, you’ll know how to handle most situations that come your way with confidence instead of fear.  And people will be looking to you for guidance.

So when you’re down, overwhelmed, frustrated.. persevere.  All of that will make you better.    You want to know what are two common denominator in great nurses?  Resiliency and the ability to take constructive criticism.

Great nurses know how to learn from not only their mistakes, but the mistakes they see their coworkers make as well.  They ask doctors and advanced nurses what their thought process is when they’re make decisions about the plan of care (“Sooo… just curious why we did adenosine rather than a synchronized cardioversion?”)  They ask for feedback on their personal performance after codes.  They watch people who are more skilled when they’re doing procedures.  They look up policies and procedures when they’re not sure how or why we do something.  They get back up when someone was a jerk to them and don’t let it wreck their day.  They learn how to be more organized so they don’t forget things.  They learn about about common disease processes of their patient population to make their job easier.  They’ve been through the ringer and have learned what is worth freaking out about and what’s not.

There’s too much gray area in nursing for it to be straight forward.  In a field where literally everything is important to someone, it takes time to learn what’s important enough for you to pay attention to so you can provide safe, efficient care to your patients and still clock out on time.  You figure out what’s important, learn how to take constructive criticism (and ask for it from people you trust), and have your personal and professional growth be your motivation.. not your ego.

Seriously, before you know it, you’ll be in charge and won’t even remember those days in nursing school that you were on the verge of tears when you realized you completely forget about a test in the morning.

Poof – gone.  Like your deaf patient’s hearing aids, or your brand new Sharpie that someone “borrowed”, or your patient’s 4 extra pillows… gone.. never to been seen again.

Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.


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