“Wobble moments” make wonderful lessons
When I first qualified, I think there were many things that I’d prepared for and thought would be important, but then when it came down to it, they weren’t a priority any more. In part I think this is to do with the leap from being a student nurse (STN) and being a newly qualified nurse (NQN). I thought I was doing quite well initially but when my “wobble moment” hit it nearly knocked me sideways.
I had worries about being an NQN in an area I’d never had placement in. Although I’d trained in the trust, I’d never worked on that ward or even the speciality, whereas the other NQNs I started with had been STNs there. This turned out to be more of a chip on my shoulder than an actual problem due to the fab team I worked with and a long held interest in the area, but it took me a long time to get my head around it.
I was definitely very glad of those around me, nursing colleagues on my new team, friends who’d qualified at the same time and were experiencing similar situations, and my non-nursing friends and family. They all gave me different views and ideas about the challenges I was facing. Having those different people I could turn to meant that if I was becoming “stuck” on a thought or problem, then often this new perspective would help me out.
Now I have more experience as a registered nurse under my belt, and have supported other NQNs through this time, I feel I’ve got a few insights and ideas I’d like to share that might help any new registered healthcare professional:
Plan some annual leave or fun things to look forward to – it’s easy to get bogged down with being newly qualified and yes, this is an important part of your life that you’ve worked towards, but it’s also about balance. Take time for yourself to get away, rest and relaxation gives you perspective and keeps those personal batteries topped up.
Be reflective, maybe even keep a journal. This can help you to realise how far you’ve come. Day by day you’re not likely to notice the small gains you’ll make in confidence or ability, it’s only when you look back that you think oh wow, that’s been quite a ride! A reflective journal helps with that, I wrote one and even transformed some of those entries into blogs which started interesting conversations with fellow NQNs or more experienced nurses that encouraged me further.
Be honest – a good preceptorship will have people in place to help you out. Preceptors in the ward or department team, clinical educators, preceptorship leads. They are there to support you and, if needed, signpost you to other support that will help you through this tough time. I think there can be a real fear about speaking up and saying you’re struggling but honestly, it can be the best thing in the world for any new healthcare professional early on in their career.
Debs Cooper received her BSc (Hons) in Adult Nursing from Birmingham City University and a previous degree in genetics from the University of Leicester. Since qualifying she has worked in oncology in an inpatient chemotherapy unit and is currently seconded to work as a breast care CNS for a year. @BloggersNurse team-member.