An Open Letter to New Grad Nurses

 In Nurses Weekly

I feel the need to apologize for the state of our current profession. By saying that, I don’t mean anything negative towards nursing in general, it’s actually quite contrary. I have more pride than ever in our profession.

I worry, however, that your first year will bring so many different challenges and obstacles that I didn’t have to face as a new nurse. The past four months have taken a toll on nurses worldwide, and I fear that the enthusiasm and zest for this profession will be muddled under a veil of exhaustion and compassion fatigue. Just know that although we may not greet you with streamers and kazoos, behind our tired eyes and blistered faces we are ecstatic to welcome you into our family.

This year’s group of new nurses face an uphill learning curve that hasn’t been experienced before. These ever-changing scenarios will be frustrating to navigate, and I can’t imagine the added stress you will be under to learn the nuances of this job in the midst of a pandemic.

  • It’s hard enough learning the skills, time management and medications, but now hospitals have policies that change faster than a woman changes out of her Spanx after a long night out.
  • Hospitals have shortened orientations and eliminated residency programs as a result of budget cuts and an increasing demand for full-time nurses.
  • Since the development of COVID units, nurses often float between departments at a higher frequency than normal which may result in an inconsistent staff to learn beside.

I urge you to find your people. Regardless of your department or hospital, there are always people around you ready and willing to help. Although you sometimes have to look harder to find them than others, find the coworkers that you feel safe asking questions to, will laugh with you at your mistakes, and will take the additional 30 seconds to help you navigate your way. Sometimes these people will be your preceptors, and other times it might be your respiratory therapist. On tough days when nothing feels right, text or call a friend from nursing school and commiserate together on the challenges and difficulties of this season. Oftentimes, the most meaningful comfort you can receive is the affirmation of a friend who is in the same scenario that you are walking through. Nursing is far from an independent profession, it’s the “you hold this butt cheek, I’ll hold the other” teamwork and reliability that carries us through.

I write this to you, beloved new grad, to tell you that although you are entering this profession at an unprecedented time, I know that you will come out of this experience far stronger than you could ever imagine. You have already proven your resiliency by graduating in unconventional ways, fighting for a position regardless of the potential dangers, and continually showing up despite the uncertainty in healthcare today. When you feel like you have hit your breaking point, which is an incredibly normal and predictable emotion to feel in those first few months, just remember that you are stronger than your surroundings. Thank you for joining our team and selflessly serving your community during these times. I cannot wait to work and learn alongside you.

Emily Bryant

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