3Cs: Coffee, Children, and Cancer

A new grad turned pediatric oncology nurses' jump into the fray…

Deer In Headlights

on February 6, 2012

First days are hard. You don’t know anyone. You don’t know anything—like not even where the bathrooms are. I wondered if they would look at me as if I had three heads if I asked. I could just hear it now: “Bathrooms?!? Ha!—nurses don’t get to pee! These new grads…”

The first couple days of new hire orientation usually consists HR stuff—benefits, parking, the “why we’re so great” speeches. However, since I was not a new hire but an internal transfer, I got to bypass all the fluffy stuff and go straight to my unit to start shadowing. After arriving extra early to make sure I wasn’t late (or maybe it was because I couldn’t sleep anyway), I nervously made my way to the unit, introduced myself to the clerk, and asked for the charge nurse. And so it began…

Eight hours later, I was totally overwhelmed by it all. Nursing school clinicals do not even scrape the surface of preparing you for what I had just walked into. Coming from where we were barely allowed to touch IV fluids to being dropped in the midst of patients with all types of lines and ports and catheters oh my. Though I managed to keep my feelings neatly tucked inside my scrub pockets, inside I was panicking. What in the world did I sign up for?!? Was I going to be able to pull this one off? This wasn’t pulling a rabbit out of a hat—this was more like pulling an elephant out of a Louis Vuitton bag.

I tried to rationalize with myself that this was normal, first-day-on-the-job anxiety. And after all, I was going to be working in a specialty—oncology—and you don’t get to focus much on specialties during general nursing programs. But I just felt so unprepared… Just the medications alone—what can and can’t be run with what, run through what, run when, run over how long…OY VEY. It’s truly an adjustment to go from the school environment where you were the top of your class to feeling like you don’t know squat. Sheesh.

I’m just going to take this one day at a time. Look at it this way—I know more than I did yesterday…

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