Archive | July, 2014

Dear new graduate nurses…

30 Jul

Today I’ve been asked to speak to the new graduate Registered Nurses about to start on the wards at my hospital and I’ve been thinking a lot about what I might say. It’s a question and answer session so I don’t specifically have to summarise my experience – although that could be a question so it’s worth thinking about. It is hard to believe that 6 months have gone – it feels like only yesterday I was in their shoes, petrified… so I’ve been thinking, what would I tell myself if I could turn back time…

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

• First and foremost – Congratulations! You’ve been one of the few to secure a graduate position – others believe you have the attitude and essential knowledge to be a good, safe practitioner – the skills? They will come.

• It is a graduate YEAR – they don’t call it that for nothing. You are not expected to know everything when you walk onto the floor. There is a lot to learn – take it one step at a time. Learn some of the resources available to you to answer your questions – MIMS, Injectable Drugs Handbook, Intranet Document Centre…

• Ask, ask and ask again. While I still feel like I’m being a nuisance asking will ensure you do the right thing – and that equals a safe experience for the patient. Your fellow nurses will think far more highly of you if you ask when you don’t know rather than just charging in – seriously, everyone wins when you ask (even if you feel like it is the stupidest question)

• It will be hard. Really hard. People like me will tell you that there are good days and there are really bad days, and you will nod your head and think you understand… you don’t. You don’t understand until you have them… But remember, every day is a new day. It is incredibly rewarding and I’ve not regretted becoming an RN for a second. The good days can be really good, but the bad days – well…they can be really bad. Oh and the good days do outnumber the bad!

• Make sure you take time for you. This grad year is full on. Not only are you adjusting to a new job, you’re adjusting to 24/7 shift work, being on your feet for 8hrs a day, and working in a physically and emotionally demanding job. Do not neglect you (take it from someone who did…). Do things on your days off that recharge your batteries – whatever that is – exercise, reading, movie watching, shopping… whatever… shopping could be expensive though so watch out for that one…

• Find another grad you can debrief with if you need to – colleagues are great – and they remind you that you are not alone, you are both likely experiencing similar issues – bounce ideas and feelings off each other

• Put your hand up if you need help – if you don’t put your hand up, people will assume all is good… when reality is you’re drowning… Ask for help early.

• The grad study days are great! You learn a lot, you get some hands on experience. Get in there, don’t be scared – make the most of them. They are also a great opportunity to see your other grads.

• The grad educators are also great – so approachable and friendly. If you need something – ask them – if they can help, they will

• Some of the most helpful nurses on the ward are the newest nurses (last years grads) – I think this is because they have recently been in your shoes and remember what it feels like – they can make great go to people

• You know more than you think you do. The idea of working with a student nurse is daunting – but it will happen – and when it does, you’ll realise how much you actually do know. Working with students is awesome – it ensures you really understand what you are doing and why.

• Take the time with your patients – one of the most important things you can give a patient is your time – and it is one of the things we have so little of. Unfortunately I had the experience of being a patient in hospital for 8 nights. The nurses were fabulous and the care I received was fantastic. The nurses I liked best? The ones who actually took 2 minutes to speak to me about life while they were hanging my next IVAB, rather than just racing in and hanging the IVAB and racing out. It is all about patient care.

• Learning guides and competencies… these make up a big portion of your graduate year. I know you have most of the year to do them, and you’ll get mixed reactions from other grads about them. For me personally, I like to be competent, and I like to know and learn. So, I found doing them early gave me a greater understanding of what I was doing – particularly the learning guides. Gaining competencies can be a bit more difficult because you need to have an assessor available on the same shift to sign you off when that particular competency comes up.

• It is great – it really is. It is hard, but it is great.

I don’t know if my advice is useful or not, and I don’t know if I’ve given a well-rounded perception of making the transition from student to graduate… or if it is swayed one way or another…So maybe I’ll sign off with some of Baz Luhrmann Lyrics – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) – “Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it.”

All the best with the transition from someone still making the transition…


Help! Accountability sought…

2 Jul

In search of a new challenge to keep me on track, I said yes to the Noosa Triathlon with the Smiling for Smiddy crew. It will be my first Olympic Distance Triathlon (that is 1500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run). What was I thinking??

Instead of seeing this as a challenge, I’m seeing it as impossible. Instead of it motivating me, it’s almost so overwhelming it is demotivating me. I’ve really struggled to find any kind of exercise routine amongst my new found life as a shift worker. Exercising on days off – no problem. Exercising before late shifts – yep I can do that…some days…. Exercising before or after a morning shift – you’ve got to be joking! However, I also know that last year when I was doing 12 hour days I managed to fit it in… so what is my excuse now? I really don’t have a good one – I’m tired doesn’t count.

Today I have serious doubts about my ability to complete the Noosa Tri. Serious. Doubts. In the last week I can say that I have been able to swim 1500m, Ride 40km and run 5km – but I need to be able to double the run and do them all back to back. Not spread over a week, with large rest periods in between. Right now, from where I sit on my couch, in my dressing gown and wrapped in my quilt, it seems impossible. It’s likely to remain impossible if I don’t get off the couch!

So, this is where the accountability comes in. I’m making a promise to myself, and I’m putting it out there for the world. I will exercise, and I will follow the training plans that I have, and I will start – and finish, the Noosa Triathlon on 2nd November 2014. You have permission to question my exercise for the day, and you have permission to really hassle me if exercise has not featured within 24 hours preceding your question.

This means that every single week I am going to undertake 6 sessions a week including as a MINIMUM:

  • 1 swim session
  • 1 run session
  • 1 ride session
  • 1 brick (Ride to run) session

I will dedicate more time to the areas that I struggle most with – at the moment that is the swim and the run, but I also know I need to be faster on the bike. I will agree to do some sessions with others – at the moment I’m too embarrassed worried I’ll slow others down. But if I commit to the above regime I know that I can do it. I have set physical challenges in the past and achieved them – today is no different. I have my health back; I have no excuse not to. I really feel that I have a responsibility, I owe it to those who are literally physically unable to exercise but want to, to make the most of the healthy body I have.

Of course the other challenge that goes along with me undertaking this physical challenge is the goal of raising $1000 for cancer research at the Mater (this is the requirement to join the Smiling for Smiddy team). Having just been overwhelmed by the generosity of family and friends to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease this is another task that almost feels insurmountable. I don’t want the same people who donated for MND to feel pressured to donate again to another one of my crazy ideas. While I know it is a great cause, and cancer has impacted most people’s lives in some way – to give financially is often not easy. I do, however, firmly believe that giving money into medical research is an investment into the health of future generations. So I’m trying to come up with alternative ways to fundraise this time, but at the same time I’m grateful for any stand-alone donation made ( – this is the link to my page for any tax deductible donations)

As I sit here, and as I type this, my resolve is becoming solid. I can do this. I will do this. I can train, I can fundraise, I can complete the triathlon. The countdown is on: 122 days, 20 hours, 6 minutes, 8 seconds (approximately).

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” Phil. 4:13