I'm a "real" nurse... well kind of

So. As most of you may or may not know, I just started a new job in August. As a nurse. A REAL nurse. Well kinda, not really. You see, I have the paper license behind my name proving that I am a “real” nurse. But I don’t think one becomes a real nurse until they can successfully manage 3-4 patients on their own. Or at least find the ice machine on their first try.

So, first off, this job is on the surgical/rehabilitation/neurology floor at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colorado. Children’s Hospital Colorado has consistently been ranked in the top 10 pediatric hospitals in the nation… I say this not to toot my own horn, but to tell you that, folks, I should not have gotten this job. If it weren’t for the mighty hand of God working in my life and placing me right where He wanted me to be I would still be sitting on my couch right now, jobless, and broker by the day. Anyway that’s another story for another time. 

Back to it. My first month as a nurse. Well the first two weeks were sitting in a classroom learning about everything from oxygen to the mission and values of CHCO… nice, for sure, but let me tell you I picked the right profession because I was just OVER sitting still.

The learning curve is steep… and I could write about how incompetent I feel on a daily minute-to-minute basis… but I won’t bore you with the sob stories. Instead you can hear how I have absolutely embarrassed myself in my first 10 shifts as a nurse. I’m hoping that the more I tell these stories, the more funny, and less mortifying they’ll become.

Let’s start with the first day shall we.

Here’s my first day of school I mean work picture. Only difference is, I’m by myself in my house and it’s a lot darker and earlier than I ever would have dreamed of waking up for the first day of school .

And why, yes, I did put a lot of thought into my first day of work outfit, and pack my lunch the night before. Which brings me to embarrassing moment #1.



See those light yellow scrub pants? They are virtually the most comfortable things I have worn ever- they basically feel like awesome sweat pants instead of the awkward drawstring-you-have-to-pull-really-tight scrubs that I’m used to. NOTE, however, the LIGHT yellow color.

Cheery, yes, but also very see through. Which, I failed to notice until halfway through my shift… by then I’m sure everyone and their mother had noticed, and I spent the rest of the day talking to people only if I was seated or had my back to a wall.

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I spent all of 3 years of nursing school SUCCESSFULLY concealing my undergarments beneath the famously dreaded all-white scrubs. Only to fail on the first day of being a “real nurse”. 

*facepalm*

Let’s move on to incident number two. I had sweet adolescent girl as my patient—she happened to be pretty sick and consequently had about two million IV lines running from her various machines to various tubes inserted into her body. 

I was in there administering a medication, pretending like I knew what I was doing, only to unhook two ends of tubing and have white liquid squirt all over my entire patient’s belly. I had forgotten to clamp the tube, and lo and behold, here came the flood (flood of lipids, to be exact). 

Oh, and did I mention there were 5 doctors in the room standing all over my patient as I so gracefully managed to give her her morning shower. 5 is not an exaggeration… Children’s is a teaching hospital so there will often be multiple people rounding on one patient—the attending, the resident,  the interns, the who-knows-who. 5 people indeed witnessed the great white shower.

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And finally, onto my third mistake. There’s more than 3, but these are the most memorable (for the wrong reason?)

I decided I felt confident enough to go into the medication room without my orienting nurse and prepare an IV bag of an antifungal. Well long story short, a couple tubes in the wrong place and one wrong hole, and sure enough, 10 minutes later my attempt at independence had turned into an environmental health concern as I watched my antifungal medication squirt all over the wall and floor as I tried to unsuccessfully stop it.
Well, what can you do?

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This was my first month as a nurse. Definitely funnier now that it’s over, and it’s not ALL bad. The nurses I’ve been working with have been super supportive (“Oh you squirted a medication all over the wall? No problem, I’ve done that too!”), and really helpful (“Psss, Sarah, clamp your tube!)

Which is MORE than I could ever have even hoped for. Mistakes don’t seem so bad when they’re taken in stride by those around you. Or even better when they’re not hung over your head threatening to have your grade failed.

All in all, I expect more mortifying moments to come. I just really try to avoid having one each day. And, I am continually grateful for all the support I receive from the staff and nurses (yayy!)

And last but not least, I think the hardest part of the job so far has been being nice to myself. Not shaming myself for making a fool of myself in front of doctors; not expecting myself to know everything after two weeks on the job; not beating myself up for having to be reminded where the diapers are…again.

And ultimately, remembering that God is with me every step of the way. 

~SJ





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