I recently celebrated the first year anniversary of starting my nursing career. It's a bunch of firsts, all wrapped into one: first year out of nursing school, first year as a real nurse (what we used to joke RN stood for), first year in the ER.
Sometimes it's been kinda overwhelming. To go from student to new grad orientee to shiny new nurse in the space of six months...there are days where I just shake my head and wonder how I got through it. When I signed up for this career, I knew it was what I wanted to do. But still, I was most definitely not prepared for most of it.
After starting last January, I spent 4 months on orientation. It was great. I had a nurse to follow and show me things, to harrass and play 20 Questions with, to cry on her shoulder, to buffer me against some of the saltier staff. I learned so much from my preceptor, and then I realized just how little I actually know. Very humbling.
I've been off orientation for quite a few months now, but I still go to work every day with that small knot in my belly. Every day on my drive to work I think, "is this the day I screw up? The day someone dies because of me, because I didn't know something?" And then I think that is awful, and resolve to do everything I can to avoid that - whether I ask 800 questions of the more senior nurse, admit to the doctor I don't know something, keep my mouth shut and let someone tell me how to do something instead of saying I know it already, tell a patient I don't know something but will find out for them, or whatever else it takes. It's a very humbling experience to know you don't know something and to let everyone else know too, but it's the only way to learn. And trust me, I want to learn. I want to be the best nurse possible, and I'll get there one day.