On being labeled a “new grad nurse” 909 days after graduation..

I graduated from nursing school in May 2013 which is almost 2 and a half years ago (jeeze, time flies!).

Since graduation I have: passed my boards, worked independently as a camp nurse for 3 summers, worked independently as a school nurse in a special education for two full school years, volunteered as a nurse in my local Medical Reserve Corps, volunteered as a nurse for the Boston Marathon twice (and four years before that as first aid) and volunteered as a nurse for the Special Olympics of Massachusetts. In my role as a nurse throughout these 909 days (yes, I googled it) I have responded to emergencies including seizures, asthma attacks, allergic reactions. I have performed countless gtube feedings, ostomy bag changes, medication administrations, assessments of skin, assessments of gastrointestinal complaints, neurological assessments, and risk screenings. I have written and edited about 30 health care plans. Honestly, I have lost track of all of the “nursing skills” I have utilized over the last 909 days.

Last week I was called a “new grad” many times when at interviews and on the phone with potential employers. At first, I was really insulted. WHAT DO YOU MEAN A NEW GRAD?! DIDN’T YOU READ MY RESUME?! LOOK AT EVERYTHING I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED! But, now that I have thought about it, I definitely still have debts to pay in the field of nursing. There are still plenty of things I question (ask my supervisors, I ask A LOT of questions).

The potential employers who had called me a “new grad nurse” in the last few weeks weren’t necessarily meaning it as an insult either. They know that we “new grad nurses” have things to learn still and will need to be oriented and supervised. They know that “new grad nurses” are coming in hungry for success. They know that we will be flexible. They know that we will want that challenging patient because we are eager to learn. They also know that we have the whole “technology” thing down and will be running circles around those “seasoned nurses” when a new computer system is introduced.

So, I’m vowing here today that “new grad nurse” is no longer an insult. I will embrace that I don’t have “bad nurse habits” yet. I will recognize that I have weaknesses, but I also hold an enormous amount of power!




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