From the archives: My first day as a nurse


There are some great posts buried in the Nurse Uncut archives – so over the coming months we’ve decided to share them with you again.

Here’s one from January 2010 about ‘my first day as a nurse’. This nurse found that her work even invaded her dreams at night.

Can you remember your first days as a newbie nurse? What was your experience?

It was a morning shift, my first day as a nurse. We were in the nurses’ station of a 30 bedded medical-surgical ward listening to the handover the night staff were giving in a low soft tone voice.

nursing handover

From the corner where I’m standing, I’m trying to understand every bit of jargon they’re saying:

“Mr. X  is for ERCP”

“NBM since 12 MN”

“Mr. S is for Angiogram at 10 am all cardiac meds given aspirin withheld, ECG done.”

“Mrs. F Day 10 post CS”

“HB 9 had BT 1 unit

It was endless until the last patient had been handed over. Handover during those days lasted for about 30 minutes, as you had to write everything on your piece of paper (unlike today, you are given a printout of the handover, all you need to do is listen and add a little if it’s needed).

After that, it’s time to do the walking handover as we went to each room, where patients’ contraptions were checked, dressings examined and every IV checked.

That is how vigorous the start of the day was. Next on the agenda was to check all the progress notes of patients assigned to me (usually about 20 as the 10 patients were in the second level, occupying the private rooms).

As I was new, I have to be buddied to a senior nurse to give me support and assistance as I needed it. But more than usual, I was left on my own. My senior nurse buddy was needed to accompany the doctors round as she was the senior nurse and she knew the consultant’s routine. I was left to attend to call bells of patients needing help.

During my eight hour shift, everything had to be done on schedule but that did not happen all the time, as I was interrupted by patients, relatives, technicians and doctors.

A two-minute  procedure like diluting an antibiotic took several minutes at times because everybody was busy attending calls. I guess it helped that back then, we utilised functional nursing as well as primary nursing.

Functional nursing means that we are given functions – like one nurse was assigned to do the intravenous medications, one  to do oral medications, one to carry out doctor’s orders and one to do observations.  Primary nursing was also utilised when we admit patients, so that whoever admitted the patient planned for her/his care until discharge.

Every day was a new experience as I worked with different sets of nurses. I’ve gained some of their good techniques, especially with dealings with patients and their relatives.

I’ve seen and worked with empathetic and wonderful nurses, but sad to say, I’ve also seen some bad ones. And when I say bad ones, I really mean the bad ones – those nurses who don’t even support you and who performed their nursing duties in a way I don’t believe should have been acceptable.

The only thing I didn’t like during those first days was the thought of having not done what I was supposed to do.

My concerns invaded my dreams even – I have dreamt of not giving antibiotics and so many other things related to work. Even when it was my day off, take a guess what I did first thing after I woke up? I rang the ward to confirm if I indeed had given the meds.

That’s how much nursing would invade your life. It’s not just your day (or your night job!) It invades even your dreams! How ridiculous is that? Have you experienced that too?


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