Dear new graduate nurse….


Dear new graduate nurse,

Congratulations! You have made it through all the hurdles to get your nursing license. I commend your determination to get through A&P, clinicals, that ONE instructor that was particularly harsh, and the NCLEX. You have started a journey privy to a group of individuals that really do have a special heart. Being a new graduate nurse, you’re probably looking for a job in a hospital setting, which really helps develop your knowledge and skill. Even if bedside nursing isn’t your end goal, it is a great way to get a good foundation.

Before I lay it down, I want to preface this by saying I’m not by any means a super nurse or a nurse Ratched. I only have 5.5 years of ICU experience. To some that may seem substantial, but in reality, it is not. I have shortcomings of inexperience, as well as assets of some experience. The ones that have been a nurse for 15-20+ years are the ones that know it through thick and thin. They’ve seen it all and done it all, especially those ICU ones (watch out for them!). Perhaps they’re the ones that should be writing this letter…but I just can’t help myself. So forgive my hastiness. Also, if this seems brash, forgive me. I consider taking care of someone’s life srz bzn (serious business for you non-gamers).

Some questions for you before being a hospital nurse:

1) Can you endure it? 

Can you endure long hours, feet hurting, eyes dragging, holiday and weekend work, hunger, full bladder, being the occasional scapegoat, a patient dying? You might say it’ll only be for a few years for resume purposes. However, a few years can be a longgg time if you can’t handle the stress. I’m not just talking about work stress either. If you have significant life stress, it is 5x more difficult to nurse. I know from experience, as I’m sure all other nurses can attest to. Physical and emotional strength. You need it.

If so, continue on.

2) Can you admit to not knowing? 

Can you admit to not knowing something? No one knows everything. Inevitably, we all must swallow our pride, ask for help, and seek guidance.

If so, continue on.

3) Can you problem solve?

High schools and colleges have hammered in “critical thinking.” Why do you think that is? BECAUSE IT IS NECESSARY TO BE SUCCESSFUL. If someone’s life is in your hands for 8 or 12 hours, you should be able to organize, prioritize, and solve your issues. Mistakes will happen (hopefully not catastrophic), but being paralyzed and inaction can be just as bad.

Solve this:

There are two ropes, each rope takes 1 hour to burn. But either rope has different densities at different points, so there’s no guarantee of consistency in the time it takes different sections within the rope to burn. How do you measure 45 minutes with the 2 ropes? (Answer at bottom)

Solved? Continue on.

4) Can you work mostly independently?

You might say you just said to ask for help and seek guidance. Being new, we don’t expect you to work completely independently on day 1. However, if you cannot grow to a point where you can nurse on your own in a “normal” situation, then I’d suggest finding something else. The poop storm, figuratively and literally, can pop up at any time, any place, so if you cannot function in normal situations, how can you function when things go bad?

If so, continue on.

5) Can you bring your A-game consistently?

A-game is: hard working, compassion, and endurance. Laziness? Don’t even think about it. Granted, we all have days where we slept 3 hours, have a cold, felt blue, or are pregnant (I wouldn’t know pregnancy, but I suspect I would tired and hungry. Emphasis: HUNGRY). But that’s why I said consistently, 90% of the time. Everyone is granted a “case of the Mondays” sometimes, just not consistently.

If so, Hooray!

Being a nurse is not something to be taken lightly. As a new grad, I’m not sure I fully understood what I was diving into. Nursing school leaves out some things to be learned, which I’m sure you figured out already. Hopefully, this brings to light some things to think about. It’s not meant to be mean or exclusionary, or put nurses on an unattainable pedestal. I just want you to know that nurses take pride in their work, and I want you to ponder on how you can grow into a good nurse.

Best wishes and blessings,


Answer to rope question:

Burn the first rope on both ends. That’ll measure 30 minutes.

Burn the second rope on one end, started simultaneously with first rope. Once the first rope is done, burn the other end of the second rope to equal 15min.

Total 45min.

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