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Reality Unscripted
I Can’t Keep Up

It takes time to look like you have it all together.

“I’m frustrated as I watch the more seasoned nurses find time to take breaks and read magazines,” writes a new nurse, “while I can’t even find time to take a bathroom break. They appear to have it all together, but I never seem to get all my charts and reports updated before the next shift.”

Seasoned nurses have been passing meds, charting, calling doctors, speaking with patients, etc. – for a while now. They cut to the heart of the matter. They have systems. They use standard phrases when charting. In another year or two, not only will you be able to go to the bathroom, you also might even be able to take a lunch! It takes time to find a groove.

If you are either a new nurse or even a veteran, how would you advise this new nurse?

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7 Responses to “I Can’t Keep Up”

  1. Kim Rapper Says:

    I question your co-workers reading magazines while you can’t even get a bathroom break. That is not teamwork. As a nurse for 10 years now, I also have many days that I don’t eat, drink, or sit down and is really frustrating, especially when others aren’t helping. You could try asking them for help, or discussing with your educator/ leader. It is definitely harder when you are new to get into a groove and get everything done, but in this situation, it doesn’t sound like the problem is you – it may be a lack of team support. And, not that this is right, but those nurses who “seem” to have it all together and be reading magazines, may not actually be giving as good of care as you are. Maybe they are burned out and only want to do the bare minimum while you are trying to do your very best with every patient. I applaud you for your efforts, and hang in there – you will find a system that works and helps you use your time effeciently. I assure you, in a few years, you’ll be on the other side, but I expect you will be helping the newbie instead of putting your feet up with the other oldies!

  2. Diane Kashlak Says:

    I would advise this novice nurse to master the academic aspect of her unit’s specialty, master her nursing skills, and observe the nurses who are able to get their breaks. One big mistake novice nurses make is to compare themselves with seasoned veterans who have been at it for years!
    In addition, a novice nurse is working through emotional, psychological, and self awareness issues that come with the role of RN. Persistence beats resistance. Give yourself at leat 1 to 2 years to become comfortable in your new role. If you have a sincere desire to thrive as a nurse, keep complaints to a miminum because nursing is about problem SOLVING and not problem CREATION. If you chronically complain, maybe nursing is not the profession for you or you are just not strong enough for the job.

  3. Elizabeth Stall Says:

    I’m a brand new RN, and what I find that helps me is trying to establish a routine. I’ve noticed things happen that break the routine, which makes your shift fall apart, but it doesn’t happen everyday. That way your comfort level builds up and you notice your time management improving. Trust me there are times when I’m thinking wow did I go to the bathroom today? But since I’ve had an established routine I’ve noticed with each day, my time management improves dramatically. I agree with Kim. What kind of team work is that? I have never once seen a nurse sitting down reading magazines where I work, even the nurse I know who’s worked there for 32 years!!! (I also work on an ICU stepdown) which could be why but still, she should be stepping in and help guide you through it, or offer to do something for you. I would say something to your manager about that. Remember… you are not going to be the best starting out. There is so much to know and learn that is impossible to know it all. Even the nurse I know that has been an RN for 32 years told me she’s learning something new everyday. Keep your head up, you didn’t make it through nursing school if you didn’t have the potential!

  4. catrina Says:

    I REALLY know your pain. I am a new nurse and have been terminated from 2 jobs. the first one let me go after only 2 weeks training in post partum and the other let me go with 4 weeks training in post-partum, OB/GYN out patient surgery, and acting secretary and CNA. I was even cancelled 3 times because lack of patients (0) for me to train. That cut in to the training period they gave me. I can’t understand whats wrong.

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    I have a lot of experience but started a new job recently,after many years in one place.I also find it difficult to prioritize in a new environment.I thought I had good organizational skills but hopefully in time,I will regain them.It is also difficult learning to work with new people,especially when a young charge person is yelling at you all day.I found myself rushing too much but not getting anywhere.Every time I tell myself to slow down,I do much better and I am able to take care of the patients better too and feel better about my job.There is always someone telling us to hurry up but I think we should slow down a little and avoid mistakes and give better care,if techs and nurses have time to play on the computer and read magazines while others are rushing around like mad,they should be asked to help out as a team working together.

  6. Beth Says:

    I agree with you, but remember…. The ones who are sitting around and playing on the computer usually haven’t done their work. They probably did not really assess their patients. They probably did not really round on their patients. Very rarely do you check on this nurse’s patients and find them looking well cared for! Whatever happened to the days when the techs took direction from the nurses. I am not bossy, but I thought the techs were supposed to be there to “assist” the nurses in caring for the patients!?!

  7. Montana Says:

    I remember hardly ever taking a break when I was a brand new nurse. Now, 2 years later, I usually take my lunch break unless I’m having a really crazy day. It does it easier with time to be able to get away for lunch and bathroom breaks. Some nurses are very good at being “team players” all on their own and some need a little prompting to do the right thing and help out their colleagues. Ask some of the less busy nurses for help when you’re feeling totally swamped because a lot of them might remember what it’s like to be in your shoes. I know it’s been very fulfilling for me to be able to help new nurses and share my knowledge now that I have a little bit of experience.

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