The first year of nursing school, the first year of a new job, even the first year being married – they all have one thing in common... STRESS!
While the goal is not to completely eliminate the stress, we can substantially reduce it by being aware that it will be coming and being prepared and pro-active on how we are going to handle it!
Here are 7 ideas to help you ease into your first year:
1. Organize, organize, organize! Start the year organized and have a clear plan to stay organized. Have all the tools you need and reassess every month to refresh your supplies. Consider using a wall calendar with the whole year exposed so you can see it and mark in important tests, papers, rotations etc. This will allow you to see the ‘big picture’ rather than item by item
2. Request a mentor – Either choose someone you know who is a recent grad or a positive practicing nurse or ask your instructors if they could recommend someone who they think would be a good fit. I know you won’t want to ask – but this will be a key component to success and can develop into a lifelong friendship.
3. Pace Yourself – You can’t/won’t/shouldn’t know everything all at once. Break seemingly huge tasks down into bite-sized, manageable chunks. Reward yourself for your accomplishments - big and small!
4. Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself! – Even if it seems like everyone else is smarter, quicker and more capable and confident than you – they are not! In fact, they are probably thinking the same thing!
5. Give Yourself a Break – Space your studying out with regular 10 minute stretches, fresh air, or even FB breaks. Regular, short breaks will help you recharge your batteries and keep your body and mind fresh for the long haul. Set a timer if you need to!
6. Ask, Ask, Ask – You can’t guess in the real world of nursing – you must ask, clarify and make sure you understand the patients, the doctors and your colleagues. May as well start practicing your ‘asking’ right now. If you are not certain, be assertive and ask – others will probably be glad you did!
7. See opportunities – Resist the urge to panic! It is easy to get overwhelmed by it all, but make a choice to look for opportunities everywhere! Opportunities for new friendships, opportunities to stretch your mind, opportunities for personal growth, opportunities to make a difference. Think about a mantra you could repeat and/or keep in your wallet that would help you get through the challenges, perhaps something like – I am a smart and capable person who is becoming an awesome nurse!
Click your heels three times and spin around, and as with every other year of your life, this first one in nursing school will be a distant memory before you know it. You will look back and say, ‘Hey, that wasn’t so bad!’ Then you can be a mentor for someone else!