Student voice

Starting out: Butterflies on the first day

Newly qualified nurses can feel a sense of pride that they have joined the profession.
Nervous

Newly qualified nurses can feel a sense of pride that they have joined the profession

Finally, I am a qualified nurse. Im 90% thrilled to say this, and 10% terrified. This ratio changes depending on what I am faced with at work and believe you me, the figures have been the other way round several times over the past few weeks.

As a student, you often get told that one of the biggest transitions you make in your nursing career is from student to nurse. Almost overnight, your role, how you are perceived by others and how you view yourself all change drastically.

It is the many small, everyday moments that add up to a big feeling of accomplishment and pride. Writing staff nurse after my name and not having my paperwork

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Newly qualified nurses can feel a sense of pride that they have joined the profession

Nervous
Butterflies on the first day are common among nurses Picture: iStock

Finally, I am a qualified nurse. I’m 90% thrilled to say this, and 10% terrified. This ratio changes depending on what I am faced with at work and believe you me, the figures have been the other way round several times over the past few weeks.

As a student, you often get told that one of the biggest transitions you make in your nursing career is from student to nurse. Almost overnight, your role, how you are perceived by others and how you view yourself all change drastically.

It is the many small, everyday moments that add up to a big feeling of accomplishment and pride. Writing ‘staff nurse’ after my name and not having my paperwork countersigned may not sound like defining moments, but they make clear to me that I am finally, actually a nurse.

The transition is not all plain sailing, however. It is exhausting and scary, and there have been more than a few moments when doubts have crept in.

There is so much to learn and take in, even when coming back to a department I am used to.

First step

The change from interacting with patients alongside a nurse to interacting with them on your own feels like a big step.

Even though you are part of a team on whom you can rely for support, the responsibility and workload can feel overwhelming. When this feeling creeps up on me I try to remind myself that it is normal and that, however busy the other nurses are, they will not mind me asking for advice. No one expects you to know everything, and you will always be your harshest critic.

My advice to my fellow newly qualified nurses out there is to stay calm and, if you are struggling, speak out.

But most of all enjoy that sense of pride when you introduce yourself as a nurse to your patients. You worked hard to be able to say those words. 


About the author

Emma_Cowen

Emma Cowen is a children’s staff nurse in the children’s emergency department at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Brighton

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