Newly qualified nurses

My first year as a registered nurse: six months qualified and counting

In the latest of her series of regular updates, RCNi nursing student of the year Zoe Butler reflects on the challenges and successes of her first six months as a staff nurse

In the latest of her series of regular updates, RCNi nursing student of the year Zoe Butler reflects on the challenges and successes of her first six months as a staff nurse


Zoe Butler has embarked on further study and aims to complete a master’s degree. 
Picture: John Houlihan

Having taken some much-needed annual leave after reaching the milestone of six months qualified, I used the time to reflect on my transition from student to staff nurse.

I started my new role with a mixture of excitement and nerves. As time progressed, these emotions settled into a feeling of contentment as I had finally reached my goal of becoming a nurse.

I am constantly looking for ways to improve my practice, so I sometimes forget to stop and reflect on my achievements so far.

Opportune time

All the practice hours, essays and clinical work I accumulated as a student have added up to an amazing achievement, but being a newly qualified nurse isn’t easy.

To develop my skills and continue to push myself, I have embarked on further study and aim to complete a master’s degree in the future. Although I only graduated recently, I feel it is an opportune time. Studying is fresh in my memory and I still have the enthusiasm to learn new things.

Managing my studies while working full-time has not been without its challenges, but it has re-kindled my love for learning.

More resilient

Over the past six months I have certainly become more resilient. When times get tough it is important to remind yourself that you have already made it this far, and that you are more capable than you think.

My confidence has also increased, particularly when acting as an advocate for patients. This can sometimes be difficult, especially when in disagreement with colleagues, and my lack of experience has sometimes made it hard to stand my ground.

But whether you are newly qualified or have years of experience, as a nurse it is your responsibility to fight for your patients and do what you know is right.

Value and respect

Remaining professional and keeping the best interests of your patients at the heart of everything you do will give you the confidence to stand up and speak when it counts most. Every healthcare professional has their own clinical experience and knowledge, and all should be valued and respected.

Self-awareness is key to determining your goals, and don’t afraid to ask for help or guidance. Had I asked for guidance on how to fill out patients’ electronic care plans I could have saved myself a lot of valuable time – I was filling out each section individually until a nurse showed me a way of recording all the relevant information without having to enter it into every section of the care plan, making the process much more efficient.

So as my annual leave comes to an end, I will take a deep breath and get ready for the next six months of learning and experience, while also being proud of the progress I have made so far.


Zoe Butler won the Andrew Parker Student Nurse Award at the 2017 RCNi Nurse Awards. After graduating from the University of Cumbria in September, she now works as a staff nurse at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire. Ms Butler is writing for Nursing Standard about her experience as a newly qualified nurse. See below for links to earlier instalments.

 

The 2017 Andrew Parker Student Nurse Award was sponsored by Guidelines for Nurses.
 

 

More in this series

My first year as a registered nurse: a crisis of confidence, a shift in perspective

My first year as a registered nurse: reflecting on what makes an effective leader

My first year as a registered nurse: learning how to deal with mistakes

My first year as a registered nurse: not being afraid to ask for help

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