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Survival Strategies Post-Nursing School

Welcome to our first resident blog post by our very first resident blogger, Abby Schubert!  We look forward to Abby's monthly blog posts in which she will reflect on the relevancy of the information covered in the Iowa Online Nurse Residency Program.

I was recently enrolled in the Iowa Online Nurse Residency program through the University of Iowa College of Nursing by my employer.  Now to be perfectly honest, I really wondered if this was something that was necessary.  There have been new nurses graduating and starting in the real world for hundreds of years and they didn’t have programs like this…so my first questions were: “Do I need it? Can I do it? Will it be helpful?”  

A few of the things that came to mind as I started the program were 1) It contains important things about nursing and life that are not mentioned in nursing school, 2) What did I get myself into?!, and 3) Where were these resources before I had jumped off the deep end?

In the first module they shared survival strategies, or rather things to do or not do post-graduation. The list includes:

1) Avoid major life decisions
2) Self-care
3) Prepare
4) Plan a vacation 
5) Find a support network
6) Reflection

So how am I measuring up? Well, Survival Strategy #1 on the list ‘Avoid major life decisions’ would have been helpful to know a lot sooner! Following graduation, my significant other and I both needed to find jobs, a place to live, and an overall life plan.  While it would have been nice to continue to live the poor college student life with little worries other than food and rent, we had reached the point in our lives when it was time to move on. So what did we do? We moved hours away from family, bought a house, and for some reason I got the bright idea to head back to school. That is right…working full-time, going to school, and participating in the nurse residency program. So maybe I didn’t do so well with this survival strategy, but I am counting on some of those other strategies to get me through the stress involved in making all these major life decisions. 

Survival Strategy #2 is self-care. I get it!  Just like they say when you board the airplane -“First put on your own oxygen mask and then help those around you.” I can’t give 100% to my employer and patients if I don’t take care of myself first. So I took it upon myself to get a personal trainer. My employer has a great program and fitness center that not only keeps me active, but also helped me socialize and build a bigger support system within my facility! This self-care practice has given me an outlet for frustrations, stress, and helped me focus on myself outside of work, which is important if I am going to survive this first year.

Survival Strategy #3 is prepare.  Prepare yourself for your first position outside of school. Everyone prepares a little differently, but for me I thought it would be important to refresh my knowledge on the common types of patients I would be caring for. I looked through old notes about the types of patients I would be seeing, talked to my orientation team about expectations, and generally built myself up for my career ahead. I am beginning to think that this program might be helpful in preparing me to handle things that will no doubt come my way.  Preparing will likely be an ongoing process.

Survival Strategy #4, so far my favorite but most challenging, plan a vacation. The module specifies that 5-7 months after graduation is a great time to get away and recharge. I found that with a new job, new expectations, and a significant other with more responsibilities and the same road blocks, it led to a lack of vacation and even a giant decrease in our usual summer activities. After completing the module, I realized I really DO need to take time away from my job to relax and recharge. While the summer got away from me before we could make it happen, thankfully I like winter vacations too and we have an ice fishing trip coming up soon.   

This leads me to Survival Strategy #5, support network. While HIPAA limits things you can talk about in the health care world, there are things that happen that are worrisome and talking to your parents, significant other, peers, mentor, or even your dog, can help things settle in your mind. This was never a question for me. I have a large, involved family that I can call anytime and vent to. I come from a family of nurses and teachers - a very compassionate group. It helps to know I have individuals with the ‘been-there-done-that’ behind their stories. I also look forward to utilizing this residency program as another avenue of support. Being at a small hospital there aren’t really a lot of other new graduates that I can relate to. This program gives me the opportunity to connect with other new graduates from other small facilities that are experiencing the same things as I am. 

Finally, we come to Survival Strategy #6, reflection. I have never been good at journaling and reflection even though I know it is probably a helpful exercise. In this program however it stresses the importance of reflective journaling, so again I am going to give it a go and see what happens. Lucky for all of you, you will get to read a lot of it as I plan to contribute a series of guest blog posts as I make my way through the program. I guess you can decide for yourselves as you continue to follow along if it really is a necessary and helpful exercise for surviving this first year. 

So what I have taken from those three big questions at the beginning of this blog? “Do I need it? Can I do it? Will it be helpful?” So far the answers are like this: Do I need it? I want to succeed in nursing and while I have a lot on my plate, I know there are countless areas of opportunity for me to grow. Can I do it?  Again, I have a lot going on, but I also want to do whatever I can to be the best I can be. I have the means, education, support, and resources to complete the program and I can’t wait to see how it helps me reach my goals. Will it be helpful? So far the modules have been helpful. I never really thought of needing survival strategies to get through this first year, but the module reminded me of all the things I need to do to take care of myself so that I can take care of my patients. If I want to be a great nurse I am going to have to do that. So far, I would say the program is proving to be helpful. Be sure to check back again soon to hear more about my experiences as I continue to move forward through my first year and the Iowa Online Nurse Residency Program.    

Abby Schubert, BS, RN
RN-MSN (in-progress), Clarkson College
Montgomery County Memorial Hospital
Emergency Room and ACU Nurse
Click Here for more information about Abby

Posted On: 
Nov 14th, 2018