I was afraid that I wouldn't be good enough.
That my patients wouldn't like me.
That I would make mistakes when it came time to pass my medications.
Or that I simply would struggle to make it through.
AND I WAS WRONG IN ALL INSTANCES!!!
My patients loved me, even when I couldn't read the expressions on their faces. When one of my clinical instructors grilled me to the tenth power while my palms were sweaty, I was able to regurgitate the names of my patient's medications, the side effects, and even the lab values that you would be cautioned for. (Needless to say, this was an instructor who treated all of the "brown" nursing students in this fashion, and through it all, I managed to get a B in that class.)
Here I am, years later (sixteen to be exact), still in the nursing field, working the education side of nursing, which is what I found myself doing through my various fields of nursing. As a "people" person, I found myself being recommended to be a preceptor while on active duty as an Army nurse at Walter Reed, and I loved it!
This preceptor role followed me as I embarked on the civilian side of nursing and now, as an Education Coordinator, I am able to continue in this role.
As I was cleaning out my basement, I came across an old file that contained a lot of the things I held onto during my "juvenile" years as a nurse fresh out of school. I found a small card, about the size of a business card, lying on the floor next to the file. It contained the Principles of Hospitality, which I will share with you.
- Smile and greet every patient.
- Speak to the patient in a warm, friendly, courteous manner.
- Display genuine and enthusiastic interest in the patient; pay complete attention.
- Anticipate patient needs and be flexible in responding to them.
- Be knowledgeable about your job. (This is a biggie!)
- LEARN to take ownership of patient problems and resolve them.
In preparation for a preceptor class that I will be co-teaching, I plan to make copies of this and pass on to the preceptors for them to remember 1) why they are preceptor in the first place and 2) how they can groom new employees to give their all and put their best foot forward.
It is always key to remember that you don't get a second chance to make a first impression, and it always helps when you can put yourself in the shoes of your patient. They may be nervous, scared, confused. Or they may just want you to listen and give a warm smile.
I will leave you with The Learn Process:
L = Listen to the patient
E = Empathize with the patient
A = Apologize
R = Respond
N = Notify the tracking process (and this may vary in your different positions)
It is also wise to have a mentor. While sharing your stories and situations with a fellow nursing student may be helpful, keep in mind that some people may not be happy to see your success and may harbor feelings of jealousy. (I learned this the hard way, too.)
Having someone who will ALWAYS take your side is not a good thing...you need someone who will be the devil's advocate, in a sense.
Surround yourself with positive people.
Take time away from your studying, or your job, to do something fun.
Keeping a journal may prove helpful, as it was for me. (And I still have it to this day.)
My goal is to one day write my nursing journey to share with those who will come after me.
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. ~William James