As the new school year begins, we thought it would be a nice gesture to share another letter from our Letters Campaign addressed to student nurses. This one is excerpted  from Kathryn M., RN

~Michael and Frida Donner

To All New Student Nurses:

Congratulate yourself for choosing a profession that gives you freedom, exposure to all walks of life, continuous learning opportunities and the chance to learn about YOURSELF!

The things I write here may be things you’ve already heard. But, I am going to share them again with the hope that you take them to heart and learn from them.

Nursing tipsBeing a new nurse can be both intimidating and exciting, Just remember that you have a host of experts to learn from. Staff nurses have years of experience and they are more than happy to share it with you. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions, to find out about their tricks and tips. Some of my best ideas took me a long time to learn. For example, I always double glove when doing a catheterization, with non-sterile gloves. After I am finished, I remove the once sterile gloves and clean up with the pair underneath. That took me about 20 years and 20,237 catheterizations to learn! Show the staff that you are willing to learn, work hard and always bring your favorite dessert to a potluck!

I remember learning about how to take a test. I would go into panic mode on the first few questions, so I learned to skip the first page and come back to it. I found that it was better to study with a partner and to choose clinical patients who had diagnoses that correlated with what I was learning in class as I am an experiential learner. Figure out your learning style and stick to it!

We have come a long way in medicine and today there are numerous types of equipment that can simplify your job. But remember the best source of information will always be your patient. Machines can and do fail and they can’t measure emotional health. In fact I can still hear my clinical instructor 30 years later saying with her heavy southern accent,  “Those machines will lie to you.”

You will be consulted about medicine by many of your friends and family members. But don’t get discouraged when your grandmother listens to her neighbor instead. It happens!

Taking care of someone facing illness and sometimes death is a privilege. Often you are the only one who understands how they really feel. As a nurse, you will care for all kinds of people. Treat them as equals. Get to know them without judgement. You may learn from them and receive more from them than you can give.

One of my favorite quotes reads:

“They said, ‘I’m a convict. I have AIDS. I’m a prostitute. I’m poor. I’m old. I aborted my baby. I’m a teenage mom. I’m a victim of gang rape. I am a drug user. I’m an alcoholic. I am a beggar. I have cancer. I have a contagious disease.’ And the nurse said, ‘I will take care of you.’”

Best of luck!