Times… They are A-Changin’

The one and only constant thing in life is CHANGE. Everything else is CHANCE.

I’ve been a nurse for over 3 years now. To some this would seem a very short time. But in this day and age of the nursing world, 3 years of experience in a nursing specialty ACTUALLY is classified as a seasoned nurse.

I’ll let that one sink in.

I’m pretty sure everyone has at least ‘heard’ of the nursing shortage that we are currently in, and the potential exponential increase in the nursing shortage over the next decade. The field of nursing is losing more individuals than it’s gaining. Due to this alarming fact, the face of nursing has CHANGED.

Here’s what’s going to blow your mind. Just 10, maybe 15yrs ago, a new graduate nurse had a difficult time finding a nursing job! I’m told stories from true seasoned nurses’ who have been in the field for 10 + years, that the only jobs a nurse could find right out of school were in the long-term care facilities (nursing homes and/or retirement centers). No other jobs existed.

And if you were a new graduate nurse who was interested in pursuing a specialty, like the critical care setting (ER, ICU), you were turned away. In fact you were told to come back after you had at least 2yrs of general nursing floor (Medical-Surgical) experience.

I’ve been lucky and blessed with all the opportunities I have experienced as a nurse in the short time I have been in this field. I have worked/trained as a first assist, worked as a travel nurse, as a telemetry nurse, worked in numerous ICU settings, and now as Recovery Room (PACU) nurse. Outside of my critical care experience, everything else listed was for a very short time of 6 months or less.

Had I attempted my career as a nurse a decade ago, I would not have been afforded any of the above opportunities. While I wish I would have chosen nursing as my original career, I’m almost positive my adventures would not have been the same.

Change takes courage, adaptation and adjustment. And for some fellow colleagues this is a hard pill to swallow. Some still believe in the previous mindset of ‘getting’ your experience first. You must first learn to crawl, before you can walk. And walk before you can run. (Ergo the specialty nursing example I spoke about.)

The truth of the matter. Today’s nurse has had to learn to hit the ground running. Heck, running at a sprinter’s pace. The present day nurse has had to learn from the very beginning of their education that nothing is given to you. You need to earn everything. The learning curve may not have changed much, but the pace of the curve has.

10 years ago basic nursing education was at a minimum of 3-4 yrs. Now you can enroll in programs that are 18 months long (of course you have to have your pre-requisite courses completed before hand).

Today’s nurse is used to the fast paced learning. Most information has been shuttle-passed to them and face-slapping, eye-popping, stomach-turning return demonstration clinical exams are not only the norm, but are generally an expected portion of their basic education.

10 years ago, a new nurse, green behind the ears, with no experience under their belt being hired into an ICU was unheard of. Now it’s common.

New grads are being hired into the busiest, fastest-paced, high-octane environments and their flourishing. The goal is to simply survive, and most exceed that goal.

This generation of new grads are hungry, agile, forthright and humble. The hard part is letting them learn at their pace. A pace most seasoned nurses’ think is too fast.

This new found speed does not increase the likelihood of things being missed. In fact it encourages the opposite. The attention to detail in this ever-changing fast-paced learning environment is uncanny, and unmatched.

The next time you meet a nurse, and learn of their ‘time-in-grade’. Don’t be so quick to judge. You’d be surprised what they’ve learned, and how far they have come.

Carpe Diem

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4 thoughts on “Times… They are A-Changin’

  1. Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for this post. I am one of those new grads to go straight into a specialty. In fact, I was hired to work in ER 6 months before I graduate this coming December. None of that 2 year minimum…..they’re hiring while you’re still in school! Desperate times call for desperate measures. The best part about every area grasping for nurses is that the specialty areas are “sponsoring” new grads. For instance, I got hired months ago in ER, I graduate in December and the hospital I’m working in is paying my tuition and travelling costs to do my extra critical care schooling….PLUS paying my full-time wage at the same time. Essentially, they are so much in need they are PAYING people to go to school. What an opportunity! How could I say no to free school……no, actually, PAID school?!

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