Six Months In

I had my mid-year evaluation at work yesterday. It’s hard to believe I’ve been back in acute care nursing for six months already (longer than I lasted the first time). A lot of things haven’t changed from my stint in PCU – I still dream about work all the time, I still have moments when I second-guess myself or believe I’ll never have the skills I really need, I still get frustrated with the lack of time I have to really connect with the people I am caring for. But I’m beginning to realize some of those things may never change.

And many things are different too…

I am working with oncology patients. I wouldn’t call myself a full-fledged oncology nurse (yet). My floor is about 2/3 medical, 1/3 oncology, and I have yet to be chemo certified (coming this summer!). But those nights when I do get assigned someone who is facing a cancer diagnosis, those nights make all the difference. I feel like I am in my element. Like I am where I belong.

I love my co-workers. Love them. Some of my PCU preceptors were wonderful, and I still stay in touch with a couple of them, but overall I was pretty *meh* about the whole situation. But now I feel like I am part of a team. Like I have their back, and they have mine. Even when I have a really  shitty night, I come back the next night for them. Because I know they’ll keep me going.

I still have my share of awful shifts. We all do. Especially lately, as staffing is being tightened and we are being asked to do more with less. But I no longer hyperventilate when my building comes into view. I’m thankful when my work is over and I can rest, but I don’t dread the nights when I’m on the schedule.

My migraines are still a problem, but they’re manageable. I’ve only had to call out once due to my head. Once in six months isn’t too bad, all things considered. Part of it is that despite the stress, I love my job (see above). Part of it is that I’ve been proactive about finding a neurologist who specializes in headaches and has been aggressive in treating them. So if/when things start to go south, I have solutions at my disposal.

I’m getting involved outside of my floor. As tired as I am after a stretch of shifts, I also know that I do better when I am part of something bigger than myself. It’s easy to get boxed into my own little world of 5-6 patients, pray that I keep them alive for 12 hours, and then go home. It’s also easy to get frustrated with the systemic problems that every hospital has (and believe me, ours is no exception). But I’m finding outlets to improve my own work, as well as hopefully improve the work we do as an organization. I’m putting my CNL skills to the test on our evidence-based practice and clinical documentation committees. I’m deepening my clinical skills and knowledge through certification. I’m taking preceptor training courses and anticipating the next rung of Clinical Ladder. I’m just not satisfied with showing up, getting through a shift and going home.

So half a year in, and I’m glad I made this move. Still terrified, still green, but very glad. I’m looking forward to the next six months!

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