November 6, 2023

Our Voices Reflection


I am thankful to have been asked to provide a reflection for 'Our Voices,' a newly launched segment of Nursing The Future. I am hopeful that sharing some of my direct experiences will help new nurses to feel heard and know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Recognize that your future depends on the actions you take now so it’s ok to change your mind.

I was one of those students in nursing school that didn’t know immediately what area of nursing I wanted to go into. I was open and from what I heard nursing is a profession that you can move around in until you find your niche. During my final semester, my goal was to work a couple years on a medical telemetry floor to gain some needed experience before moving to Emergency or Intensive Care areas. I graduated in April 2020, and began my professional role transition amidst the global public-health crisis, what a shock! This left me and so many others with unexpected and unprecedented conditions layered on top of an already pressed healthcare system. Yet, we are resilient beings and I remained eager to step foot into the career that I had just poured myself through schooling to start. A place from student to working professional and call myself a Registered Nurse!

My New Graduate Orientation (NGO) began on a highly diverse Medical Telemetry floor, an area where I also completed my final nursing school practicum. I remember by design the NGO program allowed me to be a supernumerary staff member in a full-time capacity. However, due to staffing events, I would often be pulled to be a baseline nurse. This added some stress as I didn’t know if there would be a nurse available if I needed it. Overall, this team was supportive and I felt accepted, which made a difference because I didn’t see myself as a burden. I saw myself as a part of the team. Mind you it wasn’t the first time I engaged with these colleagues as I had learned and worked alongside them in my final practicum. I feel that was a promoter to build my confidence. In addition, I fortunately had exposure to theory about the foundational elements that feed into a new graduate nurse’s role transition and felt strengthened from this. Still, I will be first to admit that I did make changes in my personal life in order to be closer to my partner, starting with moving to a new town and therefore switching workplaces after only months in the workforce. I remember receiving the call from the manager offering me either a permanent full-time or part-time position with this unit. I was surprised that I got my pick of a position, unheard of pre-pandemic, but was relieved to have a plan. I remember noticing first how large this unit was compared to where I came from, which made me nervous but also excited because I knew I was going to learn lots. This is where I began the next year and a half in an acute-care setting.

Once arriving to my new workplace, I was disturbed to find out the plan to become a designated 'COVID unit.’ Although, the influx of COVID patients was not immediate, within a short period of time I felt vulnerable by needing to get up to speed quickly. Thankfully, the work environment wasn’t so different from my previous unit. Staff were welcoming, approachable, informative, and overall created a safe environment for me. I remember connecting with one person that I had never personally met but worked on this unit and knew a friend of mine, so I reached out to ask about the work environment. It was a way I utilized my connections to check on something important to me.

Sadly, over time I could tell things were changing. Some details I try to recall are a blur, but I remember feeling quite sad every time another staff member left. They all had their reasons for change, and I soon fell into the same boat. It was devastating to know that I worked so hard to achieve this goal just to realize I didn’t want it. I sort of pictured myself stretching like a band and with the increased workload demands it became harder to keep up, so I broke. I could feel my energy slipping. I developed pre-shift anxiety, something I had previously overcome. I was challenged not being able to live up to the standard of client care I wanted to provide. Frankly, I knew I wasn't coping well but I didn't know exactly what to change or how to get out, so I just continued. I repeatedly said, “I don't want to be here anymore" and “I don’t want to be sad.” By nature, I’m a very positive person so I was determined to bring myself out of the darkness and re-find my JOY!

I received loving support from my partner, family, and friends for which I am ever grateful. It took me a bit before I narrowed down on what needed to change. I considered some options and decided to wait for a part-time position to be posted but I was worried about the uncertainty of not having a full-time position and making less money.  Although, I knew money was not buying my happiness up until this point.

One day there became an opportunity to become a 'COVID Immunizer' on a casual basis. Although a temporary position, I saw this as an upstream approach from what I had been encountering with COVID patients and I wanted it. After more exposure, I became interested in the additional roles and responsibilities of the Public Health Nurses that I was working with, so I expressed my interest in casual employment within this area. Things started shifting for the better and the stars aligned. I ended up taking a leap and switching to casual status in the hospital setting to pursue orientation as a casual Public Health Nurse. Honestly, although deeply worried about transitioning to casual with the current climate of nursing, I knew the hospital would likely be an option to come back to if I needed and so I decided to take the chance. Over time, I eventually fell permanently situated within Public Health.

For me, changing workplaces was simply lifechanging. As you can gather from my reflection this process of transition is not without both mixed feelings and internal struggles. There is certainly truth to lifelong learning. During my undergraduate degree, one of the aspects I most enjoyed was the holistic approach of nursing care. This remains true and I see communication as a vital element each day in my nursing practice that helps me respond adequately and humanely. Being a nurse opens new doors, so be on the lookout for one that aligns with your aspirations.

Warmly, Madi

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Nursing The Future™ acknowledges that nurses across this country live, work and play on the lands of our Indigenous Ancestors and we join our members in expressing respectful gratitude for this privilege.
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