Hey, it’s me, future Kate. I’m living in Columbus in a tiny apartment with two cats. Yes, cats. You were always a dog person! I also found a way to deal with our terrible fear of heights because I go rock climbing frequently. I’m finishing up my second year as an RN in the ICU float pool and I just passed my CCRN critical care certification exam. Can’t believe it? It took a lot of work to get here. Looking back, there are some things I want to share with you.
So, you’re a sophomore in college and just starting your first year in the nursing program. I know freshman year was crazy hard. It was your first year away from home, you struggled to adjust to the big city, and you had an impossible schedule of classes. Your hard work paid off and you’re now in the nursing program! Congrats!
I know it feels like you’re in the clear because you made it into the program, but it only gets harder. Don’t let that discourage you- you have all of the friends you made freshman year and a whole bunch of nursing professors to help you along the way. Your classes will be difficult, but just remember- these are things you’re actually going to use. They’re relevant to your career. All of the new skills that seem so intimidating at first (head to toe assessment, PEG tubes, dressing changes, catheters) will become part of your daily routine. It gets much less scary with time. Once you get those skills down, you’ll start on newer, harder ones- PA Catheters, chest tubes, and cardiac drips. Don’t worry- you’re never alone. There are so many seasoned nurses around you to help you.
There are going to be hard times. You’re going to staunch bleeding and wipe tears. You will see traumatic, terrible things happen to people and work to fix them. How do you get through all of this- why would you want to put yourself through this? Just remind yourself- if you can give comfort to help someone having the worst day of their life, it’s worth it. If you can hold someone’s hand so they know they’re not alone, it’s worth it.
There will also be great times. You’re going to see patients heal with a new lease on life. You’ll feel joy when your lung transplant wants to walk 15 laps around the unit. You’ll wipe away tears of happiness when a young trauma patient starts giving you thumbs ups when she previously couldn’t move at all. You’ll have so many great conversations with patients and their families and learn all of their stories.
So, yeah, we’ve accomplished a lot in five years. You had a lot of help and support to get here. You’ll gain so many friends- your coworkers will become a second family. You’re going to have a spectacular manager who fosters your inquisitive nature, working with your awesome educator to find you additional educational opportunities. Finally, you’re going to be happy. That depression that always lingered around you in college will break up and dissipate. Every patient helped, every small difference you can make to improve someone else’s day gives your life meaning. You’ve found your happiness.
Kate Best is 2015 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing.
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