It’s been a while since I have written a blog. Mainly because I’ve been so busy with being a newly qualified nurse (NQN) and keeping my head above the water!
And this is why it’s important to get support as a newly qualified nurse…
When you qualify it’s very exciting with a mix of nerves. You’re starting your new job, you’re taking your first selfie and posting it online because you finally made it! Then, your first pay comes along, and you’re deciding what you’re going to spend it on. However, all of that goes a little down hill if you don’t have a good support network. I’m not talking about your own family this time, I’m talking about your work family and your old university friends etc. Those people who truly understand what it’s like to be a nurse and can give good advice when you need it.
As a newly qualified GP nurse, it can be very lonely and isolating and this support network is needed more than ever! I say this, because this was me. Not only had I started working at the beginning of a pandemic, but, I had moved area, I had no friends, I was starting a new work place, it was exciting but I didn’t realise how lonely it would feel. I’ve always thrived on my autonomy and I didn’t ever expect to feel this kind of feeling. I actually hit, possibly the lowest I have ever felt in my entire life. I started to question whether I made the right decision coming into this career, I wondered if I should of gone to another area instead? I was going home crying a lot and just felt like utter rubbish as a whole. My mental health had gone from thriving to diving…
If it wasn’t for the amazing support from my GPNsnn crew, I don’t think I’d of coped. Making connections with other GP nurses and newly qualified GP nurses really does make all the difference! It’s so lovely to talk about what’s going on and how you’re feeling; We have our WhatsApp group where we can sit and chat and go over our days, or we will discuss things on our virtual meetings. It’s nice to know there is someone to turn to when I need it most. I’m usually that person for everyone else, so it’s hard to realise when I need the help myself. I was also put in touch with another newly qualified nurse who was feeling all the same things as me; It was lovely to be able to support one another.
The next thing that really helped me was being part of the fellowship programme. My Fundamentals course (which is part of the fellowship) was actually postponed due to Covid, so 8 months in as a NQN and I’m just starting it now. I now have a whole class of around 20 newly qualified nurses / or new to GP and they all feel the same way. I feel like I have a good strong group of nurses who will all support one another and it’s fabulous! I also made friends with another nurse on the course who is in the same boat as me; just moved area, new job and no friends or family locally! I wonder if I started this course at the beginning like I should of, I’d of felt better from the start? I think so…
And lastly, friendships. I recently met one of my lovely social media buddies – Who lives not far from me! We met up for some socially distancing tea and cake and a good natter about life. It wasn’t until I got home I realised how much I needed that – She may of just saved the last piece of my sanity haha!
It’s times like this, I think back to my training and what I learnt along the way. I remember the talk about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and if one is taken away it can really affect a person…
A section of mine was taken away from me: “love and belonging” – I no longer had friendships around me, or a sense of connections / belonging. Furthermore, evidence shows when this is taken away your health and well-being suffers as a consequence (Hale et al, 2018). However, it’s important to look at everyone individually and holistically to see what the bigger picture is and other factors that contribute to this.
Nevertheless, one of my needs had been removed which resulted in the others being chipped away at too. ‘Self-actualisation’ – I was finally a nurse, after 12 years and set backs along the way. I was here and I felt that I was failing… I felt not good enough, so my ‘esteem’ went down with it. As a result, what was I left with? I was surviving on ‘physiological needs’ and ‘safety needs.’ I was the captain of the titanic that hit the ice burg and slowly going down with the ship. It’s no wonder I felt so low and struggled with all of that going on. As I reflect back today, I’m proud that I got (and still going) through that. But so grateful for the people around me that helped get me through those times. And lastly, if I can feel like this then anyone can! I’m the most motivated and positive person you’ll meet and it affected me. How many others are feeling like this? How many people have left the nursing profession because of it? What things are in place to help newly qualified nurses out there? Do they have a good preceptorship? Is it good enough? Now I’m left with more questions and wondering how can this be improved?
This is why it’s so important to get support if you’re struggling. At the start I kept hearing:
‘It’s ok, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed as a newly qualified nurse’ and ‘it can take up to a year to settle in.’
But is this ‘normal’ and is this ok?! Because actually, no this isn’t ok and nurses shouldn’t be feeling like this. We should be thriving and keeping that passion alive. So, absolutely, more needs to be done to help newly qualified nurses out there. So wherever you are working, whether you’re a student or newly qualified nurse – please get support if you need it. Please don’t just go with it and start to run on empty. YOU are just as important as your patients. You have to be the best you can be to be able to care for others effectively. And lastly, if you’re applying for a role, ask the question in your interview ‘what support will be put in place for me’ – if they don’t satisfy that answer, then keep looking. Because a good manager will have things in place to support their staff already. My inbox is always open for anyone who’s struggling, email via my blog site or social media; twitter and Instagram @c_carmichael83
Always remember, you’re worth more, you ARE capable, you CAN do this. Keep being you and don’t go down with the ship – sail to the shore towards the sunrise.