How many times have you heard this,“ You are moving too slow” or “ You need to manage your time better”? Seems like a common complaint among preceptors to their new grads and it is piling on the pressure. We are being forced to move faster, but somehow even though our feet can pick up the pace, our minds simply cannot. The focus seems to be on quantity rather than quality and this creates a greater risk for errors that will negatively affect our patient populations.
"Our new nurses are vital to the future of our profession."
I remember my preceptor very early on in my career taking me to the side and telling me that I was moving too slow and I was too disconnected from my patients. I felt the room caving in on me, and the blood rushing to my face. The only response I could muster was a burst of tears. I was doing my best and yet I was still not meeting the mark. This experience is not unique to me. New graduate nurses everywhere are dealing with this impossible task of moving faster while still working more efficiently.
The truth is they cannot move faster and avoid errors at this stage, and the sooner we accept this, the better we can nurture our new grads through the experience. We know that new graduate nurses experience a reality shock, as studied by Marlene Kramer, yet we seem to have become desensitized to the issue. We have all gone through this, so why is it that we do not show more sympathy for those joining our profession? The demand for new nurses to move faster stems from the chronic issue of nurses left short staffed. Experienced nurses are strained by their workload and are finding less time to support the novice nurse through the learning process. This vicious cycle leads to poor job satisfaction for the new grad, delayed healing for our patients and thus, poor patient outcomes.
Duchscher (2009) found “…NGs experience role performance stress, moral distress, discouragement and disillusionment during the initial months of their introduction to professional nursing practice in acute care.” Our new nurses are vital to the future of our profession. Pushing them out and refusing to understand their plight will lead to an eventual decline in the quality of care we provide on a whole.
"As nurses we need to take responsibility for those who join our coveted profession."
One of the most obvious (but most overlooked) ways to alleviate some of the burden a new grad experiences is by setting them up with a mentor. A nurse who is experienced but not so experienced that they are out of touch with the new grad journey. The ability to vent and be nurtured is essential to a new grad’s success and that is exactly what a mentor can do. A preceptor cannot act as a mentor simultaneously. The new grad needs to have a safe place to express concerns, especially if about their preceptor or unit, and often times we do not leave them the room to do so.
As nurses we need to take responsibility for those who join our coveted profession, even though it is does not always feel that desirable to us when running for 13 hours with hardly a break. These new grads are coming in with a zeal for learning and growing and creating change and we need to embrace that new energy while gently helping them transition. Long gone should be the days where we eat our young. With high patient acuities each shift, feelings of being overworked and underpaid, it is the most difficult thing to find the energy to nurture another through their own set of problems while we have our own. The thing is, the burden should not be left to one nurse to carry out but a collective decision we all make. Although it may not be the easiest thing to do in the midst of our own chaos, it is the noble thing to do as nurses who take pride in the future of our profession.
[Reference: Duchscher, J. E. (2009). Transition shock: the initial stage of role adaptation for newly graduated Registered Nurses. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 65(5), 1103-1113. Retrieved May 17, 2017.]
About the author:
Jannel Gooden, BSN, RN is a nurse coach and consultant. She is also a co-founder of the popular social media account Novice Is The New Nurse, a platform created by two pediatric critical care RNs who understood the difficulty in transitioning from student to fully practicing RN. By offering tips and advice through videos, she and her partner hope to help bridge that infamous gap for aspiring nurses. Follow Jannel on Instagram.