Yesterday marked the last day of my critical care probation. So what did I do to pass? Instead of being at the hospital, I went to the simulation lab with Mr. Sim Man.
While I did sign a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the specifics of the lab, I can briefly state that it was similar to being at work in the hospital. When you receive a patient, you do a Head to Toe assessment, and determine the next step in care. Is he stable or unstable? If the patient doesn’t respond to your care, what is the next step?
It’s exciting to be off probation now, considering that I’ve been on the unit since December 2013! Now I will have to float to the SICU or CTICU, stepdown, PACU and ER. I’m a little scared to not know everything is (again), but it should be ok!
Your interviewer loves stories. In fact, you love stories. Everyone loves stories. So it only makes sense to become a great storyteller. To secure your first job as a nurse, you have to perfect the art of storytelling. About yourself.
I royally screwed up telling the story about myself. Twice! My first interview, I wasn’t prepared at all and just said whatever came to my head. My second interview, I didn’t focus my story about being a clinical nurse and drifted off into ‘health policy’ –that was a no-no.
I got better after learning the hard way. For my third interview, I started to focus my answers and got the job at a nursing home. By the time my current employment interviewed me — my fourth and fifth interview — I had some real nursing experience and relied on that to come up with some great stories.
So what’s the difference between a tale and a story?
A tale is simply stating something that happened. People don’t usually care about what happened. However, a story has a moral, a meaning, a takeaway point to it. We care about the 3 major things – the ‘bad situation’, the ‘thing you did to make it better’, and the ‘aftermath.’
Here’s an example for a question: Tell me how you dealt with a difficult situation.
A tale: a women wouldn’t take her medications. Later she did after I convinced her.
A story: a women wouldn’t take her medications. After thinking about why she wouldn’t, I realized that she wanted more control over what was happening to her. Instead, I gave her a choice and asked her, “would you like to take your medications in 10 minutes or 20 minutes?” She replied, “in 10 minutes. Thank you.” 10 minutes later, I went back to her to give her medications and she took them like a champ. Giving her the options allowed her to gain some control but not complete free-reign. This compromise allowed me to accomplish my goal (to give her meds) and made the patient happy.
Here’s another example: Tell me about your greatest strength.
A tale: I ask a ton of questions because I always want to learn.
A story: As a new nurse, I know that I have a lot to learn. I understand that sometimes I will be asked to do something that I’ve never done before but I am not afraid to ask questions to make sure that I’m competent the next time it comes up. I wasn’t sure how to put someone on a bedpan so I asked the ancillary staff. The next time I did it with someone. Another time I wasn’t sure if I heard the breath sounds correctly so I asked another nurse to confirm what they heard. Asking questions is my strength and understand that this is key to learning fast.
Here are some common questions. Think of your clinical experiences and come up with a story for each question.
What is your greatest weakness?
“Tell me about yourself.”
What made you interested in nursing?
What do you like about nursing?
What was your favorite clinical rotation? Why? (please relate this directly with the position you applied for)
Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize.
Tell me about a time when you had to delegate.
Tell me about a time when you had to problem solve.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Do you have plans on going back to school?
Tell me about ‘x’ experience that you wrote about on your resume.
Work on becoming a great storyteller and you’ll find that you’ll use this skill over and over again during every handoff report. And hopefully you’ll get a job offer! Good luck! Let me know if you have something crafted but would like a little help looking it over.
Today was my first day doing a day shift. They were short during the day and over on nights so the manager asked if I wanted to do the day shift. I wanted to see what it was like so I agreed. Here are some differences:
Insulin 3 times for those with diabetes – the timing for sugars is crucial during the day. You do the fingerstick around when they order meals and you give insulin humalog after the plate is in front of them. It’s not too hard when only one patient has DM but not as easy when you have more. I mostly crossed my fingers that their sugars are below 169 (typically).
Admission/Discharge/Procedures — today my day wasn’t too bad because I didn’t have any of these happening except one cardiac procedure. But when there are many of these, I can imagine that the day is much more hectic.
More resources more readily — more doctors, PAs, PT, RTs, more help from PCAs… It makes life much easier to get things done. You still have to think– tell the doctor or the PA? But at night, you nearly always consult the PA first. Doctors make more orders during the day so you have a better idea of what’s going on with the patient.
Not worried about sleep — you don’t have to think about waking someone up. You can just proceed with whatever you have to do because they are supposed to be awake.
This was one of the first questions that I asked my mom who used to work nights as a RN. I also got some advice from a coworker who’s been working nights for a year and half and so far, it’s worked out. I followed their recommendations and I made it through my first three 12-hour night shifts in a row without being overly tired. I thought this was pretty helpful so here it goes.
There are three scenarios.
1) The Night Before the First Night Shift
Sleep in to about 9am-11am. Eat lunch, run some errands. About 3-4 hours before you plan on leaving home to go to work, take a nap. Get up about 1 hour prior to eat, get food ready, and change to go to work.
2) You Have a Back-to-Back Night Shift
This one is easy. Some people like to eat when they arrive home. I personally don’t. I come home, shower (to wash off all of the bacteria from the day — I don’t want to bring MRSA into my bed!!), set up my uniform and food for the next day, and sleep for 8 hours. I need 8 hours. Otherwise, I am a tired mess. But some seasoned nurses (such as my preceptor who is awesome btw) sleep for 5 hours so they can do other things. I wake up about an hour before I leave my home to eat my ‘breakfast’***.
***I thought about the definition of breakfast. Technically, after I wake up from an 8-hour sleep, I have to ‘break my fast’ by eating breakfast. But my sister claims that breakfast, lunch, dinner is defined by time of day. For example, if you sleep in until 10am and then you eat, then that is considered brunch (although my sister claims that brunch only exists on weekends. But how can that be??). I guess when I go on break, I’m either eating a 2am meal or a ‘lunch’. What do you think?***
3) The Day After The Last Night Shift
Sleep until noon (more or less). Try to stay up until 8pm-10pm. Get some errands done or just relax or go work or go to school or whatever you want to do. Then go back to sleep.
I hoped that helped. Besides sleep, probably the next important thing is what to eat. You have to fuel yourself with good energy so you can take care of others!