What I learned during my preceptorship as a new nurse

Wow, I cannot believe that it’s March 2nd now. It’s been 12 shifts with my preceptor (3 shifts a week for a month) and now, starting on Sunday (tomorrow!), I’ll be getting handoff without backup in case I miss something. I guess I’ll be asking the day nurse a lot of questions. And I’ll just be asking a lot of questions in general.

While I’ve been doing most things on my own now already, I still have trouble figuring out who to call. But I guess if I really can’t figure it out, I’ll still ask around or go to the charge nurse.

Here are a couple of things I’ve learned:

    Do things as soon as you can. For example, 6am medications should start to be given out at 5am. While I’ll try to give them at the same time the bloods are drawn, sometimes it’s just not possible. And things can change really quick so it’s best to stay ahead. Because you never know when you might stay in a room longer than you anticipated.
    Getting a digital watch with date and military time. It’s easier to stay oriented and it’s one less thing to think about. Converting 9pm to 2100 isn’t that hard but when you see that the last time you gave a med was 1600 and figuring the next time you can give it PRN is 2200 and you look at your watch and see that it’s 9:23… Well, you get the picture.
    Be organized and anticipate! Sometimes, I walk into a patient’s room and realized that I forgot something. Normally I just ask the patient to hold on a moment while I go get whatever it is I forgot. But if it’s a contact room… Well then I’m just standing, waiting to see if anyone else will pass by to give me a helping hand. And if that doesn’t happen, then I try to find if there’s anything else I might need before I strip off the gown and gloves to get whatever else I need.
    Find out things that I don’t know. Ask, look it up on Lexi-Comp. In healthcare, there’s always something new to learn!

A couple of things that happened so far definitely put a smile on my face.

    After taking care of a patient the night before, I came back the next night. When I peeked in to introduce myself, the patient said to me and her family that I was her favorite nurse.
    A patient noticed that I was a new nurse at the beginning of the night. In the morning, I asked her how she knew and what I could do better. She knew because I wasn’t as organized (as in, have all my stuff together before walking into the room!) but that I did a great job for her.
    A patient asked me to sign his heart pillow. To me, that means I’m a part of his memory during his stay.

Seeing the patients get better because of what I did and initiated is probably one of the best parts about nursing. Noticing that there’s a change in vital signs or behavior or condition — I can do that. Making sure that is taken care of by taking the right steps and contacting the right people — this part is something that I will need to work on.

While I’m becoming more proficient at assessing, medicating, and documenting, I have to work on telling patients what to expect and discussing his or her goals for the next day so that they are mentally ready for the next day. I find that when patients know more or less what will happen that they are less anxious and take more control of their health.


As for my outside-of-the-hospital life, my sleeping pattern is all messed up. Sometimes I sleep like a vampire and other times I’m awake when the birds are chirping. I’ve been working two days on, two days off and I have 3 sets of uniform. Since I wear two and only have one left over, that means I’m doing laundry every 4 days. For me, that is really often. And it’s using up all my quarters. I need to go get more after this load.

Since I live close by to somewhere where they have 4 dishes, rice and soup for $4.50, I eat half at home before I go to work and bring the other half to work to eat during break. I also bring 2-4 clementines. On my days off, I really ought to cook more but I still eat out. At least I’m trying to eat more vegetables and less meat.

As for meeting with friends, I’ve noticed that I’m becoming more spontaneous. In my life, I’m so used to planning everything out but things can change in a moment and throw everything off. So sometimes it’s just better to ask, “hey, are you free tonight?” and if the answer is yes, then just go.

And that’s exactly what happened last night. Off to have fun. Until next time — smile! :)

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