In this post I’ll be talking about this weird little stigma of not going into an acute or specialty area of nursing straight out of nursing school, and my experience with this.
So, as we all know, I’m a lucky lucky girl who was successful in gaining a full time graduate position in a tertiary emergency department. The nursing workforce in Australia, though claiming to need all hands on deck, has a very high rate of unemployed graduates. So, to put this into perspective for you all, this emergency department took 8 successful applicants out of 600. That. Is. Insane. The entire hospital I work at however, took around 100. This indicates that ward nursing is easier to gain employment in, when compared to specialty nursing, right?
It shouldn’t be
Over the years, I’ve had many nurses tell me not to do things. Don’t open an ampule that way, don’t label an IV like that, don’t chart things before you’ve done them, don’t tell the patient about their negative results, etc, etc. Some things were helpful, some, not so much. One thing I heard a lot, is “Don’t go into ED/ICU/NICU/ETC in your grad year”. I, of course, being a curious creature, would always ask why. Oh you’ll struggle, they would say, or you’ll kill someone, or you won’t have any time management skills! I honestly didn’t have a single clinical facilitator who said they would recommend going straight into a specialty area before trying some form of medical or surgical nursing. This was very disheartening, to say the least, especially during the job application process where I had a major internal struggle of whether to even apply if everybody said I couldn’t do it and shouldn’t try.
I’ve been working for the last 5 months, doing 2 of the most blasphemous things I possibly could have done; working full time, and in the emergency department. I’ve loved every minute of it. Sure, it’s been a hard road of adjustment, but it would have been hard in a ward too. It drives me insane when people look down on ward nurses, and see ward nursing as simply a stepping stone to a “better” place to work. Everybody advised me to just get a job on a surgical ward, and to choose part-time employment, and then leave after a year to go into emergency and possibly full time “if I felt up to it”. Why? Why aren’t the wards considered the place to be? If everybody left the wards, there wouldn’t be any senior nurses left there and the place would be run by inexperienced new grads like myself. Each ward is a specialty in itself and has it’s own challenges, relative to the workload and type of patients it receives. Sure, a ward nurse might not be skilled at inserting an IV cannula in an arrest situation, or looking after a ventilated patient, but I would be pure crap at coordinating an 0800hrs med round on time, with 5 patients, chronic medications which I haven’t seen in yonks, and doctors trying to do their rounds and changing orders as I’m giving them!
To all the new nurses out there, if you want to go for a specialty area, just do it! The worst that can happen is that you don’t get the job, or you do get the job and simply need a bit more education and assistance before finding your feet. You WILL find your feet though, and that is what I want to stress to everybody. Finding your feet can also mean discovering that that type of nursing is not for you, and that is perfectly okay too. The best thing that can happen is that you get the job, and fall completely in love with your new career, as I have done.
Look out for my next post, on the job application process and things to do to stand out from the crowd especially when specialty areas are so competitive to get into!
Peace out, sistas!