You won’t find it in a book, and you may not hear it from a mentor, but the following ‘pearls of advice’ have become priceless:

  1. NCLEX will make you nauseous. If you feel like losing your lunch when you arrive for the exam, you are normal. If you actually lose your lunch in the parking lot before or after you take the NCLEX exam, you fit right in.
  2. RN=Oversized bladder. You may not know this, but when you walk across the stage and get your nursing degree, the elasticity of your bladder magically increases. There is just something about being a nurse and having a huge bladder. Don’t be surprised when you and your co-workers begin competing with each other to see who can go the longest without urinating. Be even less surprised when you find yourself winning that contest.
  3. Drink Like It’s Your Last. Similar to #2, hours will go by and you will realize that you have tracked everyone else’s input and output except your own. Let’s face it-if you were the patient, the doctor would be getting a phone call, the bladder scanner would be coming out, and the IV tubing primed.
  4. Eat like you mean it. In addition to becoming less worried about what you eat on/with, you will find that you have an incredible knack for inhaling your food. Why? You never know when the next opportunity will come to get your next meal. Every bite is meaningful.
  5. Life Is Funny. Human stupidity=job security. Always remember that.
  6. Death Happens You may feel relief when it comes. Or sadness. Don’t question your emotions or their impact on your ability to care for others. Remember how privileged you are to be present when it happens. You will be a comfort to others, but you will also need others to comfort you from time to time.
  7. Bed rails don’t have a pulse. When the alarms go off, check the patient. Despite what the machines are telling you, always remember that the patient has the real story. Before you push the code button, remember that pulse oximeters and EKG leads tend to stick to side rails. They do not have a pulse.
  8. Pull Your Head Out. Don’t be afraid to try something new. The profession is refreshed, new ideas are created, and you avoid becoming bored. Step out of your comfort zone by floating to a different unit, earning a certification, or returning to school. For a truly unforgettable, eye-opening nursing experience, give travel nursing a try. You will be a better nurse and person because of it!
  9. Silence Kills. Find someone on every shift that you can safely ask questions. Maybe you are nervous, or you think your question is stupid. Tentatively asking a stupid question is far better than hurting a patient by doing something you shouldn’t have, or not doing something you should have, just because you stayed quiet.
  10. Be good. No matter where you are today, don’t forget that you were once a student, or the new person on the unit. As painful as those memories may be, remember them the next time you encounter these individuals. Did someone mistreat you? Promise to never treat anyone that way. Did you have an excellent mentor? Perpetuate the good and be the one who makes someone say, “I want to be a nurse!”