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5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me After 5 Years of Nursing

Dec 10, 2020
Lauren Rodriguez, RN

With five plus years of nursing under my belt, I’ve learned a few things here and there. Some of these things I really wish someone had told me sooner. So, now I’m telling you; here are five things I wish someone had told me about nursing sooner.

1. Make a Financial Plan

Statistically speaking, nurses are likely to enter the workforce earning a higher salary when compared to other college graduates. Additionally, nurses have job security; nurses are essential. Nevertheless, the majority of nurses are female and “women lag behind men in financial literacy.”

I wish someone had told me that there is no purchase that’s going to get you out of feeling a stressful shift or job.

I also wish someone had told me to make a financial plan.

2. Be Switzerland

For the most part, I learned how to maneuver through the human relations of nursing on the job. As a nurse working with multiple disciplines, patients, and their families throughout an average shift, you’re going to work with a variety of people, personalities, and stress responses.

There will be rewarding friendships in colleagues and connections to patients, both happy and sad, that you will never forget; but there will also be challenges. 

In just five years, I have consistently learned that remaining neutral in high intensity human interaction is key to de-escalation and relationship recovery (much like Switzerland, a notoriously neutral country). I wish someone had told me to always remember that your workday is (almost always) a patient’s worst day.

3. Care Courageously

Early on, I realized that there is far too much at stake when working with vulnerable human lives for me to ever act out of fear on the job. I learned to listen to my intuition and speak up, even when it’s uncomfortable. After all, it’s human instinct that makes nurses irreplaceable. I wish someone had told me to get out of my own way.

4. Take Care of Yourself

You’re bound to have bad shifts, or even bad years (thanks, 2020!) Nurses see a lot, and not many people can relate to our experiences. Knowing that it’s difficult for me to find solace outside of work, it has always been helpful for me to find an ally inside of work; someone that can relate to challenges in a productive way. 

When it comes to the really bad shifts, I’ve learned that my unhealthy coping mechanisms are temporary fixes. I do my best to personalize a healthy recovery plan and take what I need. I wish someone had told me to normalize needing resources to process my abnormal job.

5. Dream About the Next Five Years

Shortly after starting my bedside nursing career, I was already slotting myself into a traditional trajectory for my specialty. I felt pressured by time and expected next steps. What I’ve come to learn now, after taking a few personal leaps and exploring for myself, is that everyone is on their own path. 

Plus, most importantly, it’s ok to not know what your path looks like ahead. There are countless nurse specialties in the modern world; one nurse couldn’t even pursue and experience all of the possibilities in one lifetime. 

After five years of nursing, I’m dreaming about the next five years in my career. I’m reflecting on my experiences, my likes and dislikes. I’m listening to my head and my heart, and I’m doing my best to follow my own path. 

I only knew that I wanted to be a nurse when I entered the workforce. I wish someone told me just how many opportunities can come after that.

two women on swings facing each other talking things nurses should know

6. (Bonus) Travel Nursing Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

If you find a travel nursing agency you enjoy working with, stick with them. For me, Trusted has been the way to go. Travel nursing can be difficult to get into, but if you choose the right travel nursing company to work with, it doesn’t have to be.

Ready to try travel nursing? Create a free profile with Trusted to see what opportunities await you!