Through a ton of blood, sweat, tears, and prayer I have made it to 6 months! I am now considered a CNII! Once of the most obvious signs I have gone through tremendous growth is when I have time to ask other nurses if they need help. I also have done my first resource (“breaker”) RN shift!

What are my words of wisdom now that I have reached 6 months as a cardiac PCU RN?

Read below!

1. Don’t stop asking for help!

You may find that you are asking for help less often because you are finding your flow and becoming more familiar with your skills/tasks. As you grow, you may find your co-workers are checking on you less and less. That doesn’t mean they are any less available, but they recognize you are gaining independence. If you need help, ask for it. You may come across things you didn’t have the chance to see during orientation. For example, I had a patient with a bunch of drains that needed to be flushed and aspirated. While I could have figured it out myself, I wanted to make sure I did it the right way (SAFETY FIRST). I asked the night RN to walk me through it before he left because we had time after we were done giving report. If the previous nurse can’t show you or give you quick run through, ask the resource, charge, or an RN with down time.

2. “Divorcing” a patient.

Some patients take A LOT out of you, both mentally and physically. If you find a patient that takes a lot of you as a nurse, and you are being assigned that patient EVERY TIME. Advocate for yourself! Let the charge RN know you need a break from the patient for XYZ reason before you go home for the day/night. XYZ should not be because you just don’t feel like it. If you have a legit reason, most charge RNs will accomodate you because preventing nurses from burning out is what makes the team stronger.

3. Prepare the next shift for success!

If your assignment was very heavy, say something! The acuity of patients change, orders change, and this may not be known to everyone else. If you feel like the assignment is not appropriate, let the charge RN know. They can either change it or will be aware you will need extra help during the shift. They will also switch up the assignment if they can for the next shift.

3. Get involved!

I highly recommend attending unit meetings. One, you get paid. Two, you get to see your unit from a different perspective. You can learn about what is happening, what will be happening, and you can voice your opinion on any matters discussed. This is your chance to ask questions and voice your opinion without having to worry about your assignment in the back of your mind. If you can, join a committee! There are usually many available that may suit your interests or passions! First, get YOUR life together. Feel comfortable in YOUR role. If taking on anything extra right now seems absolutely exhausting, save your days off for self-care. Don’t spread yourself thin if you aren’t ready for it.

4. I don’t know is an acceptable answer.

In nursing school, you are expected to have the answer to everything., mostly because your success if measured by exam scores. I don’t know will never be an answer on a multiple choice question. However, real life is not like that. No one knows the answer to everything. If you don’t know the answer, it is okay to say “I don’t know”, but that better be followed up with a “… but, let me find out”. Exam question patients are in no danger if you answer incorrectly. Real life patients are! Their safety is worth the extra time needed for you to find the answer to whatever questions a nurse, patient, or doctor may be asking.

5. Calling a code

Know how to call a code! I hope you never need to, but you need to be prepared. If a nurse is busy, they may call out for you to call a code while they stabilize their patient. Realistically, we hope that we can catch small changes suggesting decline in a patient before a code needs to be called. I was unsure about calling an RRT on my patient. I consulted my charge RN and code RN for advice. I ended up not needing to call an RRT code, and closely monitored the patient. I have the luxury of being able to call my code RN without having to call an actual code, but if you do not have that luxury. No one SHOULD blame you for calling a code when everything ended up being okay. However, you will be responsible if you didn’t call a code when you should have.

6. Be in communication with your leadership

Again, I am lucky in that my managers, assistant managers, and specialists are very present both on my floor. They do not just hide out in their offices in between meetings. They are on the floor, even if it is just to get office work done that could be done in their office. They are always present, always asking if anything is needed from them, and constantly trying to help us be better. Now not everything leadership team is this proactive. If they are not, seek them out. Let them know what you need, how you are feeling, and if you think anything could be done to help you/your unit improve. Don’t be afraid to get to know your leadership! They can be your strongest allies if you let them be.