This age-old narrative is rearing its head again and again. ‘I want to work in the community but people say I must work on a ward for at least a year’, ‘I want to specialise as a newly qualified nurse (NQN) but some say I should work on a ward first to hone my skills’ and such nonsense is heard and seen every single day in university or on social media. I feel that statements like this are dampening the dreams of student nurses for no real reason.
There is no reason to work on a general medicine ward first before moving on to another post if you do not want to. Yes you will develop your skills as a NQN and build your confidence during your preceptorship. BUT…the skill sets used in areas such as the community, in a GP surgery, theatres, a nursing home or in specialist areas such as critical care are very different to the skill set used on a general medicine ward. Contrary to belief, you will not ‘de-skill’ going into these areas!
So you spend a year on a general medicine ward and then move to the area you actually want to work in…and guess what? It’s like starting over again. You need to develop all the new skill sets and hone the ones you already have to your new area. Why not cut out the middle man and develop these from the beginning of your time as a NQN?
We spend a long and hard three years at university…why should we ‘settle’ for an area we know we don’t actually want to work in when we have fallen in love with an area that is right up our street? As a student nurse, or even a qualified nurse, the world is our oyster and we can apply to work in most areas now as a NQN, so if you have dreams of working in an area like critical care or a GP surgery there is nothing stopping you. There are more and more areas accepting applications from NQN now and I can only see this increasing in the future. If general medicine is your thing that’s fab, but for a lot of us working on a ward is not what we want to do and that’s fine as well. You are at work for a large portion of your week, why spend the time unhappy?
I am often criticised for wanting to go straight into critical care, I hear things like ‘it’s too specialised you’re not a good enough nurse as a NQN to work in such a specialist area’ or ‘why would you want to start in a place like that when you could spend a year on a ward first’. Working on a general ward is not for me, I’ve known this for a long time and it won’t change. Yes critical care is still a ward, but its a different kind of routine and style of nursing to general medicine wards.
Don’t be afraid to talk about where you would like to work, if someone attempts to shoot you down don’t feel like you need to explain yourself. The most important thing is finding the job that suits you and if this is in an area other than a ward, hold your head up high and know that you are making the right choice for you. Ultimately this is all that matters.
Nursing is not one size fits all and that’s the real beauty of it.