Fun in Nursing
By T. Nadeau RN

Many young nurses are realizing that nursing is not what they expected and as a result they not finishing their program or they are quitting shortly after they graduate. There are many factors as to why this is occurring but what are we as nurses and educators doing to rectify this situation? The information obtained from the article “Keep the Fun in Learning” by Lesley Aiton Spevack is focusing on how we possibly can change this current trend and keep our students and graduates in the profession.

Lesley Aiton Spevack wrote “There is a predictable pattern, where the first-year nursing student typically idolizes the teacher. The second-year student recognizes the staff and downplays the teacher as someone considered more in the ivory tower than the real world. By third year, the patterns of socialization are set and the new nurse evolves. The question is, do the teacher’s ideals and enthusiasm prevail, or does the I-want-out nurse’s influence taint the new grad?” (Spevack, 2004,p.10). I never really considered how the attitude of staff nurses affected the way nursing students feel about nursing. When a student is working in an area they are molded into what we make them. By having a negative outlook on the nursing profession we potentially are influencing our young blood to quit and do something else.

I agree with what Spevack is saying in the above quote, in the beginning students do have the point of view that the instructor is always right and that as time progresses the student may see things differently. This is where critical thinking comes in, the instructor gives the student a model, but ultimately the student needs to develop their own unique, realistic style of practice.

Patricia Benner’s Novice to Expect Theory outlines the stages that a nurse goes through starting with the novice category where he/she has no prior background of nursing, the advanced beginner in which the person is able to perform the tasks reasonably well for instance a new graduate, the competent nurse that knows what is important and what can be ignored, the proficient nurse and finally, the expert nurse. After years of practice hopefully most nurses will get to the stage of being an expert nurse that can provide safe nursing care and no longer need to be controlled by strict rules. The critical thinking skills taught in the program will help the nurse decide what is required and how to filter out things that are less important.

In my eighteen years of practice, I have seen many instances where nurses try to give the student or new graduate “a taste of reality”. We don’t seem to let them stay in a idealistic state for very long but squash their enthusiasm with complaints and a negative view of the job.

I have had been a preceptor for a few students over the years and I know how important it is to be a mentor to my student. I remember one student said that even though I was at it a long time I still was “pretty cool”. I’ve gotten some very nice gifts in appreciation for being a preceptor. I recently saw one of my previous students,he was still nursing after 10 years and was working in emergency at a local hospital. He again thanked me for the good reference that I gave him and positive practicum in our department.

At work I try to do good job but I also like to have fun and joke around a bit. For me having the luxury of two jobs helps me keep a good attitude, if I get tired of one of them I can go to my other job for a break. Working with a variety of staff makes my job more interesting as well. Through work, I have developed a very strong social network, we often plan social functions that keep work fun and strengthen relationships as well.

Spevack suggests that if nurses aren’t satisfied with their present jobs that they should move on to other areas of nursing. We shouldn’t be afraid to try different things. In many ways we are so lucky that we have the flexibility of scheduling as well as the choice of so many areas to work. These are the positives we should be instilling into the new nurses. It’s our job not only to be good role models but also to show the students it’s okay to have fun at work. The atmosphere may further reinforce to them that nursing is great and worth staying in the profession.

References Cornwall, C. (2003). Where Have all the Nurses Gone? Reader’s Digest. Retrieved May 5,2003

Broughton, H. (2001). Nursing Leadership: Unleashing the Power. Canadian Nurses Association. p.28

Baumann, A. (2001). Commitment and Care: The Benefits of a Healthy Workplace for Nurses, their Patients and the System. Canadian Health Services Research Foundation Commitment and Care a Policy Synthesis.p.15-16

Canadian Institute for Health Information. (2001). Supply and Distribution of Registered Nurses in Canada. Retrieved June 12,2004.

Canadian Institute for Health Information. (2001).Bringing the Future into Focus: Projecting RN retirement in Canada Executive Summary. Retrieved June 12,2004…

International Council of Nurses.(1999). Policy Statement: Nurse Retention,Transfer and Migration. Retrieved June 10,2004.

Peterson, C. (2001). Nursing Shortage: Not a Simple Problem-No Easy Answers. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Retrieved June 10,2004

Fletcher, M. (2002). Acute Shortage Plays Out in Nursing Stations, Hospital Wards. Canadian Nurse p.14 -15

Fletcher,M. (2002). Nursing by the Numbers. Canadian Nurse. p. 14-16

Alberta Association of Registered Nurses media release.(2002). New Report Confirms Increasing Shortage of Registered Nurses in Alberta. Retrieved June 8,2004.

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