New nurses should be given primers when starting out in nursing school, just as children are when they start out in grade school. Here are some possibilities for a book on the common ABCs of nursing to help new nurses orient themselves.
A is for admissions which seem to come too frequently.
B is for boards that must be passed before the real nursing begins.
C is for C-Diff, the cause of the many code browns.
D is for doctors who are not our bosses and shouldn’t act like it.
E is for emails from management that we have to read in addition to everything else.
F is for food that nurses never eat but patients and families always do.
G is for guts because that’s what it takes to walk into a room, introduce yourself, and be someone’s nurse.
H is for help, the common cause that brings all nurses into the profession, and the reason patients need us.
I is for incident report which is usually longer than necessary and a total pain in the ass for the smallest thing.
J is for juice, the perfect liquid to carry on your cart for med pass.
K is for knowledge, which all nurses have about their patients, their units, and their profession . . . and they shouldn’t forget it!
L is for the love of nursing!
M is for management who never really seem to get it no matter how many times you explain it to them.
N is for night shift which everyone loves and nobody hates . . . or everyone hates . . . or some weird people love and all the normal people hate – whatever works for your floor.
O is for the opportunity that nursing can give to those who enter into the profession. It is the opportunity not just to care for others, but the opportunity to be more than you are, as well.
P is for psychology because part of being a nurse is using your psychosocial skills to handle patients, doctors, family, coworkers, housekeeping, and anyone else who wanders onto the unit.
Q is for quiet, a word you never, ever, ever say.
R is for report, a sometimes vital, sometimes infuriating process that marks the beginning and end of each shift.
S is for staffing – as in, not enough staffing. It seems that staffing ratios are getting worse by the day, especially in long term care and rehab.
T is for time off – a wondrous, much looked forward to time of sleep and merriment that comes too infrequently and is gone way too soon.
U is for urination and making sure your patient goes enough every shift or they – and you – will have to suffer the catheter.
V is for valium or Ativan or Xanax or any of benzos you can think of. Ah, just give it when you can.
W is for work, because nurses work hard. They aren’t given the credit for working hard, but anyone who has walked the floor knows how nurses work.
X is for Xerox and paperwork in general. Although most charting is done on the computer, most nurses still find themselves in front of the Xerox machines, making copies for any number of people.
Y is for yelling, the primal scream that nursing sometimes makes you want to release when your frustration is high. Of course, you keep that in when dealing with anyone inside the facility.
Z is for zebra because sometimes, as a nurse, it helps to see things in black and white.