Today we launch our second choice in undergraduate nurse writing from Dr. Kezia Lilly’s RN-BSN informatics course at Southwest Baptist University. is honored to feature Kathryn Horine an acute care nurse in Springfield, Missouri.

About Kathryn:

Kathryn is a 24 year-old who has been an RN since 2013.  She works in Cardiac ICU for Mercy Hospital.  She recently became engaged to her fiancé Michael.  She enjoys being outdoors, reading, and being with family. She is also an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan and has a goal of visiting every Major League Baseball stadium in the U.S.  She is new to writing and to sharing her experiences as a nurse, but looks forward to further exploration of this talent.

39 Days

I have been a nurse for exactly 39 days. Thirty-nine days of being the one who does instead of the one who stands in the background, learning. Thirty-nine days of feeling like I am on top of the world. Thirty-nine days of being so scared I cannot breathe. Thirty-nine days of being a brand new nurse. I have been in the hospital my entire life. I am a second-generation nurse and the fifth nurse in my family. I use to go to work with my mother and play with children of the burn and pediatric units. The hospital has never been a scary place for me. Through my education I completed two years of clinical in the hospital and worked as a patient-care-assistant (nurse’s aid) for over a year before taking a job as a graduate and now registered nurse. I feel like I have learned more in the past 39 days than in the previous two years of education. However, even with all of this knowledge in my brain I still feel like I am barely competent to do my job.

Everyone at work has been telling me that nobody expects me to know everything. Nobody expects me to catch every single minutia that might occur with my patients. Nobody expects me to think of a solution to every problem. While I understand this and understand their perspective, there is one problem… I do expect it of myself. I didn’t push myself through four years of college, working at times two jobs, to not be the nurse I always wanted to be.

The nurse in my head is knowledgeable, strong, and does whatever needs to be done to help patients. The nurse I see in reality stumbles, forgets, and clumsily takes care of patients. According to every nurse in my family and everyone in my unit this nurse is normal. While I know and understand this, it doesn’t mean that I like it. I do not want to be the nurse that co-workers have to watch to make sure she does not injure, or worse kill, the patients. I do not want to be the nurse that makes patients feel uneasy. I want to be the nurse in my head. The competent, compassionate, knowledgeable and above all re-assuring nurse that I know I should be.

My journey to be becoming that nurse started 39 days ago. In my quest, I have researched books for critical care nurses. I have Googled diseases and treatments. I continue to ask silly questions, much to my co-workers annoyance and amusement. I read nursing blogs, websites, and discussion boards to see how other nurses handled the beginning of their career. I stand outside my patient’s room at two o’clock in the morning; anxiously watching monitors to evaluate patient stability. I quiz myself on worse case scenarios for each patient and how to prevent them.

Above all, I worry. I worry before I go to work, I worry at work, and I stay awake when I should be asleep… because I worry. All of this makes for an exhausted but knowledge hungry 39-day-old nurse. I may not be the nurse I envision in my head, but I am on my way. Maybe I never will become her, but if I strive everyday to be that mythical nurse then maybe, just maybe I will get close.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” -Arthur Ashe