One of the many struggles that I deal with everyday is living up to the title of “Registered Nurse (RN).” Yes, technically once you pass the NCLEX you can call yourself a RN, but when do you start actually feel like a RN? For some, the former is the time they start feelin’ it.

For me, I’m still waiting on that moment; that click. That comforting feeling where you  walk into the unit and 100% believe that it’s time to be a nurse rather than be a “nurse.” I’ve had short-lived illuminating instances where I sort of believed it, only to have something throw me back to square one.

A few months into the career of ICU RN, I still find it difficult to introduce myself as someone’s nurse. I thought holding the credentials and actually securing a job in the ICU would make it all the more clearer, but actually it’s quite the opposite. I feel stupid on a daily basis. Some days are better than others, but nothing in nursing school actually prepared me for the real life.  I’ve successfully succeeded during my orientation period, but working independently for a few months is a whole other story. Again, it’s one thing to a nurse and another thing to be a “nurse.”  My co-workers attribute it to experience.

When I bring the topic up to my co-workers, they always tell me it’s okay and that I’m still stocking up my arsenal and that I’ll be able to make more decisions on my own in time. They also tell me it isn’t usual for new grad nurses to go straight to ICU. The more traditional route is to build up experience on a med/surg or tele unit prior to moving to ICU. On med/surg you have to master your time management and assessment skills. Once you have that, in ICU you can work on learning about drips, interpretations and subsequent interventions for hemodynamic monitoring, management of ventilated patients, etc… In that sense, I kind of felt better….”It comes with time” I like to tell myself. “But when will the time come?”

For me, I take pride in my ability to care for people. So in that sense I consider myself a nurse. But compassion, in my opinion, is only one facet in the multidimensional profession that is nursing. I’ve seen and want to be like some of the ICU nurses at my hospital. Caring, calm under pressure, knowledgeable, and commanding. I got the caring part down I guess. Yay for silver linings.  I look forward to the day my exterior confidence matches the way I actually feel on the inside. I can’t wait to find myself in a situation that causes me to realize that I’m not just  a “nurse”, but that I am a nurse.