Two Nursing Worlds that SHOULD Collide
By Casey Hill, MSN, RN-BC, CEN, who
is a nurse educator in
Recently I attended a nursing orientation at a hospital, composed of
both new graduates and experienced nurses. As a nurse educator, I enjoy being
in this type of setting, seeing former students grow into their new role as a
registered nurse. Yet, like my former
students and everyone else in the room, I was there to get credentialed on a
skill for hospital protocol purposes.
The nurse educator leading the presentation was informative, humorous
and kept the tone light. When it came time for skill practice she said
something that would really challenge my thought process over the next several
days. She stated, “You’re not in nursing school anymore; let’s practice the
My former students looked back at me and I laughed. I knew the
instructor meant no harm in the statement and every experienced nurse knows about
the two worlds that exist; Nursing school and professional practice settings. I
thought nothing of at the time.
But over the next several days those nurse educators’ words couldn’t
escape me. Why are there two worlds? Isn’t my purpose and everyone’s purpose as
a nurse educator to be teaching best practice, to develop a competent,
compassionate and safe future nurse? Moreover, after graduation and licensure,
shouldn’t that nurse be empowered to take those practices learned in school and
continue them when caring for patients?
It seems we have a major disconnect here in our profession. Two worlds
existing at the same time does seem counterintuitive. I have lived both aspects, I understand both
perspectives. You go through school as a student; things are taken at a slower
pace, every procedure dissected. Sterility held to its highest regard and every
medication researched. Then as a professional nurse, conditions are altered in
an instant, patient nurse ratio’s climb and both time management and
prioritization must be perfected to survive.
But, now as a nurse educator, instructing the nurses of tomorrow, I
feel we simply cannot have mentality of the “nursing school way” versus “real
world, professional nurse way.”
Medications need to be researched whether someone is studying to be a
nurse or practicing it every day. Sterility should always be maintained and
time management needs to be practiced as a student, so it can be perfected as a
The method of caring for patients in nursing school and caring for
patients as a professional nurse should be uniform. Yes, the experienced nurse
is able to be more efficient and proactive. But, being experienced does not mean that now
corners should be cut and procedures should be streamlined. This is not to imply
that every experienced nurse practices this way, but, I do believe this has
become a sub-culture of our profession.
At the end of the day, it is all about the patient. That is something every
nurse seems to agree upon. But, I believe the student nurse who learns to
develop a solid foundation in nursing school, maintains it and builds upon it as
a professional nurse, will be able to deliver the best nursing care possible
for their patient.
So, if it really is all about
the patient then, it’s about time these “two worlds” collide and experienced
nurses stop forgetting about the “nursing school way” but rather embrace all
that they have learned during their career. It will only make them a stronger
and safer nurse.