Being a student and being an actual LPN are clearly two very different things, which is why the transition from student to LPN can be such a big ordeal for so many students. This article aims to give you the tools you need to survive the transition easily and without suffering any of the negative effects that often arise for nursing practitioners in the modern world.
Different Aspects of Your Role in the Transition from Student to LPN
When you become an LPN in practice there are three aspects to your role that people and you will see. They are:
- The Ideal Role Image
- The Perceived Role Image
- The Performed Role Image
The first image is the ideal image that society imposes on you that is perfect and far from being realistic. It is a very clear-cut image that fails to take into account many of the challenges and factors of daily life that affect your functioning. The second is the image that you have of yourself and what your role should be. This is the image you will have when you graduate and it will stay with you for a long time. This is a lot more realistic than the first image, but it is not necessarily accurate either. The last is what the nurse actually does on a daily basis.
It is very important that you are well aware of these different images. An understanding of what is expected of you combined with knowledge of what you are actually capable of will allow you to get through your job knowing that you are doing the best that you can to the best of your ability.
There are problems that can arise from the above information. You will experience reality shock if your ideal or perceived role is not in line with your actual role. You may be in a situation where you feel that you know what you should do but your actual circumstances will not allow you to do it. This can be very jarring for new nurses who have just qualified. If you are unable to resolve these issues and find a balance between your different roles you will be in danger of experiencing burnout symptoms and high levels of stress and anxiety. In fact a large number of nurses do not stay in the career simply because of this struggle with the transition from student to LPN. It is a real problem, so you need to make sure that you are well equipped for the real world.
In order to avoid experiencing this reality shock you should try to do one or both of the following:
- Attend a nursing college that offers a high degree of clinical training. This will help you to prepare to a certain degree for what is to come in your career as a nurse.
- If possible get an internship as an LPN so that you will not be surprised by what is to come when you start working in earnest.
The Challenges that You Will Face and How to Handle These Challenges
There are a number of challenges that will affect you shortly after you are employed as an LPN and therefore form part of the problems associated with the transition from student to LPN. As mentioned previously nurses leave the profession at a shockingly high rate. It is very difficult to keep nursing staff because of the pressures and stress that come with the job. This is especially true for new nurses as they are often the ones who suddenly realize that they can’t in fact cope. If you want to avoid being one of these nurses you will need to read this section and take note of the ways in which you can avoid letting the pressure get too much for you as a nurse:
Burnout: One of the things that you may suffer from is burnout.
- Burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion that is the result of accumulative stress from an individual’s life.
Burnout is one of the most common things that affect nurses that are new to the profession. Luckily the likelihood of getting burnout can be reduced significantly and there are indications that it can even be prevented altogether.
Firstly, it is interesting to note that nursing students who are most likely to suffer from burnout when they transition from being a student to being a nurse are those that are:
- Hard working
If these qualities describe you then you need to be extra careful when you start your career. Be aware that you are prone to burnout and make sure that you take all measures necessary to avoid being affected by it.
It doesn’t help that most of the elements in a job that are considered necessary for the incidence of burnout are all present in nursing. It is a highly stressful job, and this is something that you need to be aware of and accept right from the onset of your career. You need to be well prepared for the stress that you are going to experience.
In order to deal with burnout you need to be able to identify it. A lot of people who suffer from burnout deny that they suffer from it. However if you have any of the following symptoms you may be in trouble:
- Extreme fatigue
- Frequent illness
- Sleeping problems
- Physical complaints
- Alcohol abuse
- Mood swings
- Emotional displays
- Poor-quality work
- Feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, purposelessness, and guilt
If you have only one or two of these symptoms, don’t panic. If you have more, however, you should start to consider the possibility that you are under too much stress and that you may collapse.
Here’s what you need to do to deal with burnout:
- Recognize the early symptoms. This means that you will need to monitor yourself and take care of yourself throughout your nursing career.
- Manage your stress and manage your time so that things don’t get on top of you.
- Identify what problems are producing the stress so that you can focus your energy on coping with those specific problems. Often if you do not identify the problems you will just feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness when really there are specific things that you can do to solve the problem.
- Take care of yourself. This means ensuring that there is time set aside just for you. You need to make sure that you get time to relax and do what you want without having to worry about the stresses of your nursing job.
What Employers Look For in Students
There are a number of qualities that employers look for in students who have just qualified as nurses and you will find it far easier to get a job if you are able to develop the following skills:
- An ability to function independently
- An ability to do your job without any orientation or retraining needed
- An ability to supervise a variety of less skilled and unlicensed personnel that will fall under your command as an LPN
Again, taking advantage of clinical hours and internships will increase your chances of getting a job after you have finished studying. The more experience you can demonstrate the more impressive your application will seem, so do everything in your power to improve in this area. Ideally the practical experience that you aim to get should be in the hospital or healthcare institute where you would ideally like to work as this will increase your chances of being hired by that facility. Also it is not enough to simply take part in clinical activities. You will also need to make a good impression and, if possible, stand out from the crowd.
To aid your transition from student to LPN you will need to write a well formatted and professional LPN resume. There are numerous tips on the Internet about how to achieve this. In addition you will need to shine at the LPN interview. You need to make a very good first impression in the job interview for the position. In addition you should prepare for the interview. Know something about the institution and what its aims are and so on. Ask any questions that you have about the position and the institute. Have a list of these prepared as well.
The above may seem a little daunting, but you will note that there are ways to cope with the transition that will allow you to be a fully functioning nurse in no time at all. There are a number of different ways to cope with this transition and now that you know what some of them are you should be able to move from role to the other with very little difficulty at all. The important thing is to maintain the right attitude towards the transition from student to LPN and you will find that it is easier than you may think.