I can’t believe that it has already been six months since I started working as a nurse. On top of that, it’s almost been eight months since I graduated from nursing school! It was a hard decision to go into outpatient nursing and miss out on a residency program. Nursing school pushes you into bedside nursing, it almost felt like an expectation. However, I am so thankful that I did because I know I made the right decision! In this post, I am recapping my first six months as a new grad outpatient nurse.
Recap: Six Months as a New Grad Outpatient Nurse
I Enjoy What I Do
One reason I chose to go into outpatient nursing was that I didn’t see inpatient as sustainable for myself. I knew I would get burnt out fast and risk leaving the field completely. I heard crazy statistics about how so many new nurses don’t make it past year one or two. Entering nursing school, I had never really considered working at the bedside. Since I was never a CNA, I hadn’t even known what bedside nursing was like.
Six months into working as a nurse I am still learning something new every day. I get to use my critical thinking, practice “nursing skills” and use nursing judgment. I still love going to work every day and can say that I have never dreaded a single shift. If I wanted to go into inpatient nursing or switch specialties, I would feel confident going in. You can also make the same amount of money working as an inpatient nurse, even as a new grad.
There are Lots of Perks
I can take all my breaks without interruption, I get an hour for lunch, weekends off, holidays off, etc. There are a ton of perks that I feel like most people wouldn’t think twice about in any other field. It’s crazy to me that so many nurses can’t take bathroom breaks when they need them, or can’t even drink water throughout the day. Especially because as an inpatient nurse, you are on your feet for an entire 12-hour shift.
It’s a Healthier Lifestyle for Me
During my final preceptorship, I was in med-surg and found it hard to keep a healthy lifestyle. I had crazy high stress all the time. Sometimes I would find myself emotional because I hadn’t eaten in hours and my blood sugar dropped, and rarely drank water since it wasn’t allowed on the floor. I was not feeling like my best or healthiest self. Since I value my health, this was something that had been a problem for me with bedside nursing. I didn’t want to spend another year feeling like I’m in fight-or-flight 24/7.
Working in outpatient I have a routine and rarely (if ever) feel stressed. My most stressful day wouldn’t even compare to the least stressful day working at the bedside. If a patient isn’t happy with me, it really doesn’t matter as I will only be interacting with them for 15 minutes to an hour at most compared to having to work with a patient for an entire 12 hours shift.
Protect your Peace!
One of the biggest things that I thought about going into outpatient was that I was going to feel inferior. I am definitely someone who likes to work my hardest and be the best I can be (I am an Enneagram 3, the achiever). I thought that I might feel inadequate working in a clinic and not bedside since almost everyone in my cohort was going to work bedside (and in the most competitive fields like ICU or ED). Comparison really is the thief of joy.
If I took everyone else’s opinion out of my decision, I would have never even considered bedside nursing after graduating from nursing school. It didn’t resonate with me at the time and there weren’t many times during clinical that I felt excited to be there. I enjoyed getting to put in IVs or see surgeries, but the atmosphere of the floors that I had clinical on felt toxic and unapproachable. I am glad that I protected my peace and choose the path that would most support the lifestyle that I wanted and that I am most passionate about.
My Favorite Part of Outpatient Nursing
My favorite part of outpatient nursing is the triage, wound care, and patient education. In family medicine, I am mostly educating patients on how to give themselves injections, how to use a glucometer, and about blood pressure. You get to use your critical thinking and nursing judgment all the time. I have also had the chance to build my confidence a ton and I would still feel confident moving into inpatient nursing or another specialty.
Do I Regret Outpatient Nursing?
I don’t regret going into outpatient nursing straight out of nursing school. At this point, I am still not interested in working at the bedside, and am happy with where I landed. The biggest thing that I dislike in outpatient nursing is working 5 days a week, but there are options out there to work 3 12s or 4 10s.
In the future, I would be interested in exploring other specialties besides primary care in the outpatient setting. Some of the specialties I am interested in are urgent care, ambulatory surgery, fertility, and infusion. I love that just like inpatient nursing, there are so many different avenues that you can go into and roles to take on, so you really never get bored.
My Work isn’t My Life
Although it feels completely out of my nature, I didn’t want work to become my life. I don’t want to think about it when I’m not there. I also don’t want to work overtime, inconvenient hours, holidays, etc. Having a life outside of work and not living to work is really my goal. I think that it’s easier for me to accomplish that and find value in my life other than working in an outpatient nursing job. So far, after six months as a new grad outpatient nurse, I haven’t felt like my work is my life.
No regrets! If you are a new grad wondering whether you should go into inpatient or outpatient nursing, I think you should consider the lifestyle you want and your future goals. I personally love working in outpatient, but I know others might hate it. These last six months have honestly FLOWN by. I hope this recap on my first six months working as a new grad outpatient nurse was helpful. As always if you have any questions about nursing, nursing school, or outpatient nursing, feel free to message me! I love getting DMs from readers! 🙂