Growing up in a small town in Maine, I never would have envisioned myself moving to the Midwest for a job. My journey to Mayo Clinic actually started in California while I was attending a psychiatric nursing conference and met a group of nurses from Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Every nurse that I interacted with loved their job and felt that they were making a difference in the lives of patients. Some of the nurses had been Summer III Externs and encouraged me to apply for the externship the next summer. When I returned to the University of Maine, I submitted my application, doubting that I would be accepted to such a prestigious program. I had no idea that this decision would mark the start of a life-changing journey at Mayo Clinic.
The 10 weeks I spent in Rochester during the Summer III program changed my perspective on nursing. My placement on an inpatient mood disorders unit, the same unit that the group of nurses I met at the conference worked on, was perfect for my educational background -- I had just completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I remember move-in weekend like it was yesterday. The chaos of nursing students from around the country moving into the apartments was electric. The energy did not die down during the course of the summer. After a few weeks on my clinical unit, I began to realize that the nurses had not been exaggerating; Mayo was an amazing place that touched the lives of both patients and employees. Returning home for my final semester of nursing school, I faced a difficult decision. Should I apply for an RN position at Mayo Clinic and move 2000 miles away from my family or should I accept an offer for a spot in a Family Nurse Practitioner program on the east coast as I had originally planned?
My desire for a varied med-surg nursing experience and love of change led me to apply for a position on the general care float staff at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. The decision to postpone my plans for FNP school and accept the RN position came easily after I thought about the extremely diverse experience I would have in my first new grad position. Mixed in with my excitement about the new job were strands of fear. Would a position floating to 35 general and progressive care units prove to be too much for a new grad? Even my professors voiced concern about it. Would it be difficult to meet new people when I did not have a unit to call home? What would orientation look like?
Orientation would be a four-month process of first becoming familiar with one unit and then floating to all of the inpatient general care specialties at Mayo Clinic Hospital, Rochester. The experience provided me with the foundation I needed to feel comfortable practicing independently but also showed me that I was never alone. As a float staff nurse, there is no way that I can remember every unit specific procedure. Working with unit-based preceptors, I found the most important lesson learned was never to be afraid to ask any question.
Fast forward one year. Being an RN on the Float Staff has been everything I could have hoped for; it has given me a diverse med-surg experience and fostered my love for change. I have never felt that floating was too overwhelming, because of the extensive orientation and support that I feel from my peers and managers. Contrary to my original fear, floating has allowed me to meet and befriend people from around the hospital. I have found ways to become involved outside of my role as a staff nurse. I am my unit’s wellness champion, and I volunteer for the No One Dies Alone Program. Floating has nurtured personal skills such as flexibility, patience, and confidence. Nursing at Mayo Clinic really has provided me with a life-changing experience and will continue to do so as I start orientation again for an ICU Float Staff position next month.