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7 Things to Learn from a "Lifer" Nurse

Prisca Smith | Scrubs Magazine

You’ve got a lot to learn, grasshopper!

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between seasoned nurses, whom we call “lifers” because they will likely retire on our floor and have been around a long time, and new nurses.

This probably has something to do with the fact that, in my new job, I am working with nurses who have been in the profession and specialty for 10+ years—there are not many newbies around. Some of these nurses will retire in a few years having been on the same unit their whole career!

The other night I watched a 25+ year nurse as she calmly took a verbal berating from a doctor — only to put him in his place using some evidence-based jargon that had my head reeling!

This is so different in that I am coming from a hospital where new grads moved up the ranks and ran the show at three to four years in, only to burn out and move on. In fact, when I was hired as a new grad, my previous manager told me that the unit had a “burn-out rate” of one year—new grads got their initial experience then moved on.

So, what does my future look like as a seasoned nurse? What can you expect if you’re planning on being a “lifer?”

What are the common traits in nurses with loads of experience?

#1: Lifers are Calmer →

Featured Author: SCRUBS MAGAZINE
Scrubs Magazine is a lifestyle website 100 percent for and about nurses. Here you’ll find articles written by and for nurses about beauty, money, style, health, and wellness. features active conversations with nurse bloggers ranging from a newly minted nurse to a seasoned RN to a misunderstood male nurse. Follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook.

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    about 5 years ago


    Great article. I have 7 years of telemetry experience and love picking the brains of my senior nurses when I can. On tele it is rare to be able to have an indepth conversation but there always seems to be a "goto" nurse oozing full of knowledge. I am sometimes in awe of these amazing people. I am continuously empowered and motivated by the brilliant souls that built the foundation of our profession. Take care of yourself and always be open to learning!!!

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    about 5 years ago


    Know there will be chanllenges and disagreements among co-workers, use the experience you have to develop your beliefs and confidence. Do what's best for the patient. if possible. Stick with the winners in the workplace, learn what they have to offer.Learn as much as you can in the area in which you work through lieterature, books, magazines, inservices. Don't be afraid to ask questions, good nurse are not "know it alls".. Allow yourself to be human, we all make mistakes. Take good care of yourself. Learn to say no when you can't work extra shifts. Create balance in your liffe: work, play, family, friends, the gym, eat healthy foods if possible. Be careful with people pleaseing just to fit in.

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    about 5 years ago


    Don't take yourself, or your job too seriously! If possible, have fun. Life is too short to let it go by while you have your nose to the grindstone! If it HAS to be there, then enjoy those you work with, laugh with your patients (if you can), and remember to find something of joy and value in each day, no matter how little it is! Barbara A. Wickham, RN, BSN, CCRN

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    about 5 years ago

    I thought your article to be very informative, interesting and true. I Have seen many of my friends going crazy over the new profession for many reasons. I do believe that knowledge, common sense, and love for the career, and good interpersonal skills are keys to succeed in nursing. Thank you for your article.

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    about 5 years ago


    I am a lifer, sounds like the military :) I graduated with my generic BSN in 1978, so I just passed 31 years. I am working on my MSN just now, but will finish it or bust!!! I have been told that I am very calm. I was a Fllight Nurse in the USAF. I have taught at community colleges and have been an ER educator in a hospital. I have been a charge nurse and a staff nurse. I have had my CEN and CCRN. Right now I am a staff nurse working 8 hour shifts full time in an ER, and determined to finish my MSN. Most of all, I love patient education.

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    about 5 years ago


    Advocation is a word. ....
    ad·vo·cate (ād'və-kāt')
    tr.v. ad·vo·cat·ed, ad·vo·cat·ing, ad·vo·cates
    To speak, plead, or argue in favor of. See Synonyms at support.
    n. (-kĭt, -kāt')


    One that argues for a cause; a supporter or defender: an advocate of civil rights.

    One that pleads in another's behalf; an intercessor: advocates for abused children and spouses.

    A lawyer.

    [From Middle English advocat, lawyer, from Old French advocat, from Latin advocātus, past participle of advocāre, to summon for counsel : ad-, ad- + vocāre, to call; see wekw- in Indo-European roots.]
    ad'vo·ca'tion n., ad'vo·ca'tive, ad·voc'a·to'ry (ād-vŏk'ə-tôr'ē, -tōr'-, ād'və-kə-) adj., ad'vo·ca'tor n.

    I agree that there is no evidence of a word as "assuridity."

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    about 5 years ago


    Sorry, but there are no such words as "assuridity" or "advocation". Nice article, though. John, RN

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