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Your RT Career

First Day Jitters

Seasoned Veterans Tell How They Handled First Days

You got the job! Hooray! No more searching the Want Ads. No more resume writing. No more applications to fill out. No more interviews to go to.

Feels pretty good, doesn’t it? Of course it does … until you realize now you have to actually go to this new job. That’s when the first day jitters set in.

Regardless of how many times you’ve done it before, it’s only natural to experience some butterflies in your stomach at the prospect of walking into your new job on your very first day. To provide a little perspective, we asked our members how they dealt with their own first days over the years, and here’s what five of them had to say —

First day — one and two
Marianne Burkett, MEd, RRT, ProMedica Toledo Hospital, Toledo, OH

I actually had two first days on the job. On my first, first day I was told to “be here on Monday at 2:45.” When I showed up the supervisor looked at me oddly and said, “It’s Memorial Day, it’s a holiday, come back tomorrow.” The following day I came back and met with Kevin, one of the therapists charged with my orientation. On that day at about 5 p.m., there was a tornado warning and we had to move all of the patients to the hallways.

Since I was an LPN when I started the RT program, they had let me skip the first quarter’s respiratory equipment class. The repercussion for that second first day was I was unable to put a regulator on an e cylinder; I was mortified and sure that I would be fired. Thankfully I must have redeemed myself in other ways during that orientation period, and I always remember the kindness that was shown to me back then as I work with my clinical students or any new grad.

Keep it simple
Holly Wilson, RPFT, Saint Louis University Hospital, St. Louis, MO

My philosophy is simple because I have had many “first days.” The first day is the easiest day you will have in a new job. One is not expected to know everything the first day, and expectations are relatively low. Enjoy it! It’s only after a couple of weeks that things can get rough and the learning curve can become overwhelming. Pay attention, take notes, and realize that no question is a stupid question. It’s OK to be out of your comfort zone; that’s how we learn. Ask for help and take a lot of deep breaths. If a new employee wants to achieve rock star status, they can, with a little hard work.

Never too late
Karen Stewart, MS, RRT, FAARC, Cogent Healthcare, Charleston, WV

Unfortunately, I recently experienced first day jitters after my position of almost 30 years was eliminated and I found myself out of work for almost two years. In July of this year I started a new job with Cogent Healthcare. My first day on the job was training in a hospital in New Jersey — not where I was to work but in a sister contract hospital.

That meant I had a second new day arriving at my local hospital for the first day on the job. It was really strange not knowing anyone, being contracted for a hospital, and being the first employee with my job title in the hospital. I had to create the position and demonstrate value to a team of highly skilled physicians and licensed medical providers. I can happily say it has been a wonderful experience and a great place to work. This is great for an old-timer like me. I would like to encourage folks who have been displaced after a long time on a job not to be fearful but to take advantage of your experience to bring it forward to the new job.

Stay focused
Thom Yakoubian, RRT, EMTB, Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT

For over 25 years I have worked mostly as a computer programmer analyst and about 10 years as a RT. I have had many, many jobs, mostly because I worked as a consultant. I found what helps with the jitters is to stay focused on my task — whether it be patient therapy, education, rehab, systems development, or production problem resolution. Stay focused on your task and most of the time things fall into place. Stay away from negative vibes from other workers — it only brings you down and most of the time it is not true anyway.

Preschool skills count!
Charity Clark, BS, RRT, Via Christi Hospitals, Wichita, KS

One of the pieces of advice I tell graduates from our local respiratory care program to decrease their anxiety is to increase their confidence. How can they do that? Most likely they are nervous about all of the things they have recently learned like the skills, equipment, etc. I tell them to think about something they already know well and are very comfortable with that they can bring on the first day and use in the workplace.

Some of the best things we know and can use in the workplace is something we were taught as children — manners. Having a friendly smile, listening ears, helpful hands, and kind words. Don’t get caught up in the anxiety of utilizing all of the new skills on the first day. Calm your nerves by remembering to use some of the best skills you learned in preschool!