Creative Nurse

Scrapbooks capture nurses career milestones

For nurse graduates, starting their first staff position is an exciting time, but it can also be a time of apprehension. Many have heard stories about how some nurses “eat their young” and may wonder how readily they can acclimate to their new unit.

Scrapbooking is one way for experienced nurses to welcome new graduates to the team and help them get socialized and feel accepted. It has the potential to increase their job satisfaction, aid retention, and improve unit cohesiveness.

I was asked to precept a new nurse graduate on our unit. Two weeks into her orientation, she passed her nursing board exam and for the first time was able to sign her name with “RN” after it. Her excitement was palpable, and I wanted to capture that moment for her. So I took a picture of the orders she signed, although I was unsure how I might use it.

A photo snowballs into a scrapbook

As it turned out, this single picture snowballed into a scrapbook of her orientation, capturing the first time she performed the procedures so many of us have done countless times. In addition to showing her first “RN” signature, the scrapbook featured pictures of her starting her first I.V. line, administering an injection for the first time, and giving her first blood transfusion, to name just a few of her activities.

For other new nurses on our unit, my colleagues helped me obtain photographs for a scrapbook. At the end of their orientation, we presented each new nurse with an individualized scrapbook. Thrilled, they carried the books with them for months. Besides giving them a way to show families and friends what their nursing jobs entailed, the scrapbooks helped them sustain the excitement they felt as they started their careers.


The next year, we hired three nursing graduates to our unit. Creating their scrapbooks became a unit project. Everyone got involved in capturing great photos of them in action. Near the end of their orientation, several nurses brought in scrapbooking supplies and we put together the scrapbooks. (See Avoiding HIPAA violations by clicking on the pdf icon above.)

One of the nurses who received a scrapbook after orientation wrote: “On top of the [mentoring you provided], you went above and beyond with the scrapbook. That book is a true treasure to me. My family cannot imagine the job I do and this gives them insight. As soon as I got it, I imagined showing it to my children one day. When they ask me what I do for a living, this will be a highlight…looking back at the memories and laughing at how scary certain days were, how difficult some patients were, and how we made it through. Now those days and patients just don’t seem scary or as difficult….It shows me how far I have come in a few short years.”

Not just for novices

After seeing the new nurses’ scrapbooks and their reactions, a few veteran nurses on my unit decided to create their own scrapbooks of their work lives. They found that doing this helped them renew their enthusiasm for their jobs, boosted their pride in being nurses, and preserved memories for a lifetime.

Scrapbooks also can pique interest in the nursing profession. Like artists and photographers who create portfolios to show prospective clients, we can use scrapbooks to showcase our work and make the nursing profession more concrete to laypersons.

Cheryl Briggs is a staff nurse at the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland.

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