About the Job

Advice for a New Nurse

Advice for a New Nurse

Key Takeaways

  • In order to get you started, health care facilities are commonly arranging orientation programs which you should attend and make the most of.
  • Always be punctual, stick to your schedule, and even get to your shifts early in order to review patient records.
  • Stay positive and get to know the people at your new job.

It’s widely accepted that being a new nurse is hard. No matter whether you have started your nursing career just yesterday or three decades ago, you have to face some unique challenges. Fortunately, you can always find the advice of those nurses who have entered into the nursing field before you. They will always be there to guide you along your journey. If you have just started your nursing career, you will likely need some tips for sustaining in this hard profession. These tips will help you at least in the first year of your career.

Take advantage of your orientation

As you are new to the working atmosphere, you may not know how to get things organized. Knowing what to do and when to do it is very important when it comes to nursing. In order to get you started, health care facilities are commonly arranging orientation programs. You should not miss out on even a piece of your orientation. It is advisable for you to take advantage of each and every learning opportunity during the orientation program. Even experienced nurses will be actively involved in new nurse orientation programs. This is because they are well aware that learning is a continuous process. And remember, at the end of your orientation program, if you don’t feel comfortable working without the guidance of your mentor or if you feel tense about certain circumstances or procedures, don’t be reluctant to ask to be reoriented.

Get to know your mentor

During the orientation program, you will be coupled with a nurse mentor to help educate you through the first weeks or normally months of your nursing career. You will have to work closely with your mentor and in return, your mentor will develop your skill set, as well as your personality. This makes the understanding about your mentor important. Getting to know his or her working, as well as teaching style, would help you determine how the coming days of your training will be. As you are going to work with him or her very closely, it’s understood that how your personalities match will have a greater influence on the success of your training program.

Sometimes, the mentor may appear very controversial. In such cases, you need to continuously try to establish some communication in the case of disputes. In any case, try to be open in your line of communication, always. And always inform your mentor about your professional experience before entering into the nursing career. Some of you may have selected the career as your second or even third career. Whatever it is, there are some good chances that some of your skills would be helpful in performing better in your new career.

Stick to your schedule

One of the best ways to prove that you are reliable and to build trust is to keep up with your schedule and you should do it always. It's a good idea to show up at least twenty to thirty minutes before your shift. This would enable you to get a feel for the working environment for the given day. This would also enable you to review the charts of the patients you will be taking care of during your shift. Furthermore, you will have time to talk with your mentor about the things that are to be done during the shift and about the daily objectives. Thus, sticking to the timings is a simple gesture, which is carrying a lot of weight with your personal identity. At the same time, you will have abundant opportunities to stand out from the crowd.

Get to know the people at your job

Getting to know about the things on the floor and units is important and is the most difficult task in the beginning. But, getting to know the people around you and remembering their names and roles is also equally important. This isn't going to be very easy for everyone. The best way to succeed in this is to take steps to meet all the people, introduce yourself to them, try to have lunch with them, mingle with them, and ultimately try to build some trust. Remember, trying to adapt to the culture in your workplace is an important aspect. Therefore, you must not miss any opportunity to learn about your colleagues and try to know who they are outside the working atmosphere and yes, only if they are willing to share with you. This will cultivate the feeling in them that you are part of their team.

Do not be afraid to ask questions

Asking questions is an absolute must in your nursing career, especially when you are new to the field. No matter whether your mentor and fellow nurses are busy or not, you must always clear your doubts then and there. This can be tricky as you must know how to ask questions in order to get the answers you need. Therefore, you need to be specific in your questions. Avoid asking any general questions. Always try to specify the patient’s name, explain the issue you are having, and ask for guidance. Ask your mentor how he or she would approach the situation. This will be a good way to clarify what you should do.

Do not complain

Presentation of an issue to supervisors is another difficulty for every new nurse. Just like asking questions, there are few ways to do this. You need to distinguish between the effective and ineffective ways to present problems before them. In this regard, complaining is not going to garner cooperation or sympathy. Rather, you need to be straightforward. Before going to the supervisor with a problem, you need to evaluate the situation. Then, go on to explaining to your mentor what he or she can really help you with. While doing so, don’t hesitate to ask for help in resolving the matter. Always sound like problem-solver and not a complainer.

Focus on your main duty to care for your patients

Everyone, including patients and colleagues, will remember you for the way you provide patient care. They will always look for how you can effectively deliver patient care. Your first few tasks in nursing may shape the way for your career, so always be positive even in the beginning. Avoid complaining about the profession you chose. This is the most common mistake that is noticed by senior nurses. New nurses may speak about how much they hate their job and declare that they will move out of the field in a year or two. Doing this will cause a huge split between you and the other nurses on the unit. Remember, nursing will involve teamwork. The feeling of isolation might ruin the experience for you.

Pursue your learning

Just because you have completed nursing school education and passed the examinations, doesn’t mean that you must stop learning. Remember, the actual education is just starting. The phrase “pursue your learning” doesn’t indicate that you need to go back to school to get an advanced degree. But, it simply means that you need to continue to learn while being in the profession. As mentioned earlier, learning is a continuous process and it should not stop when you leave your school. Especially when you are a new nurse, you should be regularly watching out for medications, medical terms, as well as the diagnoses with which you are not very familiar. Not getting to know them will put you in trouble at some time for sure.

It’s advisable that you pursue your learning in the specialty you chose. For instance, if you are working in the emergency room, you can work towards certification in trauma or that sort. Also, start reading your nursing journals to keep yourself updated with the latest happenings in your field. Re-reading your textbooks will be another thing that will enhance your knowledge. You might want to become a part of some professional nursing organizations to continue your learning from others.

Besides learning about the job-specific terms and skills, I would also suggest you learn about the roles of the other health care professionals, too. This is important because you are going to work with these professionals every day, and learning about them will provide opportunities for you to reach new heights. Improving your knowledge through this kind of education will make you better as a nurse and would allow you to teach your knowledge to others, may it be the patients, friends, peers, or family members. After having mastered your role in your current position, you can very well think about your advanced education.