New nurse graduates entering into the nursing workforce are hit hard with the realization of how overwhelming nursing can be and the responsibility that comes with being a licensed nurse.
The transition from a nursing student to a new nurse is indeed a difficult one.
Not to mention, nursing is a profession that requires patience, dedication and hard work.
In this article we are going to examine some great tips that new nurses can utilize to get their careers started on the right path.
Make it your Mandate to ask questions
Nurses deal with serious life altering situations and you never want to put your patient at risk.
I have seen many new nurses make horrible mistakes with their patients because they were afraid to ask questions and so they made the wrong decision which put their patient’s in danger.
Don’t be that nurse. Ask questions when in doubt.
Look things up on the nursing database, ask an experienced nurse. But do not make decisions that you are unsure of.
Have Confidence in your Abilities as a Nurse
You made it through nursing school. You passed the NCLEX and now you are a nurse. Be confident.
During your training (which is usually about 6 weeks for most agencies) ask a lot of questions.
Make note of learned facts, new terms and familiarize yourself with your unit protocol
Be confident during patient assignments, you have no reasons to doubt yourself and abilities.
Remember that no one wants to have a nurse that seems unsure about everything.
To really pull this confidence thing off you need to ask a lot of question, use your critical judgment and do a review on common patient diseases/disorders and review unit related health topics.
For now knowing will improve your confidence as a new nurse.
But, as you practice your skills and experience situations, in few years your confidence will definitely skyrocket.
It Is Alright to not Know
Do you remember how in nursing school you had to memorize so many crazy information like how to perform a sensory test for cranial nerve IX? or what drugs you should not give with apple juice?
As a nurse you are not required to memorize, but rather looking up information as you go about your day is acceptable.
So it is fine if you do not know some things because that it is impossible to know everything.
Therefore, whenever you find yourself in a situation where you are struggling with coming up with the answer to a question, ask a more experienced healthcare professional or look the information up on a database.
When your patients throw tough questions at you, be honest with them that you do not know the answer.
Let them know that you would not want to give them a wrong response, and that you will find out and get back to them as soon as possible.
Be sure to get back to them and they will really appreciate it.
Always be at least 15-30 minutes early for your shift because whenever you show up late, it will affect patient care and the productivity of your team.
Similarly, if you show up late, the nurse from the previous shift will have to wait to give report to you before going home.
The worst thing is to not be able to go home after your shift because someone was late. So be sensitive and arrive early for your shifts.
In nursing it is important to be organized as being organized will help you stay on top of things and will prevent you from getting overwhelmed.
Have an organized list and prioritize according to the most urgent.
Organization is key. I can not begin to tell you how much this has helped me in my everyday life.
Think before you Speak
Always think before you speak. Take a few minutes to think about your response before you say it out loud.
It matters because you can lose your credibility from fellow nurses, patients and doctors.
Always have a pen and paper on you
It important to carry a pen and a paper with you at all times.
You can use this tools to make a list of daily tasks and patient assignments.
Have a pen and paper is important especially when giving patient report, receiving doctor’s orders or going into your patient’s room.
Additionally, a notepad can replace a paper and works even better to keep everything in one place.
In some cases, you might have to deal with unforeseen events with your patients so if you ever catch yourself dealing with such situation, you will be prepared to write down important information pertaining to your patient.
You never know!
Study and Know your Patient’s medications
This is a very important one, but it is so easy to mess it up.
Try to determine why the patient is on each medication, if they are taking the recommended dose and question any order that does not seem right.
Pay strict attention to your patient’s vital signs and evaluate them from time to time to see if they are experiencing any adverse reactions from the medication and act accordingly.
I remember when I was a student at a mental health facility.
I was working the night shift and was assigned to a patient with anxiety.
The patient had Ativan (Loraxopam) due in an hour.
When I looked up the medication in my drug book, I quickly noticed that the prescribed dose was wrong.
However, the previous nurse had already administered one dose.
I did not know what to do so I alerted my clinical instructor, she escalated the issue with the charge nurse and unit manager.
Long story short, the patient was okay and everything was resolved. But I quickly learned the importance of looking up medications before administration.
As a new nurse you may always have to look up medications but do not be discouraged, in time you will master and know all the medications.
Buy comfortable shoes
Be sure to buy comfortable shoes because you will be on your feet for majority of your shift so please save yourself the leg pain and back pain by investing in a good pair of shoes.
Look for shoes that are comfortable, have good arch support and are durable.
When you have those busy and rough shifts, having comfortable shoes will make things a bit manageable and less tiring.
Don’t Forget to take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself is essential otherwise you will fall sick or burnout.
Working with sick patients can expose you to germs and bugs.
However, you can boost your immune system by getting enough sleep, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and exercising.
Also, treat yourself from time to time, as this will help you keep calm and sane even on the most stressful day.
Be the nurse that every patient wants to have
Always be nice to your patients and treat them respectfully and equally.
Do not give a warm blanket to one patient and ignore the other.
Some days will be tough but remember not to take it out on your patients.
When you learn to be the kind of nurse that every patient wants to have then you are on the right track on being a good nurse.
Congratulations you are off to a great start
Finally, congrats on transitioning from a nursing student to a nurse. This is a time to be proud of all your achievement. You worked so hard and you have made it this far so please enjoy it.
Welcome Aboard Friend!
Pam is the founder and author of InfoWatchNurse and ThinkStethoscopes. Pam is an award-winning leader. In 2017, She pioneered the first ever peer tutoring program for nursing students at York University. She was also a Peer Tutor and Mentor for nursing students. Today, Pam creates posts and articles on health topics to give back to the nursing community. She blogs about nursing, health, nursing skills and other health related topics on her websites. You can connect with Pam on Linkedin and Instagram.