10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was a New Nurse

  1. You are on your own.  There is no clinical instructor to run to when you don’t know how to do something. It all counts, and there is no extra credit. If you make an error as a nurse, you will have an incident report not an F.
  2. If you don’t know what a drug does, ask someone.  Nowadays, that can mean anything from taking out your smartphone to calling the pharmacist. Another item to remember, establish a friendly relationship with the pharmacist. They are your ‘go to’ person when you are dealing with a new drug.
    If you have a computer system that allows you to change the time of a scheduled med, ask them nicely and they will do it for you. Never fight with them, you won’t survive the brutal days or nights.
  3. Befriend the nurse clinician on your floor.  They are the closest thing you will have next to your nursing school instructor. If you need help performing a new procedure or are struggling with learning something like arrhythmias and their treatment, they are your resource.
  4. Find out who the lead patient care tech is in your area.  Ask to work with her. Why? Like nurses, the PCTs know how the floor works. If you have a heavy patient or a few total care patients, they will not let you drown. Conversely, if they don’t like you, you may end up on your own when trying to deal with one crisis after another.
  5. Get to know your manager.  Yes, I mean, make yourself available to her or him as someone willing to go the extra mile. I don’t mean letting them think that you will drop everything and fly in there when the ship is sinking. But once in a while, show up for that extra shift no one wants to complete for the week.
  6. Learn about all the available resources in the hospital.  How do you get tuition reimbursement? When eligible are you eligible to get help? Also, how to open a 401K in the hospital and what the matching contribution will be annually. Of course, knowing how to get a loan for an emergency from the credit union is a valued skill to have.
  7. Know where to park when you are running late.  Hospital administration can be very unforgiving for parking in the wrong area and forget about the city police department. They will issue you a parking violation in a heartbeat.
  8. Get to know a specialist or two.  A family or personal emergency can happen and it’s great to know someone in the field who you can turn to on a moment’s notice.
  9. Go to your floor based parties.  Always remember to chip in for presents when there is a special occasion. You don’t want to be thought of as someone who doesn’t participate because when it is your special occasion, no one will want to get anything for you. 
  10. Be careful who you date.  This is a very controversial area. I’m not saying, don’t go out with a fellow employee. I am saying that if the hospital “bad boy” (doctor) asks you out, there is a good chance he is involved with someone else or even multiple nurses at the facility. Keep your eyes open. 


Share your experience in the comments below.