Celebrating First Year in the Nursing Profession
When you are a new nurse, its easy to be swept away by the currents of demanding patients, colleagues, managers, work schedule, hospital policies, procedures, manuals, technologies and many more. How do you ensure a good transition into the nursing profession? Here are 20 useful tips for first year nurses.
- Be kind to yourself. Exercise, eat well, and have fun! You worked hard in nursing school and are no doubt working hard as a new nurse. Reward yourself!
- Develop your interests outside of nursing. Re-discover your hobbies and your passions. Start knitting, take a watercolor class, bake, do whatever it is you like to do. It gives you something to talk about with your co-workers and can help you decompress.
- Get to know your UAPs, techs, certified nursing assistant, etc. and be kind to them. They will become your right arm. If you can befriend them, you will be able to help each other down in the trenches and make it through your shifts together in one piece.
- Go to staff meetings, inservices, etc. You don’t necessarily have to talk, but be present and attentive. It keeps you in the know and your nurse supervisor will remember your face.
- Be assertive. It’s okay to say “No” when a co-worker or even a supervisor asks you to pick up an extra shift and you would rather not. It is also okay to ask a doctor to clarify an order if it is unclear. You are not a doormat for anyone, and in the case of the doctor, you are responsible for keeping the patients safe when they aren’t present.
- Be pleasant and cordial to doctors. Many of them are very, very nice and don’t look down on nurses. Remember, we took some of the same classes that they did when they were pre-med. Don’t feel that you need to give up your seat unless, of course, it’s a very pregnant doctor who has been on her feet all day!
- Welcome any offers of help you receive, and don’t feel that you are doing something wrong if you ask for help. You will be very busy your first year and have a lot to learn.
- Be patient with yourself. The learning curve is steeper outside of nursing school and you can’t learn everything in your first shift.
- If you make a mistake, own up to it. Never underestimate the value of integrity. You will gain respect rapidly among your co-workers, your boss and the doctors if you are genuine.
- Remember the basics. Whether it is routine or a crisis, get vitals, ask patients for their pain level, and ask them what is troubling them. Your assessment will flow from here.
- Know where the policy and procedure manuals are. These guide your practice in whatever facility you work, and if there is any question about something you have done, you can refer back to these.
- If you feel you need it, ask for more orientation time. You are the best judge of your own comfort level.
- Ask for extra practice on the skills you may have trouble with. IVs are a good example.
- If you don’t subscribe to one, at least pick up a professional nursing journal on occasion and review it - there are some pearls of wisdom in there.
- Join an online nursing community such as NurseTogether.com. You’ll meet many first year nurses who are in the same boat as you and who are craving support just like you.
- Go to social functions involving your unit. It is good to see the other side of your co-workers, and often they will let their hair down. Leave the camera at home, though. Blackmail is frowned upon.
- Have change for the soda machine or coffee machine.
- Keep track of your CEUs, inservices, staff meetings. In some facilities you have to turn these in annually for performance evaluations. Make it simple.
Have any tips to share with nurses who are celebrating their first year in the profession? Please leave a comment below!
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