Here are a few essential tips to help you as you embark on your first year as a nurse. Remember every single one of us started exactly where you are right now, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You can and will be a phenomenal nurse, you are an essential part of the team, give yourself grace!!
Adrienne Harris, RN
1. You’re Not Going to Know Everything
As a nurse, you will never know all there is to know. The medical field is forever changing which allows for continuous learning. Embrace the change and enjoy the new challenges ahead.
2. You Are Not Fully Equip To Be a Nurse Straight Out of Nursing School
School is giving you seeds of knowledge! Plant those seeds, water them, and help them grow. Once you’ve been a nurse for 6 months to 1 year in your specialty, you’ll feel like you’re kind of getting the hang of it. This is completely normal! Find a mentor who will help you grow and be confident you’re exactly where you should be.
3. Self Care
So much of our time is spent caring for patients, it is essential we take time to care of ourselves. We teach our patients and their family members how to care for themselves, but we often neglect self-care. Be sure to take care of you, you deserve it.
4. Speaking to Your Team
Always do what is best for your patient. This will involve speaking with providers. Speaking with providers is a skill that takes time to master. Link to the post “Tips on Speaking to Your Team” here.
5. It’s Just ONE SHIFT
A bad shift does not make you a bad nurse, frustration is totally normal and TOMORROW is a NEW DAY!! Give yourself grace to find routine, consistency, and comfort!
6. There’s NO STUPID Question
There is NO such thing as a stupid question, it’s ok to say, “I DON’T know!” Be sure you’re putting patient safety before your ego. Get all your questions answered. Sometimes that takes asking more than once and perhaps asking a different person. You’ll find those people on your unit who are knowledgable AND great teachers and you’ll find those people on your unit that will say, “I don’t know, but let's go find out!!” It’s really important to know who and where your resources are because you will NEVER have all the answers! I’ve been a nurse since 2005 and I strive to continue learning, which is easy in a field that’s forever changing!
7. Mistakes are Inevitable
We are all human and you WILL make honest mistakes. Learn from your mistakes, make changes to prevent them from happening again, and teach others about your mistakes. I will never forget my first med error. Every student or nurse I precept learns about my mistake in hopes that they will take steps not to make the same error. We have so much to offer by teaching others about our shortcomings. First, it lets them know that they are not alone and normalizes mistakes and second, it helps us all learn ways in which we can prevent further error.
8. Listen More
Take time to sit at listening to your patients at the beginning of your shift. I find that as I sit and listen I feel a greater connection with them and really learn what they may need throughout the day and a nice bonus is that they tend to be on the call light less throughout their shift. Since I check on my patients hourly, I ask that they keep a note of their needs that are not urgent and I will be sure to address them when I return.
9. It’s OK to Cry
When your patient dies or receives a poor diagnosis, it’s ok to cry! It’s important that we allow ourselves to feel our emotions and not harden our hearts. Our patients need us and we need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
10. The Opposing Shift is NOT Your ENEMY
There is a reason there’s 24 hours of coverage, it cannot all get done in one shift. Be a good team, be gracious with one another, and help each other out. When you reach out and lend a helping hand, you’ll see that it’s often reciprocated.