Written by: Claire Lang, BSN-RN
Finishing up with nursing school and passing the NCLEX is a huge accomplishment!! The cherry on top is landing your first nursing job. Try to enjoy this time, because you’ve worked so hard the past couple years to reach this point. Life as a new grad can be intimidating, but take it one day at a time.
Listed below are a few tips I wish someone had told me as a new nurse.
Pleaseee don’t be shy! No one is judging you. I personally love when people’s quirks come through, and we get a true glimpse of the real you. In nursing school, our teachers say things like, “nurses eat their young.” Let me just clear this up real quick. They don’t. And if they do, those people should be reported to HR. We love getting new nurses, and we’re so happy to have you join the team. There’s no reason to feel intimidated by more experienced nurses. Everyone brings a unique perspective to each unit. All we want is for you to grow into the safest nurse you can be, and love what you’re doing. Introduce yourself, and feel free to be you.
Don’t feel like you need to know everything.
No one knows it all. I’ve been a nurse for almost six years and I’m constantly saying things like, “I’m not sure, let’s look it up!” It’s normal to only have basics in your brain right now, more will come with time. Enjoy the process of learning and growing as a nurse in this new role! It’s a huge adjustment in a lot of different ways. Luckily have medical information at our fingertips. If you don’t know something, don’t be shy about it, ask questions and do some research into figuring things out.
Take care of yourself.
It’s exhausting to work rotating schedules, 12 hour shifts, and fit in some overtime shifts (while balancing adulting). The best advice I can give: don’t overdo it. We were slammed on my unit for almost a year straight after I was a nurse for about two years. I picked up overtime every week for months… I’ve worked one OT shift since then (LOL). Just the thought of overtime makes me want to take a nap. I know you have student loans, bills, fun trips planned, but remember to find a balance. Even if you don’t feel like you’re pushing yourself that hard, it will 100% catch up to you! Everything in moderation! And don’t forget to prioritize sleep.
Ask for help when you need it.
Recognizing when you need help, and how to properly delegate and find the appropriate person to help is a huge nursing accomplishment. No one expects you to finish everything all the time. If you have a tough admission, and your other patients have fallen to the back-burner, use your resources. That’s what we’re here for! It’s not a sign to other nurses that your’e not tough enough, skilled enough, or competent enough to do it on your own. It’s a 24-hour profession, there’s no shame in needing help when you get behind or stumped.
This is something that takes a while to truly master. I wish I had this skill earlier in life. Learn to prioritize your day based on your patients’ acuity. Over time, you’ll find yourself modifying and actively analyzing what needs to happen and how those things happen most efficiently.
Enjoy this journey because time starts to fly by! Welcome to the team.