Advice for New Nurses

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    As I near the edge of finishing my precepting and schooling, I realize how much I DON'T know! Which is a little intimidating since I will be working as an RN in only a matter of months. With this being said--what are some tips from those of you who were once in my shoes, about to begin their new career. What are some things you wished you would have known before starting? What are some things you would have brushed up on? What were some things you looked for in a job before applying or accepting on a job offer? What are some words of wisdom or encouragement before I begin?
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    Nursing is constantly changing. New things are added and removed all the time. There is no way anyone can possibly know everything. There’s no way to truly prepare because each hospital, patient, day is different from the next.

    Before accepting a job offer, look at the population of nurses. How many nurses quit the hospital? Is this a hospital that is just a stepping-stone for new grads or do they stick around and last for years? You need to consider how much you are going to get paid. Once you accepted a pay rate, it’s hard to get a raise so make sure you are not selling yourself short.

    Word of advice… HAVE FUN and ALWAYS REMEMBER WHY YOU BECAME A NURSE! You may not always have the perfect day, things happen, but at the end of the day, you have to look back and be able to tell yourself… I did everything I can possibly can for my patients.

    My advice to new nurses:

    1. Observe – observe your preceptors. How did they arrange their patient information, what data did they look at, what things did she pick up and asked at shift report… even what’s on her pocket

    2. Ask questions – Ask how about the prioritization process, why was those questioned asked. Don’t be afraid to let ask questions

    3. Show initiative – Tell your preceptor what you want to do, ask her to observe you, jump into the opportunity of doing something ANYTHING!

    4. Ask for feedback – ask what else you need to work on.

    5. Be ready to roll with the punches – doctors will yell at you, CNAs will not always be there to help, patients will not always be grateful. You have to be able to shrug, pick your head up and give it your best. You have to adapt to the changes and not take everything to heart. At the end of the day, YOU have to do whatever it is best for YOUR patient and if that means you have to argue with a doctor then so be it.
    Last edit by Nurse_ on Oct 27, '12
    RN/stilllearning likes this.
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    By bigggest piece of advice, which I sense by the tone of your post that you already recognize, is that you don't know everything. You aren't expected to know everything! Even the seasoned nurses don't know everything!

    So that means, ask questions. Ask for help. If you find yourself struggling to keep organized, ask a well-organized coworker for some tips. If you are unsure of something, ASK! You might be right, but you'll feel better knowing you ran your thoughts past another set of ears. Your patients will be better off because of your prudence.

    Don't be afraid to approach someone for help. Find the person on your shift who you feel comfortable with and just ask! I always tell new staff they can ask me anything, I don't mind. I'd rather you asked me and were right, then didn't ask and were wrong.

    Don't be intimidated by doctors. They are human like us. Yes, they have a lot of responsibility, etc, but they are people. Say hello to them, learn their names, be visible. Whether they realize it or not, doctors always seem to listen more intently to a voice/face they recognize.

    Do be prepared when you are calling doctors. Use a tool (SBAR) or write down what you want to say and have all pertinent information handy. Make sure your phone call is a necessary one (does he need to know now, or can it wait for tomorrow? -- and if you aren't sure, get a second opinion).

    Set boundaries. Being sick or injured does not give patients the right to be rude to you. It's okay to say, "I don't appreciate the way you are speaking to me. I am here to help you, but you need to show me some respect/manners/etc."

    You will get a lot of advice, and much of it will be useful. Sometimes people have gems of wisdom that will help you immensely. Don't be offended when you are offered "tips" or "suggestions" -- sometimes we do see you struggling and just want to help. Filter it all, take with you what works, and let the rest of it slide.

    Be confident. Be prepared before you enter a room. If they ask you a question and you don't know, tell them you don't, but then find out.

    Teamwork. However your work place is set up staff-wise, nobody wins when everyone works alone. Help out your coworkers and they will be more willing to help you.
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    The main thing that nursing school didn't prepare me for (30 years ago) was how to deal with co-workers and management, and the "business" side of nursing. I had a little bit of a clue because I worked as a nurses' aide while in nursing school, but when I graduated and started working as a GN, and then RN, I was flabbergasted by all of the back-biting, brown-nosing, and other juvenile behaviors exhibited by all layers of the nursing hierarchy. I used to hate being in charge when I rotated into it, because the staff would all complain about how unfair their assignments were, how they didn't get the break time they wanted, blah blah blah!!! One of the places I worked paid a charge differential of $1/hr, and I used to say to my supervisor that I'd pay THEM the $8 a shift NOT to be in charge and have to dealing with all of the complaining. Over the years I've become more adept at dealing with such issues, but it still saddens me that nurses have to spend so much energy dealing with work issues that could be better directed toward patient care. I totally agree with both of the prior posters about the importance of teamwork.
    sheronep likes this.


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