A Word to New Nurses

Entering the nursing field as a new nurse can be an intimidating experience to say the least. The same trepidation can ring true for an experienced nurse changing his or her specialty. Adapting these suggestions into your daily routine will help you transition into your new job or specialty and make you a valuable member of your team. Nurses Announcements Archive Article


A Word to New Nurses

I have recently had several new nurses to orient not only to my facility, but to LTC and nursing in general. This obviously does not apply to all new nurses as some have done well but are some observations that I have made that will help you along with developing your practice:

1. Ask questions.

Please. Many times I have oriented new nurses who will not ask a single question or will only ask one or two the entire shift. How can I help you learn if you don't let me know where you need direction?

2. Don't tell me you're "fine" or "ok"

When I ask how you're doing when you're clearly not "fine" or "ok." I can tell by the look on you're face that you're struggling. I ask how you are doing because I see you struggling and I'm offering to help you. Please take me up on the offer.

3. Understand that I'm going to have you do complicated drsg changes, tube feedings, injections, etc.

I know you said you're not comfortable doing them. I will walk you through. I have you do them even though you're nervous because orientation time is limited, and I'm giving you the opportunity to learn with guidance before you're on your own. Even then, you can still come get me if nerves are getting the best of you. With time, you'll gain confidence.

4. You can not learn everything there is to know during orientation.

Learning to nurse is mostly on the job training, and is on-going. I learn new things nearly daily. Nursing skills develop over time. A long time. I'm not the same nurse as I was when I started, and will likely not be the same nurse a year from now. Nursing is truly an evolutionary process.

5. It's OK and perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed at times.

I have personally excused myself to a quiet place for a good cry in the middle of shift. Recently. Just know that while the duties of the job do not change much, you're ability to handle it does. In other words, the job doesn't get easier. You learning to manage your time more effectively makes it easier to handle.

6. There are no "stupid questions."

7. Be honest about what you need.

If you're supervisor or another nurse asks how it's going, be honest with your answer. "I'm feeling pretty good about A, B, and C, but I'm having some issues with 1, 2 and 3." That way, you avail yourself to many years of experience and guidance from others.

8. If you're a new RN learning from a seasoned (baked or fried? ) LVN, or a new LVN being taught something by a CNA, please don't let your title get in the way.

I have seen that happen first hand. Remember as a new nurse, titles mean nothing. Experience does. I have learned (and still learn) a lot from CNA's and others. Also listen to what everyone including housekeeping and dietary people have to say. These people likely know the residents as well as the culture of the facility, and you would be wise to pay attention to them.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Please feel free to add any other suggestions or observations.

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BSNbeauty, BSN, RN

1,939 Posts

Well said and well written !


7 Posts

Thank you for this! It definitely calmed my nerves after hearing about some crazy new nurse orientation stories.

Lev, MSN, RN, NP

4 Articles; 2,803 Posts

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

Great! And not just for nurses in LTC...

anon456, BSN, RN

3 Articles; 1,144 Posts

This is excellent!


26 Posts

I would hope to get someone like you to teach me while in orientation!


44 Posts

Thanks for being an awesome, supportive preceptor or coworker. You're invaluable to a new nurse. However, sometimes that look on our face is just stuck there, no matter how well we are managing our patient's care. :o-or-:arghh:

Specializes in Reproductive & Public Health.

Very well said! ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS. I hate seeing someone try to perform a task without really knowing what they are doing, because they are embarrassed to ask for help. Always seek clarification, review steps with another nurse, whatever you need to do to feel confident that you are taking the correct actions. It's much better to ask for help then to have a coworker have to clean up after your mistakes.


493 Posts

Wonderful!! Thanks for taking the time to write this :)


1 Article; 109 Posts

Specializes in none.

At the same time, I would say don't ask something that you can figure out yourself. It is far smarter to gear questions towards things you cannot figure out on your own.


7,735 Posts

Specializes in retired LTC.

To OP - just repeating all the positive kudos from previous posters. I particularly like your #8 tip - I've gotten some of my best 'heads up' info and helpful tricks of the trade from CNAs. (A good CNA is a blessing in disguise!) And many an LPN has shown me a few 'how to...'

To them I say 'thank you'.

OP, I'd find it neat if I had to orient and you'd be there for help.


49 Posts

Thank you so much for this! I will keep this in mind when I find my first RN job! It would be awesome to have you as a preceptor! Though the world is small! ;)

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