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Advice for new nurses


I am a recent graduate from a BSN program, and I passed NCLEX a few weeks ago. I find that, although I did really well in my classes, I always manage to make some stupid mistake when I go to the hospital. I was shadowing a nurse the other day on a unit with potential to hire. The nurse told me to get a patient's vitals, so I did. Later, she (very nicely) told me that a pink armband means not to use that arm. I finished in July, so I am a little rusty, I realize. It is just so frustrating to me to find myself doing this. Is this normal? I am hoping that going through orientation and getting back into the hospital on a regular basis will eliminate some of this. Has this happened to anyone else?

iNurseUK, RN

Specializes in Plastics. General Surgery. ITU. Oncology. Has 20 years experience.

Happened to each and every one of us. Different hospitals always have different protocols.

You will be fine. Go get 'em :)

ktwlpn, LPN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg, Homecare, Hospice.

hmm-She certainly could have used that as a teaching moment instead of letting you go on and potentially harm the patient. She really should have asked you if you knew what the pink bracelet meant and told you when you said you did not.

It's both part new RN and part new place of work. Each facility, and then down even to each unit, has their own policies and protocols for everything. It's just a matter of learning all of the intricacies of everything.

For example, in our ICU, severe sepsis screening occurs every shift. I've had 2 patients meet the criteria. MD was notified and a set of severe sepsis orders was left in the chart. After 4 months I learned last week that there is also a sticker that goes on the front of the chart that states they have met the criteria, and the RN is to date and sign the sticker. Who knew?

It will come with continuous practice.

Thanks everybody! You all made me feel so much better. I love allnurses.com!

Don't be too hard on yourself. There is so much to think about and remember with nursing. Everyday there is something new to learn even for the veteran nurses. No serious harm was done, you'll remember next time. Everyone has days where they goof. Hang in there.

We do things. We make mistakes. We learn nothing from the things we do right. We learn from our mistakes. We grow....

evolvingrn, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice.

I wouldn't have known that. Most hospitals i go to have a sign that says no blood pressures in right arm ect.... Hang in there.

LoveMyBugs, BSN, CNA, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics.

I guess my question is, if you where there to shadow why were you allowed to do any patient care at all? Even if it was just vital signs, you are not yet hired by the facility.

To me shadow means just that shadow

ann945n, RN

Specializes in Nursing Ed, Ob/GYN, AD, LTC, Rehab. Has 4 years experience.

All nurses make mistakes. Any nurse who tells you they havent is lying. You are human just like the rest of us :)

I graduated 2 years ago and still find myself making mistakes or forgetting things. You are always going to have those things that you look back and say wow how did I not catch that? Relax, don't be so hard on yourself :)

Most facilities require staff and students to go through training courses related to unit policies before doing clinical practice, therefore It was totally inappropriate for her to ask you to take the vital signs.

FLoat RN

Specializes in Telemetry.

Most importantly you should always remember to ask questions. Ask question! Ask questions! Even as an experienced nurse I will get the opinions of the nurses around me and consult reference material if I'm not sure about something. Yes it may take more time to search for the right answer however it's the safe thing to do. Safety first. And never forget your abcs and Maslow's hierarchy of needs. That's how you will know how to organize your day. Remember haste makes waste! Always double/triple check yourself!

Thanks for this post. Can you believe during my clinical rotations I have actually been told not to double check so much? I felt like that is what I needed to do at my current level. I'm sure eventually these checks become more second nature, but with my lack of experience I needed to be intentional about it. Thank you for the good advice.:)

Okay, may I ask how you were supposed to know that a "pink armband" meant that? I am unaware of how much you knew about the patient, i.e... mastectomy patient, AV fistula, etc... however, if you just walked into the room and she asked you to take vitals, how would you know? It sounds like one of those situations where the nurse was trying to show off. Why would she endanger a patient in the event of trying to be a big shot or teach you a lesson? Okay, so maybe it didn't "endanger" the patient, but its not supposed to occur, so it makes her wrong, I don't care if she said it nicely or not.

She told me to go in and take vitals, I think she was doing something else at the time or she would have seen me placing the cuff on that arm. She saw it later before I had removed it. She told me that the pink armband thing was universal. After she said it, I sort of remembered something like that, but there was usually a sign above the patient's bed too. Thanks for making me feel better about it. Like someone else said, I will definitely not make that mistake again.

Meg, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, ICU.

Oh my goodness, I can't tell you how many of these moments I've had. Once a doctor played a trick on me and told me to go get him a pair of size 12 sterile gloves (they don't exist), lol! I said "ok!" all chipper and stuff, and I figured it out immediately when all the nurses around me busted out laughing. I felt like the biggest dummy then, but now I know better. But I feel like that nurse shouldh've told you about the pink armbands and what they mean. Often older nurses forget to tell us little things like that that are really important! Don't take it to heart though. I've been working on not taking things too personally myself. Now you know for next time :D I learn stuff all the time that way. Keep on keeping on! We're all in the same boat.