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First Position - How to not look dumb?

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Hi. I'm starting my first position as a night tele nurse next week. Unfortunately, somehow in school I just didn't get a chance to practice several skills, at least not successfully, including folly catheter insertion or a successful IV. While my work has a residency program, to my knowledge it's not super long or in depth. More about policies and orientation, etc. 

So I guess my question is, what is the best way to go about getting help without being annoying to my co-workers? I don't want to impair the safety of patients and I know these skills can be gotten down once I do them a few times. I just don't want people mad at me for asking for help.

BlueSpruceDew, BSN, RN

Has 4 years experience.

Surely you’ll be paired up with a preceptor for at least your first couple of weeks right? Even if you’re not in a traditional new grad program, I would imagine that you at least have an experienced nurse orienting you & checking you off on policies and skills? 

if that’s the case, then you wouldn’t be alone while performing the skills for the first time anyway. 

I have 4 years experience as a nurse but it’s been years since I was in the hospital setting. For my first foley back in the hospital setting a couple weeks ago, it was as easy as “hey this patient needs a foley and I haven’t done one in a while, can you just be there while I do it when you have time?” Was enough... I know it can be harrowing feeling like you’re super new & need a lot of help, but there are LOTS of people who like to share their expertise & teach & be helpers. 

I know when one of my coworkers asks for help, it makes me happier to help them than one of my own patients needing help haha. Or when I can be nice to a new person and teach them one thing. Don’t forget there are nice & helpful people out there too!! 

BlueSpruceDew, BSN, RN

Has 4 years experience.

Also- to answer your actual question “how to not look dumb”- ask questions!! Nothing scarier than a new nurse who doesn’t ask questions. If you know what you do not know; and know what you need help with; that is a sign of being safe & smart, not being dumb!! 

Thank you!! I guess I'm just nervous. Excited too 🙂

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

18 hours ago, BlueSpruceDew said:

Also- to answer your actual question “how to not look dumb”- ask questions!! Nothing scarier than a new nurse who doesn’t ask questions. If you know what you do not know; and know what you need help with; that is a sign of being safe & smart, not being dumb!! 

Took the words out of my mouth. Don't ever fall into the trap of pretending to know what you don't. Ask, ask ask.

Good luck.

Hi, there! I just graduated in December and started my first job in January. We never started IVs in clinical (or even practiced thanks to COVID) and the hospital doesn't allow students to start foleys--the most I was able to do in school was a single straight cath. That being said, my hospital requires new grads get signed off by another nurse/preceptor each time we attempt a new skill (or in the case of IVs, first three times), regardless whether or not it had been done in school; and all foley insertions require a second person to ensure sterile technique is used. I wouldn't be concerned about sounding dumb or annoying. Answering 1,000 questions is far less annoying than causing a CAUTI or sticking a patient over and over. No one expects you to have all the answers starting right out. I would say I still ask at least 20 questions per shift 6 months later.

TKL

Specializes in ICU, OB/Pediatrics, Education. Has 9 years experience.

It's better to ask then practice unsafe care as you guess your way through each task. Have a small notepad so when you ask, you can write things down. Remember to look up things you don't know later, get a full in-depth understanding of what you are unsure of. Hands on skills can only be done and learned as you do them; let someone watch you, with the patient's permission, ask how they would do it, clarify misunderstandings, follow policy and you will get the hang of it. 🙂

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

On 6/4/2021 at 8:56 PM, Vicki17 said:

Hi. I'm starting my first position as a night tele nurse next week. Unfortunately, somehow in school I just didn't get a chance to practice several skills, at least not successfully, including folly catheter insertion or a successful IV. While my work has a residency program, to my knowledge it's not super long or in depth. More about policies and orientation, etc. 

So I guess my question is, what is the best way to go about getting help without being annoying to my co-workers. I don't want to impair the safety of patients and I know these skills can be gotten down once I do them a few times. I just don't want people mad at me for asking for help.

Congratulations on your new job!  I started off on telemetry as well.  As a newly minted BSN grad, I didn't get a chance to practice "skills" either.  (In fact, that wasn't really  a thing at my school.)

The first question you should ask is how to locate the policies and more importantly the procedures on your floor.  (After you  find out where to stash your purse, the combination to the break room door and the nearest two employee bathrooms.)  Preceptors are impressed with a newbie who asks a question like, "I have an order for a Foley on Mr. Pee.  I've read the procedure and have gathered all of the supplies on the list, but I've never done this before.  Could we go over it before we go into Mr. Pee's room?"  A question like "Mr. Pee needs a Foley!  What do I do?!" is annoying and makes you look dumb.  (Ask me how I know this . . . and no, it wasn't from being a preceptor.) 

People won't be mad at you for asking for help -- they'll be worried about you if you don't.  

Iluvnightshift

Specializes in Med Surg. Has 19 years experience.

OP,I am going through this and I've been a nurse for 18 years.

Just ask. Of course you will get the occasional prick but still ask,ask,ask.