Survival Tips for First Year Nurses

  1. hey everybody! i am giving a speech to an class of upcoming new nurses. what are some of the best survival tips you have for a nurse's first year. thank for your input!
  2. Visit rosemadder profile page

    About rosemadder

    Joined: Nov '01; Posts: 239; Likes: 17
    Registered Nurse; from US
    Specialty: 9 year(s) of experience


  3. by   EmeraldNYL
    BE HUMBLE. There are many different ways of doing things, and even though the way you learned to do something may be better, don't tell a seasoned nurse of 15 years that!! Keep an open mind and be willing to learn new things. Keep a positive attitude.
  4. by   MelissaRN
    well I have been an RN for almost a year. Here's my list.

    1. Ask questions!!!!!!!
    2. Don't assume you're tech is doing their stuff. Check your patients to make sure they are turned, changed, etc.
    3. Listen and watch seasoned nurses. Pay attention to them when they are giving report and listen in on their assessments or the types of things they have prepared when they call the doctor.
    4. Have a mentor
    5. Get a lot of rest and take care of yourself outside of work.
    6. Don't forget to look over your patient's vital signs. they are easy to forget when the tech is doing them and you can't always be sure that they'll remember to report vitals that are off. I've come across some low BP's on a post op that wasn't reported to me. Luckily it was a young guy and he ran low anyway!
    7. When calling a doctor about something make sure to have
    a. fresh set of vital signs
    b. recent lab values
    c. any drainage on dressings
    d. urine output from previous shifts and within last hour or two if possible
    e. measure output from drains compare recent output with previous shifts
    f. any pain meds the patient is on and how much they've used from their PCA
    8. If you have a patient that's acting weird don't always assume that "it's just sundowning" get an O2 sat could be hypoxia. Sometimes a liter of oxygen is all it takes.
  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    the above post sums it up nicely.

    be a sponge!!! be a sponge.

    so much to learn in quick time............................
  6. by   cnyrn
    Keep your mouth closed and your ears open. Find a 'mentor'.

  7. by   Town & Country
    I gotta disagree with this:
    Keep your mouth closed
    I think you should keep your mouth OPEN (asking questions, that is!)


    Don't be afraid to "look stupid."

    NEVER assume.....

  8. by   ?burntout
    ASK, ASK, ASK....If you are unclear on how to do something (there will be things you DO NOT see in nursing school or clinicals at times) ask an experienced nurse to go with you or ask if she has time to do it and watch her/him. Can not stress enough that no question is lame or stupid or dumb.
  9. by   Town & Country
    Can not stress enough that no question is lame or stupid or dumb.
    That is so true!

    The best nurses ask ALOT of questions!

    I ask more questions than ever.

    Another tip or two:

    *There is always "another way" to do virtually ANYTHING.*

    *If you have a vague feeling that "something" is wrong with your patient, but you can't find any "evidence" (i.e., bad vital signs, bad labs) yet, trust your instincts and watch the patient - more than likely you will be proven right.*

    *Pick the experienced nurses' brains for tips. If you see a nurse who is very good at a certain thing (inserting an NG, a Foley, etc.), ask her to share her tips....starting IVs is another thing most nurses have trouble getting the hang of.*
  10. by   cnyrn
    What I am suggesting by "keeping your mouth closed" is not to get sucked into the gossip on the floor.
  11. by   zacarias
    Offer to help other nurses on your floor. Doing this shows that you are all for teamwork and it will put you in a positive light.
  12. by   jax
    If the opportunity is there to do something new - take it.

    If you're working with someone who enjoys new grads - pick their brains, and remember to say thanks.

    Don't let your social life interfere with your working life. ie don't party hard and come to work the worse for wear.

    Trust your gut.

    Remember we were all new nurses once.....
  13. by   JacelRN
    I am a new grad out of orientation for several weeks and so far these are things that have helped my transition.

    Added to what the others posted...

    Get organized.

    Find what works best for you. Try a clipboard with highlighters and red pens. Check off your meds when you give them and write down the time given that way you're not picking your brain as to what time you gave such and such this med. Write down important labs, VS, Blood Sugars, etc in a separate place where you can find them easily.

    Listen to report of experienced nurses, even before you become an RN if you happen to work as an aide. That can be one of the best initial learning experiences. It also helps you learn the technical lingo.

    Be a patient advocate even if it means bothering people. Call logistics for that IV pump for your new patient, even if its been 4 times and they haven't come yet. Ask an experienced nurse a question, even it it seems "dumb" or "you should know that by now." Pay attention to your gutt. Instincts usually tell more than we think.

    Also, remember that every day you learn something new. And every mistake you make, reminds you next time to not redo the same mistake. Remind yourself you're a work in progress and you will NEVER be perfect.

    Overall, find a good preceptor, and if you're not happy with the one you're with, ask for a new one. Get a mentor you trust and feel confident with and know you're not alone. We all have gone through this (and going through this).

  14. by   purplemania
    CNTRN is right. The gossip mill can be deadly and could damage your career.

    One good question to ask experienced nurses is "How do you manage your time?". I have seen novice nurses get stressed out over this issue. You have to learn how to prioritize.