Transitioning to the workplace

Nurses General Nursing


Hey everyone,

I have heard from multiple nurses that being a RN student and actually working as a RN are two different things. I am a RN student in my last semester. Keeping that in mind, are there good ways to transition into the workplace as a new grad? What are some methods that have worked for you?


Specializes in Med-Surg, Geriatrics, Wound Care.

Make sure you start with a good orientation program. They break you into nursing to help you become successful. Book knowledge is great, but orientation programs help you learn the critical nursing skills of time management and documentation. You also get introduced to assessments and help you learn to see when your patient isn't doing well - which is one of the most important things a nurse does. Time and experience will help you hone your skills - like learning when to get help, when to call the doctor, and when to take things higher up the food chain to be a patient advocate.

Nursing school is good. It teaches you the basics of various illnesses. It teaches you to "suck it up" when you're terrified of your instructors. You get chances to learn from many people. But, it is still school. When you start nursing, you realize you are the nurse. Scary at first. Many people cry when they start nursing - it is frightening to really grasp that you are (partially) responsible for the lives of other human beings. And everyone makes mistakes. Other than math tests, I'm sure most people don't get 100% on every test, and nursing isn't a test.. it is real life. Nobody is perfect (not doctors, either).

For methods. I made my own "brain". I used one that I modified from one I found here years ago. I changed it over the years to do for me what I wanted. I found that having a way to organize myself was super important. So, my later brains included my flow for the day for my patients (what times meds were due for what patients - those off hour ones can be annoying).

I found interests within my nursing scope. I took extra CEUs and online learning opportunities to learn about things I liked. Cardiology, reading EKGs? Dealing with various kinds of wounds. Nutrition for various health problems (Diabetes, Chrone's Disease, Kidney disease). Find something you're interested in, and get more knowledge in it. You can be the "go to" person on your unit for something. (The first year is often just getting the ropes, but still, some stuff will be more interesting to you than others).

Some people come in early to get a "look" at their patients before the shift.

Ask for help. Ask for advice. Ask about something if you're curious. Ask a tech. Ask your other nurse. Ask the charge nurse. Ask the doctor. (Just don't always ask stuff in front of patients, unless you're worried it is a safety risk). Nobody knows everything, but you can learn from everyone around you.

Try to remember dignity of your patients, and care for their families, too. Extra little things you can do to make people's lives a bit better can really make terrible events more bearable. For some people, this is their first time in they hospital. They (and their families) may be terrified. Hold hands. Eye contact. I've been known to give patients (or families) a hug, sometimes. Be a human.

Stuff like that. Oh, and please don't tell someone to piss on themselves. I mean. That's gross. Get them a bedpan. Help them to a commode. Give them a urinal. Maybe even female urinal. Use a Sara Steady and get them to the actual toilet. But, please don't get those patients that came in continent to leave in another state. Yes, people are fall risks, but that doesn't mean they want to piss on themselves.

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