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What to expect as a grad nurse?


Specializes in Cardiac Stepdown and CVSICU.

if anyone can help me, i'd surely appreciate it. i need to find out what graduate nurses can expect when transitioning into the role of registered nurse. for example, at your facility,

1. how long is the probationary period

2. how long will you have a preceptor

3. what type of support system, if any is in place

4. what unit do most graduate nurses start on

if you could include your facility name and unit...that would be fantastic. thank you so much in advance for any information you can provide.



Specializes in Med-Surg and OB. Has 2 years experience.

Hi Missy...I'll do my best to try to help you with how things worked at the first hospital I worked at upon graduation from nursing school.

1. The probationary period was 90 days. Upon completion of the 90 days...I received a formal written evaluation.

2. I had a preceptor for 16 weeks. I will say that I had at least 3 preceptors during this time, but truly felt that each one had great knowledge on my first unit. Some folks I know who graduated with me had only one preceptor at other hospitals, but...I rolled with what I had.

3. My first place of employment had a "formal" mentor program. This was great as I was able to call my mentor anytime I needed to for support and encouragement. She worked on the night shift as well and if it were a night where I could leave my floor for about 10 minutes...I would go and see her as well.

4. I started off on a Med-Surg unit. I did this for four months and then happily went to my present place of employment where I am a Mother/Baby RN. I love it. I will tell you during those four months of Med-Surg...I saw more than I could have imagined, but truly always wanted to be a Mother/Baby RN and I jumped at the chance when another hospital offered me a position in that unit. Many told me to work Med-Surg first to gain the experience. I can only tell you that Med-Surg was not for me, but I was grateful for the short time that I spent there. Many units now will take new grads in various specialty areas. I have several former classmates that went directly to ER, ICU, Cardiac and L&D have never given a second thought to doing Med-Surg first.

Hope this helps!


Specializes in Cardiac Stepdown and CVSICU.

thank you so much! that information is a blessing...you rock!

Hey! I will be graduating in May 08 and already KNOW medsurg isn't for me. After our OB/Maternity class I fell in love with Labor & Delivery. I also loved all aspects including NICU and mother baby. Do you all have any suggestions on what the positives and negatives on each of those would be? Most of our time was spent on l&d so I'm not sure how fast paced or what to expect with the mother baby or nicu. Thanks a lot! Good luck to those who will also be graduating soon!


Specializes in Med-Surg and OB. Has 2 years experience.

You are welcome Luvelyone!

missfitness226...I sent you a private message on your questions.

Have a good day!

classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

every one of those questions will depend on the facility to which you are hired. Not all have a formal "probation" period or even a set time for orientation. Some offer longer periods with a preceptor than others, and some do not have preceptors at all. I have the impression your questions revolve around a lack of confidence. Believe me, EVERYONE feels that way in the beginning. No matter where you work, be sure to ask appropriate questions and do not try to appear that you know more than you really do. It takes time to become a nurse. Graduation is only the beginning. Good luck!

I'm a recent grad (june 07) and just finished 12 weeks of orientation. This is my first week off without a preceptor (but really, I've been doing the whole patient assignment by myself for almost half that time). I work on a post-surgical (adult) floor. Like someone else mentioned already on this thread, orientation and new grad programs differ from hospital to hospital, and even units within each hospital are different. Our NM wants to give us as much time as we need, but I know some other units didn't give 12 weeks. No probationary period here. Some of my other classmates had different experiences. The ones that stayed in the same hospital system as our school, they only got about 3 weeks of orientation after they graduated (which I think is ridiculous, but they counted the 3 weeks we spent in our Leadership clinicals as part of their orientation - prior to graduation!). Many of those who went to the major university hospital system only got 6-8 weeks of orientation for general med-surg floors. My friend who went straight into the ED for a major city hospital can have up to a year of orientation but probably will get off after 6 mos. It really differs.

Good luck. The reality of it is that learning to be a real RN is nothing like nursing school. It just isn't. It's really an on the job learning process and there isn't any shortcuts, kwim?

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