What qualities should a new grad be looking for in a unit?

Nurses New Nurse


What are the good qualities to look for in a unit? For those of you who have had the unfortunate experience of working on a bad unit, what are some red flags to watch for?


441 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg.

I have not worked as an RN yet (still looking) but red flags....no one will stay put. As in there is a high turn over rate! That generally means it is a bad unit they hate it so much that everyone leaves!

Diaper, RN

87 Posts

well, for me, any job is good in this economy. Anyhow, the red flag in the unit is that the nurses in the unit don't like new grads (It happened to me before) and too many gossips. When you start working, you'll hear gossips, rumors and people may ask you to contribute. Please, don't get involve ! It's gonna hurt your career and it'll come back to you.

Specializes in ICU.
What are the good qualities to look for in a unit? For those of you who have had the unfortunate experience of working on a bad unit, what are some red flags to watch for?

I'm a week or two away from finishing my new grad RN Residency program. I've been alternating days of classes with shifts on a Surgical Recovery Unit. The good things I've noticed about the unit, which would hopefully translate to other "good" units at the facility are:

- your coworkers are generally happy (once they wake up in the morning & their serum caffeine level reaches the therapeutic range, that is) - not stressed out over an unreasonable patient load or a tyrannical manager

- there are generally adequate supplies/equipment available without going on a "treasure hunt"

- you don't see/hear much backstabbing by coworkers about others on the unit (or about other units in the hospital)

- there are a mix of long term employees & newer employees who have stayed on the unit (not transferred elsewhere) after the 12 month required period

- your coworkers are not afraid to ask for help when needed, and also make themselves available when you need help

- a clearly defined precepting program for new grads, other than "sink or swim"

- a decent workload, where you're kept busy enough to avoid boredom, yet aren't run ragged shift after shift

- you actually get to take a lunch break (it may not be right at noon, but it's still lunch)!

- charge nurses who actually know what they're doing, and seem to fairly balance patient assignments (while making themselves available to help as needed)

- you don't hear a lot of negative comments about the unit when you ask members of the float pool

- the unit treats float nurses fairly (not slamming them with all the total care pts on the shift while nurses assigned to the unit get all the easier "walkie-talkie" patients)

I strongly recommend shadowing a nurse on any unit at which you're thinking of working. Even though I'm almost certain that I want to go to the ICU after my RN Residency is finished, I'm still shadowing one of their nurses next Tuesday. You can get a good idea about the "feel" of a unit, its employees, and the patients served by spending a shift on the unit just shadowing. I trust this sort of personal evaluation MUCH more than just a brief one-on-one interview with the department's manager. Conversely, it also lets the unit's members see how they think you'd fit in.


10 Posts

I absolutely agree with everything that CrufflerJJ had to say. I'm in a new grad program and one week away from completing it. The qualities that stood out for me is that the unit Do Not eat their young. They feel that us newbies don't need to prove to them that we can do that job since we already got it. They're super supportive and always offer help even when I havn't asked for it! Hope you find what you're looking for.

Specializes in ED, ICU, MS/MT, PCU, CM, House Sup, Frontline mgr.

a good sign that a floor is bad is when you talk to other nurses on other floors and there is a consensus on which floor he/she would never want to work. also, i disagree with the high turnover aspect ... in this economy that is no longer a good indicator. some people actually despise their workplace but will remain because of financial circumstances. also two really bad floors in my hospital have a reputation of blocking transfers to lower turnover rates. thus, unsuspecting nurses usually get trapped on these two floors. two ways off these two floors is to become good friends with people who have the connections to help you to transfer or to leave the hospital (btw, there is only one in town).


396 Posts

Specializes in Oncology, Med-Surg, Nursery.

Teamwork. A good, supportive environment. There is nothing worse than being on your own, feeling cluless, and being surrounded by people who don't want to help you. Very scary. The high turnover, you know, on my current floor there is a pretty big one simply because people tend to gravitate toward specialty areas. Our floor is awesome, but we do have people in/out quite a bit. The environment was key for me. I could never work in a place like my first job ever again. Being in a good environment has made all the difference in the world for me.

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