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New nurses starting off their career can be experiencing feelings of anxiety and doubt, especially within the first couple of months. Nursing is all about continuing education and realizing that everyday is an opportunity to learn something new!
Tip 1: Don't be afraid to ask questions!
It's important for new nurses to understand that asking questions shows a lot of character. That you value your patients and the quality of care given to them. Asking fellow employees questions about procedures, medications, tasks, doctors, or general concerns shows that your dedicated to performing your job to the best of your ability. You take it seriously.
Tip 2: Accept that you will learn new things everyday and be prepared to take notes!
Nursing is a career where every day something new is learned. You can be a nurse for 25 years and still learn something new everyday. As a nurse, understanding and accepting new things and ideas will show your employer that you are adaptable, which is a huge bonus for them. Embrace new things and ideas. Take notes and keep a binder with you within your first year. Notes on common medications, procedures, labs, and common issues that occur on your unit. That way you have a reference to refer to. Eventually, the binder will be put in your locker and most of it will become lodged into your memory for years to come.
Tip 3: Come prepared and have proper supplies every shift.
Bring your sticky notes. Bring that extra pen. Bring a notebook that you can put ideas in. Have your stethoscope and guard it with your life (doctors will ask to use it).
Supplies are necessary for a smooth and organized shift. Be prepared. Bring a little organizer with you that contains your supplies.
Tip 4: Come early and print off SBAR/Kardex/report sheet and research your patients.
Yes! I cannot stress this enough. I always show up 25 minutes early to print off a patient's Kardex and research orders and a brief history. This helps me prioritize my assessments and determine how my shift might play out. It gives me time to prepare and ask the day nurse any questions I have in report.
Tip 5: Teamwork makes the dream work and improves patient satisfaction!
Nursing is a team profession and this is a field where it's not all about you and your patients. It's about everyone. Every call light, every patient, is your responsibility. Be the nurse that is driven to show teamwork and your co-workers will love working with you. In the first couple of months, it will be difficult trying to balance this out because you are new. That's okay. However, keep teamwork in the back of your mind and understand patients are the priority.
Tip 6: Calling Doctors - Write down recent vitals and a short explanation as to why you are calling a doctor.
Before you page a doctor, please write down the most recent set of vitals. Get a new set if possible. Vitals an hour ago are not very recent. If there is a change in patient condition, always get a new set and write it down so you can inform the doctor. Write a little blurb on why you are calling, that way you can reference it when you are speaking to the doctor. Be calm and precise with your voice and stay confident.
Tip 7: Take your breaks!!!
This cannot be stressed enough and I shouldn't even have to put it on the list. However, you will not believe the amount of nurses that do not take breaks during their shift. If you find this to be an issue, please speak to your charge nurse or manager that you have been unable to take breaks. That way they can assist you in doing so. Breaks are so important in nursing and you need to get off the floor if you want to stay sane.
Tip 8: Don't listen to the drama on the unit.
Yes I said it. Every department has a culture, most of which are positive and some can be negative. Drama is huge in nursing and is on every unit. It depends on people's personalities of course, but you need to remember that nursing is a profession and you are representing not only yourself but your company that you work for. Sometimes you just need to ignore the drama and work in the best way that you know how. Be respectful but don't get involved in drama. Be everyone's friend and try not to make enemies, that is not why you are at work. Be an example!
Tip 9: Be supportive of new staff even when other employees are not.
Support new staff, whether they are travel nurses, registry nurses, float nurses. It doesn't matter where they came from because they are there filling a position in staffing that is making everyone's job easier. Be nice to them and treat them with respect. Do not listen to fellow co-workers if they do not have anything nice to say. Treat people the way you would want to be treat if you were visiting a new unit.
Tip 10: Be organized for shift report.
This is something that is learned as time goes on. However, staying organized can help you deliver a great shift report to the new oncoming nurse. First, start off by explaining why the patient is on your unit and their history. What major things did you notice in your assessment? Were there any changes in their assessment throughout your shift? What is their diet and ambulation orders? What is the plan? Keep it simple and organized. Keep your report on one piece of paper, if possible. Make sure the report goes in a certain order that the oncoming nurse can follow.
Also, please give that nurse time to write down what you are saying. Nothing is more frustrating than a nurse talking to fast. Speak slow and clear, giving enough time for the oncoming nurse to understand everything being said. That is just showing respect for their time and that you care they get a good report. They will love you for it.
Nursing is an amazing career with amazing opportunities. Keep focused and keep the best interest of the patient in mind. Do not be afraid to ask questions and stay organized as much as possible. Do your best to represent your company and yourself.
Be the nurse that you will want taking care of you someday.