As a student nurse, you’ve had to study daily and remain determined, but now it’s time to put all that hard work into practice. On your first day, it will probably be a challenge to keep up with everyone else and stay organized, but give yourself some time to adjust.
The most experienced nurses will tell you that it took time for them to settle into the role, so it will be a learning process. Every shift is different, and it won’t always go smoothly, especially in the early days. You’ve got the qualifications and the knowledge, and now you just need to combine these with real-world experience. Check out these tips for graduate nurses to help you cope in the early days and become the best nurse you can be.
Always Take the Opportunity to Learn More
Throughout your career, every day will involve a degree of learning, and this begins on your first day. There may be some skills you did not master in nursing school, but in the workplace, you’ll have a chance to perfect them. Many new nurses carry a notebook so they can record how experienced nurses deal with unexpected situations or daily tasks.
You could also go back to college to learn a specialty or work toward a better-paying role. To further your career in nursing from the comfort of home, take a look at the online programs offered by major universities. They have flexible schedules that fit in around your commitments, so you can complete the coursework online when it suits you.
Ask for Help
In the first days and weeks, no one will expect you to know every procedure or understand each hospital protocol. Let yourself be a beginner by adapting to the transition and seeking out the information you need. Asking questions will get you noticed for the right reasons, especially when they concern patient safety. Even if you don’t want to disturb a busy colleague, it’s better to ask for advice than mismanage an incident.
Introduce Yourself to Coworkers
Just like your first day at a new school, the first day in your nursing career will involve seeing plenty of new faces. From therapists to housekeeping staff and physicians, the unit will be a busy place. To fit in from the outset, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself, however briefly. This allows people to know who the new person is and that you are approachable.
It can feel intimidating, but by getting it done at an early stage, you’ll be able to relax much faster. You’re all on the same team, and people will be happy to speak with you; some may even offer a few words of advice on how the ward runs.
Use Reference Books for Medications and Procedures
Although you needed to know a lot of information by heart in college, a couple of things may have slipped your mind by now. Over the years, you will develop a comprehensive knowledge, but for now, use text resources to fill in the gaps and be sure of your actions. Before administering any medication or performing a procedure, take a moment to refresh yourself. Similarly, don’t guess the meaning of a strange noise or rhythm from a monitor; instead, take out your EKG book and confirm what it means.
Take Care of Yourself
It’s often the case that new nurses feel exhausted by the end of week one, but luckily it doesn’t have to be the same every week. If you are trying your best to lead a healthy lifestyle, you are more likely to have enough energy to get through each day.
The three key factors to concentrate on initially are eating well, sleeping well and protecting yourself from infection. Eating well can involve a few small changes, such as bringing in a healthy packed lunch. As for sleeping, it pays to establish a bedtime routine and slow down your thoughts before turning in. To avoid germs, maintain the hand hygiene and isolation precautions you’ve been taught. For an extra layer of protection, many nurses also shower at work before heading home.
Learn to Talk to Patients
We all know how to talk with our patients, but communicating effectively can be a more challenging task. Try to avoid using all the technical jargon and abbreviations you’ve been taught in college and explain what’s happening in simpler terms. It’s not about talking down to them; it’s about understanding that they might be worried or confused by hearing unusual medical words. Use everyday language habitually so your patients understand what you’re telling them the first time.
Work on prioritizing your tasks
A 12-hour shift can fly by in what feels like minutes, particularly when you are just starting a new post. This means that time management is another skill all nurses have to master eventually. In terms of patient care, it means looking at how involved you need to be at each bedside and what each person needs. You’ll also need to arrange your tasks around the professional people who need you, such as therapists and physicians. Finally, there will be visiting hours and meal times to consider. Over time, you’ll learn more about the routine of the ward, and it will become easier to accurately plan your day.
Enjoy your moment
You made it. All the hours of study have finally paid off, and now you’re a working nurse. Take the time to enjoy your success and the rewards that come with it. You’ll get a paycheck every month, paid vacations and a workplace full of supportive colleagues who will soon become friends. Life is good! Nurses have many different responsibilities, and the work can present various challenges. However, by maintaining the right mindset and taking care of yourself, you’ll soon be dodging any obstacles that get in your way. Remember that in a year’s time, new nurses with the same worries will be arriving in your ward. As a seasoned professional, you will be the one they turn to for guidance in the role.