Working as a new nurse can be exhilarating and terrifying, but experienced RNs are available to offer the advice you need to ease into your new position like a pro. As professionals who have already been where you are, here are five tips experienced RNs want you to know.
1. Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions
No matter how much training you've received or what rank you held in your nursing graduating class, working an actual shift is going to be a completely different experience. Nursing is a fast-paced industry with a wide variety of demands, so it's inevitable that you're going to find yourself in a position of uncertainty. Don't hesitate to ask questions if you're unsure about what you're supposed to do.
"As a new nurse, everyone knows you don't know everything," says Sandy Griffin, LPN, CHPLN and Quality Assurance Coordinator at Hospice of South Louisiana
. "You're expected to make mistakes, and the seasoned veterans plan for it. However, in order to minimize your mistakes, ask as many questions as possible. Never take guesses. If you feel that minor twinge of uncertainty, get that second opinion."
2. Learn From Your Mistakes
Even experienced RNs make mistakes sometimes, so you should expect that you're going to make your fair share. Instead of letting them undermine your confidence, reframe them as a learning opportunity. "Be aware that when you do mess up, you're bound to learn something," says Griffin. "After all, that's what mistakes are —they're learning experiences."
3. Embrace Learning On The Job
You may feel tempted to put pressure on yourself to excel in your new position because you worked so hard to start your career prepared. However, it's important to remember that nursing school can't fully prepare you for the experience of working as a nurse. There is no way to cover every possible scenario in class, so embrace each shift as another opportunity to learn."
As an experienced RN, I think it's so important for new nurses to realize how important learning on the job is," says Jen, RN and the creator of Minnesota Momma
. "Studying and learning the material is only the first part of being a nurse. The second part is being open to learning what the real flow and everyday work life of nursing is in the real world with other professionals (including, but not limited to other nurses) and being able to adapt."
4. Take Care Of Your Body
Working as a nurse can be physically challenging, and young nurses may not realize the toll each shift takes on their muscles and joints. Remember that taking steps to relieve the impact of these activities now will greatly improve your tolerance later in your career."
Take care of your back," advises Griffin. "Nurses are required to lift heavy objects and move patients from time to time. This, combined with being on your feet for very long shifts, can take a toll on your joints, neck and back. In order to prevent any injuries, make sure you wear ergonomic shoes that absorb impact. Use a desk chair that aligns your posture and supports your back. Make stretching/yoga a part of your daily routine. Most importantly, lift with your legs, not your back. Proper lifting technique will save you years of pain that could negatively impact your ability to be a good nurse."
5. Take Time To Connect With Your Patients
You already know that most of nursing involves working with your patients, but it can be easy to forget that your charges are unique individuals and, instead, focus on the care they require. However, making a real connection can greatly improve their experience and make your job easier."
Get to know your patients well," says Griffin. "Everyone knows bedside manner is important, but many don't realize just how important. Know your patients on a personal level. This will help them feel more comfortable and fosters a relationship based on trust. You'd be amazed at what a good mood does for your patient's overall condition."
Taking advice from experienced RNs is the best way to get a head start on the knowledge you still need to build. If you're a new nurse who wants to take advantage of advice from a broad pool of personalities and experiences, apply for one of the travel nursing positions
listed on NurseChoice.