Starting out on the Right Foot in Nursing

by Howard Gerber on February 21, 2013

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If you’ve finally finished nursing school and started your new job, you may be wondering…what’s next? Launching a new career is one of the most exciting events in life, but it’s also nerve-wracking and overwhelming. You’ll find out pretty fast that no matter how hard you studied, you can never be 100% prepared for every situation. No school can teach every possible scenario…and no nurse can remember everything they learned right out of the gate. Take heart and don’t get discouraged. Here are some things to remember to make getting started easier.

BE the team
Always remember that you’re part of a team. If you are unsure of something, ask. Don’t let ego get in the way of patient care. Experienced nurses will have more respect for you if you lean on their knowledge to guide you than if you make mistakes that could impact patient care. Everybody on the team wants the same thing; excellent patient care. Every nurse knows that it takes a year or two to really be comfortable in the job. Give yourself a break while you learn the ins and outs of real-life nursing.

Don’t beat yourself up
Everybody makes mistakes. When you make one, accept it, learn from it, and try not to do it again. But don’t dwell on negative energy that will make you second guess every decision. Fear can cause decision paralysis, which can severely limit your productivity—and hurt your career. For every bad decision you make, you’ll do hundreds of things right. Dwell on the good things.

Network
One of the most important things you can do from the first time you step on the floor is to build relationships. One of the most powerful ways to do that is by volunteering to help out wherever you can. Collaborate with other new nurses and nursing students, offer a hand to veteran nurses, and go the extra mile for patients. People will notice and remember. Good working attitude goes a long way. Make it your business to introduce yourself to everyone and try to make a good impression without being obvious.

Ask for opportunities
You may be overlooked for procedures in favor of more experienced nurses unless you ask for opportunities. Don’t wait for somebody to notice you. In medicine, proactive is a good thing.

Find balance
We all tend to work too hard and play too little, but working to your potential means getting a good night’s sleep, managing stress, and balancing your work and home life without cheating either. A well-rounded life includes rest, relaxation, nutrition, and interests outside work. You know that. After all, you’re a nurse! Follow the same advice you’d give to a patient, and you’ll survive those stressful first years just fine.

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