How to Survive and Thrive During Your First Year as a Nurse
As a new nurse, surviving the first day can seem impossible – let alone a whole year. While it may be difficult, challenging, and stressful at times, it’s important to remember that you are properly trained for your career. The new environment and new rhythms might be hard to fall into, but you can almost certainly be successful if you stay confident and trust in the training and education you have received.
If you need a little extra help, however, read the tips and tricks below for surviving your first year as nurse. While your textbooks may have prepared you for practices and procedures, this guide will reveal the secrets you won’t hear anywhere else.
1. Get through the first day.
Preparing for the first day of any job can be stressful and nerve wracking. With a job like nursing, where a lot may be at stake, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before your first day and to eat a good breakfast. You don’t want to compound the difficulties of the first day by being exhausted and hungry. Show up early and be polite and respectful with your boss and your coworkers; you’ll be working with them for a long time to come.
Learn as much as you can as quickly as possible, and if you are wondering about something that your boss or coworkers are doing, don’t be hesitant to ask. No one expects you to know everything on your first day, and there is no shame in asking questions. After all, you will be trained before being set loose on your own, and your first day is more about catching on to the routine of the position.
2. Learn your way around the hospital.
Learn the names of all of your bosses, know your coworkers, and figure out rounds, schedules, who works in what wings, and generally everything that you might need to know as a nurse. Your first few months are a great time to observe and absorb information from what goes on around you. Once you have learned where everything is supposed to be and how the hospital works at a basic level, you will quickly notice when things are wrong or out of place.
By becoming adept at noticing problems and fixing them or drawing the attention of those who can fix them, you will become an integral part of the hospital team. Your attentiveness and desire to learn will give you as much knowledge and experience as those who have been there for far longer than you, and will ideally lead to promotions and better job opportunities.
3. Listen to and read the reports of previous shifts. It is much easier to perform your duties properly when you know what was done on the shift before your own. Being aware of any tasks that were not done before you arrived and taking care of them is important and helpful to everyone, as is recognizing when someone has taken care of a task early. Reading through the reports of earlier shifts allows a nurse to familiarize himself or herself with the patients and their problems, as well as any technical problems or administrative issues that might be ongoing. You can provide better care and be more productive if you have a working knowledge of the patients you are caring for, and part of that knowledge comes from knowing how they have been treated when you were not there.
4. Do paperwork:
Fill out paperwork and forms whenever you get a spare moment to stay ahead and not have to worry about it at the end of your shift. By notating things as soon as they happen, you will have more detailed and accurate notes and reports for the nurses who go on shift after you. Very few people look forward to doing paperwork, so getting it done as soon as possible is highly recommended.
5. Become organized: Each nurse is going to have a specific organization method that works best for them, and you should find yours as soon as you can. This does not mean copying someone else’s methods in an effort to get organized fast. Find a method that works best for you. Develop a pattern and routine that you can follow and fall back on. This will ensure that you remember to do all of your tasks when they need to be done.
6. Learn how to prioritize: Working as a nurse and being responsible for the health of many people is going to be difficult. However, if you can learn to prioritize quickly, you will make life a little easier on yourself. Very rarely will everything go according to plan in a hospital. One patient’s health may suddenly deteriorate without warning, and it may be that the needs of other patients have to wait. Learn to adapt to emergencies quickly and efficiently, know what problems need to be handled immediately, and discern what tasks can be put on the back burner for a moment.
7. Always be prepared: Have everything you might need ready for work each day, including your scrubs, your clipboard, the list of patients you will be taking care of, and more. You don’t want to get to work and find out that you have no scrubs to change into, or not have your schedule or duties for the day. Everyday Uniforms can assist you with the former concern. We offer scrubs of all kinds, including Cherokee Flexibles, Cherokee scrubs, and Grey’s Anatomy scrubs.
Your first year as a nurse will be tough. In all likelihood, so will your second year. But each year you will learn more, and each year the number of people who you affect in a positive way will grow. No job that is worth doing is going to be easy all the time, and nursing is certainly a job worth doing. If you can make it through your first year, consider it a year very well spent.