Healthcare can be a stressful professionBy Melinda Juneau,

From the moment you decided to become a RN, you have followed a plan.  This plan probably consisted of excelling in school, completing a state-required nursing program, finding a position and beginning work.  Now it is your first day of work as a registered nurse.  It is both exciting and nerve-racking as you walk into the hospital, but you feel ready to start this career.  It is important to remember that you are not alone in your journey as a new nurse, and there are various ways you can be proactive in your first year to not only survive, but thrive.

Here are five simple ways to make the first year feel less confused and establish good habits for your future as a nurse:

  1. Always be Early for your Shift If you are scheduled to start at 0700, plan to arrive at 0630 in order to prepare and provide better care..  For example, previous shift reports need to be read and understood; these are crucial for your shift as they will tell you what happened, what is supposed to happen, and how you can prepare.  The nurse giving the report will be relieved to see you are there on time and will probably be grateful for the chance to disseminate as much information as possible. This plethora of information will give you a leg-up throughout your shift.
  2. Take Advantage of your Breaks– Don’t try to be a superhero by skipping breaks. You need the time away. This is your time to eat, make personal calls, sit down, or just get some fresh air.  When you skip the time for yourself, it only hurts you and your patients in the long run.  A break gives you time to recharge and clear your head, making you more efficient during your shift.
  3. Chart as You Go– When you save all the writing and chart work for a block of time, chances are you will forget what you were going to write.  Write fast and only write what is necessary.  You will notice those who chart too much are always behind. This is not an effective way to operate. It will force you to stay later than your end of shift, and by doing this you are more prone to serious mistakes.
  4. Be Accountable for your Mistakes– You will make mistakes. As a nurse, the number of variables present in any given hour of work is so high that you will make your fair share of mistakes. This does not mean you are incapable of this job but rather that you are human. It is critical to be responsible about any/all mistakes and fix them as soon as possible.  Try not to make excuses for the error, but follow the procedures for correcting it.  The longer you wait to fix the problem, the worse the outcome can be.  Be honest and mature when you make a mistake, of any size.
  5. Find Support – Your first year can be hectic and intimidating.  However, (as mentioned above) you are not alone.  Find a mentor among the nursing staff – someone you will feel will be a resource to you.  In addition, you will be assigned a preceptor and it is important that you follow their instructions.  If you find that your preceptor is not providing you with the correct instruction or may be using you as their errand runner, request a new one.  This is a crucial time in your nursing career and your time to learn from those around you.

No one begins their nursing career with all the facts, but over time you can begin to find your groove.  You bring your own unique personality to each floor where you work so don’t be afraid to be yourself but always continue growing in your nursing knowledge and performance.

If you are new to nursing or have years of experience, Snelling Medical Professionals can help you find a facility that you can call home.  Let us help you find the facility where you are appreciated and can grow as a nursing professional.  Let’s get started today.  Please visit the Snelling website and locate your local office where our talented staffing managers can help you find the facility and the position that best fit your needs.

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.