Any experienced nurse can tell you something that may sound shocking: Nursing school just barely prepares you to work as a nurse. Since so many aspects of the profession cannot be learned in a classroom, new graduates are often overwhelmed by their first weeks on the job. But there’s good news, too. Most RNs learn to deal with these hurdles within the first year of entering nursing – you just need to make it that long. What will it take for you to thrive during your critical first year as a nurse?
Learn to say “I don’t know”
To be honest, nobody dreams of being a little fish in a big pond. We prefer to be useful, to stand out for our knowledge and abilities. When you begin to work as a nurse, however, you need to admit your limitations. The quicker you learn to ask for help and instruction, the quicker you’ll find your footing as a nurse.
Find a mentor
It’s easier to ask for advice and instruction when you have someone experienced who you can trust. Hopefully, your first facility will assign a preceptor who is a good teacher, but feel free to seek out advice from others, as well.
Be nice to your aides
It’s fine to feel proud of being an RN, but this is no time to be overconfident. Many new nurses look up to and prefer to spend time with other RNs, but this can foster an unhealthy “us versus them” attitude. Remember that experienced aides, PCAs, and CNAs are probably better at their job than you are at yours. Your ability to communicate and work efficiently with the aide staff contributes directly to your progress – and better patient outcomes!
Set realistic goals
Don’t think of yourself as a nursing prodigy who is going to transform the profession in the immediate future. It’s better to accept that you are still finding your balance and that progress might be slow. Instead of getting discouraged, set small, achievable goals that will help you measure your progress.
Be a proactive learner
You can’t expect exciting learning opportunities to land at your feet every day; you might have to put some effort into it. If you’d like to practice a new skill or learn a new procedure, just ask. For example, new nurses can rapidly improve their IV insertion skills by requesting to work several shifts in the ER or Outpatient Surgery, where the high volume of patients allows many chances to practice.
Stay connected with the industry
Your future as a nurse is too important to waste, so don’t ever leave your career path to chance. The best way to ensure your career moves ever upward is to partner with an expert recruiter who is dedicated to your progress. MSG Staffing has over two decades helping nurses and other healthcare professionals find their footing in a difficult industry. If you’d like to help secure your future in nursing, contact us today so we can guide you through your first year and beyond.