Tips for New Nurses on Surviving Their First Year
Nursing can be a very stressful career, but it can also be a rewarding one. When you’re putting on your nursing uniform for the first time, it’s important to know what to expect, and how you can survive. If you’re getting ready to start the first year as a nurse, remember these helpful tips for surviving the world of patient care:
- Be willing to be taught – As much as you may think you already know, there’s always still more to learn. First year nurses need to be open to being taught and learning as much about the job as people are willing to teach them. The more open you are to learning, the better you’ll get to know the job. The harder you make it for anyone to teach you, the more you’ll miss and need to learn at a later, much less opportune, time.
- Have confidence in yourself – At the same time, though, you should also be confident. Patients and coworkers alike can easily spot someone who isn’t confident in themselves or their skills. When that person is expected to administer medication and stick needles in people, skittishness or extreme reservation have a way of sapping the confidence other people have in them (especially if you’re the one who’s about to get stuck with the needle). Be confident in what you do know, and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself if confronted.
- Learn to advocate for your patients – Patients have to trust their nurses, and it’s the job of a nurse to advocate for their patients’ best medical interests. If you have a suggestion for caring for a patient, or question a doctor’s decision, speak up.
- Be respectful of the doctors – Sometimes doctors and nurses will disagree, but, even when that happens, it’s important to be respectful of doctors’ decisions. Strain between doctors and nurses can hinder patient care, especially when the strain escapes the private meetings between doctors and nurses, and makes its way in front of the patients.
- Have a place to vent – No-one has ever claimed that nursing isn’t a stressful job, and you will definitely need to have a place to go where you can let off some steam. Make friends with your colleagues, and find a place where you can go on your downtime to vent and let some of the stress out. It might not be the most dignified thing to do, but it’s definitely better than trying to hold it in.
- Ask for help – Asking for help is never easy, especially if you feel like you have to do it all the time. But sometimes asking someone else to help you is the only way to learn, and being big enough to seek out help is a lot better than just muddling through or putting something off because you don’t want to embarrass yourself.
- Expect to be given more work in the future – Nurses are at the center of patient care, which means that there will always be work for them to do. The further into your first year you get, the more your workload is likely to increase, simply out of necessity. Be prepared for more work to come your way as soon as the doctors and nurses around you expect that you are able to handle it.
- Don’t tell anyone you’re having a quiet shift – If you happen to find yourself having a quiet, relaxing shift, telling them about it is a great way for that peace and quiet to disappear under a pile of new assignments and patients.