12 Tips for New Nurses: Surviving Your First Year

Tips for New Nurses

During your first year as a nurse, you may often feel like a deer in headlights. Your clinical experiences in nursing school will be fairly limited, so a lot of learning will take place in your first year. There is a ton of information to absorb as a new nurse and it can be overwhelming at times. Keep these tips for new nurses in mind to help make your first year successful.

1. Don’t Think That You Have to Know Everything

No one expects you to know everything when you walk in on your first day. Ask for help when you need it. You have to be patient with yourself as a new nurse. You are not going to do everything right at first, so give yourself time to adjust.

2. Find a Mentor

Try to find an experienced nurse to serve as your mentor. Seasoned nurses understand how you feel because they have been in your shoes. Many are glad to help out and offer advice to new hires.

3. Be Open to Learning

Your first job as a nurse is one instance in life where you should not fake it until you make it. Do not hesitate to ask your co-workers questions when there is something that you do not understand. The more you ask questions, the more you will learn.

4. Stay Organized

All nurses have their own way of organizing their day and managing their time. For the most part, your tasks and duties will be the same each shift, though sometimes they will be specific to your patients’ medical needs and challenges. Learn to organize and prioritize your daily tasks so that you can manage your time at work more efficiently.

5. Be Flexible

Although you must learn to prioritize your duties, unexpected situations will arise every day, and so it is important for you to be able to remain flexible and adjust your schedule accordingly.

6. Keep Calm

As a nurse, you must also be able keep a level head in the face of emergency. You will have to learn to remain calm during times of intense stress and make critical decisions under pressure.

7. Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes

Take responsibility for your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, and acknowledging your errors is not only the right thing to do, but can be a valuable learning experience for the future. In the end, owning up to your slip-ups will help you to become a better nurse and earn respect from your co-workers down the line—just be sure not to make the same mistake twice.

8. Be a Team Player

Be a team player and strive to build good relationships with everyone from support staff to management. Make an effort to socialize, get to know your co-workers, and help your colleagues out in difficult situations. One day, they might return the favor.

9. Leave Work at Work

Create a healthy work/life balance by leaving work at work and unwinding when you get home. It is important to recharge your batteries during your free time. You will be a better nurse for it.

10. Stay Healthy

Working as a nurse, you will likely be exposed to illness every day. Stay healthy by getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating right. Self-care is key to staying emotionally and physically fit when you are on the job.

11. Set Professional Goals for the Future

Nursing is not just a job—it is a career. Take the time to set professional goals, and begin to take the steps that are necessary in order to achieve those objectives. Lay the groundwork for a nursing career that enriches and fulfills you for years to come.

12. Have Faith That You’ll Catch On

Many nurses say that the first year is the hardest. After the first year, most nurses feel something click and then things become a lot easier. You might feel like throwing in the towel at times, but have faith that things will eventually fall into place.

The process of transitioning from nursing student to professional nurse can be wrought with challenges. You might not be 100% confident in your ability to work as a professional nurse quite yet. Although your first year as a nurse can be nerve-wracking, these new nurse tips will help ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible. Follow these tips for new nurses to make your first year as an RN a successful one.