New Grad Nurse Advice: 8 Tips
It’s that time of year where fresh RNs are searching for new grad nurse advice as they enter the professional world to start their careers! You’re finally done with years of studying, endless exams, clinical, and getting through the NCLEX-RN with a passing score.
Transitioning from nursing student to “registered nurse” can feel scary and intimidating, but every seasoned nurse with tons of experience and strong skills started exactly in your spot. In fact, seeking new grad nurse advice shows that you’re already a great nurse.
We’re covering advice that every new nurse should know with 8 tips that’ll help you feel confident and prepared to begin this journey! Nurses never stop learning and strengthening their skills, so take this new grad nurse advice with you as you continually evolve into the best nurse YOU can be!
New Grad Nurse Challenges
It’s important to address the challenges new grad nurses go through so that you know what to expect and ways to prevent any struggles you can. What do new grad nurses struggle with? Most new grad nurses have the knowledge from nursing school, but don’t have the real world working experience yet.
There’s a huge learning curve when you leave nursing school and you enter into your professional role. You’re adjusting to a new hospital or facility, acclimating to shift times, meeting new co-workers, and getting acquainted with rules, guidelines, and systems.
Performance anxiety, fear of making mistakes, lack of confidence in nursing skills, communicating with doctors, exhaustion from workload demands, and having the responsibility of your own patients can be a lot to handle in your first year. It might even feel like your nursing school professors and textbook didn’t teach you anything!
Rest assured that the majority of new grad nurses feel this way and you WILL get to a point where you’re competent in your skills and trust yourself as a nurse.
8 Tips for New Grad Nurses
What advice would you give a new nurse? Here are 8 tips for new grad nurses that will help you start off your career to succeed!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
You won’t know it all and that’s OK! Every nurse is constantly learning, so get familiar with continuing education on the job.
Utilize your team members around you to ask questions. Not only your fellow nurses, but even people like secretaries, CNA’s, dietitians, physicians, and residents when you have the opportunity.
Push yourself to get comfortable talking with other team members so that you can gain different perspectives and knowledge. Ask for feedback as well to improve what you’re currently working on.
Efficiency Is Key
Organization is essential. Go to work prepared and carry the necessities you’ll need throughout the day. This will save time so that you’re not constantly going back and forth searching for supplies. As you get used to your floor, you’ll be able to anticipate what’s necessary to have with you.
Time management helps you stay on top of your work so you’re not feeling stressed and likely to make errors. Learn how to prioritize what’s important to get done and develop a routine so you know what you should be doing regardless of distractions or hiccups in the day.
Charting and documentation is important, so learn the system, understand when and how to record, and keep up with it.
Develop Relationships With Your Coworkers
It can be intimidating as a new grad nurse on the unit, but do your best to remember that everyone has gone through being the “newbie.” Reach out to your coworkers and start to build connections with them.
It can be helpful to hear their experiences and tips for succeeding on the unit. Having relationships built in will also allow you to have people who offer comfort on stressful days, you can debrief with and gain validation from, or even be each other’s cheerleaders. Work is always better when you feel less alone!
Find Resources That Will Help You
Seek out who and where you can go for getting questions answered, assistance with tasks, help finding supplies, understanding policies, working through issues, or performing procedures. Your preceptor and charge nurses are always good resources, but don’t forget to utilize the CNA’s, techs, or even administrators and associates.
Be sure to find reference guides that you can easily turn to. Carry pocket sized reference guides or download quick reference apps that can be quickly available. Also, have a notebook and learn to get in the habit of writing checklists for top priorities of your shift, important numbers or codes, names of doctors, or notes of what you want to study later on.
Prioritize Your Own Self Care
Self-care is of utmost importance when preventing nurse burnout.
Focus on getting quality sleep so that you’re properly resting and rejuvenating to be alert and present during work. Pack solid meals and snacks that nourish you and keep you healthy during your shift. Get a good water bottle to stay hydrated too.
Find comfortable shoes that can support your feet for long shifts, and always try to take your breaks to use that time to recover rather than catching up on work.
It’s easy to get caught up in making nursing your life, but strive for work-life balance. Step away from nursing on your days off and enjoy other hobbies. Leave work at work, so that when it’s time to go back to work, you’re looking forward to it!
Set boundaries around picking up extra shifts so that you don’t overextend yourself. If you’re having trouble and feeling burned out, seek out a mentor or a nurse coach that can help you thrive and develop a support network.
Learn How to Communicate Effectively
Effective communication is so important for a smooth running clinical team and for patient safety as well. Talking to coworkers, charge nurses, or doctors can get messy when you’re passing by during a busy shift. Slow down and explain while also listening carefully, and clarifying when needed.
Communicate to patients and families in ways they’ll understand. Break it down in simple terms so there’s no miscommunication. Actively listen to your patients instead of assuming you know what they’re saying. This can make or break treatment.
Learn Not to Take Things Too Personally
Maybe you get an angry patient who makes you feel as if you can’t do anything right, a demeaning comment from a doctor, or a pushy remark from a fellow nurse. These can easily upset you or crush your confidence, but it’s almost always a guarantee that those comments have something to do with the other person and not you. Brush it off and move forward!
Focus on Progress Not Perfection
During your new grad nurse years, breathe and go at your own pace. It’s ok if you feel you can’t keep up with other nurses. Make realistic goals, but be kind and patient with yourself.
If you mess up, know that mistakes have happened to EVERY nurse. Don’t get stuck on it or let it beat you down. Accept it, learn from it, and continue becoming the best nurse YOU can be.
Put this New Grad Nurse Advice into Action!
These tips for new grad nurses will help you thrive in your first year! Keep this new grad nurse advice with you and put it into action.
Don’t lose sight of your passion as a nurse and enjoy this exciting time you’ve been preparing for! You WILL get to a point where you feel confident as a nurse, and someday YOU will be the seasoned nurse helping a new grad nurse join the team.