Getting your license is one of the most exciting moments of a new nurse’s life, but that’s obviously just the beginning of your career. There are many ups and downs you will face, and mistakes you will likely make, but many of them are preventable.
We don’t subscribe to the “nurses eat their young” philosophy.
We want to see you thrive because you are the future of our industry, so we have a little advice for you to keep in mind as you embark on this incredible nurse journey.
Do your best to strive for work-life balance. You need to take care of yourself outside of work so that your mentally and physically strong when you serve your patients. Take time to exercise so you can be fit and handle the challenges that come your way.
You will make mistakes. It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when. Don’t freeze, beat yourself up or harp on it. No one looks forward to making them, but it’s understood that mess-ups are a part of the learning curve, so just learn from them and move on.
One way to reduce mistakes is embracing the art of delegating tasks. While there are times where you will have to do everything on your own, that doesn’t mean it needs to always be this way. Nursing assistants exist for a reason, so respectfully hand over some of your less complicated tasks to them and reduce your workload. This allows you to concentrate and take your time on the task’s at hand. It will improve your focus, allow you to provide better care for your patients and create opportunities to build a stronger rapport with nursing assistants.
Take every opportunity to float! If you are asked to float to another unit to help them out, do it. You will learn a lot from other seasoned nurses about how they approach different patients and you will no doubt pick up certain tricks you can use.
Learn the correct body mechanics for lifting and transferring your patients and use transferring equipment if possible. Assistive patient handling equipment and devices remove the dangers associated by lifting patients, but if you aren’t able to use this kind of machinery, try and get assistance to move a patient to avoid injuries to your back or knees. You don’t want to sacrifice your body’s health and mobility to long term damage from years of moving patients.
Take the time to learn everything about each medication you give to your patients. Research the facts in drug handbooks and familiarize yourself with how they interact with other drugs. Eventually you will build a solid understanding of the medications given in your unit and this will help you make the best judgment calls possible. In addition to studying the medication itself, be sure that you focus on the five rights: right medication, right patient, right time, right dose and right route.
If you’ve had a rough couple month’s start, you may feel like giving up. Sometimes, a career just isn’t for you, but sometimes, your simply adjusting to a new career that you will truly love once you get the hang of it. So give yourself sometime. Most senior nurses will tell you to give yourself at least a year before you quit, and they’re right. Stick it out and you will likely fall in love with the profession all over again, remembering why you decided to become a nurse in the first place.
Regardless of the kind of day you are personally having, always be positive with your patients. They’re in a hospital, so they aren’t doing well one way or the other, and you may be there only dose of hope, which is truly one of the most effective treatments.
So leave your drama at the door, greet your patients with a smile from the heart, and you might find that the joy you bring your patients makes you feel like a million bucks by the end of your shift.
What have you learned along your nursing journey that new nurses should know?
Tell us in the comments below.