Top 10 Things A New Nurse Needs to Know | & 1 for the Future Nurse

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What right do I have to give these tips?

 Well, I started as a C.N.A. when I was 19. So if you count those years ( which I do) I have been a nurse for 12 years. I have worked in many areas including clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and even a prison. So here are my personal TOP 10 TIPS for the New Nurse.

1. No One Cares.

No one cares that you made a 4.0 or a 2.5. They don’t care that your sister is a nurse or your aunt’s cousin’s best friend is a doctor. They don’t care what you did at your last job or the one before that. As far as they know, you are an idiot. What people do care about is your eagerness to learn. Your willingness to listen and not talk. To observe and ask questions. To understand the rational behind what your mentor and preceptor is doing and CARE.

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2. Show Up.

When you are a new nurse, you don’t get to sit at home and take call. You get to sit in the unit and wait for something to come in so you can learn. It is impossible to learn anything from sitting at home watching Netflix. You should want to be there! Even if there is nothing to do, you can ask questions. You can dig through drawers and find where things are. Ask for something to do. Take time to get to know your surroundings because you never know when an emergency might happen and someone might need you to know where to forceps are. The excuse “No one showed me where it was” will not fly.

3. Be a Sponge.

Get off your phone. You don’t get to scroll through Instagram or Facebook. You know nothing. Accept that. You will know nothing for at least the first year you are a nurse. And even after that you will always have something to learn. Read the NRP book. Ask your preceptor to write down the top medications you give in your specialty and then look up all the ways you could screw something up when giving that med. Read your policy and procedures. Practice charting.

4. Be Flexible.

Unless you are PRN (which you shouldn’t be if you’re a new nurse) do NOT expect to get all weekends and holidays off. This is the job you signed up for, hospitals never close. Be eager to help and life will be grand. This applies to your entire career not just the first year.

5. We Eat Our Young.

So be tough. The reason nurses are known for this is because we know nursing is hard. If you can’t handle a little grit from the unit alumni, you won’t be able to handle the doctor telling you you’re a moron at 2 am because you called him over a Tylenol. Your preceptor is your guru. Treat her well even on the days she is a bitch to you. Odds are you are slowing her down and it’s taking her 2 times as long to get her work done because she is trying to teach you. Don’t make her feel like she is wasting her time. Bring her coffee and don’t make her tell you to follow her.

6. Don’t Be Entitled.

You have to work for everything. For respect, for reward, and for a chair. If you are new for the love of GOD don’t sit in someone’s chair who has been there 25 years. Stand and get all the call lights. You are here to become a nurse. You can’t do that sitting down. Trust me, eventually you will hate sitting down because you will have so much charting to catch up on. One day you will be the preceptor and you will get to sit and make the newbie run. ( You can’t learn if you aren’t doing the running.)

7. Don’t Expect a Reward for Doing Your Job.

Your reward is your paycheck. Congratulations, welcome to life. IF you are really lucky, sometimes you will get praise. But do not expect it. Go out of your way to take exceptional care of your patient and make them love you. That’s the reward. But even when you do that sometimes your patient will not give a rats ass that you broke your back making sure they had everything they needed including safe and effective health care. So don’t even expect it from them.

8. You Don’t Have to Like Your Patient.

There, I said it. You will have patients that are terrible. Horrible even. Disrespectful and needy. You will have patients who will complain because their ice was melted when you brought it to them after you had to run back for an emergency section. So no you don’t have to like them, but you do have to be a professional. Apologize even if you weren’t wrong, smile even when you don’t want to. That’s your job.

9. Get Excited.

I know I’ve probably scared the shit out of you at this point but don’t be. Now you know what not to do and what to do. I promise you – nursing is the best job in the world if you don’t expect it to be easy and the pay to be awesome. You will never be paid as much as you deserve and no one will understand how hard it is…. except your co-workers

10. Welcome to Your New Family.

Yes it will be hard and you will probably cry a few times in the first year but these people will become your family. You will see them more than your family and you will tell them things that your family will never hear about. They are more than friends. They get it.  You are a team, especially if you are going to work at a small hospital. You will know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to work together as smoothly as a machine even in the middle of crisis. Remember to thank them for what they do for you and repay the debt. If you help them they will ALWAYS help you.

Bonus | For The Future Nurse

Your attitude is everything in this career. Make sure you go in with a good one and remember why you chose this path. Nursing is a calling, if you aren’t called it will be so much harder for you. If you aren’t a nurse yet and you are reading this it’s not just a paycheck. It’s crying in the bathroom after keeping it together for your patient who just miscarried. It’s holding your 99 year old patient’s hand as she passes because her family has forgotten her. It’s making sure you are stronger than you ever thought you could be. You’re a teacher, a leader, an advocate, and so much more. You will meet so many amazing people along this journey. You will be changed. Some you will get to stay friends with forever, and some will leave and break your heart. Be prepared for the journey. It’s a long one.

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I hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, I would love for you to share this with anyone who is interested in becoming a nurse or if you know someone who is fixing to graduate.  Thanks so much for all the love guys!

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Vero – Neisha Salas-Berry

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23 COMMENTS

  • Padmé Padmé

    Neisha, by the time I got to your section “Bonus, For the Future Nurse,” my eyes were full of tears and dripping down my face. You really reached me with this blog. And, I’m convinced your words will have great impact. Thank you.

    P.S.: I will be sharing your words of wisdom in this blog with several others who are or aspire to be nurses. 🙂

    • neishalovesit
      AUTHOR

      Thank you so much!! I am so glad you liked it ! I appreciate your support ♥️♥️♥️

  • Elizabeth Rhoads

    I’m a nurse since 1985 and all the tips, tricks, and prayers… I’ve done… so true that a nurse is a called nag and when you retire, you DON’T stop being a nurse. It’s who I am. My mom and my niece too. So glad to see your a nurse too… hard work…mental and physical…jack of all trades, master of none…💕 bladder issues and weight issues after years…
    God Bless You 😘

    • Padmé Padmé

      Yep, I’ve pleaded (jokingly) with my sister (an R.N.) to wear a urinary catheter with bag!!! Nurses are so busy at times they don’t have time to take care of essential needs of their own. What angels you all are to place your patients’ needs above your own.

  • Darcy Wendt

    I’m very close with my daughter, also a RN, you nailed it here. Love seeing you and your husband story together on Instagram 😊

  • Ronda

    Being on the other side with a special needs son that has 24/7 PDN care, everything you posted is absolutely 100% true. We have been through many nurses and two agencies on this 9 1/2 year journey. It takes a wonderful, compassionate, strong person to be a good nurse. If you are not in this job to truly care for your patients and and don’t consider nursing a life calling, you need to find another career. Bless all nurses like you and stay strong, listen to the family and patients as sometimes we are scared and unsure of what’s happening. ❤️

  • Emily

    I absolutely love your advice! Thank you for taking your time to write this. I’m currently a nursing student and will graduate next year. I am terrified of what is to come and what to expect once I graduate. I feel your tips will help me in my future and confirmed my belief that nursing is my calling! Thank You!

    • neishalovesit
      AUTHOR

      Yay! I’m so glad you liked it. Good luck, you will do fine! Nursing is the best !

  • Mechele Saunders

    Omg….12 yr nurse here….all of these are sooooo true. Thanks for putting it out there for our nurse babies…

  • neishalovesit
    AUTHOR

    Ok Sam. I’ve trained many nurses & I’m proud to say they are ALL badasses. And what’s wrong with nurses these days is that they go into nursing for the money thinking they can become a Nurse Practitioner in 2 years without actually practicing medicine. And they have no respect for their elders and a huge ego and a LOT of entitlement.

  • Jeanna Thurston

    I think your advice is great for any nurse. Thank you. Happy nurses week.

  • Viri

    Wow! You’ve expressed the truth in such a raw and honest way- love, love, love! I currently work as a CNA, heading into Nursing School this Fall and I couldn’t be more excited (and terrified)!!! I see the RNs in my unit experience very similar things you have. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom 💗

  • nursewaysadmin

    Neisha, I do believe you have a great head on your shoulders. Your advice to the newbs is spot on, and I love how you preach accountability!

  • Nancy

    What kind of infant stethoscope do you have? I am in search for one 🙂

    • neishalovesit
      AUTHOR

      Littmanns!!!

    • neishalovesit
      AUTHOR

      Littmann ♥️

  • Tommi

    Thank you. Thank you for making me see, once again, why I want to be a nurse. Your words have pushed me to work even harder! I will read this over and over throughout nursing school.

    • neishalovesit
      AUTHOR

      Thank you so much for saying that !! I’m so glad you heard what I was trying to say. I’m sure you will be one hell of a nurse !

  • Kelsey

    You know? This post really scared the crap out of me. However, it’s not going to stop me from pursuing a career in nursing.
    Thank you for your tough words.

    • neishalovesit
      AUTHOR

      so glad you got what I was saying. You can do this! and you will be an awesome nurse! ( sorry if i already wrote this, i know i responded but i can’t see it lol )

  • Ashia

    Great advice and definitely true!! I have been a Tele RN and GI RN for 13 years. I have likened the floor nursing to a boot camp. I have learned much patience and how important it is to listen to your patients! I have learned the awesomeness of having Doctors trust your intuition because you know when something’s not right, how great it feels when family members trust you with their families and being able to save a life. I’m not going to sugarcoat nursing because there are days when you are crying in your car going home, praying you don’t kill someone before you start your shift or not thinking you can go another day, but you do and the rewards outweigh the negatives if your in it for the right reasons. Good luck and prayers for all who are future RN’s and those who have paid their dues 😉

  • Valerie

    I was an LPN for 20 years +/- and I can attest to every.single.word!! I have shared these very things with my high school medical academy students who will be eligible to sit for their CNA boards upon graduation. There are many paths in life which will absolutely test and press one’s very soul. And only those are the ones worth persuing!

  • Brenda

    You are so right! Very well written. It is the epitome of being a new nurse and being an experienced nurse and the difference between being a mediocre nurse and being a great nurse. Which would you rather have “care” for you?

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