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.
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.
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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