A career in nursing is both challenging and rewarding, but if you’re just getting started in your nursing journey, you may be feeling overwhelmed and nervous. Nurses work long hours, face new challenges every day, and their co-workers change all of the time. All of these factors can make life as a new nurse intimidating.
Here are four tips to help you settle in as a new nurse.
1. Introduce Yourself – Don’t be Shy
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Part of the initial discomfort when starting any new job is having to meet your co-workers. But unlike with other professions, nurses see a multitude of new faces at every shift. With each new shift, you may meet new doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, physical therapists and management.
You may feel overwhelmed and worried about how you’ll break the ice with all of these new people. The solution is a simple one: introduce yourself.
Introducing yourself makes it easier to feel more comfortable. Most of your co-workers will be happy to take your introduction, and are probably wondering who you are. Some may even go out of their way to help you transition.
Stay close to those who are eager to help you. Establish your “go-to” crew – the people you will turn to most often when you have questions or need guidance.
2. Ask Questions
Always ask questions if you aren’t sure about something. It may be okay to guess the answer if you’re working for a corporation, but in the nursing field – where lives are literally on the line – you must be sure that you’re making the right decision or taking the right action.
It doesn’t matter how “stupid” you might think the question sounds, there is no question that you shouldn’t ask. Every nurse has had similar questions.
Always know where to find your hospital procedures and policies. Know how to ask your colleagues for the information you need.
3. Dress the Part
Scrubs will be your work uniform, and while comfortable, it’s still important to make sure that you meet dress code guidelines and still look professional.
Make sure that your scrubs fit properly. If you happen to be a male nurse, make sure that you’re buying men’s scrub sets unisex scrubs. Loose, baggy scrubs can be a hazard, and they can also make you look unprofessional.
Some hospitals and healthcare facilities will have special requirements for scrubs. You may have to wear a certain color, or you may not be permitted to wear printed scrubs.
4. Cheat to Learn
Now that you’re working as a nurse, you don’t have to memorize everything. You don’t have to remember all of the crazy details related to medications.
In fact, it’s probably best not to rely on your memory.
Yes, you will build up an extensive knowledge base over the years, but for now, it’s best to cheat to learn.
Look up all medications before administering them. Review procedural skills before performing them. Look up lab value ranges or appropriate vital signs if you can’t remember them.
As a nurse, it’s perfectly okay to cheat until the information is ingrained in your memory. Make sure that you have pocket-sized reference books on you at all times.