Congratulations! You’ve completed the hard work of nursing school and passed the NCLEX. You now have a good foundation of the skills that you will need to launch your nursing career. Once the excitement has settled and the diploma is proudly displayed on the wall, you might find yourself wondering, “What’s next?” These tips for new nurses can help center your thinking.
Starting a new career as a nurse is an exciting time but also comes with some stress and worry about being out on your own. Building on the foundation of your skills takes time but is well worth the effort.
Though there are many tips that may be helpful during the beginning of your career, organization, mentorship, confidence, learning, and self-care are especially important tips for new nurses.
Organizational skills are a must for the new nurse. As you get started on your own, developing a routine and a system that works for you is essential for a successful shift. Though the exact needs may vary based on where you work, organization is a great tip for a new nurse.
For some, showing up early to get a few minutes to review their assignment, getting a cup of coffee, and taking a moment to center themselves can be helpful. Find an organized way to get a report from the previous shift. After report, take a moment to prioritize your day. Review the orders and medications for your patients and come up with a rough schedule of how the day will go. If there is something pressing that needs to be done, take care of that first. A helpful tip for new nurses is to set a schedule for rounding on your patients.
Another way to stay organized is to keep notes throughout the day. Write down things you need to remember to do or questions you need to ask. This can help you keep your thoughts organized and make sure you’re able to accomplish everything.
Finding a good mentor is incredibly beneficial as you start your nursing career. Some employers provide formal mentorship opportunities for new nurses. If your employer doesn’t assign one for you, seek one out as you meet your fellow nurses. If there is someone you’re comfortable with and respect, ask them if they would be willing to mentor you.
Developing this mentor relationship can help continue to build your skills — skills beyond the clinical ones. A mentor can help with skill building in decision making, communication, and organization just to name a few. Mentors can also share their experience and the things they’ve learned over the years that have been helpful or not so helpful. It can be comforting when you’re new to have someone to go to when you have questions or concerns.
It’s important to remember that you do actually know what you’re doing! Although many things are still new and unfamiliar, never forget that you are more than capable of doing what needs to be done.
A key tip for new nurses — try not to compare yourself to other nurses. No two nurses are the same and each nurse has something to offer. Comparison sets you up to possibly feel inadequate, which can lead to questioning your ability to do the job. It’s also important to remember that every nurse was new once, and not one of them became an expert overnight.
Becoming confident won’t happen quickly. It takes time as you experience new situations and learn how to grow into your role. Exhibiting confidence in your interactions with patients will help them feel more at ease and confident in your care.
Never stop learning
Although you just finished school and might not want to think about going back anytime soon, never stop learning. Continually seek out opportunities to continue building your skills and knowledge. This is one of the most important tips for new nurses.
Learning doesn’t always have to take place in a formal classroom setting. There are ways to learn through many avenues, including:
- Continuing education courses
- Getting a certification in a specialty
- Participating in a committee in your workplace
- Attending nursing conferences
- Participating in virtual meetings or webinars
- Reading nursing journals
- Discussing issues with other healthcare providers
Take care of yourself
This may be one of the most difficult tips to follow but is one of the most important tips for new nurses. Nursing is a rewarding career, but it is hard work. Nursing can be physically difficult and emotionally draining. Knowing how to recover from a tough shift and take care of yourself is an important skill to master. Some tips for new nurses include:
- Eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising regularly to help manage stress
- Getting enough sleep
- Spending time with family or friends
- Getting a massage
- Taking a vacation or weekend away
Tips for New Nurses
These tips for new nurses can help you be successful in your practice. Never hesitate to ask questions and remember to give yourself some grace as you adjust to your new and exciting career. And remember, every nurse has been in your shoes and understands what it’s like to be new. Before long, you’ll be sharing your own tips for new nurses with a new cohort.
For information and insights from other practicing nurses, download and review the 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report.