New nurses don’t just have a lot to learn about the specifics of their nursing specialty, but also about how to be happy and successful at work. Transitioning from school to the workplace is challenging for almost anyone, but being aware of potential pitfalls and proactively addressing them can help new nurses avoid some common negative consequences of beginning a new career.
An effective nurse is not just one who knows how to perform his or her duties well; a great nurse also understands how to lead others, manage time efficiently and serve patients in an empathetic way.
- 1 Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
- 2 Communicate with Your Team
- 3 Get to Know the Hospital and Nursing Culture
- 4 Make Sure You Find the Best Fit for Your Skillset
- 5 Stay Healthy
- 6 Establish Boundaries with Coworkers
- 7 Network and Get to Know your Coworkers
- 8 Set Boundaries for Patient Care Responsibilities
- 9 Conclusion
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
New nurses often don’t know whom to ask for help and feel that asking for assistance is somehow a failure. This is not the case, of course. Every nurse has his or her own experiences, strengths, and weaknesses; the sooner you understand that the better off you’ll be. Trusting your gut and asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Your supervisor, your peers, and your colleagues will appreciate your asking for assistance, and will help you to succeed if that’s what they want to happen. You will find that you’re able to help others, too, by being open to other people’s knowledge and experience. You’re likely to have a lot to offer in this area, but you’ll never know what you have to offer if you’re too proud to ask.
Communicate with Your Team
If you’re feeling lonely or isolated on the job, you’re more likely to be unhappy in your position. Learning how to communicate with your team members is important; not just to find out about their work, but also to open yourself up to hearing about the challenges they face. This will help you to begin learning how to solve problems together and build a sense of camaraderie with your team.
On the other hand, don’t be the person who always has to prove how much work they’re doing. A sign of an unhappy nurse is someone who brags about how much they’re doing, how many patients they’re seeing every day, and how many charts they’re writing up. Trust that your supervisors and managers know how much work you’re doing so you don’t get burnt out.
Get to Know the Hospital and Nursing Culture
You may have landed in a position where you’re working in a specialty or with patients you have no experience with. This is not uncommon, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Gatekeeper positions, such as the nurse who screens patients to see if they’re appropriate for specialists or a doctor’s time, can help you learn a lot. This is a great place to start if you need to get up to speed in a short period of time.
Make Sure You Find the Best Fit for Your Skillset
You may be assigned to work with a specialty where you feel you aren’t a good fit. If possible, try to learn about other specialties in your hospital. You may be able to get a transfer to a specialty that’s more suited to your interests and skill level.
If you can’t transfer to a different department, try to make the most of your situation. This can be a great way to learn about yourself, and it can help you to find a specialty you want to pursue in the future, or what you would futuristically like to avoid. Also, consider advancing your degree to a Master’s in Nursing to further your skillset. This article on nurse.org is for you if you are looking for a master’s degree in nursing.
There’s a general misconception that nurses should be sick all the time. This isn’t true; you should be healthy (not just physically, but also mentally, and emotionally, too) enough to do your job well. If you get sick, you should definitely stay home.
The last thing you want to do while you’re feeling miserable is make your co-workers sick, too. If you have a chronic or ongoing condition that won’t keep you home, make sure you’re managing it, either with medication or lifestyle changes, so that it doesn’t interfere with your work.
Establish Boundaries with Coworkers
When it comes to working as a nursing team, some coworkers may ask you to do things that are outside the scope of your duties. If you’re able to comply, this is great; you’re helping your coworkers. But if the requests are outside the scope of your work, you don’t have to comply.
It’s not always easy to find the balance between being friendly and helpful to coworkers and setting firm boundaries for yourself. If you need help figuring out how to do this, speak to your supervisor or another nursing leader.
Network and Get to Know your Coworkers
Consider hosting a get-together at a location like a coffee shop or restaurant with your closest coworkers. You can also use social media to network with your nursing colleagues. This will allow you to converse about the job and make life-long friends.
Set Boundaries for Patient Care Responsibilities
While it’s tempting to say yes to every request, you have to be able to say no sometimes. Be aware of what your job responsibilities are, and try to say no to patients and families who expect you to do things outside of those boundaries.
You don’t want to be a yes person to the point where you’re doing things that aren’t part of your job. At the same time, you want to be empathetic. Be honest and direct, but be compassionate, too. Explain that you have a job to do and that you want to do your best for the patients.
Nursing is not just a career but also a way of life. It requires dedicated individuals willing to make sacrifices in order to provide the best care to their patients. Nursing can be a very rewarding career and the tips listed above will help new nurses find success in their new vocation.