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10 Handy Tips for Your First Week of Nursing

When nursing orientation is over, you're on your own--but don't let that scare you! Soon you should be an experienced, seasoned nurse. In the meantime, let the nursing tips from the pros make your life easier.

Top 10 Nursing Tips for the First-Year Nurse

When you were searching for nursing jobs, you projected a confident air--but now that you have the job, the nervousness might be setting in. Remember, every seasoned nurse was once a first-time nurse who felt unsure of everything. Everyone has to start somewhere!

Get a jump-start on your first week with these handy nursing tips.

  1. Get to work 30 minutes early. By getting on the floor early, you can have plenty of time to prepare for your shift. The nurse you are switching shifts with should appreciate the chance to clock out right on time, and neither of you will feel rushed as you go over charts and discuss patients.
  2. Need help? Ask! No question is too "dumb" to ask. Never hesitate to make certain you've got it right. After all, you have a responsibility to your patients to make sure your job is done correctly.
  3. Listen carefully. Sometimes physicians can give orders so quickly, it is hard to keep up. If you don't understand, make them slow down and go over it, but don't second-guess the doctors. Part of your nursing job involves carrying out the orders of the physician, even if you feel another course of action might be best.
  4. Write it down. Nurses are always busy! By the time you sit down to chart, you might have forgotten when you gave a certain medication, or what a patient's vitals were an hour ago. Keep a notepad and pen with you and write down everything as you do it. Don't take the chance of forgetting!
  5. Move quietly. Talk in low tones, keep a calm demeanor, and don't move too quickly around patients. Staying slow and methodical is the way to ensure you do everything correctly. Speaking with a friendly and soft voice is a courtesy for your sick and healing patients, and they will be grateful for it.
  6. Be yourself--and be confident! You've gone through nursing school and you've earned the title of Nurse. Be confident in your abilities, and recognize that what you don't know, you will quickly figure out. Don't put up a front! Let your genuine personality shine through. Your patients will respond to it, and so will your colleagues.
  7. Step up to the plate. Is there a job that needs to be done? Don't wait until someone delegates it to you. Volunteer to do it, and then jump right on it! Your fellow nurses will appreciate your helpfulness.
  8. Learn names. Everyone likes to feel appreciated. You can endear yourself to your new colleagues by learning their names. It might seem like a small thing, but it shows you do care. And don't forget to smile as you ask about their day!
  9. Don't complain. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Don't complain--instead, find a way to solve the problem. Ask "Is there another way of doing this?" or "Is there something I'm missing?" If you approach the problem with a calm and patient attitude, your fellow nurses are likely to do anything they can to help you out!
  10. Be part of the team. Offer to help when someone needs a hand, and don't hesitate to ask for advice. Pay attention to the dynamics of the team, always do a thorough job, and make good nursing your goal. Soon you will be a valued member of the team, and your first-week nervousness will be long gone.

The Most Important Nursing Tip

There is one more tip to remember. It might be the simplest, but it is also one of the toughest to take to heart: Be patient with yourself!

Don't feel like you're quite up to speed? That's because you're probably not--yet. So relax! You are working with nurses who have been around for years, and they already know the ropes. They won't expect you to figure it out during the first week, or even the first month. Remember that they have been there, and they understand.

So give yourself a break, keep your eyes and ears open, and soak up all the knowledge you can. Before you know it, you will be one of those experienced nurses who is showing the first-year nurses the ropes.

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