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Ten Tips for Your First Year of Nursing

After you've completed the schooling, grueling clinical rotations, mind-busting exams, medication memorization, and the NCLEX, now comes the fun part: your nursing career! Your first year as an RN might be difficult, and you might feel some burnout--many first-year nurses do. Here are ten quick tips to keep in mind and help make your first year of nursing a success:

1. Coffee is your friend. As a first-year nurse, you won't have the most time-sensitive or desirable shifts. Caffeine can be heaven during those eye-closing 12-hour night shifts.

2. Respect your elders. You're new in the game, and it's important to both acknowledge and respect those nurses who have come before you--even if they have a different way of performing a particular procedure.

3. It's OK to second-guess. While it's important to be respectful (see #2), you are the new-grad nurse and might have some insight or reasons for doing something differently. Don't be afraid to speak up.

4. Know your nursing lounge. From 15-minute cat-naps to soda machines and nursing research bulletins, the lounge can be your best friend--and where you make friends too!

5. Delegate, delegate, delegate. When you're trying to balance five of your own patients, grab the CNA or LPN and ask him or her to help you with procedures he or she may be trained to complete.

6. Mental health days are OK. If you don't take time to yourself, work can overtake your life, and you may get burned out. Remember to relax--read a book, go on a hike, or hang out with friends.

7. Colleagues can save your day. Know your fellow RNs and how they are capable of helping you. You're not a superhero.

8. Patients will die. You will partake in palliative care and treat end-of-life patients. Prepare by thinking of someone you can go to to discuss your emotions.

9. Mistakes will happen. Make sure to document everything and go about the proper procedure when a mistake happens.

10. There is always something to do. Even on a night shift when all of your patients are sleeping you can use your down time to re-stock the rooms or check up on medication orders. You'll be glad you did these tasks later on when you are busy.

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