When you've just graduated from nursing school and passed your boards, things can be a little overwhelming. From realizing you are now a "real" nurse, to figuring out what jobs to apply for, it's enough to make you long for nursing school again....Okay, okay, I exaggerated there a bit! Anyway, we want to help you by providing you with five tips that every new nurse should know, to help you survive and create a great and satifying career path.
Learn to be grin and bear it. As nurses we are constantly surrounded by difficult situations. Many times our patients are in pain. Nurses are right in the trenches with every body fluid you can imagine, because we have adapted and learned to just deal with it. Remember those foul smells of urine, poops, blood, drainage and sputum are connected to real human beings with real emotions and feelings. You will need to hide your reaction to minimize embarrassment to your patient. Remember, you might be in their shoes one day. I'm sure if you smell it, they smell it too, so imagine how embarrassed they must be!
I've seen my share of dead people and zipped up plenty of body bags. I've comforted mothers that have just lost their teenage kid. I've scubbed a case in the O.R. where the patient was 13 weeks pregnant and had an infected anal fistula. I've tried to save gun-shot victims that I knew would die no matter what I did. I've smelled the most horendous odors come out of the sweetest, most gentle people I have ever met. It never gets easy, but you will get better at it.
Make no mistake, nurses eat their young. Maybe it's because they don't get enough breaks...Just kidding. It is true though. This trend is beginning to change as work facilities create a more involved and supportive work environment, but we still have a long way to go. Treat senior nurses with the respect they deserve. Hopefully you will make mentors instead of enemies. If you treat seasoned nurses with respect and check your attitude at the door, you will find that in most cases they will be glad to mentor and advise you. It's the smart alec know-it-alls they usually don't care for. So, if you see a seasoned nurse doing something that isn't "text book", just be quiet and learn by observing. You will learn more from these nurses that you did in nursing school...period! Remember nursing school doesn't teach you to be a nurse. It teaches you to critically think. So let these nurses teach you how to be a real nurse.
Good communication skills are a must in order to speak to patients, family members, physicians and co-workers. Hospitals are stressful places, often filled with strong emotions. Often times these emotions can get the best of us if we don't learn to reign them in and realize that everyone usually has the same goal.
As nurses we are used to giving. It's what we do best. Many times we put our own needs aside to help others. But, we need to find a healthy balance between the care we give to others and self care. Sure there are many unhappy nurses out there. After all, nurses are people too, but know where to draw the line, because negativity is toxic and highly contagious. Just a hand full of negative people can lower the morale of the entire facility. Learn from "negative Nancy", don't be like her. The world doesn't need another one. Figure out what you need to thrive. Some examples include: an exercise routine, meditation, yoga, massage, time spent with friends that nurture you (rather than demand your care) and vacation time.. As nurses we should always encourage each other to prioritize self-care. Good self-care will improve your effectiveness and safety as a nurse. You can't properly care for others if you don;t care for yourself.
Appreciate what you have and realize that no matter how bad things are, they could always be worse. You only have to look around you and see that there are people a lot worse off than you. So be happy and be glad you're a nurse. It's a great, rewarding career path and one you should always be proud of. Now, get to work showing everyone what a wonderful nurse you can be!
which piece of advice rings most true from your own experience? What advice do YOU have for new nurses? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
If you're a new nurse, let us know if this helped you. We love to receive feedback. Keep calm and NURSE ON!!!