After you’ve completed your nursing degree, there are a few key things to help you survive your first year as a newly qualified nurse.
Know your colleagues
Nursing requires working in a team, and it’s hard to function as a team without trust and rapport. Put in some time getting to know everyone.
Adjust to shift work
Going from studying for your degree to working long shifts and/or nights can challenging for anyone at the beginning. Give yourself a chance to adjust to a shift work. What you can do is communicate with your loved ones and plan your days off so you can maximize them.
You will be working in a fast-paced environment, so making a list of the key things you need to do each day is a good way to keep yourself organised. You’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment when you manage to tick everything off. And don’t forget, if you don’t get to finish everything you aim to complete each day, don’t worry. Patients come first, and if there’s an emergency, you obviously need to prioritise somebody who is in need.
Happy nurses, happy patients
Being a nurse is not just a job but a vocation for life that you will come to cherish. However, long hours, caring for patients, and liaising with their families can take their toll on your wellbeing.
If you start feeling stressed or burnt-out, it’s important to open up. Speaking to friends, colleagues or your manager can help you feel better and see things more clearly. There are also plenty of simple activities you can undertake at home to help you to feel more relaxed, such as meditation, exercise and maintaining a healthy diet.
Prepare for your preceptorship
Preceptorships or training periods occur right at the start of your first job as a newly qualified nurse. You might be expected to work independently and report back to a senior member of staff, or you may be supervised closely for a number of weeks – it varies, depending on the hospital.
In most cases, you will be assigned a mentor who will be tasked with giving you feedback. Don’t be alarmed if you receive negative feedback during this time. The aim is to improve how you work and support you as a new member of the nursing team, so listening to constructive criticism and taking it on board will only benefit you.
Ask for specific feedback
When you’re working with your mentor or another fellow nurse and they observe you with a patient, ask them “What could I have done better?” Ask for specific feedback, as this is essential for your professional growth and helps to ask for it directly, right after the observation.
Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions during your first few weeks. You won’t know where everything is or what to do in certain situations. If you aren’t given a tour right away, ask someone to take you around when they have a quiet moment, and find out where the important rooms, medicines, and equipment are.