First, welcome to the nursing profession! Congratulations. You have worked hard and it has paid off. Second, get ready for a tough road ahead! It’s going to be an exhausting year ahead as you begin your work in the medical profession.
Being a nurse is not easy. It will require long hours, plenty of physical stamina, and a lot – a lot! – of patience. A growing number of nurses, particularly the new ones, are quitting the profession because medical facilities have become understaffed and the current staff is overworked. Suffice it to say, your shifts will not be a cakewalk.
So, how can you get through your first year or two? We have some tips to ease the strain. Here are nine tips for new nurses to survive their first year:
1. Get Your Beauty Sleep
When you are putting in 10-, 12-, or even 16-hour shifts a few times a week, it can be quite fatiguing. This tired feeling is multiplied when you are going out and trying to lead a social life. But there needs to be a fine balance, one that allows you to get your sleep and still have a fun and exciting personal life.
That said, when you are a nurse, you need to get your beauty sleep – the day you are working and the day you have off. You need your eight-hour minimum, plus, if you can, a couple of naps.
It cannot be stated enough how critical sleep is. Do not forget this crucial tip for new nurses!
2. Never Be Afraid to Ask Questions
During your shift, a patient’s life is always in your hands. This is something you should never take lightly, whether it is your first day or you are a seasoned veteran. With this in mind, it is crucial to remember that you should never be afraid to ask questions.
You might be concerned to ask others for fear of being frowned upon or scorned or embarrassed. But your feelings do not matter in the nursing profession. The only person that matters is the patient.
If you are unsure about something or don’t know, one of the best tips for new nurses is to simply ask.
3. Keep up With Your Charting
In between assisting a patient, filling in for a colleague, or trying to catch up on your food, it can be nearly impossible to keep up with your charting. Ask any professional nurse and the charting will be a chief grievance for the health care provider.
A lot of novice nurses leave their charting toward the end of the day, but this should be avoided because this is an important task and if you are exhausted, you might leave out a few details.
4. Be Early
Did you hear? Being on time is the new late. It’s true.
These days, it is better to be early than to be on time, mainly because there is just so much stuff to do. Plus, if you prepare to leave the home to get to work 15 minutes early, then you avoid being late due to some unforeseen circumstance – traffic accident, shut down subways, or terrible weather that slows everything down.
5. Eat in Between Tasks
Unfortunately, not eating is quite common in the nursing profession. You have so much to do that eating is the last thing on your plate. But you should never let it go too far that you are about to pass out.
There are two ways to tackle this prevalent problem:
- Have a heavy meal that will ensure you are full, rich in protein and fat.
- Eat in between tasks – again, snacks that are high in protein and fat.
By doing this, you ensure that you will not go hungry and make mistakes.
6. Practice Patience (It’s Hard!)
One thing you will immediately learn in the health care system is that you need patience – a lot of it!
For 12 hours a day, you are dealing with uncouth patients, disgruntled employees, demanding visitors, and all sorts of other individuals who are also impatient. It’s tough to work with people in a people-oriented setting.
Indeed, patience will help you get through the day.
7. Colleague Need a Hand? Lend It
In nursing, you always need to pay it forward. How do you achieve this? That’s easy: Help a colleague when he or she needs it. By lending a hand, you will ensure future assistance when you need it. That way, if you are overwhelmed, you can alleviate the stress and prevent a tough situation from metastasizing into a full-blown meltdown.
8. Use a Lighted Watch
This is a simple trick that will do wonders for you, especially if you are working the night shift: a lighted watch, or a glow in the dark wristwatch.
If a patient’s room is dim or if babies are sleeping dark hub, then you can simply utilize a lighted watch to check a heart rate without having to turn a light on and potentially disrupt the patient.
9. Communicate Simply and Clearly
The patient and his or her family need to understand why they are there, what is happening, and how they are being treated. This can only be accomplished if you communicate everything as simply and clearly as possible. They will appreciate it. Also, doing so prevents patients and their families from having to constantly interrupt your work with questions.
Being a nurse is tough work. Eventually, you become accustomed to the hustle and bustle of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or a cancer ward. At first, however, it takes plenty of time get used to the frustration, long hours, rude patients, and everything else that comes with the territory.
These tips will help you survive your first year as a nurse.