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Top “Survival” Tips for New Nurses

Making the transition from student to registered nurse can be nerve-racking. Here are a few tips to keep you on track as you make the transition.

Congratulations! You’ve graduated from nursing school! All those late nights studying biochemistry and poking classmates with needles as you practice your IV skills have paid off. Now, armed with fresh scrubs and a new pair of sensible shoes, you’re ready to tackle your RN career and help patients to the best of your ability. Or are you?

Making the transition from student to registered nurse can be nerve-racking. It’s natural to have doubts and to be nervous as you step into a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office. Even if it’s a place you’ve been before during your rotations, there still may be a new-ish feeling. But don’t worry, there are steps you can take to calm those butterflies, survive your first few months, and set yourself up for success, says seasoned nurse Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC, in a blog.

Carlson recommends these survival strategies for those first few weeks and months on the job:

  • Find a mentor: If your hospital or workplace doesn’t have a mentorship program, it’s a good idea to find one yourself. If you work with a nurse whom you admire and who is simply fantastic at what they do, you can watch quietly and learn how they do the work. This is a silent mentoring relationship where you learn through association and observation. If that isn’t your style, you could verbalize your wish for a mentor to the nurse in question. This could involve setting up a regular meeting to ask questions and receive coaching, or it could be more of an informal, as-needed arrangement.
  • Ask questions: There’s a saying that the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. Don’t be afraid to ask what you think are dumb questions. New nurses have a lot to learn, and if you act like you know everything, how will you ever learn?
  • Cluster your care: Planning and grouping certain patient care tasks can help you be more efficient and do less unnecessary running around. It also gives your patients more time to rest.
  • Keep learning: There’s no end to what nurses need to know, so allow your natural curiosity to move you to keep learning.

Find out what excites you most about nursing by reading journal articles and blogs, listening to podcasts, or watching videos. If in-person learning is more your thing, try attending conferences, seminars, and webinars that feed your nurse brain with high-quality learning.

And remember to breathe. You became a nurse for a reason, and you’re doing your best no matter what happens!

You can find Carlson’s complete list of ten survival tips here.

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