What are your tips for new nurses?

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What advice do you wish you’d been given as a new nurse? What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time?

There are plenty of tip lists on the Internet for new nurses but most were dreamed up by marketing firms. Let’s hear from some real nurses, with thoughtful ideas.

For example, one paediatric nurse’s advice for new nurses in dealing with families is Don’t say, “I know how you feel” when you have never been in that situation.

She goes on to suggest an alternative: Instead you can say something like: “I can’t begin to imagine how worried you must be, but we are doing everything we can, if you have any questions please ask and if I can’t answer them I will find someone who can, etc”.

Here’s what some of our readers said on Facebook:

  • My advice: be strong, be for defining our role better in a way that enables RNs to focus on the technical side or the work. Don’t let people with old ideals get you down. Be the solution. Don’t cave to bullies.
  • I’ve only been nursing for 4 months but the best advice I’ve had so far is just to focus on basic nursing care and getting that down pat. Add the rest in as you feel comfortable. People can be impatient with you but better to be slow and get things done well than kill or maim someone by doing something you’re not comfortable with too soon. I ask millions of questions and I like to “watch one, do one” with procedures. It’s part of nursing to teach others but some are better at it than others so don’t take it personally! It’s a constantly changing job
  • Take advice from people with careers that you admire.
  • For those new nurses I would say to…

1. Always keep patient focused
2. Keep up to date with the evidence
3. Look after yourself
4. Ask loads of questions!
5. Don’t take other nurses negative comments to heart. Your cynical sense of humour will come too.
6. Don’t be afraid of change. It’s inevitable so just embrace it.
7. Love your work! If you don’t, find somewhere else that you do. There are so many wards, hospitals, specialty areas so try until you find your fit.
Good luck and enjoy! 😊

Tell us what you’d tell a new nurse – indeed have you given a new grad any advice recently?

3 COMMENTS

  1. The best advice I can give to all new nurses is ‘be kind to yourself’. I am in my new grad year and 7 months in. It has been the biggest challenge of my life. I expected too much of myself those first few months. I felt that I wasn’t skilled enough, wasn’t fast enough, wasn’t knowledgeable enough and it took me a while to accept that it was OK to NOT be enough. This is a really tough, tough job. I had to accept that I was going to be slower and less knowledgeable than the other nurses. When I actually accepted that, things got easier. I began to be more kind to myself and not as hard on myself.
    Every day I woke up – and some days it was really hard to face another day, I always said out loud as I put my uniform on, ‘I’m going to be a good nurse today’ and that was enough. I would do my best and that is enough.

    Another piece of advice – never EVER hesitate in asking questions! Even if you have to ask the same one more than once! No matter how dumb you think the question is, ask!

    And lastly, taking a patient’s obs can be boring. Make it a valuable time! Take the time to observe their breathing, their wounds, ask whether they’ve pooed. Chat to them! Use the time wisely.

    Last of all, this job is hard but I would never do anything else. It is a super special job to have and you’re a super special person to have chosen it. Good luck!

  2. Hi Lina, I really enjoyed reading your response. You are on the right road to becoming a really caring and knowledgeable nurse. Knowing our own limits and accepting that as adult learners we learn at different rates, in different situations, is invaluable.

    As a Clinical Nurse Educator who works nearly every week with undergraduate nursing students from various Universities and Colleges in Sydney, I see what high expectations young and some more mature students place on themselves. I was like that just over 10 years ago when I returned to nursing – literally re-trained after a long absence. It was important for me to be good, no, excellent – and I worked so hard to meet my own and others’ expectations, which weren’t really realistic as I was already in my fifties. I was already a language teacher of many years experience but I had a dream of teaching young nurses.
    There were some who said I’d never be able to teach (and one CNE said she would never even let me assess a trainee enrolled nurse taking a BP!) – but I persevered.

    Set your goals, Lina, keep your focus on what you want to achieve and make a plan. Confide in people you trust. I had a mentor within the Public Health organisation who stood by me and encouraged me for several years. When I catch up with other supportive colleagues at NSWNMA events, it is with great joy that I say thank you to them.

  3. Sorry for the long rant, but I will keep it short as possible lol.

    Recently finished an AIN course and work experience. Just like everyone else who goes into nursing, I was always interested in nursing. I’m also a caring person by nature, so I thought it would be the “perfect” job for me.

    While I was doing work experience, I was treated like the scum of the earth by the other nurses, they were backstabbing me and all of those other lovely things. Something positive though, a lot of the residents were pleasant to work with.

    Anyway, looked for AIN jobs after I finished my training. Have had interviews with a few places, I was unsuccessful because I don’t have enough “experience”, even though I listed every task I did while I was on work experience. The other nursing homes haven’t even bothered to get back to me.

    What I’m trying to say is, how do AINs get their foot in the door if nursing facilities won’t even bother to take them on?

    One thing the courses don’t tell students, it is almost impossible to get work after doing the course. I’m also young, so before anyone tells me it’s better I had previous experience before I started the course, was I supposed to start nursing when I was a child?

    I also can’t believe how toxic the culture in nursing can be. Because of that experience, I couldn’t be bothered with nursing any more and have got a job in a different industry. I don’t think I would consider working in nursing again.

    How come nurses and those facilities don’t like newbies? The industry is quite misleading in telling people they are always looking for nurses, because in reality, no one actually is.

    Can anyone answer those questions or help clear up the confusion?

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