What to Expect at Your First Day of Nursing


It was a morning shift, my first day as a nurse. We were in the nurses’ station of a 30 bedded medical-surgical ward…listening to the handover that the night staff was giving in a low soft tone voice.

nursing handover

From the corner where I’m standing, trying to understand every jargon their are saying as:

“Mr. X  is for ERCP”

“NBM since 12 MN”

“Mr. S is for Angiogram at 10 am all cardiac meds given aspirin withheld,ECG done.”

“Mrs. F Day 10 post CS”

“HB 9 had BT 1 unit

It was endless  until the last patient had been handed over. Handover during those days lasted for about 30 minutes, as you have  to write everything on your piece of paper (unlike today, you are given a print out of the handover, all you need to do is listen and add a little if  it’s  needed).

After that, it’s time to do the walking handover as we went to each room, where patients’ contraptions were checked, each dressings examined and every IVF checked.

That is how vigorous the start of the day was. Next on the agenda was to check all the progress notes of patient assigned to me (usually about 20 as the 10 patients were in the second level, occupying the private rooms).

As I was new, I have to be buddied to a senior nurse to give me support and assistance as I needed it. But more than usual, I was left on my own. My senior nurse buddy was needed to accompany the doctor’s round as she was the senior nurse and she knew the consultant’s routine. I was left to attend to call bells of patient needing help.

During my eight hour shift, everything had to be done on schedule but that did not happen all the timethough as I was interrupted by patients, relatives, technicians, and doctors.

A two-minute  procedure like diluting an antibiotic took several minutes at times because everybody were busy attending calls. I guess it had helped that back then, we utilised functional nursing as well as primary nursing.

Functional nursing means that as we are given functions like one nurse was assigned to do the intravenous medications, one  to do oral medications, one to carry out doctor’s orders and one to do observations.  Primary nursing was also utilized in a way when we admit patient, whomever admitted the patient, planned for her/his care until discharge.

Every day was a new experience as I worked with different sets of nurses. I’ve gained some of their good techniques especially with dealings with patients and their relatives.

I’ve seen and worked with empathetic and wonderful nurses but sad to say, I’ve also seen some bad ones. And when I say bad ones, I really mean the bad ones – those nurses who don’t even support you and who performed their nursing duties that I don’t believe should have been acceptable.

The only thing that I didn’t like during those first days were the thought of having not done what I was supposed to do.

My concerns invaded my dreams even – I have dreamt of not giving antibiotics and so many other things related to work. Even when it was my day off, take a guess what I did first thing after I woke up? I rang the ward to confirm if I indeed have given the meds.

That’s how much nursing would invade your life. It’s not just your day (or your night job!). It invades even your dreams! How ridiculous is that? Have you experienced that too?

Can you remember your first days as a newbie nurse? What was your experience?


  1. I can totally relate to this!! as a New grad RN who started last march I completely empathise with those feelings.. I too have dreamed about missing meds, and have nearly got up to answer the call bell in my sleep!! I remember being absolutely terrified on my first day, I think I was one of the lucky ones though who was buddied up with one of the most fabulous RNs I have ever met!! I think a lot of the nerves can be overcome if you have a wonderful senior to be buddied with, not those who treat you as stupid if you want to ask a question!

  2. Ah! the waft of ammonia frying our nostrils as we approached certain wards in the 70’s, and the 100-year old corridors, sprouting ghosts and tales untold.Winds howling down every edge, and the roaring coal fires at either end of the surgical ward, with the sounds of possats (the cats bred with the possums!) in the ceilings of the 1884 wards.
    Patients with failing vision asking about the people standing still and looking at them from over the fence (they were looking at the Rookwood Cemetery tombstones!). The home-sister (trying to protect the innocence and chastity of the new nurses in the nurses quarters) cycling down old and dusty roads, under majestic fig trees, with her extra-long veil trailing behind her.Looked like the witch on her broomstick in Wizard of Oz! How could I forget! The smell of the ether everywhere! we used it to clean the stainless steel benches – worked like magic, though sometimes we had to drag the anaethetised nurses out of the confined space of a panroom, as the ether had done its job too well at times! Magic times!

  3. Well, my first night as a new grad nurse is tonight, so I will find out very soon what it will be like haha. im excited though


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