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Starting a new nursing job can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. You have to learn where everything is and get to know your new coworkers while trying to do your job. If you’re starting a new position and wondering how you can adjust, read these 11 tips before your first day of work.
1. Come prepared.
Be ready to hit the ground running at your new job. Read over the hospital’s policies and procedures ahead of time, so you’re not trying to learn on the fly. Clean your house, do your chores, wash your cotton scrubs, and cook all the food you’ll need so you can concentrate on your first week or two on the job. It takes a little work, but you’ll be grateful when that first week of work starts.
2. Get to know your facility.
Learning where your team stores various equipment is one of the most important and practical things to do when you first start your job. You’ll need to know what is kept in the supply room and where your team stores the Crash Cart. Being able to retrieve items quickly will make your job easier, and those precious extra seconds can make a difference in a true emergency. So take yourself on a tour of your floor and figure out where everything is!
3. Ask smart questions.
Some nurses hesitate to ask questions at a new job because they’re afraid that it will make them look ignorant. However, asking smart questions will show that you’ve been paying attention and are actively engaging with the team. If you need to, carry around a little notebook where you can jot down the various answers and refer back. This way, you don’t end up asking the same question a dozen times over.
4. Listen to the gossip (but don’t participate).
While it’s important to know the official policies and procedures, a lot of the important knowledge is passed along through word of mouth. If your coworkers start chit-chatting with you, pay attention to see if you can glean any information about how the unit works. You may learn by hearing about past events. However, it’s usually best not to participate in the gossip yourself, especially before you know your coworkers well. You don’t want to ruffle any feathers.
5. Stay positive.
There are bound to be some mishaps and miscommunications during your first weeks on the job. While you might be tempted to get down on yourself, try to look for the bright side and stay positive. You’ll likely be stressed from the new job, which makes you more vulnerable to small mistakes. So cut yourself some slack and try to stay upbeat.
6. Reach out to coworkers.
Having a friendly, open demeanor can go a long way toward helping you establish good relationships with your coworkers. Make an effort to participate when they engage you in conversation and say “yes” when they invite you to lunch. As you get to know people better, you can take the initiative in starting conversations or asking if they want to grab coffee together on your breaks.
7. Find a good mentor.
Having a good mentor is crucial to succeeding at your job. In a perfect world, this mentor will be your direct supervisor, but you won’t always end up with a great boss. If your nurse supervisor is less than ideal, seek out a mentor who you don’t report to but can trust. This person can be someone at the facility or someone else.
8. Be a team player.
Nurses do have a lot of autonomy and often work independently, but they also operate as a unit. The best nurses can work well on their own or with their team members. It’s also important to be able to work well with doctors and other health care providers. Make it a point to be a team player and work well with your new coworkers. If you prefer to be a lone wolf most of the time, see this as an area of growth and set a goal for yourself to improve your teamwork skills.
9. Give yourself time.
It’s normal to feel a bit unbalanced as you adjust to a new job. Not only are you in a new environment surrounded by new people, but you might also be taking on new duties. If you moved cities on top of getting a new job, you’re going to feel even more frazzled. Give yourself at least six months to get settled into your new role. It takes a while to feel comfortable at a new job. Be aware that it may take longer, especially if you’re dealing with other changes.
10. Stay confident.
As part of that adjustment period, you might feel like you don’t belong at your new job and wonder whether you’re truly qualified for the position. These feelings are totally normal and especially common if the new role is a promotion. Remind yourself that your employer wouldn’t have hired you for the role if you weren’t qualified. Everyone takes some time to get settled into a new job.
11. Advocate for your patients.
In the stress and confusion of a new job, don’t lose sight of why you go to work in the first place: your patients. Patient outcomes should always be the priority for both you as an individual nurse and your facility. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by all the new changes, focus on caring for your patients and providing the best care possible. You can’t go wrong with this attitude.
If you follow these 11 strategies, you’ll be able to don your scrubs and your nursing shoes with confidence on your first day. Good luck at your new job, and congrats on finding a new nursing position!
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