5 Things Every New Nurse Should Know

As a new nurse, you may feel like you are thrown into the deep end of the pool. And while it is true that there are things you probably didn’t learn in nursing school, there are also many resources available to help you succeed in your new role. Your education and certifications can take you far, but here are five things every new nurse needs to know:


  1. Your schedule will be disorganized. 

Even if you are given a schedule with approved hours, shifts, and vacations, it is likely that it will change; another nurse will become ill, require emergency time off, or have a family emergency. Unlike other jobs where co-workers can cover for one another, a healthcare facility usually requires a certain number of people to be present. If one person fails to appear, others will be required to enter. As a new nurse, you may be asked to cover shifts for senior nurses, and this is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your attitude by pitching in whenever possible.


  1. You will make errors

Maintain a high standard for yourself, but accept that you will make mistakes. Dwell on the mistakes long enough to remember what went wrong and make a mental plan to avoid making the same mistake again, and then move on. You are new to this job, and as with any new job, there is a learning curve. Your co-workers will expect mistakes, but you should try to keep them to a minimum. Consider asking a senior nurse to shadow you for a few hours during the week. Hands-on experience is invaluable.


  1. Work on improving your memory 

During your shift, you will be expected to remember a lot of things, so devise a method for remembering what is important. When you have the time, it could mean keeping a journal, using mnemonic tricks, or even keeping a detailed diary of your day.


  1. Your responsibilities will vary and may not be as you expect

You never know what your day will bring, and even if you have extensive training, you may be performing menial tasks at the start of your career. Prepare to do whatever is asked of you, and do it well. This goes a long way toward demonstrating your value to the team and earning the respect of those around you.


  1. Look after yourself 

A nursing career can be physically taxing at times. You will be bending over, lifting and moving patients, constantly moving, and exposed to sick people on a daily basis. It is critical that you stay physically strong, whether that means stretching and meditation or running and lifting weights, or whatever you enjoy doing to stay healthy. The physical toll will be felt more as you age, but you can take the necessary steps to care for your body.

One of the most important things you can do as a new nurse is to listen and work as part of a team. Do what is requested of you, and do it cheerfully. Others will respect you as you establish yourself as the go-to new nurse, and you will begin to advance.



First and foremost, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your colleagues and superiors are there to help you, and they will appreciate your willingness to learn. Second, take advantage of the resources available to you. There are many books, websites, and articles written specifically for new nurses. Finally, remember that mistakes are inevitable. Everyone makes them, so try not to beat yourself up too much when you do. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and move on. With time and experience, you will become a confident and competent nurse.


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