You’re finally done with one of the most challenging things you’ll ever face in your life, NURSING SCHOOL, and now you have your first job as a nurse, as a nurse graduate. A new nurse graduate has two meanings in the nursing world.
It can be someone who has graduated from nursing school and is waiting to take the NCLEX and has been hired as a “nurse graduate” until they pass boards, OR it is a term used for a new registered nurse or licensed practical nurse who is fresh out of school.
As a new nurse graduate there are some things you must do before you are on your own so you’ll be prepared. I remember that being a nurse graduate was one of the most exciting, but frightful times during my nursing career. I have learned over the years with students I’ve precepted, that we all face the same fears.
- How to get the most out of your nursing orientation period
- Supplies you will need as a new nurse graduate
- Taking advantage of education opportunities
- My personal experience tips
How to get the most out of Nursing Orientation
Most new nurses are in an orientation period. This period is typically 1-2 months long, depending on your place of hire. During this time you are with another nurse and you work side-by-side with this nurse.
Tips to keep in mind during orientation:
- During my orientation time, I was assigned to various nurses (some were more teacher friendly than others). I found this worked for me because I got to see how other nurses performed their job and I took bits and pieces of what I learned and formed it into my own.
Remember to be patient if you are with someone who doesn’t seem to like to precept. Many nurses I have met are wonderful nurses, but terrible teachers. In addition, remember this person will be your colleague and you may need their support at some time. However, tactfully ask not to be oriented with that nurse anymore because you have to make the most of your orientation period.
- Jump at every opportunity of the day. For instance, ask the other nurses if they need any IVs started so you can get better at IVs, central dressing changes, blood draws, NG tube insertions etc. Try to get all the experience you can!
- Practice calling doctors and how to know when to call the doctor. A lot of new nurses have difficultly talking with the doctor and knowing when to call and what to say. A good preceptor will help you by role playing and coach you on what to say.
- A couple of weeks before the orientation period is over have your preceptor just observe while you take the whole patient load. I have seen cases where the preceptor didn’t give the new nurse a chance to take the whole load because they kept “helping” them out when they became overwhelmed and the new nurse had a hard time adjusting on their own.
- Have your preceptor quiz you on the patient’s scheduled drugs. For instance, say your patient is due IV Lasix, have your preceptor ask you what labs you need to observe before giving this drug. This will help you get familiar with drugs.
- Participate on giving and receiving report. It is so important that you know how to give a good report and how to receive one. There are specific questions you must ask so you know how to be prepared for the day ahead of you.
Supplies you need as a new nurse graduate
Good stethoscope. Try out stethoscopes. Some stethoscopes are better than others. For instances, I found my Prestige stethoscope to work better for me than a Littman. I think it is the way my ear canals are formed. But I was shocked because almost everyone owns a Littman
Dressing Scissors. I used my dressings scissors all the time with almost everything. Be sure to clean them when you are done.
Report sheet templates. I have them on our website. I considered it my brain and it helped me keep track of my patients. Always shred them at the end of the day.
Snacks. You will need them while getting through those 8, 10, 12 hour shifts.
Pens. Always have at least 2-3 pens. They run out of ink or someone will steal them and you never want to run out of them
Penlight. This is always something I had trouble remembering to bring to work. I would always have to track down a flash light. You not only use it to assess neuro status but to assess the throat, nose etc.
Tote Bag. Invest in a good tote bag to carry your stuff to and from from work.
Taking Advantage of Education Opportunities
When you are finally a nurse it is amazing how much stuff you forget that you learned in nursing school. Any education opportunities offered by your employer take advantage of them. There have been so many times that I have attended an educational seminar and the next day at work I put it to use, and if I didn’t take the time to go to the educational seminar I wouldn’t have known what I was doing.
Also, I will never forget attending a class on cardiac drips and learning about drips that weren’t common on our unit and then the next day at work I got a patient on this special type of drip. If I didn’t take the class I would have felt overwhelmed.
My Personal Experience Tips
It is normal to feel incompetent and have days where you feel like you are never going to catch on. At 6 months you will start to feel more confident, and then at a year you will be thinking “wow, I have really came along way”. If you feel like you are not ready to be on your own yet, ask your preceptor if they think you are ready and if they say no, ask you manager for another week or so. But remember it is normal to be nervous that you will be on your own, so don’t let that scare you.
Still worried? Take this fun quiz on if you will make a good nurse?