When you first enter the nursing profession as a new nurse graduate, it’s easy (and common) to make mistakes on the job. It happens to the best of nurses. Thankfully, you’ll learn how to avoid the common pitfalls of the nursing profession as you gain experience.
Nevertheless, there are some mistakes you can avoid from the start.
5 Common New Nurse Mistakes
Here are five common new nurse mistakes you’ll want to avoid as a new nurse grad:
Mistake #1: Failing to Think Critically
One mistake that new nurses make is that they will often become so focused on completing tasks that they forget to think critically. Although twelve hours seems like a lot of time to complete tasks, nurses are constantly busy administering medication, answering call lights, calling doctors, and so forth.
As a result, it’s easy to become focused on completing tasks out of fear of not being able to complete them on time. Therefore, new nurses often fail to take the time to think critically about the medications they are giving and the status of their patients, which is one of the most important aspects of the job.
I once worked with a new nurse who had made this exact mistake. A doctor came storming into our unit, asking which nurse was responsible for the patient in a certain room. The nurse replied, “I am.” The doctor then proceeded to tell the new nurse that she was giving the patient both a heparin drip and a lovenox injection, which was unnecessary since they were both anticoagulants.
What had happened was that a physician ordered the lovenox injection without first discontinuing the heparin drip. Since the new nurse was focused on the task at hand, she didn’t stop to consider that the doctor might have made a mistake, and that the patient shouldn’t be receiving both types of anticoagulants.
Thankfully, the situation was quickly remedied, but it’s important to remember that doctors do make mistakes. As a nurse, you always have to double-check orders and think critically.
Mistake #2: Social Media Problems
Another mistake that new nurses make is that they will post sensitive patient information on social media such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. HIPAA and other privacy laws prohibit the sharing of patient information, and many nurses have been fired for revealing sensitive patient information, taking selfies with patients, posting controversial statements, and so forth.
In addition, new nurses can get into trouble when they spend too much time text messaging or checking their social media accounts. If something were to happen during your shift, they might investigate your social media activity. It wouldn’t look good if you were posting 10 times per hour while your patients needed care.
Therefore, you’ll want to think twice before you go to social media to take a selfie of a patient, reveal celebrities you saw on the job, or post too often during your shift. In fact, it’s best to avoid it while on the job.
Mistake #3: Getting Caught Up In Gossip. Cliques, or Drama
As a new nurse, it’s only a matter of time before coworkers attempt to gossip with you about the boss or other coworkers, or win you over to their clique. As a nurse, you want to remain neutral, be on friendly terms with everyone, and avoid the politics of your nursing unit.
If you do gossip, know that it can come back to haunt you, and you can end up destroying relationships or causing unnecessary drama with team members.
When someone would approach me to gossip about another coworker, I tried to brush it off, change the subject, or busy myself with some task. Avoid the temptation to slander or gossip about a fellow coworker, even if you feel they deserve it.
As a nurse, it’s important to remain as neutral as possible and to maintain a professional attitude.
Mistake #4: Time Management Issues
It can be difficult to complete all of your tasks on time during your nursing shift, and if you don’t take the time to learn some simple time management tricks, things will only get worse. You’ll want to do some of the following:
- Get a good nursing report so that you know what is required during your shift.
- Learn the location of supplies, medications, etc.
- Set small hourly goals to accomplish throughout your shift.
- Cluster common tasks together to save time.
- Build relationships with other team members who can help offer help when you need it.
See nursing time management tips for more specific examples of how to become more efficient.
Mistake #5: Putting Too Much on Your Plate
It can be so exciting to finally graduate nursing school, pass NCLEX, and begin working as a nurse (and make some much-needed money). However, it’s easy to overextend yourself and then quickly burn out. I’ve seen some nurses do this very thing, and they ended up quitting the profession after only a few months.
As a new nurse, you’ll want to allow yourself time to adapt to the profession. You’ll be going through orientation, taking addition certifications or courses, and learning the ins and outs of the profession. You definitely don’t want to sign up for overtime or extra shifts, as this can quickly lead to burnout when coupled with all of the other stress of adapting to a new job.
I’d recommend taking it slow for the first 6-12 months on the job. Once you have developed a good routine, have become used to the types of patients you receive on your unit, and have improved your nursing skills and time management, you can ease into adding more work (if you feel compelled to do so).
Conclusion: These New Nurse Pitfalls are Common but Easily Avoided
Although many new nurse grads make one (or several) of the mistakes above, you can avoid them be watching out for these issues.
Practice taking the time to think critically; avoid mixing social media and work; steer clear of gossip and drama; work on time management; and allow yourself time to adapt before working too much, and you’ll avoid some of the common problems that many new nurses face.