21 Tips for the Newly Qualified Nurse

The majority of newly qualified nurses spend the first year wondering if they have missed anything.

The transition from Student Nurse to Registered Nurse will be hard and it is much tougher than your university lecturers or mentors will tell you.

You will go home every night for the first year wondering if you have done everything right, not missed anything and worrying about your patients. This will pass and you will soon be confident in your patient care.

Here are 21 tips that I wish someone had given me as a Newly Qualified Staff Nurse, it’s too late for me but you should apply these when you start your first role.

  1. You’re going to be worried and scared. It will be your best ally and it will stop you from making mistakes.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We all have areas of development, you are better to ask questions then get it wrong. 
  3. Learn to relax when you’re not at work. You’re going to worry about everyone and everything when you first qualify – this will soon pass.
  4. The evidence is important but sometimes your gut is right. You spend 12 hours a day with your patient and sometimes you really do know best. 
  5. Don’t gossip. Act as if you’re ‘on-stage’ and if you want to gossip, go back to school.
  6. If you’re not early, you’re late. Good time management is essential to good patient care. 
  7. Write everything down or use a shift planner. You’ll forget 80% of what you hear so planning your day is important. 
  8. When you’re behind, don’t rush. If you rush, you are much more likely to make a mistake.
  9. Don’t dwell on mistakes – learn from them. You’re going to make mistakes, in fact, its expected, but when you do don’t dwell, learn from them and move on.
  10. Make the most of your supernumerary period and make sure you use it all. 
  11. Learn how to say no to extra work and overtime. Nursing required a good work-life balance. 
  12. Find a mentor quickly and ask for feedback. Your mentor may not be your preceptor and you’ll need someone to talk to and reflect with. 
  13. Surround yourself with people who love Nursing. Enjoy your job, it’s what you’ve been working towards for year – don’t let the negativity ruin it for you. 
  14. The grass is not always greener on the other side. Don’t be too quick to change jobs if things aren’t going the way you wanted. 
  15. Grow a thick skin, and never back down when advocating for your patient. The NMC teaches us that our patients are our first priority. 
  16. Become a good team player you won’t survive this job otherwise.
  17. Thank everybody who helps you. This includes the transport driver, the HCA, the secretary, the domestic and many, many more. Remember they are your TEAM.
  18. Befriend your Nursing Assistants. They are a fountain of knowledge – use them wisely and don’t abuse their kindness. Take a look at 5 ways to appreciate your care assistants.
  19. Don’t apologise for doing your job – that includes calling a Doctor in the middle of the night.
  20. Never stop learning something new. You should pursue knowledge, learning and career advancement. You can contribute to the growth of our profession.
  21. Nursing is a 24 hour profession. Don’t rush your work simply to complete your tasks. Don’t be afraid to hand non-essential jobs over if you need to.

Is there a piece of advice you’d share with others? Post it in the comments! Part of nursing is sharing your experience and learning with others.

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