Top 10 Tips for Newly Qualified Nurses!
I have worked on an Acute Medical Unit for a year now, making me realise its time to publish some tips for newly qualified nurses! Recently I have been mentoring some newly qualified nurses. It really made me reflect on how much I had learnt in a year and inspired me to birth this list to hopefully help new nurses with the hellish struggle that is being a NQ Nurse!
- Introduce yourself and try your best to learn names. Knowing someones name is one of the easiest way to start building your work relationship with them.
- Try not to panic- You’re new to this, you can’t be expected to know everything.
- Learn from your mistakes. There is absolutely no avoiding mistakes, we are human, therefore, fallible to human error. When mistakes do happen, follow the correct protocol (For example, a drug error protocol might consist of informing the clinician and nurse in charge, informing the patient, reporting the incident and monitoring the patient more closely). Ultimately, reflect and take it as a learning experience.
- Do not be afraid to ask for advice and ask someone else if you still feel unsure.
- Seek help if you’re struggling, it may seem like there is pressure on you to show your worth or ‘earn your stripes’, however this can become unsafe and if you are out of your depths escalate this to the nurse in charge or more senior nurse/sister.
- Escalate as often as you need to. Although it may seem difficult to approach a doctor who looks busy to voice your concerns, or to tell a senior nurse that you need help with the rest of your patients whilst your provide care to a very sick patient in an emergency, escalating is essential to the job. In legal terms, ‘My workload was unmanageable’ is not seen as a viable excuse for something unless the situation was escalated accordingly. If you believe you have been left in an unsafe situation, regarding staffing or workload, it is something you have a responsibility to yourself and your patients to address and let senior staff know.
- Most of the time you will (if staffing allows) work with a care support worker/nursing assistant every shift. Don’t be afraid to delegate appropriate tasks such as observations or BMs when you need to. This will free up more of your time to focus looking after a poorly patient or meds rounds. Working as a team to achieve the tasks of the day will lighten the workload everyone.
- When you feel ready, join the bank so you can gain experience of working on other wards. This is a good way build your knowledge in different fields. I would recommend staying close to the field that you work in currently, aka booking a shift on another medical ward if you work on a medical ward, and then moving around more as you gain confidence.
- Join a Union, this is a requirement for any new starter. It may not seem worth it at first. However, when facing increasingly unsafe conditions with the nursing shortage it is better to be safe than sorry. This may invaluable if you ever do need any legal support.
- Trust your gut instinct. Many nurses have had experiences where a patient has appeared haemodynamically stable yet they had ‘sensed’ something wasn’t right. They then escalated to the doctor and discovered their instincts were correct. Nurses are the ones who spend all day with the patient. A doctor might only see them once a day for 10 minutes. Your gut instinct is invaluable.
Hopefully these tips for newly qualified nurses will help. Starting as a newly qualified nurse sucks, there is no denying it. The most important tip of all is just hang in there and soldier through. It will get easier.
Good luck x
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