Advice for New Nurses, Grads and Students!
We are still living through the effects of covid. The stresses have stemmed all the way down the chain, to the newest and freshest in our profession. Our new nurses, graduates and students are feeling increasingly overwhelmed with the prospect of stepping into the hospital and out onto the floor, some for the very first time. This extra worry and anxiety is not helping us to be the best we can for ourselves and our patients.
There has been so many people reach out for advice, help and support over the past 2 weeks. I have helped some individually through DM’s however it is hard to keep up and I want to help you all! There has been some absolutely invaluable advice flying around the gram at the moment. This is amazing to see us all help each other during these challenging times. What is very interesting with the advice, is that it is very consistent. It is advice I have been given over the years, advice I have given to my students and everyone (including grads and students) are also sharing this same great advice!
I put this blog together to share this great advice, to provide support and help that we all need at some point. There are also some amazing brands, businesses and accounts I have added for you to check out which may help you along your journey.
Before we start, just remember….YOU HAVE WORKED HARD AND YOU HAVE GOT THIS! 💪🏼
Now I know some of you have started…prematurely due to staffing shortages etc with the current climate, some of you start tomorrow and others next week. Either way, you are amazing and this blog is for you!
Let’s take a look at the top questions I have been asked 👇🏼
Top themes of the questions asked by the community included:
- Starting new graduate year and program
- Starting grad year with no much experience with a system that is stressed and stretched with resources and capacity
- How to survive new graduate year?
- Transitioning into clinical practice
- Medications – how to avoid errors, medication calculation tips/tricks & resources
I will be covering the above topics in this blog post below! The areas below were also some popular questions and areas. These will be covering these in future content shortly!
- Medication calculations and maths
- Starting in anaesthetics and PACU
- Starting in peri-operative
- Preparing for graduate year on the surgical wards
- Gynaecology & ENT
My TOP 15 pieces of advice for new nurses, grads and students!
Advice for all Nurses including grads…
- No one expects you know everything! Or anything really.
- We just want you to be confident, look after you, give 100% and PRACTICE SAFELY. How do you do that? Be guided by your training and who you have become! Take deep breaths, seek support and ask questions (when you need to maintain you and your patients safety).
- You have worked so hard!
- You have completed your degree! All the training, done! Have trust in yourself, the training you have done, and your ability! You’ve got this!
- Remember you are a new graduate registered nurse, NEW GRADuate.
- You are there to work, as an autonomous registered nurse, while you develop your confidence, knowledge, skills and gain experience. You do this with the guidance of your graduate program and support network on your ward.
- Look at your learning outcomes and skill objectives, and concentrate on them.
- You are still and will always be learning! You have graduated as a student and are now an autonomous and a safe practicing registered nurse. Keep developing, learning and growing by increasing your knowledge, improving your skills and developing new skills.
- Be you, learn, develop and grow, have fun and seek those clinical and career opportunities!
- You are amazing! Continue to be you!
- Enjoy the journey and make the journey yours.
- Follow what you love and are interested in!
- Seek help
- We are always here to help!
- Reach out whenever you need. You can use nurses on the floor, mentors, educators and your managers.
- Help out
- Help others where you can, ask questions where you need and practice the skills you are developing. Practice with other nurses on your ward who are competent in the skills, until you are competent and confident with them!
- Make an effort to integrate with your ward socially to further develop your relationships and support networks with your team.
- Find a buddy & mentor
- Find that one buddy that is a nurse you can hang with, chat with. Maybe you are lucky enough to even work together on the same ward or shifts!
- You will need a good mentor! Everyone does! Whether it is a family member, friends, another nurse or a paid coach. A mentor who can help guide you, your thoughts, your actions, goals and achievements, as you move forward is so important!
- Find a social group
- These can be so invaluable for supporting each other and sharing resources! I was part of a FB group as a student for each year of my degree and also as a graduate nurse for the graduate program at my hospital. It was awesome to stay in touch and share stories, resources etc with each other. If there isn’t anything like this you can also create it!
- You deserve respect
- You are the newbie on the floor however, people should say hello and not be rude to you, you deserve respect. Be confident and speak out about this behaviour and seek the help of your mentors. You are still learning while working with them as equal Registered Nurses.
- The learning journey continues
- There is always something to learn and something to do! Attend an education session, create some educational content yourself. Practice your skills, chat to other nurses and chat with your patients. There is so much you can learn from someone by having a conversation and listening to them. Whether they are a nurse, relative or patient you will learn something!
- Look after yourself!
- I cannot stress the importance of looking after yourself and your wellbeing! Also knowing yourself and working with your needs. Get the rest you need! Eat healthy food, drink water and get plenty of exercise! I love to do daily exercise as well as my new found love, meditation! I use the headspace app! Check it out!
- Take your breaks during your shifts. This is a big one, make sure you take your breaks!
- Big process and challenge!
- This will be a massive process, don’t underestimate the journey or the growth and you will adapt – you’ve got this! Nursing is a unique profession and is tough. You chose it for a reason and now you have a challenge. Moving from theoretical learning to stepping into the clinical environment to practice all of those awesome skills is hard.
- Take time to reflect on your shift, what has happened, how you felt, how you responded and how you acted… what you could have done done and what you could do better next time, by learning from this experience. I highly recommend documenting your journey in an app like DayOne or something. The power behind reflecting in journalling is very powerful 🔥🚀 – give it a go!
- Connect with your passion
- Find the why! WHY did you start nursing? Connect with the deep and meaningful aspects of you! Be intentional with your thoughts, actions and reflections and do what truely matters, changes and develops you!
Some specific advice for students…
We do not expect a thing from you!
Come in and say hey! Get to know us and join in with us caring for our patients. Ask us questions and let’s develop, learn and grow together!
Remember you are a student and you are there to learn!
You are there to develop your knowledge, skills and spend time in the clinical environment doing this under the guidance of experienced nurses. Sometimes they try and get you to ‘work’ but you are a student there to learn!
When on placement, looking at your learning outcomes and skill objectives is a very useful to guide your learning. You have goals to achieve while you are there. Get in and get them done! Plan, do, achieve.
Be you, learn, have fun and seek those clinical opportunities!
Yes, nurses and the environment is a little more stressed at the moment, however you need to learn. Maximise you’re learning opportunities by being confident, asking questions and taking control of your education and progress.
If you do not know something, just ask. We are all there to help each other. We will not know if you do not ask.
Help where you can, ask questions where you need and practice the skills you are developing until you are competent and confident with them.
You deserve respect
You are not there to be a slave, people should say hello and not be rude to you. Be confident and speak out about this behaviour and seek the help of your mentors.
Advice from the ANE Community
Liam – High Performance Nursing – Website + Instagram + Podcast
Nurse Coach, Leader & Podcaster
- Start by getting to know yourself on the deepest level possible, with clarity comes confidence and it will serve your whole career!
- Be kind to yourself, the goal is never to know it all, it’s to get 1% better each day- you are doing awesome. Be a curious learner and be prepared to be wrong!
- Be careful who you listen to and turn to for advice in your career. Seek those who have done what you want to do and ask them all the questions!
- Finally, find a coach outside of your workplace to help empower you, gain clarity and help you overcome the inner critic! No one will ever provide that support in the workplace- they simply don’t know how!
Sample, sample, sample – create your own path!
Growth lies at the other side of your comfort zone! Go get it!
Nurse Mil – Instagram + Podcast
Podcaster & Recently graduated New Grad – heading into transition year 2!
You need to utilise the educators and other nurses and ask them questions, ask for help and debrief. I think we also need to acknowledge that the media is hyping up this code brown, the code brown does not necessarily mean you’re going to get less support and you’re going to struggle as a new nurse.
I know that many people have anxiety regarding that but I think we need to remember that the hospital you’re doing your grad year still has that duty to provide a supportive environment and it may be different to usual programs, but you are not alone and no one expects you to know everything! Other nurses, especially grads (because they know how you are feeling), are the best people to debrief with. Unfortunately people not in the medical profession, just don’t understand and will not be able to offer you the debrief you truely need. So make a group chat with other grads and chat away!!
From the Aussie Nurse Educator
Nurse Mil also just completed her new graduate program!
Mil has been guiding and supporting junior nurses throughout her experience and with her podcast.
Mil also wrote a recent post on instagram that every graduate nurse needs to read!
Check it out HERE.
Georgia – Nurse Sibs – Website – Instagram
Cardiac CNS, Mentor and Manager + Business Owner (all things cardiac nursing!)
Don’t expect to know everything in the first week – give yourself time and be kind to yourself.
You will learn something new every single shift, experienced nurses still do also, so don’t think of this as a negative or reflection on you!
Remember that I started at the same place, so don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Your grad year is there for a reason, it’s a year where you are supported because being a brand-new registered nurse is challenging and there are things you won’t know, and things you wouldn’t have seen before.
Basically, just go easy on yourself and do your best!
Deanne – The Balanced Nurse Au – Website + Instagram + Facebook
Nurse Coach and Mentor
My best advice is always about keeping balance.
It can be tempting to fall into the culture and habits nursing has in places that aren’t balanced or healthy. Learn good habits early like bringing nutritious food, staying hydrated and taking breaks. And don’t feel pressured to say yes to more shifts or over time – “no” is a complete sentence. I have lots more but these things I think are key 😊
Beth – Autonomic Nurse – Website + Instagram
Always remember to make your life off shift a priority. It will be tempting to immerse yourself in your new career, but this is short term thinking. Focus on setting up sustainable habits if you want to remain free of burnout. This means not picking up extra shifts, making time for leisure, meal prep and seeing non nursing friends. Also work on increasing your non clinical skills (ie your personal development like communication and mindset).
The clinical skills will come with your work on the ward but the non clinical stuff you will need to work on yourself.
Find a mentor!
Xana – Nourished Nurse – Website + Instagram + Podcast
Nurse, Podcaster & Traveller!
Becoming a new nurse can be a roller coaster.
It is important to remember that nursing is a 24/7 job and you can’t do it all, and that’s okay.
If you put your best foot forward everyday and do your best that is all you can ask of yourself.
Ask for help.
Reach out to your colleagues if you’re struggling, I promise that your team will appreciate you saying something rather than nothing at all.
Make sure you establish some balance in your life. Don’t live to work but work to live and enjoy life outside of work. It is easy to get caught up in working long hours in nursing but burnout happens real quick so be good to yourself. Look after yourself on your days off and plan things you love to do, or just sit and watch Netflix! Never feel guilty for prioritising yourself.
Chat to other nurses, chat to us! There are so many people out there who have been through exactly what you’re going through and we may look like we got it all together but we don’t.
We’ve all been on this journey so never hesitate to reach out for help. There is strength in numbers. AND HAVE FUN! Nursing is such an awesome career and helping change lives is beyond incredible.
Enjoy it. Savour the moments 💗
Cynarra – HealthInsightHQ – Website + Instagram
Nurse Facilitator & Mentor
Remember it’s ok not to have everything worked out at the start.
If you haven’t picked a speciality, if you don’t feel confident or feel that you don’t know everything medically on shift. I think we have all felt like that.
It’s important to ask for help and talk to other nurses to debrief.
Give yourselves some credit and remember what you have already achieved!
Also know that you can leave a workplace and find a new job if you aren’t happy. There were times where I felt I had to stay at workplace, or felt I wasn’t experienced enough to apply to jobs. But your own happiness is important! Apply for a job you want, don’t stay in a toxic environment. Put yourself first!
Enjoy the journey!
Lauren – Nurse Coach & RN – Instagram
Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions or the opinion of another RN. Many new nurses worry that asking a question will make them look stupid, unprofessional, like an imposter… And yet even after 30+ years I still confer with another RN for their opinion at times. I never think poorly of someone asking a question/opinion. It shows courage and confidence and I worry about the ones that never ask questions. This is all about knowing and owning your value no matter where you are on your nursing journey.
Thank you to this amazing community of absolutely fabulous nurses!!
The students, grads and new nurses – thank you for reaching out! I have thoroughly enjoyed chatting with you all!
I am always here and you have done amazing so far and will continue to do so!
Go chase that WHY and have FUN while you do it! The world is your oyster!
To the other nurses, educators, leaders and others – thank you for your help, support, advice and love you have given me, this page and business and most importantly, the COMMUNITY here!
As always, I am here – comment on this blog post, send me a DM or message – whenever you want or need!
All the best for 2022 everyone – don’t forget to 👇🏼
Have FUN & ENJOY – Rory 😁