Ralph Waldo Emerson is famous for his observation that, "An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory. Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions."
For new nurses, despite the long hours of studying and clinical hours, there is still plenty for you to learn once you've landed your first job after school. Getting real life practice is an important part of becoming better for any career or pursuit, and as a young nurse, there will be many opportunities to grow in your first few years after graduating.
Consider these helpful tips when starting out. The right attitude and expectations will help you make the most of these learning experiences.
1. Hope for the best and plan for the worst
Staying positive is crucial for a number of reasons. Your cheerful attitude can be infectious to patients and their families. The experience of treating some conditions or diseases can be imposing or frightening, and a warm, friendly face will go a long way.
"Your cheerful attitude can be infectious to patients."
At the same time, a cheery outlook is important for avoiding feelings of burn out or becoming overwhelmed. As a nurse, you may come across painful or difficult circumstances or a frustrating work schedule. Staying positive is helpful in navigating these stressful conditions.
Staying pragmatic and ready for these issues is critical as well. Be honest with yourself and try to identify areas of concern or conflict, and try to mitigate or prepare for problems before they even happen.
2. Take time for yourself
Another way to avoid burning out or becoming overwhelmed is to take care of yourself. This means using off time to see friends and family, and to have hobbies and things you like to do outside of the hospital or clinic where you work.
It is also important to keep your body and mind healthy by eating well, getting plenty of exercise and maintaining a regular sleep schedule whenever possible.
3. Seek support
Nursing Times reported that the best young nurses are the individuals that have presence of mind to ask questions and look for places to improve. Find an older nurse or other co-worker and learn as much as you can. Stay humble and in-touch with your strengths and weaknesses, and it will be easier to be successful. Ask for help when you need it and provide support in areas you have more experience.
4. Be OK with getting things wrong
Even in the world of medicine, being wrong plays an essential role in your effort to get better at your job. The stakes may be higher as a nurse than in other professions, but there are enough safety nets that messing up an order or forgetting a patient's name is not the end of the world. In any job, failing is a key step in overcoming obstacles and set backs.
5. Don't forget the intangibles
According to Dr. Renee Thompson, there are many skills that are important to develop beyond clinical know-how. Being professional inside of work, on social media and in other areas is a key but sometimes overlooked aspect of becoming a well-respected nurse. Your superiors will appreciate mature, refined behavior from such a young employee.
6. Focus on solutions
Because being a nurse can be so emotionally taxing, having the right frame of mind is beneficial in avoiding burnout. By looking for solutions to problems at work rather than dwelling on problems or individual issues, you can minimize emotional fatigue. This is true when dealing with patients but is also applicable for navigating difficult schedules, co-worker conflict and the many other parts of your daily responsibilities.