Every nurse was once a new nurse. Every nurse made it through, one way or another.
Being a new nurse is scary, challenging and exhilarating.
What tools does a new nurse need to come out the other side ready to take on the world?
These are Scrubbed In’s picks for the new nurse’s toolkit. What would you add? What’s your best advice for new nurses?
It’s tough to have confidence when you’re the new kid on the block, when you don’t know what you don’t know and you’re terrified of making a mistake. But small steps like positive self-talk, connecting with peers and writing down those things you feel you did well will help plant a small seed of confidence that will grow with each passing day.
2. A condensed drug guide
Whether you have a published pocket drug guide, a smartphone app or a handmade version, a guide that covers the most common medications you give to your patients can help you administer medications safely without losing time.
3. Clinical practice guidelines
Clinical practice guidelines are among a new nurse’s most important tools. Every institution has them. You also can find them through professional nursing organizations. Doing a procedure you’ve only done once before? Read the guidelines. Have a question about best practice? Read the guidelines. When in doubt, read the guidelines!
4. An assessment checklist
The sooner you learn your unique assessment method by rote, the better off you’ll be. Your patient assessment needs to cover all the basics, but everyone has a slightly different style and order of doing things. When you develop a system that works for you, you will have more mental energy to notice when something isn’t right, instead of wasting brain power trying to remember what to assess next.
5. A willingness to try
No matter how much self-doubt they may have, new nurses must be willing to give it their all if they want to succeed. Most surprise themselves by how much they can accomplish just by being willing to give it a shot.
It’s easy for new nurses to be hard on themselves. Sometimes it seems as if everything they do is wrong. The more self-forgiveness a new nurse practices, the better they will be performing with a clear mind instead of an anxious one.
7. A trusted nurse to turn to
It can be someone who’s worked for 20 years, but it can also easily be someone who has only started their career a few years before you. A more experienced nurse is the one to turn to for a quick consult, for help with a decision, or when you want to check that insulin dose just one more time for your own conscience’s sake.
8. An end-of-shift comfort routine
Whether it’s blasting music, breathing lavender essential oils or exercising, creating a routine that helps you let go of the days stressors will become a habit — one that will go a long way to maintaining your emotional health in the years ahead.