In part two of the series on advice for new nursing graduates, I continue with the interview responses of recent nursing school graduates from the last few years. (read part one here)
The question asked of them was:
“What were the biggest surprises or challenges when you started working as a new nurse?”
- Dealing with Senior Nurses — It’s often hard to come to a new work place as a recent graduate in any field. Nursing students are not immune to this. Students arrive with new ideas and practices and this can cause a prickly reaction from the nurses on the floor. Some have become settled in their ways but in most cases old ideas don’t equal out of date ideas, any more than new ideas make them “better.” Show some respect for those who have gone before and try to learn from them instead of telling them about your new and improved methods. If you have learned a different method or technique, communicate with your preceptor, mentor, or supervisor and follow their lead.
- Afraid of Saying “I Don’t Know” — It is hard to tell someone you don’t know how to do something when you think it is something you should know how to do. New nurses come in to the work environment with a variety of experiences behind them — even those from the same schools. One student gets a chance to use a variety of catheter techniques while another had no clinical opportunities, one student is the NG tube queen while another hasn’t done it since first year, and so on. Be confident in the skills you know and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Using Critical Thinking — The instructors in nursing school talked about critical thinking all of the time but it isn’t until a new nurse has a patient on her own that she understands how much she needs to use it. Those of you who mastered (or at least became comfortable with) critical thinking in nursing practice will find that you will use it frequently in caring for your patients. If you don’t think you have good critical thinking skills — check out the next point
- You Know More Than You Think You Do! — You survived nursing school, finals and the NCLEX test. Now you are dealing with patients on your own with no instructor staring over your shoulder. It is frightening, right? Sure it is, but have some faith in your self. You DID survive nursing school, finals, clinicals, hard and easy instructors, critical and well patients, and you did pass the NCLEX test. You know more than you give yourself credit for. Trust your well honed instincts and remember the basics: assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation.