When you transition from a nursing student to a working nurse, it’s important for the process to be as seamless as possible. Consider the following tips before beginning your first nursing job.
Ask About First-Year Nurse Turnover Rates
High turnovers are an indication of how the employer treats first year nurses. Generally you want to work at a facility that has less than a 20 percent turnover rate.
Find Out About Orientation and Preceptor Programs
A preceptor is a trainer or coach who assists nurses with becoming more acclimated with a facility’s routines, procedures and people. New nurses are more likely to stay if they have an experienced guide to inform and nurture their progress. A great question to ask would be “Will a preceptor be available on my shift after the orientation to answer questions and help with clinical decision making?” If the answer is now, then follow up with a question the facility’s orientation process. You want to make sure that you have enough support as a first year nurse to lessen frustrations and uncertainties.
Ask the nurse manager about the level of clinical, social and emotional support available for first year nurses. This support should include having experienced nurses on hand who are willing to help debrief a new nurse when they need help or extra support
Observe the Unit
A walk through of the unit won’t give you a realistic idea of how people work together. It takes a while for people to let their guard down and be their true selves when someone is watching. Therefore, make sure you observe for a few hours so you get a clearer picture of the unit’s interpersonal dynamics. You may even want to come back the next day and observe more. Try to picture yourself operating in the environment. If you’re having difficulty doing so, then this may be a red flag.
Consider Working on a Specialty Unit First
It’s easier for many new nurses to start on a specialty unit, such as labor and delivery or a highly staffed pediatrics unit, because the patients on those units are more standardized than those on a medical/surgical unit where there are a broad range of cases. There environments in these units are more controlled and the circumstances are more consistent.
Get Your Feet Wet
After getting the proper credentials, assessing potential job environments and doing your research, it’s important to just begin working. You’ll find that most of your learning will come from actually performing your nursing duties. The more experience you get under your belt, the better you’ll feel and the more confidence you’ll have.
Ready for a new career as an RN? Check out our LPN to RN Bridge Program.