helping others nurse

New Nurses: Settling Into Your New Role

There are a lot of reasons to consider a career in nursing. Nursing is an important part of healthcare provision, and as we’ve seen during the pandemic, a key component for delivering care where it’s needed most.

There are nursing shortages across the United States, something that is set to continue even after COVID-19. At a time when shortages could have an impact on mental health and even forcing people to turn their backs on the profession, it’s important you get your career off to a solid start and prioritize your own health even while caring for others.

Nursing is a challenging and rewarding career, but it’s important that you take care of yourself from the outset. Here are some tips you can use to help you settle into your new role and get to love the job you’re doing.

Image Credit: Unsplash under Creative Commons

Ask questions (and make a note of the answers if you can)

Despite all of your previous education and training, beginning your first role as a nurse will feel very different. You will have a lot to learn at first, and throughout your career, and it’s important that you ask as many questions as possible – especially in those early days. You’ll have practical questions about how things work around the hospital or practice, but you’ll also want to soak up as much knowledge as you can about patient care too.

There are no dumb questions, so don’t be afraid to ask about anything you’re unsure of. With all this new knowledge and confidence you’ll get from asking questions, you’ll be on your way to studying for your BSN to MSN program in no time. 

Ensure your uniform is comfortable

When you signed up for a career in nursing, you knew you were signing up for long shifts and a lot of time on your feet. But even with that at the back of your mind, you may find that you need to make some changes.

Comfortable footwear is a must for being on your feet all day, and to help you get around the hospital easily. Uniform Advantage medical footwear can help you feel more comfortable, even during the longest shift. Supportive underwear can also help you feel much more at ease during the day. 

It helps to bring in some essentials with you to keep you feeling fresh throughout the day. From deodorant to a toothbrush and toothpaste and even some face and body wipes, those little things can make a difference, especially on the busiest of days.

Get the most out of your mentor

Usually you will be assigned a mentor during your first days in your job. If this isn’t something that happens at your hospital or practice, then it’s a good idea to find yourself a mentor – it could benefit you a lot, especially at the beginning of your career. A mentor will be able to show you the ropes and should be someone you can learn from and feel comfortable asking questions to. If, for some reason, you’re feeling uncomfortable with your mentor, you should discuss this with your manager to see if you can have an alternative.

Having a mentor can be a great asset in any career, so if you can work to get the most out of the relationship with your mentor, you’ll be able to learn a lot during those first few months. 

Be helpful and kind to your fellow nurses

Providing patient care is a team effort, and working collaboratively with your fellow nurses, doctors and other hospital staff is important to help things run smoothly.

Where possible, spend time getting to know others in your team and trying to socialize with them if you can. It will help you bond and come to rely on each other when needed. It pays to be helpful and kind to others, and hopefully you will get the same in return. Nursing comes with all kinds of challenges, and bringing someone a drink or simply asking how they are and if you can help can really brighten their day.

Maintain a diet that will keep your energy up

When you work in healthcare, it’s easy to preach the importance of healthy eating to others, but in practice, it can be very difficult when you’re working a long shift and just need to grab something on the move. 

Maintaining a good diet is important to help you keep your energy up. Some good tips to help you eat healthily at work include:

  • Pack a lunch for yourself if you can. A healthy home-made lunch can ensure you’re getting good nutrition and can save you some money too.
  • If you have to eat on the move, choose a healthier option that’s packed with protein.
  • Focus on energy-boosting foods, these will help you keep your energy levels up in a natural, healthy way.
  • Avoid snacking on foods that are packed with sugar.
  • Try to avoid break room treats and opt for some fruit instead. 
  • Take some snacks with you that are quick and easy to eat – you can keep a stash of these at work ready for whenever you’re hungry.

Maintaining a healthy diet is important for helping you do your job well. Planning your week’s meals in advance can make you a lot more organized and ready for the working week.

Stay hydrated

Hydration is also key for staying alert on the job – it can get hot in your uniform or when you’re dashing all over the hospital! Keep your own reusable bottle of water to sip from throughout the day and keep refilling it. A bottle with built-in cooling properties can be amazing for keeping your water fresh and cold from the water cooler!

Build an effective routine for your downtime

Working shifts can take some time to get used to, but you can help yourself acclimatize by creating a routine for yourself. You should ensure that you get enough sleep and that you sleep at the right times to help you recharge after your shift.

But while sleep is important, it’s also important that you don’t oversleep – as this will mean you don’t get much else done with your day, leaving you in a work/sleep cycle that can be difficult to shake. Have a plan for any tasks and chores you may need to get done and plan it carefully – you should also make an effort to make plans as you would if you were in a 9-5. Making some adjustments to your routine will help you avoid stress and burnout, so use your downtime wisely to give your body and mind the rest they need.

Exercise regularly

Exercise might feel like the last thing you want to do after working a long shift or when you’re getting ready for the day, but it’s a great way to keep you fit and healthy – a must for the challenges of a busy hospital!

Even a short workout can be effective for boosting your cardio health and keep you fit and strong. You might also want to think about doing some yoga before you go to sleep to calm your thoughts and help you put the stress and emotions of the day behind you.

Learn how to cope with stress

Nursing can be a stressful job, but it’s important that you don’t let stress get in the way of your ability to do your work and provide patients with quality care. There are some great lessons you can learn about coping with stress from other nurses, including how to deal with difficult patients and how to have tough conversations. Remember that everyone has bad days, and talking to colleagues, friends and family can help lighten the load and leave you feeling much better.

Set goals for yourself

It can be easy to forget about your personal career goals when you’re juggling your day-to-day role, but it’s important to keep those goals in mind. Having goals gives you focus and drive, helping you make it through those tougher weeks. Create a plan for how you’re going to advance your nursing career and keep setting goals for yourself that will help to keep you motivated when you need it most.

Don’t give up

It’s easy to feel scared, lost or suffering from imposter syndrome when you first start a job. But please know that it’s completely normal to feel this way. Most people take six months to a year to settle into a new role, and in a career like nursing where there are a lot of challenges, you’ll always be learning new things and having to adjust. The important thing is not to give up – things will settle down, and you’ll soon feel more at ease with what you’re doing. Talk to others if you’re struggling, you’ll probably find more people are in the same boat than you realize!

A career in nursing offers so many incredible opportunities, and the chance to make a difference to people’s lives. Get the most out of your first months in a new role and set yourself up for a long and exciting career.

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