Every nurse will experience that first day on the job and all the emotions that go with it. “This has happened to me a dozen times since I graduated from my nursing school. The first day on a job is the most memorable experience in my life,” says Mary Wiske, a retired community health nurse who has experienced several first days at jobs throughout her 25-year nursing career.
No matter whether you’re a new graduate or an experienced nurse, the first day at a new job or new location can be exciting, stressful, or overwhelming. There is so much to learn in addition to the duties or responsibility related to the job. If you are a new graduate, congratulations on your first job! This is your chance to begin your career in health care.
Here are four steps that will help you prepare for your first day.
1. Learn all you can about your new employer.
Read through any contracts, induction packs, or emails you have received. These will have important information about your employment, responsibilities, and what you may need to bring with you when you start. When you are familiar with your job description, you will be able to work more safely and efficiently.
2. Plan the route you will take to work as well as some alternate routes.
Find a map, get directions. Incorporate contingency time for bad traffic, public transport delays, or getting lost. If you are driving, remember to find out where you can park.
3. Get yourself ready – pens, a notebook, and a high-quality stethoscope.
Look for comfortable and durable scrubs that make you look professional. You should also plan to wear comfortable shoes that offer strong arch support and a roomy toe box, in addition to heels that do not pinch or slip and a no-slip sole.
4. Take care of yourself.
Be calm and relax. Remember to go to bed early the night before and have breakfast before you go to work. Give yourself plenty of time to get to work so you do not show up late.
Finally, you are here–the first day on the job. It is normal to feel nervous or excited. It is wise to remain calm and carry yourself with confidence; that is the key to this. Keep a positive attitude and an open mind. Remember to take an active role in your orientation and do not be afraid to ask questions. Make an effort to learn new things and learn how to do something a new way. All you can do is try your best and do your job the best way you know how.
Ethical challenges, such as professional-personal boundary conflicts, end-of-life decision-making, and maintaining patient privacy and confidentiality, occur in everyday nursing practice. New graduate nurses and those with less experience tend to face these challenges more frequently.
Regardless of where they practice, nurses are always faced with ethical challenges, and they can impact nurses’ day-to-day practice and patient care outcomes. Therefore, it is important that every nurse has knowledge and strategies to manage these challenges appropriately. Here are some tips to guide you:
- Understand the Code of Ethics for Nurses and be able to address and apply them effectively. The Code of Ethics for Nurses, developed and released by the American Nurses Association (ANA), is an important document that can provide direction and guidance for nurse’s day-to-day decisions and actions.
- Be familiar with the hospital/organizational values.
- Identify and use the ethics resources available within your organization, such as the hospital ethics committee, for consultation.
- Consult with others, such as the head/manager of nursing or supervisor, when a complex ethical situation arises.
- Talk with your patient and his or her family to gain perspective or an understanding of their choices.
- Be aware of the effectiveness of nursing interventions and activities – and standards of practice.
- Stay up-to-date with policy changes in your hospital/organization.
- Engage with the hospital ethics committee and attend the meetings when time permits.
- Collaborate and network with professional organizations/associations to gain more insight and understanding of various emerging ethical issues.
- Read nursing ethics articles to gain knowledge and ethics perspective.
- Take ethics education or training to increase ethical competence.
Not only are ethical challenges time-consuming and stressful, but also they can potentially negatively impact the patient’s quality of care and the nursing professional’s role. Managing these challenges will require ethical knowledge, work experience, and personal commitment to do what is right. Continuing ethics education is of the utmost importance to help nurses suitably manage these challenges, providing tools and skills necessary for their ethical decision-making and competence.
Being a nurse, it’s often challenging to have a work-life balance. Everyone wants a balanced life because it’s good for their physical and mental health, their relationships with family and colleagues, and their work performance, but how can you actually achieve a work-life balance?
I always tell my nursing students how important time management is. More often than not, we’re too busy trying to keep up with our daily activities and workload, but good time management can help you achieve more in a shorter period of time and with less effort, and help you make better decisions. As a result, you will have more free time and more success, which in turn leads to lower stress and frustration.
Here are some useful steps to help you manage your time effectively and achieve a work-life balance:
- Identify your priorities and values between home and work. Always work on the most urgent and important goals and tasks first. Readjust the demands of work and home as much as possible.
- Assess how you currently spend your time. Keep a time log for a week and look for activities which you should set limits and boundaries on your time—both at home and at work.
- Make yourself a priority by practicing good self-care, and take care of yourself in a holistic way—taking into account both physical and mental health.
- Improve your nutrition by having a healthy breakfast, taking a break for lunch or healthy snacks, and spending time with family for dinner.
- Integrate exercise into your day. Enroll in a yoga, Pilates, or mindfulness meditation class or other relaxation activity that can help you reduce stress.
- Improve your sleep health by making your bedroom as inviting as possible.
- Learn to say “NO.” Sometimes you need to let someone know that you are not available to take on a new request or attend another meeting.
- Take time to reflect on the positive parts of your day and life.
- Make time for the things you love. Have a good time trying out other areas of well-being.
- Identify workplace and personal challenges that create stress, and develop an action plan for addressing or coping with them.
- Acknowledge losses and give yourself permission to grieve.
- Seek support from your families, friends, and colleagues in areas that seem to be the most challenging. Consider using your organization’s employee benefit program, peer associations, and support groups for assistance.
Have fun and enjoy a balance of your work and personal life!
Approximately 85.11% of candidates passed the NCLEX RN on their first attempt in 2017, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). You can be one of those who passes the exam on the first try, too; you just have to know how and work through it.
Here are five tips to help guide you.
1. Familiarize yourself with the NCSBN website.
The NCSBN website provides critical information that you need to know about the NCLEX before taking the exam. Check all the rules and requirements. You need to get to know anything and everything you can about the exam so you can take the NCLEX exam with confidence.
2. Start preparing early.
Give yourself enough time to study. Establishing a timetable for your study is essential. Manage your study as if it is your full-time job. Try and get rid of all distractions, and make sure you feel as comfortable and able to focus as possible. Everyone is different, so make sure you develop a study routine that works for you, whether that’s studying in the AM if you’re a morning person OR in the evening if you are most productive at night.
3. Discover your knowledge early on.
It is crucial that you figure out the areas where you feel especially weak and that you need to focus on the most. Make sure that you spend more time reviewing content material related to these areas and keep practicing.
4. Take practice exams every day.
One of the most effective ways to prepare for the NCLEX exam is to practice taking past versions. It is important to take multiple practice tests and answer hundreds of questions in order to become increasingly familiar with the test format and questions. Also, take more time to review the correct answers for the questions you got wrong. The NCLEX exam is designed to determine if you have nursing knowledge and critical thinking skills required to begin practicing as a nurse. You are required to analyze the test questions using your critical thinking skills and nursing knowledge to make decisions about common nursing situations. There are a great deal of online guides and test questions, many of them free or at an affordable price. Make sure that you take advantage of these resources. A particular resource that I would recommend is the NCSBN’s Review for the NCLEX Exam.
5. Last but not least, set yourself up for success on the test day.
Stay positive and expect to pass. What everyone says is true–a good night’s sleep can make all the difference. Make sure you go to bed early the night before the test and regulate a full night of sleep (at least 7-8 hours). Be relaxed during the exam and remind yourself that you are well-prepared for the exam and ready to pass.