You earned your degree and landed your first nursing job. Congratulations! You’re well on your way to a meaningful and challenging career.

Everyone wants to make a great first impression when starting a new job. Here are a few pointers to get you started on the right foot.

Be Positive

Negativity exists everywhere – even among nurses and in healthcare facilities. Be determined to be a positive team player on your new job. Avoid gossip and complaining with your coworkers because it only contributes to a more toxic work environment. Instead, put your energy and creativity into being a problem-solver, not a problem-starter.

Learn the Culture

You’re the newbie, so give yourself time to learn the culture of your new company and figure out how you fit into it. Alison Doyle,’s job search site author wrote that company culture is defined as “the personality of a company and defines what a company, from an employee perspective, is like to work for. Company culture includes the company mission, values, ethics, expectations, goals, and work environment.”

There are nuances to each company’s culture that you can’t know until you actually work there. These subtleties can’t be picked up during a job interview. Once you know the culture, you can decide if it’s a fit for you or if you’d like to try another environment. As a new nurse, give yourself time to decide, but realize that you can always choose to move on if it’s not a good fit.

Be a Team Player

You’ll score major points with your fellow nurses and manager if you work as a team player. Being a team player means stepping up when you see something that needs to be done. This is also an important quality that directly affects the level of patient care.

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Focus on Exceptional Patient Care

Your number one priority is to be the best nurse your patients could ask for. Though work can sometimes get hectic, always remember why you became a nurse – to help people. You’ll go a lot further in your career if you are the nurse who goes above and beyond for his/her patients. As a nurse you should listen to your patients and work hard to make them feel comfortable and meet their needs. Also focus on learning good communication skills as you’ll be communicating with many different people including other nurses, doctors, patients and their families.

Plot Your Next Move

Now that you have your foot in the door at your first job, keep an eye out for advancement and/or educational opportunities. What is the logical next step that you can work toward? When you have an end goal in mind, it helps you to excel in your current role in order to be considered for a higher level position.

Also, consider getting an advanced nursing degree — another career booster. Does your company offer educational assistance? If so, take advantage. The more education you have, the further you’ll go as a nurse. If your current employer offers tuition reimbursement, this is the perfect time to hit the books without incurring a lot of student loan debt.

Make your first year on the job all about learning as much as possible about the field of nursing and how to be an exceptional nurse and you’ll move up the ranks in no time.

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Denene Brox is a Kansas City-based freelance writer specializing in career development topics. 

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