What Do You Wish You Knew As a New Nurse? 6 Nurses Share

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Let’s talk about life as a new nurse! All at the same time it is exciting, nerve-wracking, thrilling, trying, taxing and motivating. So how can you best prepare and what should you expect? We turned to six nurses and asked them to share their advice with nursing students, from tips on how to handle night shift to the amount of time it takes to truly possess the “I’ve got this” feeling.

“This is going to sound silly, but I wish someone would have told me to take care of my body!  Nursing can be very physically demanding between lifting and moving patients and you spend many hours on your feet. Make sure you invest in some good compression socks, take some time to sit down, use good body ergonomics, and stay hydrated! It sounds like common sense, but you have to make your body a priority if you want to work as a nurse for many years.” – Kelsey Horton, RN, BSN, DNAP, CRNA on wellness and self-care

“Work for a few years first! Find out what your niche is in nursing, what you like and don’t like about the profession, and what excites you. Find out if you like working outpatient, inpatient, ICU status, etc…the first couple of years are your time to fly! Think about your decision to further your degree and don’t rush straight from undergrad to graduate school. You assume a huge amount of responsibility when you decide to become a nurse practitioner and you need to make sure this is something you truly want and are ready for. The first couple of years as a nurse are so overwhelming and the learning curve is steep, but give yourself time to be comfortable as an RN before pursuing your masters. You will know when the right time is to go back to school, and don’t talk yourself out of going back, you can do it!” -Michelle Picconi, RN, BSN on continuing your education

“I’m not sure if I’ll ever adapt to working night shift. I’ve learned what works best for me and I try to stick to it. Strong family support is a crucial factor, and I don’t know what I would do without my husband’s support. I have to wear a sleeping mask and earplugs, otherwise I can’t sleep during the day. After my third night shift, I do something that forces me to stay awake, so that I can sleep that evening to readjust to a normal sleep cycle. I eat healthy, take a multivitamin, and try to exercise a few times a week to stay in shape both physically and mentally.” -Sarah Washington, RN, BSN on night shift

“Do it, and go everywhere! And when you do, remember you’re stepping into a different hospital than where you worked before. No hospital policies or procedures are exactly alike. There are many ways to do one thing. Don’t act superior towards people that have worked there for years. Also, don’t buy a lot of furniture. It’s a lot easier to travel with just a couple of suitcases!” -Shaina Rivera, RN, BSN on travel nursing

“I might be biased, but being a CCBD nurse is one of the most rewarding nursing careers.  I get to hang out with some of the coolest, bravest kids and their families’ every day.  I love my job and my coworkers and look forward to the challenges each day brings. My advice is to always follow your goals and pursue a career that makes you happy.  Becoming a nurse has so many advantages and the career options are endless.  Do not settle until you find a position in nursing that truly makes you happy!” -Lauren Renfro, RN, BSN on life as a CCBN nurse

“Go for it! Nurses have the opportunity to make a difference in primary care in our current healthcare system. Gain experience for several years and find what interests you most.  There are so many avenues to explore as a nurse and advanced practice nurse from leadership, education, acute care, primary care, gerontology, pediatrics, and even anesthesia.” – Kelley Murphy, RN, BSN on going to NP school

“I wish I knew that it would take me at least a year in a certain specialty to feel comfortable and confident as a nurse. Even switching from Medical/Oncology to Labor & Delivery, I felt like a new nurse all over again. Each field of nursing is distinct and poses unique challenges.” -Sarah Washington, RN, BSN on life as a new nurse


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