Congratulations! You made it through endless hours of care plans, graduated nursing school, passed the boards, and now you’re looking for your first job as a graduate nurse? Well you have accomplished a lot already, but here’s what you have to look forward to.
On the (Job) Hunt
When job hunting as a graduate nurse, the same old rules of professionalism apply: dress smart, do your research and be prepared to explain why you might be a perfect fit for your dream position.
But keep in mind that your first job will lay the foundation of your assessment and nursing skills, so finding a position focused on education is paramount. You may even consider visiting the unit prior to your interview to observe the flow and interaction of staff members, if possible.
This will aid in choosing the place that is best suited to your personality and career goals. Also, don’t forget to ask your HR specialist about the tuition reimbursement policies offered at each facility, if you plan to further your nursing education.
Many companies offer employee assistance, and every little bit helps! If you choose to go off the Med Surg beaten path and pursue a nursing specialty, an internship can provide in depth training within your chosen field, often combining education and a lengthy preceptorship to develop a certain skill set.
Adjusting to New Schedules & Routines
Once you begin your nursing career, you will likely have a new schedule and routine to adjust to. Most facilities utilize 12 hour shifts to minimize staffing issues. This can make for a really long day, so gear up with plenty of rest, good nutrition and comfortable shoes.
You will probably be assigned a preceptor to assist you through your orientation process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! As you encounter new patients with different diagnoses and treatment courses, things will start to click. This is when all that anatomy, physiology and care planning will be begin to fit together like puzzle pieces.
Each nurse manages their day in a distinct and unique way, offering many learning opportunities. Volunteer to assist with as many new skills or procedures that may be available. These experiences will prove to be invaluable when you are finally practicing on your own. Plus it follows the old healthcare saying, “Watch one. Do one.”
Whether it is learning to cope with patients and co-workers range of cultures and personalities, or organizing your time management, you will begin to blossom as a professional nurse.
Finding Your Stride as a Nurse
Soon you will develop your own nursing style, combining past experiences and lessons to tackle your day. Get involved by joining committees or volunteering within your unit, this will help to nurture your career by accepting greater responsibility.
Be a team player; helping each other out can totally make or break a rough day. So be aware of your fellow staff members needs. The assistance will more than likely be reciprocated one day when you’re in the weeds.
A unit that works well together has much lower turnover rates and greater employee satisfaction. But most of all, enjoy this time of your life! It will be one of the most memorable, rewarding yet challenging years that you will reflect upon.
About the Author
Cynthia MacDonald has been a registered nurse for 17, with most of her clinical background focused in pediatric and neonatal intensive care. She has worked in hospitals and also extensively as an agency nurse traveling locally to hospitals in order to fulfill staffing needs, both per diem and on a contract basis. This provides her with a wide base of knowledge and experience on how area hospitals operate their units, and also how different doctors practice. She enjoys working with children and babies on a daily basis, and also interacting with their families during a time of crisis, making their stay as pleasant as possible.