Career Pathways & Education

What to Invest in as a New Grad Nurse

The Trusted Team
May 20, 2020
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It's that time of the year, and despite some potential COVID-19 education related setbacks, it's still a good time to look ahead. Your first year as a new graduate nurse (and registered nurse!) will be thrilling, stressful, and even terrifying at times.

After all, you finally have real-live patients under your care. However, just because you’re out of nursing school and done with your nursing program doesn't mean that your learning days are over. Nurses are life-long learners, and you are just getting started! 

Your time as a new grad nurse will become your foundation of nursing knowledge. Here are a few things to invest your time and money into. 

Find a Nurse Residency Program

Nurse residency programs are specifically designed to help recent graduates transition into successful clinical nurse roles. They typically last anywhere from four months to one year, depending on what specialty you enter. Residency programs give new nurses a space to learn on the job. This way, they can hone in on critical thinking skills and clinical knowledge, all under the eyes of experienced nurses.

Use your orientation time wisely (it’s the beginning of your nursing career, after all). This is a good opportunity to ask questions, listen to advice, and be a sponge for retaining as much information as you can. Your orientation nurses are there to help you learn how to fly on your own so you can be confident when you care for patients independently.

If you don't know how to prepare once you find programs you'll be applying to, we can point you in the right direction by helping you show off your strengths with a ready-to-go nursing resume and learn just how much to ask for with our salary insights by visiting Trusted for New Grads!

Master Time Management

Prioritizing your most critical tasks is one of the most important aspects of learning how to be a great nurse (this is especially true for ER nurses!). There is a big difference between being a good student and being a good student nurse. While it may seem like you have 101 things to do at any given moment, organizing your nursing notes intentionally will make it possible to maximize your time wisely. Focus on finding your balance between patient care and charting. 

One way to do this is by using a "nurse brain sheet" for your specialty (your unit might have them, or you can find one online). 

woman holding pencil sitting at cafe table with coffee and writing notes studying new grad nurse nursing

Ask for Help When You Need It

Nurses do not work on an island. The most functional hospital units are those where nurses and ancillary staff work as a supportive team.

There is so much to learn as a nursing new grad, and it can be downright scary. But just like you give your patients grace as you care for them, it’s important to give yourself some grace too. Always ask for help if you don't know something or ever feel like you’re drowning. 

Get Involved in Your Unit

Invest time into bonding with other new grad nurses on your unit. When you find comrades who are going through the same process as you are, it can help to relieve some of the initial stress through discussion, group learning, and even empathizing. In fact, you may find yourself having fun, even during crazy shifts!

If your unit has committees, such as a unit council or party-planning committee, get involved to form deeper friendships with co-workers and more seasoned nurses.  

Eat Breakfast and Pack Nourishing Lunches

This one sounds obvious, but it’s vital to start the day off with a healthy breakfast (unless you know that intermittent fasting works better for you). Getting used to 12-hour shifts can take some time, and there is nothing worse than being starving in the middle of a shift with no breaks in the near future. 

Don't assume you'll have time to prepare something during your lunch break (or run out for a quick bite)!

Bring Your A-Game

A successful day is all about maintaining a positive attitude. Make sure to get enough sleep before your shifts, and aim to arrive at work early enough to allow for extra time to review your patient's information before you get a report from the prior nurse. This may seem like more work at the beginning, but in the long run it makes your day move along much more smoothly.  

Make sure to always have your badge, stethoscope, bandage scissors, penlight, and any other necessary supplies on you for your nursing shift. Finally, don't forget to wear a pair of sturdy nursing shoes to carry you through your shift safely! 

Simplify Your First Job Search With Trusted

If you’re a new nurse grad, nursing student, or a nurse early in your career, we’ve got more resources like this one to help you land a job you’ll love and confidently navigate your nursing career.

Check out our job search tools, such as a nursing resume builder, nurse salary insights, and RN-approved nursing guides, by signing up for a free Trusted for New Grads profile today.

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