How to settle into a new post successfully
Starting a new job can be daunting, with the early days especially bringing new experiences and challenges. Health coach Mandy Day-Calder offers advice on how to make the transition go smoothly.
Starting a new job can be daunting, with the early days especially bringing new experiences and challenges. Health coach Mandy Day-Calder offers advice on how to make the transition go smoothly
Starting a new job often means saying goodbye to day-to-day familiarity. Facing change head-on can be exciting but it can also be stressful, and everyone copes differently. Regardless of where you are in your nursing career, the early days in a new post are often challenging as you learn to adapt to an unfamiliar environment, colleagues and responsibilities.
It is easy to retreat into unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaviour when under stress, such as beating yourself up about your perceived lack of ability or being overly friendly in an attempt to ‘fit in’.
Tips on coping
Here are some more helpful ways to survive being a ‘newbie’ on the ward:
- Do your research: familiarise yourself with your new role as well as your colleagues. Visualising where you will be working can help, so visit the clinical area before your first shift if possible. If you are changing specialities, do some background reading but don’t bombard yourself with too much information all at once.
- Manage expectations: all new roles involve learning. As hard as it is, you need to manage ‘not knowing’ and be kind to yourself. You are setting yourself up to fail if you expect to know everything on your first day. Be honest with other staff members and don’t pretend to know something you don’t. Asking for help if you need it shows humility, not weakness.
- Observe team dynamics: it is natural to want to fit in with new colleagues but trusting relationships take time to build. Don’t compromise your personal values simply to be liked, and avoid joining in with ward gossip.
- Have a voice: being new doesn’t mean you can’t give your opinion on clinical or ward matters. But there is a fine line between being assertive and appearing arrogant or defensive, so watch how you say things and don’t expect to implement change overnight. Offer your ideas openly and calmly and ask for honest feedback.
- Be proactive: Look out for formal and informal learning opportunities and keep a reflective diary of your thoughts and progress. Most likely you will look back in a few months and be amazed by all you have learned.
- Reflect: in addition to your own learning, how can you use your experience to increase your empathy with patients?
- Expect to be tired: it may take you a few weeks or months to fully relax into your new post. In this time, it is likely you will feel more tired than usual. Try to look after yourself, and make sure you are eating well and getting enough rest.
- This too will pass: nothing stays static for long in nursing. You are in a process and won't be new forever.
Mandy Day-Calder is a freelance writer and life/health coach