From student to newly qualified nurse: a checklist for new starters
First days can be daunting but being prepared can help calm your nerves. Follow these tips from newly qualified nurse Jessica Ross to make sure you get off to a good start.
First days can be daunting but being prepared can help calm your nerves. Follow these tips from newly qualified nurse Jessica Ross to make sure you get off to a good start
It is natural to feel nervous and apprehensive on your first day in uniform, but hopefully you will also feel excited. Your first day is a celebration of all the hard-won achievements gained throughout your training, so here are a few tips to help you make the most of it:
- Organise a local ward induction beforehand or have a look around. Knowing where you are going and what your workplace looks like before your first day can help quell your nerves.
- Running around trying to find a pair of scrubs to wear during handover is not ideal, so see if you can get your uniform in advance.
- Hopefully your manager will introduce themselves to you, but if not, introduce yourself and make yourself known. Getting to know him or her early is beneficial and helps to make a good impression.
- Understand the layout of your ward and where things are kept. The locations of emergency equipment, fire equipment and fire escapes should be covered in your induction, but also find out where the staff room and toilets are.
- Memorise the emergency number for cardiac arrest or fire.
- Get your identity pass from access control and note the key codes for restricted areas, if needed. Keep these somewhere safe and confidential.
- Sort out your parking permit or other travel arrangements as early as possible. Make sure you know how long your journey to work will take, and aim to get to work slightly before your shift is due to start, so you can get settled beforehand.
- Read through and know where trust and departmental policies are kept.
- Taking sick leave in the first few days of a job is not ideal but we are human and it does happen. Knowing when and how to report it makes it less daunting to call in sick, and senior staff will appreciate your efforts to help resolve staffing issues quickly.
- If you have a preceptorship team, keep the contact details safe and don't be afraid to ask them for help or advice.
- Give yourself time to socialise on your days off, but recuperation and relaxation are also important. You will be inundated with new information, especially in your first few weeks, so expect to feel tired. Having adequate time to rest is essential.
- Chat with other recently qualified or new starters to understand their experiences. You will find they are not dissimilar to yours and they may be a good source of information and advice.
Most importantly of all, remember that no one will or should expect you to know everything. Nurses who have been qualified for years are still learning, so don't put too much pressure on yourself to know everything straight away; it will come with time.
If you are having a bad day, bear in mind that every nurse you work with was new once. They are in the positions they are today because they have persevered and gained experience and knowledge over time. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and remember, you are never alone. You can do this.
About the author
Jessica Ross is a newly qualified staff nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust