20 Tips for Nurses in Their First Year of Nursing

tips for new nurses

Now that you’ve finally reached your goal to be a nurse, you’re going to need tips for new nurses to get you started. Being a nurse is by no means an easy profession. It takes a crazy amount of hard work and dedication. To kickstart your brand new career as a nurse, here are some valuable tips that will help you survive your first year as a nurse.

1. Never be afraid to ask questions.  Most of the time, we are dealing with life or death situations and we don’t want to put our patient’s safety in danger.  Whenever you’re not sure of anything, simply ask questions from veteran nurses.

medical advice

2. Preserve your integrity. Always be honest with yourself and others. At the end of a rough shift in your unit, it’s your integrity that will keep you in touch with your profession’s dignity.

3. Listen to your patients. No matter how expert you are about health concerns, patients know their bodies better than you do. You might miss a critical symptom with your patients’ illness if you don’t listen well or take them seriously.

patient communication

4. Always plan for the worst. You will never know what may happen in your shift. Most of the time, the worst things have been known to happen whenever you are caught off-guard.

Also read: Top 7 Deadliest Nursing Errors (And How to Avoid Them)

5. Be assertive. Even if you doubt yourself, don’t show it.  Patients will draw strength from you if they see that you are confident about yourself. Tricky doctors will also avoid belittling your expertise as a nurse if you have an assertive attitude.

6. Take good care of yourself. No matter how busy your shift is, don’t give up your right to drink, eat or use the bathroom. Nurses have a tendency to be martyrs, but at the end of the day, who else will take care of patients if their nurses are also sick?

eating healthy

7. Remain calm as best as you can. There will be times that you will feel panicky especially during codes. However, you should remain calm to preserve your presence of mind. You can make sound decisions about patient care if you can remain calm even in high-pressure situations.

8. Be on time. Whenever you are late, you inconvenience the people that you work with. They’d have to take a portion of your work in your absence, or spend precious minutes contacting you.  Don’t be a burden to your teammates.

nursing time management

9. Learn to be organized. Whatever your personal habits, you will have to learn to be organized when you start working as a nurse. In this field, the things you will need to do are never-ending and may even be overwhelming at times. By being organized, you can properly prioritize which task needs your attention first.

10. Think before answering. Never answer blankly without thinking. In the nursing profession, it is hard to take back what you have already said. You will lose your credibility, and patients and doctors will find it hard to trust your judgment again.

11. Don’t complain about everything. Being in the same room as a co-worker who complains incessantly is a definite energy-drainer.  Don’t be that person who won’t stop complaining about everything unless you want to be labeled negatively by your teammates.  Just remember that you’re all in the same boat and to keep venting to a minimum.

happy nurse

12. When calling a doctor, have your pen, paper and patient chart near you. Make a list of the things you need to mention. Dictate laboratory results in comparison with the previous result. Write down every instruction you heard in a piece of paper. With so many things to remember in a day, written notes are essential.

nurse record

13. Study the medications you are about to give to your patient. Look up each medication in your unit’s drug handbook. Most of the tips for new nurses emphasize the importance of studying the medications of your patient.

You need to pay attention to drug interactions, vital signs precautions and adverse reactions. Over time, you will know all these information by heart.

administering medications

14. Invest in your shoes. You will walk a lot for the entire duration of your nursing career and a good-fitting pair of shoes are your best friends. Comfortable and durable shoes will help keep you on your feet longer with little or no pain. Lower back pain and feet pain are common problems of nurses with ill-fitting shoes.

Nursing shoes

Also read: Best Shoes for Nurses

15. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone in your unit. If you need a hand in providing bedside care, ask your colleagues nicely. Then, return the favor when it’s their turn to need assistance. A heavy workload feels lighter when there is teamwork in the unit.

16. Learn to admit your mistakes. Admit your mistake as soon as you discover it. As nurses, we are dealing with life and death at work.

Mistakes are unavoidable but it is unacceptable to cover them up and put someone’s health in danger. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes as your seniors will do their best to help you correct them and lessen the damage.

nurse errors

17. Treat yourself once in a while. Are you having a bad week at work? Reward your own hard work with something you really want. This could serve as one of your driving motivations at work.

18. Be the kind of nurse you wanted to have as a patient. You’ll sometimes feel cranky or out of sorts.  When this happens, just imagine yourself being a patient in your unit. What kind of nurse do you want to be in charge of your health? Use this principle as your model in giving your best effort at work.

nurse and patient

19. Be a sponge and soak up all the knowledge around. There is a never-ending process of learning in the field of nursing. Learn from your experience as well as from others’ experience. Listen to your seniors’ reminders and to doctors’ advice. You’ll never know when you will need that valuable piece of information someday.

20. Invest in your continuing education as early as possible. You can’t be a regular staff nurse all your life. You must develop your expertise and excel in the field of nursing you want to pursue. Your mind and body can still stand the hard work of duties in hospitals but ten or twenty years from now, you will feel the need to level up your career. It is best to be prepared for your future as a nurse early in your career.

Also read: An Ultimate Guide to Free Nursing CEUs

With these tips for new nurses, are you now ready to start your nursing career? Being a nurse means touching the lives of others, from the day they were born up to the last moments of their lives. Be proud of the career you have chosen – you have the chance to save lives as soon as you start your first day at work as a nurse.


About the Author: Je Abarra is a nurse by profession and a freelance writer by passion. She is working as a staff nurse in the pediatric ward of a private city hospital for more than two years. During her free time, she usually writes about her fascinations in health and nursing. She loves to provide tips and fun facts about nursing and healthy living.