Fitting in and Making a Good Impression as the New Nurse

          It's orientation on your nursing unit and you are about to meet a lot of people.  First impressions are everything and you want to make a good one.  There are some simple things you can do during your first weeks on the job to make sure you fit right in and get taken under their wing while you're a "newbie":

1. Be social:

          Get to know your new co-workers, during downtime.  Get involved in discussion among colleagues about family, work, and hobbies.  The more you know about your new co-workers, the more you can find to relate to!

          If you are invited to group activities outside of work, make an effort to attend.  This will give them a chance to get to know you out of work and become more invested in you too!

          Don't underestimate the power of a smile!  People who smile appear more relaxed and approachable, allowing others to be more likely to engage with you!

2. Bring goodies: 

          Sure, maybe this is a form of bribery, but there is absolutely nothing that brightens a nurse's day more than walking into the break room and seeing snacks, goodies, or free food up for grabs.

          Nurses love to eat and when it's busy sometimes you can't leave the floor to get food.  It goes without saying it's like Christmas when one of your colleagues has brought in some to share.  It's true what they say, the fastest way to a nurse's heart is through her stomach!

3.  Stay positive:

            If you are feeling particularly down about something, talk openly to your preceptor or someone you can trust.  Sometimes a job just simply isn't a good fit and many times you won't know for sure until you've started there.  Remember though, that there is a difference between general complaining and having a legitimate problem with your progress on a new unit.

          Extra help may be offered from your preceptor and nurse educator, or counseling from your manager could help if you are feeling like the job is not clicking like it should.  Otherwise, keep the whining to a minimum and stay positive!  We all have to start somewhere!

          Check out this post on How To Deal With Negativity In Nursing from Nurse Jenny to help you get rid of the negativity in your life and focus on the positive!

4.  Go with the flow:

          While you are orienting, the nursing unit has to remain functional and keep up with the typical workflow.

         It's not ideal but sometimes, for reasons outside the educator's control, you will have to change preceptors and work with someone who you are not used to.  Don't panic if you're a newbie and have to change preceptors mid-orientation.  Sometimes nurses have a different approach to patient care and can teach you to be versatile.

          Most units try to keep orientees and preceptors together but due to sick calls, short staffing, or patient assignments sometimes you have to go with the flow.  If it gets to be excessive, don't complain to the staff, take your concerns to the nurse educator or the manager in charge of scheduling to see if you can come up with a plan with more continuity for your orientation.

 5. Be authentic: 

          Nurses are intuitive creatures.  We have bullshit detectors from dealing with non-compliant patients and difficult family members.  You are who you are and while you want to put your best foot forward, be true to yourself!

         We love honesty and seeing that someone trusts us enough to be real.  Remember, none of us are perfect... if it's an image you are trying to portray it won't be relatable and you will have a hard time connecting with your group.

 6.  Help out:

         On orientation you will be very busy, but there may be times when you can help out.  It is awesome to see orientees jump in to help during an emergency or a new admission, whether its grabbing IV fluids, moving a patient, any little bit can make a difference.

          Most orients hesitate to jump in because they don't think they can offer much help as a newbie on the floor, this is not true!  Use what you know and be available so you will be viewed as a valuable team player.

          There's always something you can do and showing your new unit that you're willing to jump in when needed is a huge plus.

7.  Be a team player: 

           The most effective and safest nursing units work together.  They cover each other's breaks, help with admissions, and have situational awareness of what's happening on the unit.

          Be a team player and don't have the mentality, "not my patient"... someday you will inevitably need help.  Be present and get used to having a teamwork mentality from the start.

8.  Ask questions: 

         During orientation your preceptor may or may not hover over your shoulder, you are going to need to anticipate care to the best of your ability.  It is not good time management to constantly be coming in and out of your patients room looking for step by step instructions of what is next for patient care.

          After getting report from the nurse leaving, collect your thoughts and prepare appropriate questions for your preceptor.  Of course, when in doubt always ask... it is better to be safe than do harm to a patient under all circumstances.

9.  It's OK not to know everything

          Come prepared to your unit by doing some research on your specialty, it helps to put it all together when you finally hit the floor.  During your orientation, however, you should be a sponge.  Take in as much information as you can, learn from everyone... doctors, nurses, PCA's, PAA's... everyone on the unit is part of a team and can teach you something to make you function most effectively on the floor.

          Don't make the mistake of thinking because you wrote your term paper on the effects of Pitocin during labor you are an expert at delivering care to a patient with a Pitocin infusion.

          All hospitals have different policies and cultures, you have to sit back and learn and apply what you know to patient care to be a successful nurse on your unit.

10.  Have a good attitude:

         Be positive in your approach to new challenges and have enthusiasm when it comes to learning new skills.  You should be enthusiastic and motivated to start your new job.  If you give the impression you are not interested in your specialty people will begin to wonder why you took a job there and won't take you seriously.

         Be prepared for adversity in the workplace, learn to go with the flow and roll with the punches. Each challenge that you face along the way should be viewed as an opportunity to learn and grow.

          When you tackle challenges head on, your colleagues will respect your work ethic and look at you as a positive team member.

"I believe that a simple and unassuming life is best for everyone, best both for the body and mind" -Albert Einstein

          First day jitters are normal for any job, but in nursing, we are stereotyped for "eating our own young" when it comes to new staff and new grads.

          Don't be fooled, #nursessupporttheiryoung and are supportive and encouraging if you show up willing to learn and work hard.  On your first day, take a deep breath and be patient with your "newbie" status as you learn the ropes.

Check out my post on 6 tips for Surviving the First 6 Months as a New Nurse for more!

Comment below if you have a "newbie nurse" story you want to share or like my page on facebook 🙂


3 thoughts on “Fitting in and Making a Good Impression as the New Nurse”

  1. Pingback: 6 Tips for Surviving the First 6 Months as a New Nurse » Nurse/Forward

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