Few things can be as daunting to a new nurse as the first day on the job. What if you don’t fit in? What if you don’t know what to do? There are hundreds of ‘what ifs’ rolling through your mind, almost enough to make you hide under the covers instead of going in. Take heart, once you get the first day over with, things will be much less intimidating. To make your first day the best possible, follow these simple tips:
- Show up early. By getting there early, you can spend some time acclimating yourself to the unit and getting your bearings. You will also have time to meet some fellow nurses and to get a feel for the work environment.
- Visit human resources. If you have any questions or an additional paperwork to turn in, you can make a quick visit to human resources to get everything squared away before you start working. The more you get off your mind, the better.
- Make sure you sign in. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is easy to forget small details on that first day.
- Meet your bosses. Since you are early, take a moment to introduce yourself to your supervisors and to get a feel for the people for whom you will be working.
- Meet the nurse you will shadow. Find your mentor nurse and introduce yourself. Be polite and professional and say ‘thank you’ for the guidance he or she is providing to you.
- Introduce yourself to fellow nurses. Make your introductions quick so as not to interfere with the flow of the unit.
- Find out what your mandatory paperwork requirements are for the unit. If needed, make notes to keep in your pocket so you won’t forget anything important.
- Familiarize yourself with the policies and procedures of the facility, including information about breaks and lunch. The more you know up front, the less nervous you will feel about your first shift.
- Make sure to have paper and a pen for taking notes. Find out if your unit requires reports on printed patient summaries. If so, make sure to get the report sheets.
- Perform your shift with confidence and professionalism. You have the training for the job. Don’t let nervousness make you insecure and clingy. Ask questions when needed, but never forget that you are a professional nurse. Trust yourself.
- At the end of your shift, report to the next nurse. Go home, celebrate your success, and get plenty of rest for the next day.
Your first shift can range from nerve-wracking to downright terrifying. By following these simple tips, you can remove much of the uncertainty and nervousness from your first day and make it one of your best ever.