8 Pieces of Advice for New Nurses

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Being a new nurse, you might have several questions running through your mind. You’re right to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you have to learn and the number of people you will have to work with to carry out routine tasks. It’s a challenging and stressful job, but it’s also an incredibly rewarding one.

Before you know it, you’ll be so far in your new career that it will be nerve-wracking to remember what it was like when you started. Here is some advice from nursing veterans that will help you survive and thrive as an RN in today’s healthcare field.

1.   Never stop learning

Think of nursing as an ongoing learning experience. Whether you’re a new nurse or one who has been in practice for years, there is always something new to learn. It’s important not only for your career success but also for patient safety.

Advances in healthcare technology occur almost daily. With that in mind, nurses must continue their education to keep up with these changes. When pursuing a career as a professional registered nurse (or RN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) is a terrific way to get started. If you already work as an RN but lack a BSN degree, it also offers a great method to advance your career.

But you might think, why get a BSN degree and not opt for others? A BSN in nursing is highly crucial since it instills essential nursing skills and qualities. It also increases your job stability and offers diverse career opportunities, and allows you to potentially earn more than you could with an associate’s degree.

2.   Attempt to get enough rest

In a meta-analysis by Zeng and colleagues, these professionals concluded that nurses do not get adequate sleep at night. It’s mostly because their long hours and disruptive shifts, including working through the night, interfere with the body’s natural circadian cycle. As a result, your lack of sleep and extensive evening shifts may keep you from getting enough rest.

There’s a danger you might pass out at work if your weariness is too high. It’s an unpleasant situation; the only time you can properly care for your patients is when you are well-energized. Limit your night shifts to four or fewer per week to prevent sacrificing sleep.

Also, refrain from consuming caffeinated drinks like coffee and energy drinks. These stimulants keep you awake and prevent you from sleeping. Create a support system at home if you work night shifts so that family members may assist you with chores and other responsibilities.

3.   Maintain a Balanced Diet

To have the most energy possible to go through the day, you must eat and drink properly. Your daily calorie intake and nutritional habits can impact your physical appearance and endurance. Let’s say you’re accustomed to eating fast food and fried foods. That scenario may increase your risk of developing various illnesses, including atherosclerosis and obesity. Due to your body not receiving the nutrients it needs, a poor diet can also make you irritable and adversely affect your mood. Given this reason, you should be aware of what goes into your diet and attempt to follow a meal plan that leaves you feeling energized and fresh.

If you live alone, making healthy food choices can become even more challenging because of how demanding your job is. On days when you just don’t have the energy to buy groceries or make a wholesome meal, supplements can be helpful. Supplements ensure that your body is getting all the proper nutrients it needs, so you’ll have enough energy to go about your day.

Most supplements offer a specific benefit to those who use them. For example, supplements made from desiccated organs improve nutrient absorption and boost energy and mood. Do your research and consult your healthcare provider to determine which brand will suit your own health needs.

Generally speaking, you should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and entire grains. Choose low-fat dairy options and eliminate all sodium, fats, and sugars from your diet. Oatmeal, berries, grilled salmon, salads, and brown rice with your choice of topping are a few healthy alternatives. Additionally, make an effort to follow a regular eating schedule, stay away from the vending machine, and prepare a lunchbox in your leisure time. If you choose to eat at the hospital cafeteria, don’t make an impulse purchase; instead, take your time to look through the menu and select the healthiest item.

4.   Invest in good shoes

Running around and being on your feet always puts pressure on your feet; therefore, you need supportive footwear. Poor-quality footwear can be easily torn and can lead to blisters on the soles of your feet. Spend time looking for the highest-quality, most comfortable footwear when you go shoe shopping. Make sure the material is water-resistant and doesn’t cause you to slip.

Additionally, your shoes should provide cushioning and space for your toes to breathe. You might need to visit a podiatrist if you suffer from a condition like plantar fasciitis or heel discomfort. Invest in supportive footwear that will keep your feet from becoming more inflamed.

5.   Don’t Ignore Your Mental Well-Being

Hospitals are demanding places that can be extremely hard on you. Your mental health will eventually be impacted by losing patients, addressing distressing cases, and caring for patients while ignoring your needs. As a result, you can experience severe symptoms like burnout and anxiety. These symptoms need to be treated by a specialist because they might persist.

Therapists and other mental health professionals possess the knowledge and skills to assist you. Integrative psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy are some methods therapists can employ to help you heal and unearth the root of your issues. Consider starting a support group at work where you and your coworkers may discuss common issues and experiences. It helps you reduce mental stress and fight feelings of loneliness, improving your general health and well-being.

6.   Document

When you’re documenting your patient’s history, always take time to check for any mistakes. In addition, be sure to document every piece of pertinent information about your patients. If something changes with their condition or if they experience an allergic reaction, having accurate records will allow others (i.e., doctors) to diagnose properly.

So, to get started on proper documentation habits, ask yourself these three questions: How do I document accurately? What are some common reasons why nurses make mistakes with their documentation? How can I avoid making those mistakes?

7.   Be active

Incorporating exercise into your routine is the best strategy to maintain your health. Climb the stairs rather than opt for the elevator the next time you need to get to a higher floor. Join a gym on the weekends. Instead of driving, ride a bike to the closest park or walk to the grocery shop.

Exercise has been shown to boost energy and reduce stress. Ensure to include at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily to improve your well-being.

8.   Reduce stress

Experts advise frequent exercise, deep breathing, and meditation to reduce stress. However, you can do something as fun and straightforward as reading your favorite book, relaxing music, or visiting a park. The stressors of daily life can be greatly reduced by spending time doing something you value and like.

To concentrate entirely on the present, you can use mindfulness techniques. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough downtime in between long shifts. Even slow, deep breathing might help relax. Take a short break and try inhaling deeply. Your body will generate hormones enabling you to unwind, lessen tension, and maybe strengthen your immune system.

Conclusion

Nursing school will teach you the technical skills you need to make it through your first few years on the job, but there are a few other things you’ll have to learn yourself. It’s part of growing into your role as a nurse, and it takes time and experience to get used to how different jobs work in the real world. Some things will be easier than others, but the above advice will serve you well whether you’re fresh out of nursing school or preparing to start your career in healthcare.