When you hear the term “nursing tips,” your mind may jump to how to insert an IV correctly or which medications to administer in specific scenarios. But the advice for nurses we’ll focus on in this article is a bit less technical. These tips get at the “soft skills” of nursing.
Whether it’s your first year of nursing or your 20th, the truth is, you can always learn how to be a better nurse. Spoiler alert? To excel in your nursing career, you need to check in with yourself and take care of your needs (as well as your patients’).
The 10 most important tips for new nurses
The following 10 tips may get new nurses off to a great start, but that doesn’t mean people who’ve been in the field for years can’t also apply this advice. In fact, some of these tips are essential reminders for anyone working in healthcare, even the most seasoned nurses.
- Get to know your team members: Nurses almost always work in a team of other nurses, physicians and clinicians. As nurses help implement care plans and advocate for patients, they need to have a strong line of communication with their team members. A plus of getting to know your co-workers? You’re all in the nursing profession together, so when the going gets tough, you can talk it out and lean on one another.
- Prepare to endure: And not just mentally. Irregular or long, 12-hour shifts can disrupt your eating and sleeping schedules, and both of these activities are essential to your physical and mental health. When it comes to eating, be sure to meal prep, pack healthy snacks and hydrate well. As far as sleep goes, make a schedule and stick to it, even if you work the night shift and have to sleep at odd hours.
- Take care of yourself mentally and physically: Nurse burnout is as real as the physical ailments that often come with the job, like sore backs and swollen feet. And sometimes, mental and physical symptoms are linked. The stress you endure on the job can lead to gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular disease or other health conditions. We recommend seeking professional therapy, joining support groups, taking time to rest and recharge on your days off, eating healthily, exercising and sleeping.
- Don’t be shy: If you need help, speak up. Whether you need advice on a work-related issue or feel overwhelmed because of the number of tasks you have on your plate, say something. Doing so can prevent errors in patient care, stress and burnout.
- Trust your mentors and supervisors: No matter how long you’ve been doing your job, there’s almost always someone who’s been doing it longer. Just like you trusted your professors at nursing school to provide you with all the information you needed to pass the NCLEX and practice as a nurse, you should trust your workplace superiors to serve as guides as you continue your hands-on learning.
- Don’t neglect your personal life: Work-life balance may seem like a tricky equilibrium to strike as a healthcare professional, thanks to the long hours and physically and emotionally draining tasks. But you can’t care for your patients to your fullest extent if you’re not taking care of yourself first and foremost. Prioritize spending time with your friends and family members, too, and you’ll likely feel stronger and more supported as you take on your work.
- Be patient with your patients (and yourself): As a nurse, you’re naturally a caring, empathetic person. But we all have the occasional off day, and some nurses may even experience compassion fatigue as a by-product of burnout. The better you take care of yourself, the more likely you’ll be present and patient with others.
- Take notes and keep studying: If you’re in a healthcare role, you’re in for life-long learning. With constant advancements in the field, you need to gather new information and data all the time. Record your learnings and never stop studying. There are plenty of resources like medical journals, conferences and specialized education courses that can help bolster your knowledge.
- Practice delegation and time management: Yes, nurses can do just about anything, but not necessarily all simultaneously. If you feel like you’re taking on too much, it’s probably because you are, and it’s time to delegate—even if this means doing so at home. Then, take what you can do and fit it into a reasonable schedule. Time management will come in handy in a clinical environment where you make rounds, administer medication and keep up with your patients’ charts.
- Accept your mistakes: No matter who you are or what you do, never forget you’re human, first and foremost. Acknowledging and embracing your errors is the first step in learning from them, which will, in turn, only make you a better professional. We all make mistakes from time to time, so take a deep breath and shake it off. If you recognize your mistakes and learn from them, chances are you won’t make them again. And when you admit to your mistakes, you encourage those around you to do the same, which creates a healthy sense of compassion and space for learning.
Whether you’re a nursing first year or a veteran in your field, you can appreciate the power of tips like these just as much as having great scrubs. You know—soft, durable, flexible fits that help make your day better. If you’re called on to give pointers to a nursing student who’s just starting their career, don’t forget to remind them about the importance of wearing premium workwear.