Steps to Take When Preparing For Your First Year of Practice as an RN (Registered Nurse)
As a first year RN who is just starting, it’s useful to implement the organizational and time management skills you developed in nursing school to prepare yourself for nursing practice. There are some steps you can take while transitioning to practicing that can help reduce anxiety and build confidence. Preparing to transition to practice as an RN includes:
1. Finding a Mentor
Consider what qualities you want in a mentor. A mentor can exist inside or outside of the workplace and can help you build confidence and develop your communication, problem solving, and critical reasoning skills. The mentor can be a resource for learning new skills, answering questions, and addressing concerns while creating a trusting relationship. That trusting relationship can translate to patient care. Nurses have been rated highest among a number of other professions as having high levels of honesty and ethics.
As a practicing nurse, you are expected to provide care with a full workload, managing multiple patients with varying levels of acuity. Understand you will make mistakes and may not complete tasks on time, but realize this is all part of the learning curve during a new nurse’s journey. During orientation, it is important to have a discussion with your nurse preceptor, nurse manager, and charge nurse about how to gradually increase your workload. A gradual increase in workload will allow a new nurse time to gain confidence in clinical decision-making and manage any concerns about feeling overwhelmed.
3. Time-Management Skills
Managing your time is a learned skill. Competent nursing care requires successfully completing multiple tasks with varying levels of priority. Effectively organizing patient care activities helps to reduce stress levels and increases patient safety. Strategies for developing good organizational skills include:
- Creating lists
- Prioritizing patient care from highest to lowest importance
- Multitasking or clustering activities when possible
- Asking for help
- Taking breaks
4. Practice Self-Care
Caring for others is a large component of being in the nursing profession. The interventions nurses perform for patients are direct examples of the altruistic morals that nurses possess. Nursing includes constant teaching, building trust, and advocating for patients and their families while laboriously administering care. This innate motivation to care for others often overshadows how nurses care for themselves.
As you embark on your first year of practice, you will be challenged to grow both professionally and personally. The need to build and enhance clinical judgment, knowledge, interpersonal communication, and specialty- specific skills are important aspects of a new nurse’s transition to practice. Utilize your mentor, nurse colleagues, nurse manager, and charge nurse for support with decision making and seek out constructive feedback for areas of improvement on an ongoing basis.