Congrats new nurse! You've survived nursing school, passed NCLEX, and you're all set to begin your new career as a registered nurse. Please take a moment to celebrate how far you have come and take in the excitement of finally being a nurse. Naturally, you want to get your career started on the right foot, and you're in luck because I have some powerful tips in store for you to make the most of your orientation!
1. Ask Questions
This is the number one key to surviving orientation. As a new hire, you are bound to have questions. It doesn't matter whether you've been a nurse for five years and you're starting over on a different unit or you're fresh out of school. As a new nurse to your unit, it is expected of you to ask questions. You should never feel inferior to anyone else just because you have a question. As a safe nurse, it is your responsibility to make sure you have all the information you need to provide the best care to your patients.
If asking questions makes you nervous, try to imagine a loved one as a patient on your unit. If there was a nurse caring for your loved one who wasn't sure about an aspect of their care, wouldn't you want the nurse to get clarity to reduce the chances of making a mistake?
A big part of nursing is embracing the autonomy that comes along with the position, and that includes knowing when to ask for help. Plus, during your orientation, your coworkers and manager will be able to gauge your interest in the unit and your commitment to practicing safely based on your willingness to ask questions.
2. Keep resources handy
During your orientation you are going to learn a ton of information in a short period of time. It may be overwhelming how much you are expected to know at work in order to get your job done. Don't stress! It's going to take a little while before you know most things by heart and that's ok! What you can do during orientation is relieve the pressure of information overload by keeping valuable resources handy.
Try keeping a small notebook with you that you can use to write down helpful hints and tips that you learn from your preceptor. Some great things to include in your notebook would be computer charting shortcuts, codes to locked doors, step-by-step lists for procedures, commonly used phone numbers, etc. The key is that when you recognize something useful that you'll need to know on a routine basis, write it down so you don't forget!
During my orientation I had a binder that housed all the paperwork I needed to complete throughout the experience, but I also kept "tip sheets" in there that my nurse educator provided for me. I also printed out common discharge education packets and stored them in my binder for reference.
It is impossible to remember every little thing that you learned in nursing school so don't sweat it! Keep the apps on your phone that you used in school, lab value cards, assessment guidelines, those super neat RN pocket notes, and any other of your most prized study aids from nursing school and see if they make your life easier at work.
3. Volunteer/Make Yourself Available
Yes, the same principle for succeeding in clinical applies during orientation too! For the first two or three weeks of your orientation, it is a good idea to stay close to your preceptor to learn the routine and workflow. As you get more comfortable developing your own routine and performing skills, try to seek out more opportunities to perform challenging skills. Expose yourself to tougher situations while you are orienting so that you know what to do when you're on your own.
4. Be Confident
As a new nurse, you should be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. There is something so special about dedicating your career to the service of others. Take pride in your decision to be the best nurse that you can be each day that you report to work. DO NOT let anyone make you feel less than for being a new nurse. There is nothing wrong with being new. You have skills, talents, and knowledge just like anyone else.
Be confident when you go to work and tell yourself that no matter what, you're going to have a good day. When you introduce yourself to your patients, say something like, "Hello, my name is _____ and I'm going to take great care of you today."
Your mindset makes all the difference. Cheer yourself on throughout your shift. Celebrate the small and big victories. Take pride in the badge on your chest and strive to deliver the best care that you can each day. You will radiate positivity that won't go unnoticed by your peers or patients.
Nursing orientation can definitely be intimidating, no matter how prepared you are. The key is to embrace your orientation as the beginning of your role as a lifetime learner. You will not know everything there is to know about your unit after orientation and that is ok. What is truly important is that you give each day your best effort and strive to learn all that you can!
What are your top tips to surviving orientation? Have you started your orientation yet? What is your plan for orientation success? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below!