Come to Work Prepared
Come prepared, arrive early, and take a moment to relax. Be sure to pack a lunch and a snack just in case you can't find anything in the cafeteria that you can eat. If you're not working in a hospital, you may not have an opportunity to go out for a meal, or perhaps everyone eats in.Dress Appropriately
Dress the part. Your appearance will be graded by your coworkers, your employer, and your patients. If you look like a nurse, you'll gain respect from everyone. Your clothes should be clean and wrinkle free. You should be clean and impeccably groomed and as discussed before, please no perfume or after-shave. If you have a problem with bad breath, have some breath mints with you.
Before your first day, you should know what time you need to be there, what you need to bring and what type of orientation you'll have. You should have read your job description and your state's Nurse Practice Act. (A copy is available at your state's Board of Nursing Web site. See
Nursing is a more conservative field in the sense that flashy, fashionable dress is really not appropriate. This is true even in roles where nurses can wear street clothes as opposed to a uniform. If you think about it, would you really like to be cleaning up someone's vomit or incontinent stool in your best party dress or in scrubs? On the other hand, would you be more confident in someone who is dressed in clean whites or someone whose uniform looks like it hasn't been washed in a week and whose hair hasn't been combed since last Thursday? Spend your money on flashy clothes for after hours and keep to the basics of clean fresh uniforms and modest jewelry for work.Bring Your Equipment
In most cases, your first day will be an orientation. This should include a quick overview and tour of the facility and introduction to the members of the organization with whom you will associate and those you need to know for such things as payroll or parking permits.
Although this may be an all-day orientation, you should come prepared with your nursing equipment unless you were told otherwise. This should include your watch, stethoscope, bandage scissors, pocket flashlight and pen in a pocket holder, and a new edition drug book or PDA with up-to-date pharmacology software. All items should be clearly labeled with your name and contact information. Doctors are notorious for walking off with stethoscopes and bandage scissors.
You'll need to bring with you any paperwork you were given. This might include forms you need to return, an employee handbook, your job description and anything they asked you to bring when you were hired. Always carry your driver's license, nursing license (if you have it), CPR card, and copies of any certificates you have received. Unless you have already provided your social security card, you may need to have this with you as well. Employers must see the card.
As you meet people and tour the facility, try to get an idea of the culture. How are people addressed? Who is introduced with most formality? Read the body language and get a sense for who's serious and who has a sense of humor. Listen to the comments and the tone. You can quickly pick up on who is well respected, who you need to watch out for, and who will be a terrific resource. Remember to make a good first impression on those you meet. Smile, shake hands when possible, make eye contact, be friendly, and try to make an association of the name and face with what department they work in. You won't remember everyone, but at least you'll recognize a few of them.