What to Expect as the New Nurse

As you transition out of orientation and into your regular assignment, expect to be treated as the new guy. You'll have to earn the respect of your new coworkers. You'll have to prove yourself to be accepted as one of the team.

Sometimes the dislike is well founded from a bad experience when a novice nurse presented a liability issue to another nurse, but even this is something that nurses need to take in stride.

In a setting where the staff is especially short-handed, it can be an added stress to the older staff members to have new nurses who need additional help and supervision. However, these nurses should also have a sense of relief that there is new blood flowing into the system and feel a sense of responsibility to nourish and protect the new grad.

You may also encounter some issues of professional jealousy. Other situations can arise because as a new grad you may be much younger than some of the LPNs or nursing assistants you may be supervising.

In some instances, you may encounter a nurse or two with a strong dislike for students and new graduate nurses. This is unfortunate, but not uncommon. Nurses need to remember where they came from. Every single nurse was a student at one time and a new graduate as well.

Other Issues You'll Encounter

Don't be discouraged; you will also meet many new friends and allies. You will find a mentor and learn many tricks and tips to help you provide excellent patient care throughout your nursing career. You can help improve this situation if you pay close attention to where things are so that you don't have to ask more than once or twice.

However, you are the low man on the totem pole. You haven't been jaded by some of the “revolving door” or “frequent flier” patients who can drive nurses mad. They will be sure to share the wealth with you by giving you all the patients they have burned out on or need a break from. This isn't always a bad thing, but can be challenging to you as a new nurse.

You'll bring new interest and knowledge to the situation and may find a way to help the patient better than anyone has in a long time. Don't be surprised if not everyone applauds your success though. Someone just might take offense or claim that you're just showing off.

You may also find yourself with most of the grunt work assignments for maintaining the unit. And if there is a particular employee who isn't well liked, you can be sure you'll be partnered with that person as often as possible.

Working on Holidays

When it comes to staffing for holidays, expect to be working the main ones. Remember, sick people don't suddenly get well for the holidays. Those nurses with seniority have already paid their dues and will expect you to do so now. In fact, it may take several years before you might see Christmas Day with your family. Memorial Day may just become your favorite holiday and one of the few you might actually get off.

Why would I want to work on a holiday?

Spending a holiday with your patients can be a warm and rewarding experience. This is especially true with those patients who are alone or who may have been recently widowed. Making a difference in someone's life every day takes on an even more special meaning at such times. New nurses usually find this especially rewarding.

Of course, you'll have an alternate day off during that week as your “paid holiday,” which can have its advantages. If you love shopping the day after Christmas, for example, this just might be an acceptable alternative. Remember, someday you won't be the low man and you'll have your choice of holidays.

Take these assignments as the challenges that they are and do your best to make the most of them. Sharpen your leadership skills. Learn diplomacy and how to delegate. Be positive. Use the opportunity to prove yourself as a true team player and to earn the respect of your coworkers. Most of all, learn to provide the best quality patient care despite all odds. Become the best nurse you can be.

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