At the start of your day, choose something that you are going to rock. Ideally, shoot to achieve it early on, because that frees up the rest of your day for failure. Ha, joke. But seriously, while starting off well breeds confidence, it also gives you permission to relax a little – why? Because you already accomplished your goal for the day. And your goal is not to be perfect, it is to rock one predetermined thing that you have found challenging.
For example, in long-term care you might aim to get your morning med pass done safely, effectively, and scrupulously, and also on time. You have to bust your butt to do it, but you check the 5 rights for all patients and all medications, all before 10 a.m. On a med/surg floor, maybe you want to rock a succinct yet informative bedside report, or conduct a highly efficient first med pass and assessment for each patient. In the OR, I tell myself I’m going to rock at least one case a day – in the sense that we hit the room on time, prep and draping flows into a safe time-out and timely incision, and I am ready and waiting with whatever the surgeon happens to need – oh yeah, and the charting gets done. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen the first time around, and then you just have to stand up tall, brush off any nasty comments, calm your racing heart, and try again
Once you rock your case (or IV start, or med pass, or one of any other million things), Lord have mercy don’t just throw sh*t out the window for the rest of the day. Do your job, and do it well. Just take it easy on yourself inside your own head. For example, I give myself permission to run around for odds and ends, slightly sweaty and out of breath, on the phone with my charge nurse because the electrical hazard buzzer is going off in the room but I absolutely need every single thing currently plugged in. That’s also totally a thing.
Eventually, you will start rocking stuff unintentionally, because it’s become your habit. Also, you will learn things, and get better at your job. I promise.
Tips #2-4 for New Nurses:
I highly recommend caffeine at the start of your shift. Also, especially if you’re working a 12-hour shift, eat as close to clocking in as possible, so you can cope with a late lunch if necessary. Wash your face with cool water around the halfway point of your shift because it’s refreshing and you’ll feel clean and neat again for round 2.
Be scrupulously pleasant and polite to your coworkers – dare I say charming? Because you will need them. Know whom your ‘safe’ people are – cultivate as many as possible – and know how you can get ahold of them during the day. Spread your questions around so no one gets sick of you.
Finally, remember you’re not perfect. No one’s perfect, and I promise you that every nurse out there has made a mistake in his or her life. All we can do is our best, and hope that the mistakes we do make won’t cause harm. A new nurse is like a new driver on the road: inherently risky. Take your time, do it right, use checklists, and be very transparent with your charge nurse about your struggles and concerns. Chances are you’ll make it through without killing someone.