How to Survive the First Days as a New Nurse

It’s July, and many new nurse graduates are hitting the floors and taking their first job as a new nurse.

How to Survive the First Days as a New Nurse

7. These are going to be a tough few weeks. Your first days as a “real” nurse are quite stressful. You realize that the state in which you live actually has faith in you that you can take care of someone without potentially killing them.

6. You will realize that nursing school didn’t teach you anything that would actually help you take care of a patient. You will learn how things are done in the real world right away. Nursing school does not prepare you how to think on the spot in critical situations or that sometimes steps are skipped when things must be done in a hurry.

5. Be nice to your preceptor. Most institutions use preceptors or more experienced nurses for the graduate nurses to follow and learn from. These nurses are not always the easiest people to get along with. Getting along with your preceptor will make your transition to nursing on your own much easier, and you will learn much more.

4. Follow instructions and learn. It is important to listen to the more experienced nurses around you. I promise they really don’t want you to fail as a nurse no matter how mean they may seem. Ask questions and take advice. No questions are stupid when other people’s lives are at stake.

3. Don’t use all your energy before 9am. I see this a lot. New nurses get very excited about being at work and they have all this energy and try to do everything all at once. It is okay if not all your 0900 meds are given by 0859…I swear no one has ever died because they got their protonix at 0915….well at least I don’t think they have…..

2. Don’t tell a patient that you have never done something before. Sometimes your patients will ask you (especially if you seem nervous) if you have actually ever started an IV, placed a foley catheter,or placed an nasogastric tube before. There really is no need to tell them they are your first, this will only make you both more nervous.

1. Be strong. Believe in yourself and you will get through this and become a great nurse. You will find you will adapt some ways from the older nurses you learned from and make up some of your very own.

  • 3 Comments...Your thoughts?


  1. Sean says:

    I would add…
    Just because you did it as a nurse, doesn’t mean you know how to do it as a staff nurse. The “know-it-all’ attitude is just as dangerous as the “I-know-nothing’ attitude.
    Stay sharp, stay humble, and stay focused on the safety of your patient.
    Every day gets better!

  2. Debi Majo says:

    I remember when I graduated from Nursing School! I was so scared! I remember thinking “I can’t wait till I’ve been a nurse for 20 years and I know everything!” Now that I have been a nurse for over 20 years I realize I will never “know everything” and I am excited to learn new things every day!


  1. [...] made me happy to find plain, no-frills tips from Wendy Jones at Nurses PTO in “How to Survive the First Days as a New Nurse.”  Although intended for new nurses, these tips could be applied to a range of endeavors. In tip [...]

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