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10 important tips that all graduate nurses should know

Job hunting and working as a fresh graduate nurse can be difficult, to say the least. Nursing is a dynamic and high pressure profession with an increasingly competitive job market. You can have the highest marks in a classroom setting, yet there are some things that school cannot prepare you for. Before you set out on an exciting new chapter in your life, here are a few key considerations that every new grad RN should know.

Tailor your CV to specific facilities

Sending the same documents to multiple employees may seem efficient but you are only making things harder for yourself. Instead of sending the same CV and cover letter repeatedly, create documents that can serve as base templates. From there, you can edit to suit the specific facility, specialization or position you are applying for. For example, new graduate nurses looking for pediatrician roles should stress communicating with children, patience, empathy and other similarly relevant attributes. By doing this, employees will see how you are a unique and perfect fit for the role. This lets you stand out amidst a sea of applicants for new grad nurse jobs.

Establish a support network

Between the unique challenges, stressful nature and advanced knowledge and training needed for base competency, nursing can overwhelm anyone. Building a support network lets you get in touch with fellow graduate nurses who understand your struggles. Talking to people who understand your experiences can lift some of the burden. Your friends can also provide invaluable professional advice and even nurse job leads if you are lucky. Do not be afraid to open up and ask help from your peers, provided that you are willing to do the same. Nurses who are still in school can build this network early by staying in touch with their classmates, professors and mentors. Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn help a lot in this regard. Facebook in particular is rich with new grad RN communities.

Do not be afraid to be discerning

You may end up going through dozens, if not hundreds of applications before your first graduate nursing job offer. Be that as it may, you should not accept the very first job offer that comes to your table. Every offer deserves consideration but if possible, you want to find jobs that fit your desired career path, personality and priorities. Even if you do not know where you want your career to go, you definitely have a good idea of what you dislike. If you have a strong aversion to the ER or the ICU, you do not need to accept an opening or offering immediately. Conversely, if you are interested in telehealth or physician’s offices, then you can give priority to those nursing job openings.

Be ready for anything

Healthcare can be a volatile line of work. No one can predict every sudden patient behavioral shift or flattening heart rate perfectly. Even graduate nurses need to be prepared for the worst when the time comes. All nurse jobs demand composure and adaptability from HCPs. ER nurses make a living off of getting quick, high pressure cases and quickly identifying the problem, before starting treatment in order to stabilize their patient conditions. Not every department is as high pressure but all nurses will be expected to deal with sudden adversity, when the time comes.

Do not be too hard on yourself

New grad RNs are not expected to be experts in their field on day one. Even with years of top education and clinical rotation experience, there will be times where you make mistakes. Acclimating yourself to your facility or profession’s workflow while providing lifesaving care is difficult for even the best new graduate nurses. Instead of beating yourself up after every little fumble, use this as an opportunity to learn. Forgiving yourself is the first step in learning from your mistakes.

Learn from your peers

If ever you find yourself unsure about something, do not hesitate to ask a question to your superiors or peers. Even if it seems obvious, your bosses are responsible for giving clarifications to freshly-graduated nurses who just entered the workforce. You will also gain a lot from simply observing the professionals around you. There is a lot of value to their wisdom and insights.

Build winning habits

A certificate in nursing alone does not prepare you for how unpredictable nursing can be. Establishing a good routine and positive working habits lets you gain some control over your surroundings. For example: regularly getting up and going to work early helps you avoid any tardiness and subsequent complications. Making sure you have all your supplies and double checking your itinerary is also helpful. When excellence becomes a habit, even the most difficult nursing jobs get a little easier.

Work on your time management

Nurses are usually trusted to complete a number of tasks within a single shift. For the uninitiated, juggling all these priorities can be a daunting task. New grad RNs need to learn how to manage their time by setting their priorities straight. Determine what tasks need to be completed more urgently than others. From there you can create a list that can lend some structure and direction to your working day.

Take care of yourself

Sometimes a little self-care is all you need to decompress and new graduate nurses are no exception. Treating yourself comes in many different forms. Sometimes this can mean indulging in the finer things in life: buying clothes, watching movies and eating a good meal can do wonders for your psyche. Self care can be going on a diet, regularly exercising or even taking deep breaths Though not immediately gratifying, over time they will pay their dividends. A graduate nurse who is physically and mentally fit is better prepared for the rigors of hospital work.

Consider continuing education

When you pursue further learning, you are moving towards higher and better paying nursing positions. Alumni from entry level MSN programs can take on advanced practice roles as nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and more. You can even find roles in non-clinical spaces such as nurse education, informatics and research. Graduate nursing programs are often considerably expensive and require a certain amount of bedside experience, so you do not need to start immediately. Once you can pool the resources and can study while you work, this is a route well worth considering down the line.

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