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From Nursing School Grad to First Job (navigating the transition)

first year nurse transition

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Podcast Transcription

welcome to the nursing.com podcast. You heard that right? The nursing.com podcast last month, the beginning of January we changed our name, we changed our company name, we changed all of that from in our S and G to nursing.com and we’re really excited about this as a, it was a huge change. Um, and we’re really excited to be now, uh, offering education and offering products and services for people across their entire journey as a nurse. So welcome to the nursing.com podcast. My name is Jon Haws RN. I’m the founder of nursing.com and I’m excited to talk with you guys a little bit today about the transition from student to graduate nurse. This is a really difficult time for a lot of, uh, new grads. It’s this whole transition from sitting in a desk and learning to actually practicing all those things that you’ve learned. And so we’re going to talk about that and a couple of tips and a couple of tricks for making that transition successful.

First of all, did you guys know that 30% of new nurses leave their first job within a year? This, while the demands of nursing are growing and growing and growing, while we’re, we’re expected to reach this shortage of about 600,000 nurses by 2024 and 30% of new nurses are leaving their first job within a year of starting it. You guys, the demands of nursing are unlike any career holding a patient’s hand while they take their last breath and then putting on a smile so you can go home and play with your kids or take care of other patients. You just don’t see that in other career fields. And so understanding how to approach this transition is incredibly important. There’s all the technical things of how to start IVs and how to chart to the emotional side of everything. But what I’m going to do today is I’m going to

break it down into a couple musts, a couple things that you absolutely must figure out and give you some tips on how to figure those things out and a couple things that are helpful so that you can find that success. So if you’re walking or if you’re sitting down or something, listening to this podcast, grab a sheet of paper if you’re just jogging or driving or whatever, save this episode for later and listen to it again so you can kind of remember these things. First of all, let’s talk about the musts. There’s three musts that you need as you transition from being a student nurse to being a new graduate nurse. Those musts are competence, humility, and passionate curiosity. All right, so let’s talk about each of those individually. First of all, you need confidence.

And I know that even by telling you that you need confidence that a lot of you are probably feeling like, but I don’t have that confidence. So it almost attacks your confidence even more. But let me tell you guys that you belong here. Uh, those of you who are graduating, those of you who are beginning new jobs, those of you who are applying for new jobs, you belong where you are right now. And your patients deserve to feel like they’re in good hands. You’ve done all the work required. You graduated nursing school, you pass the inklings, you applied for a job, you got a job, you belong exactly where you are and you deserve to be there. So try to embrace that acceptance of yourself and acceptance of where you have arrived and where you have been and where you are now. And just have that confidence and demonstrate that to your patients so that they can feel that confidence coming from you. The next thing you guys need is, is humility. Be willing to ask questions and admit fault. Okay. Find nurses that you can trust and who embraced this idea of the patient first. And put yourself around those nurses and be willing to ask them questions and be willing to admit when you’ve made mistakes or when you can learn and, and, and understand things differently. When you are unsure. Be sure that you ask for help. It’s better to go into your patient’s room with confidence.

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when you don’t know what to do. Be sure you ask for help. It’s so much better to get that help and to ask questions of the right people, knowing the answer and knowing what you should do than to just guess and uh, and take actions without, uh, investigating first. So be humble. Admit your mistakes, admit your faults and admit when you know that you need to learn. The last must guys is passionate curiosity. As you begin working in a new field, you’re going to be learning things that you were never even exposed to in nursing school. My first job was in a neuro ICU and I was seeing things and seeing patient populations and contraptions and procedures that I had no clue even existed. And so what I had to do was find the best books on neuro ICU, nursing and on neuro in general.

And you need to devour every book to every article, attend every webinar, buy uh, equipment companies or, or by your hospital. Read everything that you can and understand everything that you can volunteer to take difficult patients and difficult cases, especially during those first few weeks when you’re have a preceptor volunteer for the most complex, most difficult patients, because that’s the best time to learn when you’re brand new and to be exposed to as much as you can. So really ask every question that you can find at respiratory therapists who love to teach and ask them every question. Find physicians and providers who love to teach an ask them questions, devour the best books. One thing that I would do, and one reason I liked working night shift is because there was a little bit of time for me to sit back and investigate and learn more about the disease processes that my patients were having.

And one thing that I did is I actually read the ICU book front to back during my shifts as there was downtime, sometimes during the evenings. And I also studied for the CCRN and I studied for the GRE all during night shift during downtime. So make sure that you’re finding those times, uh, to study. You’re finding the right things to study and you’re taking advantage of those things. So the three musts as you transition from student to graduate nurse are confidence, humility and curiosity. Now let’s talk about a few things that are helpful. These are things that are helpful for you to develop. They aren’t necessarily going to be as helpful as you get on the floor, but they’re going to be very helpful in your, in your life. Uh, personally, aside from nursing. The first would be budgeting. Get a budget in line before that first paycheck comes in.

I’ve seen so many new nurses after they graduate, the first thing they do is they buy a brand new car and then I find out they’re also $30,000 in debt. So understand what budgeting is. Get a budget in place and prepare to start paying off your debts before you even get that first paycheck. All right? That will help you tremendously. You can use, uh, different tools like why NAB, it’s called you need a budget. You can use, um, meant a lot of these tools are free and you can start budgeting immediately. Another thing is scheduling. Learn how to develop a schedule and learn how to keep a schedule. Even something as simple as Google calendar on your phone to keep track of your days and your nights. Um, because your schedule can be very fluid and very sporadic as you’re working as a new nurse and talk with your family and loved ones.

Help them understand why you can’t go to every party and why you have to miss this thing or that thing or why you have to sleep. And so they can understand what’s going on. And that takes me onto the next thing that’s very helpful is sleep. This must be your number one, especially if you’re working nights. Some things that I would do is I would use really dark curtains. Um, and in fact it got to the point that I ended up, we ended up creating this little place for me to sleep inside our bedroom closet because it was completely silent and dark and we had the kids home. And so for me to be able to sleep, I was able to go into that dark space where it was quiet and actually get the sleep that I needed. Um, don’t overextend yourself and think, well my, but my friend has this party, or there’s this thing going on, or my family has this birthday thing and I really have to be there.

Don’t try to overextend yourself, uh, with that, with trying to be everywhere with everyone, but also don’t overextend yourself with your working schedule. They’re gonna pop up these bonus shifts and they’re going to pop up extra hours. Uh, don’t overextend yourself, especially as you’re starting out. Um, kind of understand what you can physically do as a brand new nurse, um, and make sure that you take care of yourself first. Um, there’s that whole saying, you know, um, and this takes me into the next one, which is health. Uh, make sure that you’re putting yourself first. You can’t put oxygen on someone when you can’t breathe. Right? That’s what they always say in, um, on the airplanes before you take off. They say, make sure you adjust your oxygen before you take care of somebody else. And that’s the same with nursing. It’s hard to be there emotionally, physically, um, and mentally with your patients when you’re not in a good place.

And so really find balance. Um, whether that’s diet, exercise, yoga or meditation, find what motivates you to be healthy and, and implement some of those things that are sustainable so that you can take care of yourself and you can take care of your patients. And lastly, guys, I want to talk about relationships. Prioritize the relationships that foster your goals. One of my favorite quotes is that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Those people that you spend your time with, those people that you spend your energy on, those are the people that are going to develop who you become. And so prioritize those relationships of people who help you become better. Um, talk with your spouse, stuck with your significant other and get them in an in your corner. Be transparent about your schedule and the demands of balancing work life and kids and all these things and find ways, um, to, to help each other out and to balance each other out and really finding these healthy, good relationships that help you be a better person, uh, as you, uh, make this transition because it truly is incredibly difficult.

Now, nursing.com we’ve developed a whole Academy around this. We developed a new nurse or a new grad Academy where we have multiple courses on some of the skills, uh, the assessment skills, the IVs, those types of things as well as some of these soft skills of how to find this balance. And so in our new grad Academy over on nursing.com we’ve uncovered all this for you with experienced nurses to help you guys because this is an incredibly difficult transition and we want to see you guys be successful in that. So if you guys need help with that, please head over there, please check it out. And we really want to see you succeed. We don’t need 30% of nurses leaving the field. We need more nurses. And you guys have made it. You’ve done some of the hardest parts of this, which is getting into school, getting out of school and getting a job. Let’s help you get through it. So let’s touch base on those one more time. We have some musts and we have some helpful habits. The musts are confidence, humility, and passionate curiosity. The helpful ones are budgeting, scheduling, sleep, health, and relationships. I know you guys can do this. I know you can be successful. We love you guys. Now go out and be your best selves. Happy nursing.

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