New nurses. We have all been one or we are going to be one in the future. I remember being a new nurse. I took a position as a charge nurse. HA! I had never even been a staff nurse. Actually I had never worked as a nurse for even a day before taking this position. I would not suggest a new nurse goes this route. Luckily, it did all work out in my favor. I learned a lot and was forced to be accountable for my knowledge and interventions. I did a ton of research and had to really pull from my knowledge bank. My advice…bad idea.
Did I have the respect of the staff? Definitely not at first. To be honest as much as I advocate for team work and support, I wouldn’t have been too keen if I was on the other end taking orders from a brand new nurse that had never even changed a dressing or wiped a butt without an instructor watching. I knew I had a lot of work to do, and every minute I was terrified of making a mistake or doing the wrong thing. I had NO EXPERIENCE !
At first it was rough, I remember walking down the hall and a nurse popped her head out of one of the patient rooms and asked if one of her fellow coworkers was around to help bathe a patient and change the linens. I said ” nope, but I’ll help you”. The nurse almost hit the floor. She pleasantly reminded me that I was a charge nurse and that charge nurses don’t do bedside care. I pleasantly let her know, that I was not your average charge nurse and that I wanted to be part of the team. I then smiled and said, “what… you don’t think I can do it, I am fresh out of nursing school I can do anything.” We both laughed, the patient care was completed and I had earned the respect of being a team player. News got around quickly.
The one thing that was missing was experience. With experience comes knowledge. Every issue, problem or question was new to me. It seemed that everything I did was being done for the first time. Trust me there are many things out in the “real world” that we are not taught in nursing school. Oh did I mention I was not trained and I didn’t even shadow a charge nurse? Yep first day, I was on my own.
As my experience grew, my knowledge and comfort in my role as a nurse grew. I had to be humble and admit when I didn’t know all of the answers.
So yes, experience does matter. New nurses have some academic knowledge and some clinical knowledge but need to build on that knowledge. We need to give them a chance to grow and gain experience. There are going to be mistakes, that is unavoidable it is part of the learning process. The problem comes into play when we don’t learn from our mistakes. The problem comes when the experienced nurses do not take an active role in helping the less experienced nurses.
I know many experienced nurses feel if the new nurses are “thrown into the fire”,it will cause them to “step it up” and own their practice. I also have heard many times that experienced nurses do not want to “babysit” new nurses. I get it, I do. We all have a job to do and nobody wants extra work or to fall behind because they were “babysitting” a new nurse. I love teaching, sharing knowledge and providing learning opportunities. That is just me. I understand that not all nurses like to teach, some nurses like to come to work do their job and go home. We as experienced nurses all have a different focus and I respect that. So this is my advice…
New nurses : ASK QUESTIONS
PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU
HELP OTHERS (I obtained a ton of experience and knowledge by helping others, it is also a good practice)
LEARN FROM THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS AND STRIVE TO SUCCEED AND GAIN KNOWLEDGE.
BE ACTIVE IN YOUR OWN PRACTICE.
Experienced nurses: KNOW YOUR EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE IS VALUABLE.
YOU ARE LOOKED UP TO WHETHER YOU BELIEVE IT OR NOT.
SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND STORIES. ASK FOR A HAND DOING A NURSING SKILL OR TASK ( this gives the nurse some experience without the stress of going it alone, it also encourages team work)
TELL NEWER STAFF THE RATIONALES FOR WHY SOMETHING IS BEING DONE A CERTAIN WAY OR WHY YOU ARE DOING IT.
DON’T FORGET, YOU WERE ONCE THAT “NEW NURSE”.
As nurses we all have a role, those roles change as we grow in our nursing practice and experience. You do not have to be an instructor, teacher, mentor, preceptor or educator to make a difference.
We are nurses…we make a difference in people’s lives all the time. Some of those “people” need to be that new nurse working next to you.
Nurses…don’t eat your young. Help them. Even if it is just a tip, word of advice or a little motivational kick in the butt, support the new staff. Everyone benefits in the end.
Now time for coffee…Thanks for reading