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Sunday, April 6, 2008

StuffedNurse : 5 ways to get through your first year as an RN

Regardless of the job, the first year is the toughest. Your first year as an RN in a hospital can be devastatingly difficult. A 2007 study by Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing reveals that first year nurses make up more than half of the turnover rate. If you've just started out then here are some tips to follow to make sure you survive and develop a rewarding career:

1. Experience is crucial. Before you even finish nursing school it's a great idea to get your feet wet at whatever facility you plan on working at. If you can get in as an assistant or intern then you'll already have a great feel for the unit and you'll be a step ahead of someone that comes in fresh with no knowledge of the system in place. It's all about your comfort level and this is a great way to get your feet wet.

2. Go to orientation. Try to link up with a preceptor after orientation and they'll be able to answer any and all questions you may have. The preceptor is someone who can walk you through the institution's routines and procedures. They'll put you in touch with the people you need to know and will act as your coach. They're always there for you.

3. Know your unit. Most facilities will welcome you to come and observe your unit before you actually begin. This may sound like a no-brainer but many new RNs show up for their first day with little understanding of what to expect. Observe for a few hours and grow accustomed to the system. You'll also be able to pick up on the inner-workings of your unit which will ease your transition as you'll already know your co-workers.

4. Connect with your support network. Talk to you manager about what levels of support are offered specifically to the RNs on the staff. Find out about how much clinical, emotional and social support your facility will be lending you. Do this on your first day and don't wait for a couple days or weeks to pass before you inquire; this way you'll know who to go to and how to handle crises as they arise.

5. Find a niche. Many RNs recommend that you start in a specialized unit before hitting the emergency and surgery floors. Start in a delivery unit first where the responsibilities are more finite. This will allow you to gain the necessary confidence before you go into a more fast-paced floor where anything and everything will be thrown at you.

this article was contributed by Ms. Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a freelance writer as well as a regular contributor for, a website which specializes in helping nurses get lpn to rn degrees. Heather invites your writing job inquiries as well as comments and questions at her email address,

1 comment:

Braden said...

"Many RNs recommend that you start in a specialized unit before hitting the emergency and surgery floors."

I jumped right into the ER after nursing school, and it has been a very difficult transition. Everything being thrown at you is right. At any given minute I can go from checking fetal heart tones to sticking an NG tube in an intubated patient to knocking someone out to set a shoulder. I know because that was my afternoon yesterday!

To all prospective RNs, find what makes you happy and go for it, but if you choose not to follow the advice above, just make sure you are ready to deal with a huge challenge in an advanced unit like the ER or ICU.

Loads of fun, though!

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