Every new nurse needs a survival checklist. Let’s face it; although you may have been expertly educated, you may not be prepared for some things. In a seminar I once attended, the RN described how unprepared she felt her first few weeks out of nursing school. Although you may be able to fill out a care plan with your eyes closed, you’ll encounter quirky patients and co-workers. Nothing can prepare you for the real thing, but your own personal experiences.
Although this list could continue on to infinity, we came up with 5 essential habits that will make your nursing experience a whole lot easier.
Look Things Up
You had to memorize a lot of basic formulas in college, as well as numerous definitions, signs and symptoms. When you come across something you have to think twice about, do not think twice about looking it up. Nearly every RN I’ve ever encountered walks around with a pocket handbook of some sort. Don’t be afraid of what co-workers will think if you do too!
You are ultimately responsible for your patient’s health and well-being. Make sure you are giving them the care they deserve- care that is free of human error or other more common mistakes.
Trust Your Instincts
Don’t ignore that little voice in your head, you know, the bossy one that talks too much. Far too often, it’s this voice that keeps us out of trouble. Your instincts consist of your inner self-talk, which can help you make the right choice. So, when you’re in the middle of patient care, and your inner voice says, “do this, not that”, take a second to listen to your voice of reason.
If You Don’t Know The Answer, Say So!
Try putting yourself in your patient’s shoes. Most of us have been patients at one time or another, so it shouldn’t be too hard to see things from their side of the bed. I have witnessed nurses answer patients question with information they could not have known at the time. Specifically, a patient once asked when his surgery was scheduled for the next day, to which the nurse replied, “It’s usually at 9am”. She was simply going by what time the average surgery took place in her mind, but didn’t really answer her patient’s question. What should she have done? There are times when the answer, “I don’t know, let me find out”, is perfectly okay.
Always Carry The Essentials
There are several things a nurse should never leave home with, and these include: a marker, several pens, a watch with a dial, and a stethoscope. These few things should be on you at all times, because you just never know when you might need them. As a nurse, you will need these items nearly every minute of your workday. We suggest keeping several pens at work, because you’ll be scrambling to find one at work when the ink runs out. Whether you work in a nursing home, hospital or Dr.’s office, finding a decent pen, is like striking gold in Alaska- most places do not keep extra pens lying around, and for that they are priceless.
Ask For Help
This may seem like such an obvious thing to do, but I find that most people do not know how to ask for help. Also, don’t mistake asking for help, with delegating your work. Although both may decrease your overwhelm, you must be sure you are delegating work appropriately. If you need help doing something, make sure you ask the most qualified person. In other words, don’t ask another nurse if she can stop what she’s doing to get one of your patients a glass of water. Remember, ask the most qualified person to help you with a task- and once you’ve caught up, don’t forget to return the favor!