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Nurse First News Blog

Advice to a New Nurse - Things I Wish I Knew

Posted May 24, 2016

The decision to embark upon a particular career can be life-changing. With any life-changing decision, it would be best to plan for as many steps in the process as possible to not set yourself up for any unwanted or unexpected surprises. Nursing is a career that requires a great deal of determination and commitment. Nursing advice is imperative in the early stages of your career. That being said, I’d like to share some important nuggets of information that I’m sure any fledgling nurse would like to have known before entering the profession. Now this is by no means is the end all be all advice to becoming a nurse, but the nursing advice I am going to share here will definitely make a fun journey a lot less bumpy.

Find Your Niche in Nursing!

The first piece of nursing job advice that I’d share with nursing students is that before forging a nursing career, be sure to choose the particular path you want to take and what you want your career to look like. Now, this would require a general assessment of yourself, and who better to evaluate yourself than…..yourself. Do you like a day to day work routine with little surprises or do you thrive on excitement and the constant unknown? Do you see yourself remaining in one particular role or do you want to climb the professional ladder securing one promotion after the next? These are important questions that will guide you from the onset as far as what path you would want to take as a nurse, travel or otherwise. This is a wonderful problem to have with nursing…there are so many options.

You can work the conventional routine of being a nurse in say, a retirement community, or get your heart racing with the challenge of working in an ER. You can become an RN or set your sights on a role as an RN-BSN or even a nurse practitioner. The sky’s the limit but to ensure that no time or energy is wasted, set your career path early on.

The Skills That Pay the Bills!

Now that you’ve decided what nursing path you would like to travel down, the next piece of nursing advice is to ask yourself what particular education or training would align with that path. If you would want to become an RN then you could do so both by obtaining an associate’s degree as well as a bachelor’s degree. The associate’s degree would be the minimum degree requirement and allow you to get your feet wet in the profession. You’d be expected to administer medications, monitor patient conditions, and communicate with doctors. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree would provide the same opportunities but allow for a lot more flexibility and growth within the profession. You could be considered for future roles as a nurse manager, health educator, or a quality coordinator. You want to make yourself as valuable as possible in such a highly competitive job market as nursing, which securing a bachelor’s degree would afford that. 

Look at these and any other nursing goals that you might be considering and figure out where you might fit in. Then you would need to continue your self-assessment and decide if the additional education and training is something you could commit yourself to, get the most out of, and of course…afford. Hard decisions would have to be made but better to make those decisions now than later. 

Raise Your Hand!

During this entire process, do not be afraid to ask questions. A solid piece of advice to nursing students is to be a blank canvass or a sponge soaking up as much knowledge as you can. You know that old adage, “There is no such thing as a silly question”? Ingrain that in your head. Asking questions is the sure-fire way to not only get answers but to lead you to additional questions you might not have thought of had you not asked the initial question. Leverage your mentors and even strangers if you have to. Find passionate people in the nursing industry and you’ll find that they love to share advice and their experiences. You might even get answers without having to ask anything, just listen.


Now, this piece of nursing advice is centered on speaking with senior nursing students. They will be the best sources to give you the “boots on the ground” perspective of what their path has been and more importantly how it has been. They will be able to share stories on what you should expect, how you should prepare and also they can give you their own ideas of what’s working/worked well and what didn’t in their approach. There is no better advice than when you get it directly from a credible source. You’ll be leveraging the most contemporary source of information.

 Keep Your Co-Workers Closer

One last piece of nursing career advice is to keep your co-workers close. Not just to have a fun environment or people to hang out with when it’s time to clock out, but to have as a sounding board and support system too. Nursing is definitely a job that might come home with you.

There are going to be some tough times and no one will better understand what you’re going through than a fellow nurse. Having someone who knows what you’re experiencing whether it be the loss of a patient or the balancing of work/home life really mitigates the stress. Keeping coworkers close will help you through these times and will also make you available for them in their tough times. It’s all about relationship building and reciprocation.

Hopefully, this has given you a checklist of what you’ll need to know as you start down your nursing career path. There will be a lot more that you will have to experience on your own first hand but this advice to new nurses should prepare you well in advance so that you will have less to worry about. Absolute best of luck to you!

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