Transitioning from nursing school to working as a full-time nurse can be overwhelming and, at times, challenging. A recent study reveals that one in five newly licensed RNs leave their first nursing job within the first year and one in three leave within two years.
With such a high turnover rate, starting off on the right foot after graduation to steer your career in the right direction is beneficial to making your first year as a nurse successful.
Here are 10 tips that will help you succeed at any level in your career:
1. Stay connected.
Networking is crucial to succeeding in any career. Keep in touch with former employers and use your college’s job board to find job opportunities. Also, it’s important to stay in contact with colleagues, join professional organizations, forums and social media groups, and attend conferences to stay connected and gain valuable insights and learning opportunities.
2. Find a mentor.
Whether it’s through a mentorship program or just someone you admire in your field, a mentor is one of the most valuable resources for attaining success. A good mentor will listen to you, encourage you, guide you and impart valuable knowledge to help you learn and grow as a nurse.
3. Consider additional education.
More and more employers are looking for nurses with advanced degrees. Consider going back to school to earn your BSN or pursuing a graduate degree to make you more competitive in the job market. Another way to enhance your job prospects and your knowledge base is to get a specialty certification.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Adopting an attitude of humility and acknowledging that there will be times you won’t have the answers allows you to open yourself up to learning from those around you. No one expects you to know everything. When you’re unsure or in uncharted territory, seek advice from the tenured nurses around you and tap into their wealth of knowledge.
5. Be open to alternative job opportunities.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to choosing your career path. If you’re struggling to find the perfect hospital position, think about working as a home health nurse or school nurse or trying travel nursing assignments to gain more experience. You may just find out that this was the perfect option for you all along.
6. Take advantage of every learning opportunity.
Some of the most successful people are the ones who continually look for ways to improve both professionally and personally. Challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and look for learning opportunities in every situation, even the times that feel the most mundane.
7. Volunteer in the community.
Taking time to give back is a great way to improve your health and happiness, learn new skills, network and, most importantly, have a positive influence in someone’s life. Consider using your skills and experience to volunteer at a local nonprofit clinic or serve on a committee.
8. Be kind and compassionate.
There will be times you’ll feel completely overwhelmed and burned out. During these moments, remember why you wanted to be a nurse in the first place. Your job makes a difference, and showing compassion and kindness to your patients and your coworkers is beneficial to your patients’ health as well as your happiness.
9. Take time to de-stress.
Finding a work/life balance is important, especially when you’re working long hours. To avoid burnout, make time for the things you love, get outside for a few minutes each day to recharge during your shift and be honest about your workload. It will make you a better nurse.
10. Be a team player.
It takes a village, or at least a team, to make a shift successful. Be willing to work the undesirable shifts (at least in the beginning) to gain experience and respect from your fellow nurses. Also, take the time to genuinely get to know your coworkers and offer to help them out during difficult situations. One day, they’ll return the favor.