Common Mistakes for RN Graduates

Posted On March 22,2017


Nursing is a highly rewarding profession. However, you are bound to make mistakes early on in your career. Most of the mistakes will happen on the job, creating learning opportunities. Other mistakes may affect your career and slow down your professional growth.

There are several mistakes to avoid early on in your career:


After graduation, you will most likely take up the first job offer you receive. This may mean starting your career at a facility that was not your first choice. Use the opportunity to gain experience and earn the confidence of your seniors; and then leverage the experience to get a job you love. Always look at every opportunity as a stepping-stone to your goals; and consult your mentors when in doubt.

Switching Specialties and Jobs too Often

The highest turnover in medical facilities comes from nurses. Switching jobs helps you access better paying opportunities; work in a facility you love; work closer to your home; leave a job with unfavorable working conditions and/or access facilities with better career advancement opportunities.

However, switching jobs too often, especially early in your career, denies you the chance to learn and network fully with your colleagues. You also miss opportunities to qualify for training and up-skilling opportunities employers offer their long-serving staff.

Switching specialties has a similar effect. Once you start your career, make a list of specialties you like and purpose to work in each. Take time with each specialty to learn as much as possible before moving on to the next. Sticking to one job or specialty for long also improves your credibility with employers, giving you more room to negotiate for better working conditions and a higher salary. You further increase your marketability, especially when looking for advancement opportunities.

Not Switching Specialties

On the flip side, you risk damaging your career if you do not give yourself an opportunity to experience different specialties. Switching specialties helps you identify what you love: you may start out in pediatrics, when your passion lies in orthopedics. Avoid sticking to a specialty that feels safe; experiment in different areas and find something that you love. Diversifying your knowledge and skills also gives you access to unique job opportunities such as the military or with humanitarian organizations overseas. They prefer RNs with experience in as many fields as possible.

Losing Control of your Life

As a nurse, you will work long-hours with many late-night shifts: it is easy to focus all your efforts on your work life, neglecting the rest of your life. Strive towards creating a healthy work-life balance. You will enjoy a stress-free life and love your job more. The unpredictable nature of your job may force you to re-assess your definition of ‘time-off’. For example, instead of a night-out with friends, spend your night off at home with close friends and family, and give your body time to rest.

Make a conscious effort to enjoy your time as a RN. If you make any of the mistakes above, not all is lost. You can always use your mistakes as a learning opportunity. Stay close to your mentors, and always refer to them for advice: their experiences and knowledge may help you avoid common mistakes. Additionally, consider your long-term career goals when making decisions. Your goals will guide you towards avoiding mistakes that may hinder your growth as a registered nurse. Get started today by sitting down with our admission counselors at Athena Career Academy.

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