Starting Your First Job as a Registered Nurse

Posted On March 29,2017


Starting out as a registered nurse comes with promise and expectations. The advice of experienced nurses will guide you into success. Sticking close to them helps you avoid missteps along the way. They also offer advice to help you adapt comfortably in the new work environment.

Post-Graduation Preparation

The first step after graduation is sending out applications to as many employers as possible. This is the opportunity for you to make use of contacts from your internships, volunteers work and networking events, you attended when in school.

As you start one of the hardest and most challenging years of your life, you must choose your first employer carefully. Your first year as a professional registered nurse will be a challenge. Create a list of potential employers, and assess each employer based on learning environment and advancement opportunities available to nurses in the facility.

Some of things to look out for from potential employers after graduation include:

  • Employers with a nurse turnover of above 20 percent; this is proof that the employer treats first-year nurses well.
  • First-year nursing programs with preceptors or instructors to orient you as you join the facility. A preceptor also answers your questions and guides you as you familiarize yourself with the new environment.
  • Facilities with a support program for nurses to cater to your emotional, clinical and social well-being
  • Find facilities with a dynamic interpersonal relationship among its staff. You can learn this through observation or by talking to people with experience working in the facility Observe the unit closes to understand interpersonal dynamics in the facility, before deciding which facility to apply to

As you wait for an offer, familiarize yourself with the work environment. Volunteer at a health facility or take a temporary job, even in unrelated fields such as administration. The experiences help you learn more about workplace dynamics, etiquette and general rules that govern interactions between different caregivers in a medical setting.

First Year as a Rookie RN

Most employers offer a balance between training through shadowing and allowing you to learn on your own, with close supervision from your mentors. Each process is personal based on your previous experiences and training. In your first year, you will work a lot under other nurses, and in some facilities, provide regular reports of your progress to a supervisors. There are different ways to make the most of the experience:

  1. Take full advantage of all learning opportunities. Experienced nurses will often orient you and gradually leave you to work on your own. However, if you do not feel comfortable working without your mentor; ask your supervisors to add you more time under supervision, even if it means getting a different mentor.
  2. A nursing job exposes you to a diverse work environment. Take it as an opportunity to learn and diversify your network. Use your differences with your colleagues as an opportunity to enrich yourself.
  3. Develop healthy relationships with colleagues working above or below you. Offer your help whenever possible and treat everyone with respect; often times they will repay the favor.
  4. Ask questions as often as possible; they help you avoid mistakes and create new learning opportunities. Observe your seniors keenly; you will learn how to resolve situations; how to interact with difficult patients; hospital protocols especially in emergencies and the best way to handle different physicians.
  5. Take time off to distress and relax as often as your schedule allows.

Your first job will help you fall in love with your profession, and shape your career. Gain as many skills as possible, as you grow your professional network. Get started today by sitting down with our admission counselors at Athena Career Academy.

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