6 Tips to Survive Your First Year as a Hospital RN
Lisette Hilton | Monster Contributing Writer
Observe the Unit
Simply touring the unit won’t give you a good idea of how people work together, Kyriakidis says. Because it takes a while for people to let their guard down when someone is watching, make sure you observe for a few hours so you get a clearer picture of the unit’s interpersonal dynamics.
Consider Working on a Specialty Unit First
Benner says her research on first-year nursing indicates that it’s actually easier for many new nurses to start on a specialty unit, such as labor and delivery or a highly staffed pediatrics unit, because the patients on those units are more homogenous than those on a medical/surgical unit.
“If you take a position on a general medical/surgical unit, the range of patients is quite broad,” Benner say. “If you work on intensive-care or coronary-care units, you will have more of a controlled patient population.”
Get Your Feet Wet
That’s what first-year nurse Girish Dang, RN, a psychiatric nurse at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital’s inpatient psych unit, did. While he was getting his ADN at North Shore Community College in Massachusetts, Dang worked on the hospital’s psych unit as a psychiatric counselor. He credits that experience with helping him hit the ground running when he began working as a nurse on the unit, because he was already familiar with the culture and knew whom he could lean on for help.
The same can’t be said for all of his nursing school classmates. Dang says he knows of several fellow graduates who, lacking prior experience with their employers and insight about the staff and working environment, left their first nursing jobs within six months.
“In my opinion, 90 percent of the things in the job are learned not in nursing school but in the job itself,” Dang says.