10 Tips for Starting a New Job Off on the Right Foot
Megan Malugani | Monster Contributing Writer
Starting a new nursing job is a time filled with promise and expectations, but it’s also tinged with uncertainty. To help assure your success, heed the advice of experienced nurses. They can help you steer clear of potential missteps and suggest strategies that can help ensure a smooth transition to your new environment.
1. Leverage Your Orientation
Take advantage of every learning opportunity, urges Jean Mills, RN, MS, clinical instructor with the University of Illinois College of Nursing. Even experienced nurses actively engage in new employee orientations. At the end of your orientation, if you don’t feel comfortable working without your mentor, or if you feel shaky in certain situations or with certain procedures, ask to be reoriented by the staff education department, Mills suggests.
2. Get the Max from Your Mentor
Work closely with your assigned mentor or preceptor to share in her wisdom. Mismatches do occur, so if you aren’t hitting it off, speak to the unit manager about getting assigned to a new mentor. Once formal mentoring ends, seek out informal mentors. “Find seasoned nurses willing to take you under their wing,” says Nancy DiDona, EdD, RNC, coordinator of the traditional program in nursing at Dominican College.
3. Stay Out of the Dirt
It’s tempting to get caught up in unhealthy dynamics when you’re new and trying to fit in. But don’t do it. Step back, assess the situation and develop an appropriate professional response. Ask, “Is there a better way we can handle this?” Or say, “This is what I’m hearing.” Both are positive ways of getting people to reflect on what is happening.
4. Bond with Your Team
Build good will by offering to help colleagues in a difficult situation. Hopefully, they’ll return the favor. Get to know your coworkers. “Socialization is so important,” says Patricia McLaughlin, MSN, staff nurse at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. “You don’t have to go out to lunch or send birthday cards, but at least find out about people.” As a new nurse, you’re vulnerable to being dumped on, so being a team player can help prevent that from happening.
5. Be Teachable
Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions — doing so can benefit both you and the person you’re asking. “Sometimes questions from new people make you as the leader see things differently,” McLaughlin says. Questions can also prevent mistakes, notes McLaughlin who recalls the time a question from a colleague prevented her from making a medication error.