Ah! First day on the job and you've worked hard to get here. Do these few simple things and you'll be way ahead of the game!
#1) Build Yourself a "Help-Me-Please!" Piggy Bank
AKA Make friends. And I am not talking about inviting everyone to a slumber party and doing each other’s nails. What I am talking about is building work relationships by being a great team member.
One of my secrets to having a good time at work is to help others out. I know- crazy, right? You’re probably thinking, “but that just sounds like a lot of extra work!” Well I am here to tell you its actually your key to a better time at work.
It seems counter intuitive but helping others is actually just you helping yourself out. Why? Because by being willing to help others out, others will want to help you out, thus making your work easier (and dare I say more fun?).
There will come a day when you are drowning at work and you are behind on everything and the ceiling is falling down on you (or, in our case, patients spouting body fluids everywhere) and who you gonna call?! (Hint: its not ghost busters) Its your co-workers. Hopefully you have some savings in your help-me-please piggy bank and they’ll step up so you wont drown (in the workload, or in all the body fluids).
And the way you build up this piggy bank is simply by checking in with your co-workers, “hey, you doing ok? Need help with anything?” and most of the time they’ll say, “nah, I am good.” but when they say “yeah, actually..” be happy to help them knock out whatever it is real quick.
#2) Get in the habit of doing things right
Here is the honest truth: there are certain things we are required to do sometimes that are just plain annoying! Maybe they are an extra step, maybe they suck up 1 extra minute of our time, maybe they slow us down or cramp our style, but in the end, you know deep down its important to do.
We each have that one things that is really annoying to do. For a lot of us, its simple things like washing our hands every time we leave a contact enteric room, or maybe its having to do bedside report at change of shift. Whatever the case, its still good (and important) that we do those things.
If you are a crappy nurse, you end up just cutting these things out of your work flow. BUT here is an awesome secret- there is a way to still get these things done AND not hate every second of it. Wanna know what it is?
The secret is to get in the habit of doing things right from the get-go. You will only hate it the first couple of times you do it, and then after that, it becomes second nature and you don’t think twice about it. You get to be an awesome nurse AND you do things right AND you don’t hate every second of it: it’s a win-win-win.
#3) Race Against The Clock
That’s just a fancy way to say, “Time Management”. Ahhhh, those two lovely words that every nurse just looovvvesss. But no, seriously? Who the heck is good at this!
Well, you will be!
I could probably write 800 posts about time management because we all know how much it impacts our work and so much goes into it. But in short, time management is one of those things that Tip #2 above can help you a lot with.
For example, I’ll give you the number one time-management tip that has helped me a lot. And that is, get in the habit of charting as you go. Don’t do all your assessments on all your patients at once and then sit down and chart for an hour (like I used to). Do your assessment on one person, and chart right there in the room for 3 minutes. THEN move on to your next patient. Its annoying to do at first but once you get this in your workflow, you will thank yourself later.
#4) When In Doubt, Stop!
Here is the number one rule to protect your patients and your license: if you are EVER unsure about something (why/how you are giving this med, what the right way to do this procedure is, etc) STOP. Take a minute to step back and find an answer to your concern/confusion.
I guarantee you it’s a bad idea 100% of the time that you do something when you were unsure or confused about it. Alternatively, its always the safest thing to pause, find your answer/reasoning and THEN proceed. You just can’t go wrong with that.
There will be times that you pause and in your search for answers, you will realize, “oh wow, this actually could’ve cause harm for the patient” or “Oh sh*t, I was just about to do something the wrong way that could have ended really really bad.” and guess what? You prevented that by acknowledging the ambiguity or confusion in something you were doing and listening to that red flag.
#5) Realize You Don’t Have To Know Everything
This was something I really struggled with fresh out of nursing school on my first job. I felt like I had to know everything about every possible scenario or patient I might come across. Even just writing that sounds stupid! But that’s the way I felt. And I was scared to ask questions or for help understanding something because I thought that would make me seem weak.
In all honesty, that’s just simply not true. Even nurses that have been working for 20 years still don’t know everything.
In fact, this little belief will lead you down the path I like to call “The Lonely Downfall of the Stoic Nobody.” Its harsh, I know… but its called that for good reasons.
Firstly, the fact that no one can ever know everything about something means that the nurses who stoically pretend to know everything are setting themselves up for failure. Secondly, in pretending you know everything, you isolate yourself from your co-workers because a) no one likes a know-it-all and b) you aren’t tapping into the hard-earned wisdom of those around you. People like to share their knowledge, and when you are silently struggling (or rejecting help in some cases), others can sense it.
Do yourself a favor, and don’t pretend you know everything. The biggest tip here is to use your lack of knowledge, not as a handicap but as a strength. And the way to do that is to reach out to those around you and bond over the sharing of their wisdom.
What advice helped YOU on your first job? Comment below!