How to Survive Your First Week as an RN

How to Survive Your First Week as an RN
Last Updated:  |   Staff Writers |   Basics

After working hard to complete nursing school and pass the NCLEX-RN, you are finally qualified to work as a registered nurse (RN). Being hired for your first job is a huge step, but that very first week working as an RN can be extremely overwhelming. Don't let yourself get off on the wrong foot in your career. Pick up some tips for making it through your first week as an RN below.

  1. Eat And Sleep Well - With so many new things to learn and to adjust to, it is crucial to be in the best possible health and state of mind. That won't happen if you aren't getting enough sleep or aren't eating properly, so establish a pre-work routine and stick to it. Make a point of getting to bed and waking up at the same time to establish a consistent schedule. Before heading out for your shift, eat something fresh and nutritious. Stay hydrated by keeping a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day.
  2. Be Prepared - It will be much easier to get into the swing of things as a nurse when you are as organized and prepared as possible. Help yourself get out the door as effortlessly as possible each day by having everything that you need ready to go. Lay out your clothes the night before, and have all of your paperwork and other work-related needs prepared. Consider packing yourself a lunch the night before too. The less that you have to worry about before leaving, the better.
  3. Give Yourself A Pre-Work Pep Talk - It's natural to feel uncertain about working as a nurse during that first week, as everything is so confusing and new. Remember, though, that thousands of others have successfully made it through their first week as an RN, and you can too. Before leaving for your shift, sit down and give yourself a mini pep talk. Remind yourself that you worked hard to get to this point and that you have the skills that are needed to be a successful RN. Positive self-talk will set the stage for a great day.
  4. Get To Work Early - During that first week working as an RN, the last thing that you want is to show up to work late. With that in mind, give yourself plenty of extra time to get moving and out the door during that first week. Make a point of arriving at your job about 15 minutes early so that you can settle in without feeling rushed. Once you have gotten used to the job, you can arrive closer to your actual start time.
  5. Relax - Like many new RNs, you may put a lot of pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly the first time. This can add to the stress that you feel, as there is no such thing as being "perfect" when working any job. Your coworkers will know and understand that you are new, so go easy on yourself. If you find yourself getting frustrated, find a quiet place where you can breathe and count backwards down from 10. Remember, before too long the work will be like second nature to you.
  6. Ask Questions - New nurses often feel shy and out of place, so they sometimes make assumptions instead of asking questions. Everyone there will expect you to have lots of questions, so go ahead and ask. Even if you feel like your question is silly or pointless, don't hold back. This is precisely the phase in your career where you are expected to need answers, and the only way to get them is by asking questions. The more curious that you are about your job, the better off you will be, and you will learn a lot more this way too.
  7. Get Support - Ideally, your new employer will give you some sort of orientation to introduce you to your new work environment. Before your first day, find out if there are other nurses who can act as mentors to you. Having an experienced and knowledgeable coworker to lean on can make a major difference for new nurses. This is especially true during that confusing and overwhelming first week on the job. Many employers have access to support groups for nurses too, so ask around to see what kinds of resources are available.

Even after all of your training and preparation, nothing can fully prepare you for your first week working as an RN. As overwhelming and confusing as it may seem, it is crucial to remember that it won't always be that way. Just hang in there, and you will be performing your job with ease in no time.

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