Nursing Expert Advice and Interviews

Newly minted nurses aren’t without on-the-job experience, and most nurses can relate interesting, funny or downright terrifying anecdotes from nursing school clinicals. Even so, joining the ranks of seasoned nurses can be intimidating. There are so many important choices to make, and your decisions impact real people instead of mannequins. Veteran nurses have much to offer to inexperienced RNs entering the field, and advice from a person who’s been in the trenches may be just the information you need to succeed.

On Patient Care

“Historically, the status of the physician and nurse in the hospital setting has been seen as that of superior and subordinate. Hospital administrators may view physicians as important in attracting patients to the facility and perhaps see nurses as less valuable in that respect.

It is imperative that nurses and physicians keep in mind their mutual goal of quality patient care. This may be compromised if a nurse is hesitant to call a physician when a patient’s status deteriorates or is fearful of questioning an unclear order regarding medication, testing or a procedure. Approach the situation factually and without emotion or opinion; behave respectfully, refuse to accept inappropriate treatment and document objectively.”

— Jacksonville University School of Nursing, Tips for Nurses to Handle Difficult Doctors

On Self-Care

“First, I would say take care of oneself, both physically and emotionally. Many nursing jobs in which direct patient care is involved require a certain level of physical well-being. Consequently, it’s important for a person to take good care of oneself. Emotionally, we all know how demanding patient care can be, and unless the nurse is feeling good about oneself, the job can be very draining.”<.p>

Cathy Fant, BSN, MSN, PhD, nurse educator, Six Tips from a Veteran Nurse

Pay for personal liability insurance. Protect your assets and your license by having personal liability insurance separate from anything offered to you through your employer. You need separate insurance because it is possible that your employer could sue you, and in that case, their liability insurance would probably not cover you. Several reasonable plans exist for nurses specifically; ask your peers what plans they use or inquire with your state board of nursing for recommendations.”

Jessica Ellis, editor and contributor, 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Graduated

On Staying Organized

“A nurse’s job can’t be completed without precision and accuracy. Nurses must possess top-notch organizational, time management, and communication skills. This is not a job that can be done partially. Nurses must come to work feeling like giving 100 percent and not being an idler. This profession can put an enormous amount of pressure on our nurses.”

Have a good support system. It’s no mystery that nurses can see some pretty tough situations throughout a given day; seeing patients plagued with ailments, incurable disease or worst, death. Nurses should have a great support system during their day that they can rely on when the going gets tough.”

Renee F. Rodgers-Frank, RN, MSN, Full Time Faculty/Clinical Coordinator, Rasmussen College Nursing School, Relaxation Tips for Nurses

Do what residents do. At the start of your shift, make out index cards that have each patient’s name on them in big, bold lettering. On those cards, write the essential lab results and neuro/cardio/gastric/renal changes the patients have during the shift. Update them as you need to. That way, if you’re ever caught out by a question, you can yank your index cards out of your pocket (be sure to wear scrubs with pockets at the waist) and answer the question quickly.”

Auntie Jo, blogger at Head Nurse, Question from a Young Nurse: But What About the Feelings?

On Recognizing Opportunities

“One of the great things about nursing is there are so many different paths to take. Explore your options. Attend career fairs or nursing conventions on a regular basis. This is a great way to find out what’s out there and learn more about different specialties. You’ll meet and get to talk with nurses working in different areas.”

“You also can find out which employers offer what services, which have special internship programs, etc. Most of these events also offer continuing education programs on various specialties.”

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional,” How to Change Specialties

Older, experienced professionals can be an invaluable resource for recent nursing school graduates. Ask questions at work, approach a nurse you respect and ask for mentoring, or explore the multitudes of online blogs written by nurses. Drawing on the combined experiences of seasoned veterans can improve your patient care and ultimately, advance your career.