Nurse – Making the transition from nursing student to full-time nurse is often overwhelming and filled with challenges. If graduation is right around the corner, it is crucial to know what steps to take to start your career off on the right foot. Setting yourself up for success as a nurse requires careful planning and commitment. While you will likely feel overwhelmed at times during the transition period, doing all the right things now allows you to build the career of your dreams.
Don’t be one of the one in five new nurses who leave their first job within a year. Instead, follow the suggestions above to set yourself up for success, overcome the challenges, and build a career in nursing.
Splurge on Quality Scrubs for a Nurse
Ditch the scrubs you wore during nursing school, and invest in some stylish new jogger scrubs and scrub tops. It might not seem like a big deal, but high-quality scrubs really do make you feel better. And when you feel better, it’s much easier to power through the difficult days. Plus, having nice new scrubs gives you a confidence boost and makes you look more professional in the eyes of potential employers.
Consider buying a few cute scrub jackets for women, too. In addition to keeping you warm when working in chilly healthcare environments, scrub jackets give you extra pockets for carrying all your gear. And don’t forget to get yourself a pair (or two) of good nursing shoes. You’ll need them when you’re working long shifts and spending the entire day on your feet!
Pass the NCLEX for a Nurse as Soon as Possible
After graduation, schedule your NCLEX test date as soon as possible. The sooner you take the test, the fresher everything you learned in school will be in your mind. In fact, one study from the NCSBN found that those who waited more than 54 days to test were less likely to pass on their first try. If you are nervous about the test, check out these tips for preparing for the NCLEX.
Put Together an Awesome Resume
Perfecting your resume can be challenging, but it is vital to meeting your goals and building a solid career. In addition to showcasing your education and certifications, your resume should highlight your skillset. Make mention of any skills — like placing IVs and communicating with patients — you learned during clinicals. Any volunteer work that’s related to nursing should be on your resume, too. If you are hoping to break into a particular special, be sure to highlight any relevant experience to set yourself apart from other candidates.
Apply for Your Dream Jobs
Don’t settle for the first job opportunity that comes along just because you’re fresh out of school. Spend some time thinking about your clinical and volunteer experiences as you assess which aspects of nursing you have enjoyed most so far. Think about what type of environment you would prefer to work in, too. Then start looking for jobs that fit what you are looking for.
When something pops up, apply right away to avoid missing out. While you shouldn’t feel like you need to send out tons of resumes, it’s never a good idea to put all of your faith in one application. It’s best to send out a few applications to carefully selected jobs that appeal to you.
As a nurse, your education does not end as soon as you graduate. As you know, you will need to earn continuing education credits to keep your license up to date. If you want to set yourself up for success, start signing up for continuing education opportunities right away. In addition to keeping your credentials up to date, participating in continuing education opportunities frequently expands your knowledge and could set you apart from other nurses.
If you really want to take your career to the next level, consider working toward an advanced degree. This is especially helpful if you are hoping to move into leadership roles. You can also go back to school to earn a specialty certification that will enhance your job prospects.
Take Time to De-Stress
There is no denying that being a nurse is incredibly stressful. While the job is rewarding, it’s hard not to feel stressed when you are working long hours. Burnout is a genuine problem in the nursing field, so it is crucial to find a work/life balance that works for you. Make time for things you enjoy, and don’t take on a heavier workload than you can handle. Getting outside for a few minutes during your shift is a great way to de-stress, too. Above all, remember that self-care is not selfish. It’s a vital component of ensuring both personal satisfaction and professional success.
Nurse – Be a Team Player
You aren’t going to get very far in the healthcare field if you don’t work well with others. When you’re starting out, be willing to take the undesirable shifts, and offer to help out whenever you can. Show your fellow nurses respect, and always be ready to learn from their knowledge and experience. Get to know the people with whom you work. In time, you’ll build a work family and earn the respect of your colleagues.
Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Even if you graduated at the top of your class, you don’t know everything there is to know about nursing. Nursing school teaches a lot of things, but it’s no substitute for real-world experience. When you land your first job, be prepared to ask questions. Adopt an attitude of humility and be willing to admit when you don’t know something. No one expects you to know everything, and you’ll be much more successful in your career if you are willing to ask for help.
The tips above are just a few of the many ways to set yourself up for success as a nurse. When you’re starting out, remember to treat every day as a learning opportunity, and you will be well on your way to building the career of your dreams.