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On account of a worsening staffing crisis, the healthcare industry needs nurses now more than ever. And so, for a new nurse, there has never been a better time to enter the nursing profession. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, RN long term care professionals are in high demand and earned $77,600 per year on average in 2021. That is in addition to the emotional rewards of choosing such a compassionate field. 

So what does the career path to becoming a nurse look like? The formal education required is nothing one would not expect; it takes between two to four years to become an RN, depending on the chosen degree and past clinical experience. But it is after graduation and when beginning a new job that some may feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are a plethora of resources for new nurses that make the transition a little easier. 

The very first steps to take when entering a facility include the following: 

Nurse learning how to use an EHR as part of the process of learning how to become a better nurse.
With the increased reliance on technology in the medical field, it is essential that nurses know how to use EHRs and other long term care software.
  • Reading and understanding the facility’s policies and procedures. It is important to be aware of the specific protocols in the workplace, as this will ensure that a new nurse provides the best possible care to patients and residents, avoids medical errors, and helps the facility achieve maximum compliance
  • Taking the time to check that you have all the materials they will need. This includes not only appropriate clothing (scrubs) and medical materials but also proper shoes and a notebook. 
  • Getting to know the facility. This includes understanding the layout of the building and where various medical supplies are kept. In the event of an emergency, time is of the essence, and knowing where things are can help save precious minutes.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the facility’s long term care EHR and point of care nursing home software. With the increased reliance on technology in the medical field, it is essential that nurses know how to use these tools so that they can provide better, more efficient care and more complete documentation. 

Soon after, though, a new nurse will need to learn a lot more about the reality of administering care. That sort of on-the-job training will be our focus for the remainder of this article. 

How To Become a Better Nurse for Your Patients or Residents

Becoming a good nurse takes hard work, perseverance, dedication, and a passion for helping others. Perhaps a less-appreciated attribute, though, is the willingness to learn and grow. There is always something new to learn about the human body, diseases, treatments, and nursing care. Therefore, new nurses should also strive to keep reading, attend conferences and seminars, and take advantage of online resources to keep their knowledge base fresh.

With this in mind, let’s look at some actionable advice on how to become a better nurse.

Be Aware That Formal Training Is Not All You Need

A new nurse having a discussion with fellow nursing home staff members.
A new nurse should always remember that nursing school and the NCLEX board exam do not fully reflect real-world scenarios.

One of the first things to know is that nursing school and the NCLEX board exam do not fully reflect real-world scenarios. Yes, they provide a great foundation of knowledge, but they cannot prepare a new nurse for every situation they will encounter on the job. This is why it’s important to be adaptable and flexible when encountering a new situation, take a moment to reflect on what you have learned in the past, and then apply it to a new scenario.

If you don’t know the answer to something, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is no shame in admitting that you need guidance. The only shame would be in not trying to find the answer and thus failing to help the resident to the best of one’s ability.

Respect the More Seasoned Nurses

The nurses who have been around the block a few times and have seen it all know what works and what doesn’t, so when they offer advice, be sure to listen. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should blindly do everything they say. Use your own judgment to decide what is best for your patients. But always be open to learning from those who have more experience than you.

Don’t Ruffle Feathers Unnecessarily

Acting like a know-it-all is one of the quickest ways to become the unpopular nurse on the unit. Instead, you should be receptive to consuming all the knowledge and wisdom you can. Also, avoid complaining about your job or your assigned duties. No one likes to be around someone who is constantly negative or projects their problems onto others. Instead, talk to your supervisor or find a new position that better suits your needs. 

Continue to Advance Your Nursing Education

As you become more experienced in your role as a nurse, it’s important to continue to pursue higher-level degrees, attending conferences and seminars, and taking advantage of online resources. The field of nursing is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest technological and methodological advancements. By continuing to learn, you will be better equipped to provide the best possible care for your residents.

Look for a Mentor

Mentors offer advice on how to handle difficult situations, provide encouragement when you are feeling overwhelmed, and help you develop a network of professional contacts. For these reasons, one of the best things you can do for your career is to find a mentor or an experienced nurse who can offer guidance and support as you navigate your way through the profession. 

If you don’t have a mentor, consider asking a more experienced nurse at your facility if they would be willing to take you under their wing. Alternatively, you can look for a mentorship program in your area.

Contact us here if you would like to test drive our user-friendly long term care EHR that makes life considerably easier for new nurses.

9 Helpful Nursing Tips for New Nurses

So what are some nursing tips that can be used on a daily basis? Here we will share tips that are relevant to both a new nurse and more experienced nurses:

Nurses following essential nursing tips and bonding with the care team in a healthcare facility.
By working together and getting to know each other, a care team will be able to communicate better and work more efficiently.
  1. Always remain calm: One of the most important things a new nurse can do is to remain calm in difficult situations. When everything around them is chaotic, it is a nurse’s job to provide a sense of calm for their patients and their families.
  2. Be patient: Another important quality for a nurse is patience. The average nurse will encounter many different types of people during their career, some of whom will be quite difficult. It is important to remember that not everyone is the same and that each person deals with stress in their own way.
  3. Bond with the care team: It is important for a nurse to bond with the care team to provide the best possible care for their patients and residents. By working together and getting to know each other, the team will be able to communicate better and work more efficiently.
  4. Learn from mistakes: Everyone makes mistakes, but it is particularly important for a new nurse to learn from them. If a mistake is made, one should always take responsibility, learn from it, and ensure that it does not happen again.
  5. Take breaks to re-charge: Burnout in nursing is a real issue. With the long hours and the high-stress levels, it is easy to become overwhelmed. As part of a new nurse checklist, new nurses should ensure that they get enough rest. By taking breaks, a new nurse can recharge their batteries and be ready to provide care to residents and then document it in a long term care software.
  6. Establish a routine: Having a set schedule will help to make the transition into the new job easier and will allow the nurse to better manage their time. Thankfully, most long term care facilities have nursing home scheduling software, which makes for a stable and predictable work routine.
  7. Stay organized and take notes: At the core of how to become a better nurse is organization and retaining important information. By taking notes, nurses can ensure that they are always on top of their game.
  8. Learn to prioritize tasks: With so many different demands being placed on their time, it is important for a new nurse to identify what is most important and focus their attention on that.
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: This is a fundamental part of growing as a nurse. By asking for help, new nurses can gain gems of wisdom from those who have more experience and can avoid repeating the mistakes of others.

The above nursing tips can prove to be helpful to a new nurse or even a seasoned nurse with years of experience under their belt. Here it is also worth dispelling some of the more prominent myths and misconceptions associated with the nursing profession so as to set realistic expectations.

Myths About Being a New Nurse

A new nurse should be flexible, humble, and willing to learn. But that doesn’t mean they should be naive. Keep these myths in mind when beginning at your facility: 

Myth: You will love nursing from day one on their unit.

Reality: This is not always the case. There are new nurses who have a hard time connecting with their patients and feel like they are just going through the motions. Remember that it takes time to find your niche in nursing. Do not get discouraged if you do not love every minute of your new job. Chances are, you will eventually find a specific field of nursing that you are passionate about and make a difference in the lives of your patients.

Myth: You will stay at your current job forever. 

Reality: While it is true that some nurses do stay at one facility for their entire career, it is not necessarily the norm. In today’s job market, it is common for new nurses to switch jobs every few years. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as wanting to try a new speciality or moving to a new city. Do not feel like you are tied to your current job. Always keep your options open and be on the lookout for organizations that may be a better fit.

Myth: You must go to graduate school. 

Reality: While graduate school can be a great way to further your education and career, it is not necessary for all new nurses. In fact, many new nurses find that they are able to advance their careers without going back to school.

By considering the tips and dispelled myths mentioned above, a new nurse can feel confident in tackling the challenges ahead of them. Should you find a tip that interests you, be sure to note it down and revisit this list from time to time to remind yourself how you can become a better nurse and provide better care for your residents.

For more on recent trends in long term care, read our blog and subscribe to the LTC Heroes podcast.

Elijah Oling Wanga