• Veteran RNs Offer Their Best Advice for New Graduate Nurses

    By E'Louise Ondash, RN, contributor

    What can new graduate nurses learn from those who have gone before them? A lot, if they care to listen. I recently had access to a group of very experienced nurses and it occurred to me that there was a wealth of wisdom and experience within their ranks. I decided to take advantage of the situation and ask them how they felt about their profession and what advice they would give to new graduate nurses.

    Here are some of the responses I received:

    "The best things about being a nurse are the personal interactions that we have with our patients and the day-to-day challenges that nursing brings. The next best thing is the ability to be able to work as a nurse in many states. Nursing is a very portable profession with opportunities, both full-time and part-time.

    "Remember that you have to earn the respect of your peers and your superiors. Be humble and recognize that you have a lot to learn. I have both interviewed and taught new nurses, and the I-know-it-all and the I-didn't-go-to-school-to-do-bedside-nursing attitudes don’t go very far with nurses who have worked hard and long to get into the their positions."

    "Be flexible and willing to learn new things and new specialties. The experience you obtain will pay off in ways you may not even recognize at the time."

    "Don't be afraid to discuss your observations with the doctor and don't be afraid of doctors who yell or treat you disrespectfully. Stand your ground. We are our own profession and have our own licensure."

    "At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable that you have done the best you can do for your patients or students or employees."

    "There are endless options in nursing, so know yourself and choose an area that suits your disposition and your interests."

    "I enjoyed nursing for many reasons, but primarily because I felt I was making a difference. I learned a great deal about myself, including my attitude toward humanity and suffering and my capacity for empathy."

    "Nursing is not for sissies."

    "I have always worked in a progressive community hospital in the Midwest, and after several years in management, I decided that direct patient care was where I really wanted to end my career."

    "I love the flexibility that nursing affords. For years, until my kids were all in school, I worked only Sundays. Nursing offers not only many varying specialties, but also shift options, number of days to work and — depending upon the department or specialty — the option of 12-hour or eight-hour days."

    "Speak up if you have an idea that will improve patient care or the workplace. Maybe no one will listen the first time around, but be persistent; they'll come around."

    "Nursing is a great profession for anyone with a low boredom threshold. No matter where you work, every day is different."

    "Listen to the nurses who have been around for years. They’ve got some epic stories to tell, and, besides being entertained, you'll learn a lot."

    "The worst day in nursing is better than — well, never mind. It'll be better tomorrow!"

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