Dear New Nursing Graduate,

Welcome! What an exciting time for you! I realize that it probably is somewhat of an emotional and stressful time as well. My sons just “graduated” from elementary school and through all the events and ceremonies, I was reminded just how special these milestones and traditions can be. Probably the biggest one for me was finishing up nursing school and entering the “real world.”  

So, first let’s get out all of the stress that you are probably feeling right now. These were my top 3 sources of anxiety, if I remember correctly…

1. Leaving the security of school with instructors who guided me and classmates who supported me. I did find other mentors and formed another support network rather quickly and you will too! Get to know other new nurses during orientation. Be receptive to learning from more experienced nurses and other staff.

2. Facing the NCLEX exam. How could I possibly know all that I was expected to know? I did, and you do too (but don't stop studying!)

3. Encountering a discouraging job search. I had to be persistent and open to options that weren't my first choice.  Remember that any job can serve as a stepping stone to your dream job.

I recall hearing over and over again how the “real world” of nursing would be so different from nursing school. How can you make the transition a little easier? Here’s some advice:

  • Never stop learning! Learn from other nurses, other disciplines, support staff, anyone around you! Some of my most critical skills and communication techniques I learned from my very first preceptor – a nursing assistant who had been working on the unit for more than 20 years! Take advantage of the knowledge and experience of those around you. Really listen to advice and observe how others do and say things. You may not want to emulate all of what you see, but you can learn from it.
  • Keep up your education! I know you just finished school, but there is so much more to learn and things in healthcare are always changing. Attend inservices and maintain your continuing education requirements. Also, when the time is right, consider getting certified in your specialty and think about going back to school.
  • Ask questions! This goes hand-in-hand with learning and education. Chances are, if you have a question, someone else is wondering the same thing. Don’t assume – get the answer or find out how to get the answer. Then share it with others.
  • Join a nursing organization! This is a great way to stay informed and network with nurses who have similar interests.
  • Take breaks! Remember to take breaks during your shifts. Also, be sure to enjoy “non-nursing” time with family and friends. One of my favorite nursing tips is "Nursing is a 24/7 operation that requires teamwork - do your best to prioritize and work safely & pass on the rest."

A last word of advice is to not forget this feeling of uncertainty and stress, as uncomfortable as it may be. This will help you when students or new nurses are on your floor. Welcome them and treat them with respect. Share your knowledge with them, even become a preceptor. They’ll thank you for it.

Best of luck to you as you make this transition!