Congratulations! You’ve completed your nursing degree and clinical hours, and you’re looking forward to your career as a nurse. While you’re stepping into a highly fulfilling and rewarding career, there are also many challenges you will encounter as a new nurse, such as passing the NCLEX, navigating the job search process, and acing interviews.
In this blog post, we will cover some of the most frequently asked questions by new nurses, providing you with tips and advice to help you navigate your nursing career with confidence. You’ll learn about new grad nursing jobs, navigating the nursing job search, tips for acing your nursing interviews, and how to prepare for and pass the NCLEX exam. We will also explore the importance of finding a mentor as a new nurse and provide some helpful tips for coping with workplace stress—a common challenge for nurses at any career stage.
3 Tips for New Nurses on Finding Nursing Jobs
1. Think through your personal preferences to find the right setting for you.
There can be an overwhelming number of nursing job opportunities, and it is important to start by narrowing them down during your nursing job search based on your preferences. Are you looking to work in a small medical clinic or a larger-scale hospital setting? With the latter, what is your preferred unit? Are you looking to work a traditional, full-time role, are you interested in pursuing travel nursing, or do you seek the flexibility of picking up per diem shifts?
2. Utilize job boards and job alerts.
Hospitals receive large amounts of applications within twenty-four to forty-eight hours of listing positions, so it is important to apply for a position you’re interested in within a day or two of it being posted. Setting up job alerts allows you to be notified when an opportunity is posted which meets your pre-set criteria, giving you the chance to apply quickly and be amongst those who are considered first for the role. Even if you’re looking for a per diem role rather than a traditional full or part-time role, keep your eyes peeled for postings for per diem shifts.
3. Join a nursing organization.
Nursing organizations offer career development training and resources for new grad nurses. More importantly, they provide a great platform to network and connect with other nurses who may support your career advancement. Examples of associations you can join include the American Nurses Association, National Student Nurses’ Association, and American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Tips for Nursing Interviews
When it comes to acing nursing interviews, here are a few tips to help you make an impression and land your dream new-grad nursing job.
- Research and practice common nursing interview questions. Make sure to practice your answers out loud to gauge what feels right, and ask a friend for feedback on your responses and delivery.
- Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer as well. Remember that the interviewing goes both ways—you’re also assessing if this is the right opportunity for you.
- Prepare mentally. Focus on showcasing your personality, passion, and experience rather than reiterating your entire resume. Interviewers are assessing your ability to “adapt, problem-solve and take direction in a fast-paced environment,” so keep this in mind when responding to questions.
- Show up early and dress appropriately. Professional business attire, such as a button-up shirt and dress pants, are standard for job interviews.
Tips for Passing the NCLEX
Passing the NCLEX can be a stressful part of becoming a nurse, but there is no shortage of online resources and study tips to guide you throughout the process. Here are some of our top tips:
- Understand the NCLEX format, which, unlike typical exams, adapts the subject and difficulty of questions based on your answers. Familiarizing yourself with the exam’s sections and subcategories will help you prepare.
- Sign up to do a live review and invest in test prep resources, if possible, to know what to expect. Mark Klimek’s resources on passing the NCLEX are highly recommended.
- Know your drug prefixes and suffixes to easily identify medications and their side effects. This tip from nursing injector Brooke Nichols is essential for passing the NCLEX.
- For questions that require prioritizing, always use ABCs (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation).
Finding a Mentor as a New Nurse
Having a mentor can be helpful at all stages of your career, particularly when you’re a new nurse. One way to find a mentor is to approach the preceptors from your clinical internships, especially if you developed a good working relationship with them. You also have the option of participating in formal nurse mentoring programs offered by Johnson & Johnson, the American Nurses Association, and Standford Health Care.
Once you land a job, you can also speak with other staff members or nurse managers for insights on potential mentors whose work aligns with your interest areas in nursing. Finally, you can use online networking tools like LinkedIn or Nursa’s online community to connect with other nurses and find a mentor.
Coping with Workplace Stress
Nursing can be a high-pressure and high-stress environment, which is why it’s essential to learn coping mechanisms that will help you avoid burnout. Here are a few tips to support you as you deal with workplace stress as a new nurse:
- Create and maintain a routine to give yourself a sense of control and structure.
- Practice deep-breathing exercises and mindfulness to relax your body during high-stress moments.
- Keep a journal or notebook handy (or even use the notes app on your mobile phone) to jot down your stressors, express your feelings, and organize your thoughts. Documenting your emotions and stressors in this way can support you in finding patterns and coping mechanisms.