Every year, about 155,000 nursing graduates join the workforce across the US. If you’re reading this blog post, chances are that you’re one of them. Congratulations! There are so many reasons to become a nurse: stable, good pay due to rising demands for nurses, a flexible schedule, countless specialties to choose from, and the knowledge that you’re using your skills to support the health and well-being of others.
After getting that first job as a new nurse, you may be wondering about the best career tips to excel professionally, how to maintain a work-life balance for nurses, and what you need to know when considering specialties for new nurses. In this blog post, we’ll go over all of that and more so you can step into your first day as a nurse with the tactics and confidence you need.
Career Tips for New Nurses
Here is a round-up of our favorite career tips for new nurses:
- Be sure to have clear, effective communication. It’s not easy speaking up when you’re the new one in a workplace, but it’s important that you feel empowered doing so. Clear communication with your colleagues and supervisors will save you time and stress in the long run—so start pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be crystal clear in your communication as you learn how to work alongside your new colleagues and find a way of collaborating that suits everyone.
- Familiarize yourself with your contract. Your contract will lay out everything you need to know about your new position, from work hours and reporting requirements to benefits such as sick days, medical leave, and insurance. Know your contract inside out so you can be prepared for what to expect while you’re on the job.
- Find a mentor. It’s common for nurses to seek guidance from one another. If you’re new to nursing, you may not be comfortable sharing situations and seeking advice from your peers just yet, but it’s important to identify at least one person who you can turn to when you need support, whether it’s to discuss work-life balance or explore pursuing a different nursing specialty. This mentor can be someone from your workplace, a former supervisor during a nursing rotation, or even a former college instructor.
Nursing Education and Specialties for New Nurses
One of the most impactful career tips for new nurses is to choose a nursing specialty in which you’ll thrive. There are countless nursing specialties to pursue. Here are some of our top suggestions if you’re a new nurse exploring nursing specialties:
- Assisted Living: With a growing aging population in the US, this nursing specialty is more relevant than ever. You can qualify to be an assisted living nurse in one year through a licensed practical nurse (LPN) program or two to four years through a registered nurse (RN) program. Additional training and certifications vary and could take anywhere from one day to several years.
- Home Health: Home health nurses offer care in home settings where nurses work with physicians to carry out care plans for patients. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) can work in the nursing field after a short course, LPNs can qualify for home health nursing after a one-year nursing program, and RNs can complete training in two to four years.
- Psychiatric Nursing: The need for psychiatric nursing is on the rise due to increasing addiction and mental health disorders. While this specialty may be emotionally and mentally draining, new nurses interested in becoming psychiatric nurses should familiarize themselves with what it’s like to be a psych nurse.
- Case Manager: As a case manager, you’ll work with other members of a health team, such as physicians, social workers, and administrative staff, to develop care plans for patients, including counseling, facilitating discharge, and linking patients with other resources and services. Most case managers are RNs, and most of these RNs have completed bachelor’s degrees in nursing. Additionally, new case managers usually complete internships at hospitals, mental health clinics, care homes, or other facilities before full-time employment.
The beautiful thing about choosing a specialty is that there is no right or wrong nursing specialty for new nurses. As long as you’re following your passion and are well-informed on what to expect, you can’t go wrong. If you do happen to choose a nursing specialty you don’t enjoy, you can always choose another. Be sure to explore all your options on specialties before making a decision.
Work-Life Balance for New Nurses
The demands on nurses can be incredibly stressful. Finding an appropriate work-life balance is essential, although it can be particularly difficult to do around the holidays or if you’re balancing nursing with parenthood or family life.
Between slowly gaining confidence in your new role, networking as a new nurse, and taking on continuing education for new nurses, you may find it overwhelming and near impossible to strive towards a healthy balance. During these times, it’s important to carve out family time, allow yourself to unwind when you’re not working, and be present and intentional with the limited time you have.
Some nurses achieve work-life balance by taking on PRN work which can enable them to arrange their own schedule, reach their financial goals, and find variety in their day-to-day work since they are always learning and experiencing new work environments. The Nursa healthcare staffing app takes seconds to download and makes finding PRN nursing jobs a breeze, so if you’re aiming for a better work-life balance, download the app today to start browsing high-paid, nearby shifts.