How to survive your first year as a nurse

Published by Sofia Blanzaco
Reading Time: 4 minutes

As a newly graduated RN, the world of work can seem a bit intimidating. Still, the reality is that if you get organized, you put what you’ve learned into practice and seek constant improvement, working hours can be more manageable. Graduating from nursing school is a significant accomplishment, but nothing compares to starting your first job as a nurse.

Suddenly, everything has come together; you can apply everything you have learned to treat patients. It’s exciting, to be sure, but your first year as a nurse will also be frustrating, exhausting, emotional, exhilarating, devastating, stressful…and ultimately rewarding. Mainly if you also chose to continue studying to get a higher degree

To facilitate this process, below you will find 9 tips we bring to you to have a better experience in your first job as a nurse: 

Ask for help when needed

You don’t have to be a “Super RN” who can do it all yourself. Sometimes you need help. You may not be comfortable with a task and want supervision. Perhaps there is a scared patient who does not want you to administer treatment. You may need help calming him down so you can perform the procedure. Remember that you are part of a nursing team and it is okay to ask any other nurse, an assistant, or a physician assistant for help. You will do the same for them when they ask you to.

Keep learning

Continuous training is critical in the health sector. Its advantages include the following:

  • You stay updated: and you are ready to start working, even if it has been a while since your last internship. 
  • It makes your profile stand out: training in a specific area makes you stand out from the rest of the nurses. 


The most common options are a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, although shorter-term continuing education courses are also available. 

Furthermore, if you choose online training, you will be able to finish it without any problem if you find a job before finishing it. 

Listen to what your patient says

If a patient says they don’t feel well, don’t ignore them just because the numbers show otherwise. Something could be changing. Take everything seriously and listen to what the patient tells you. 

You don’t have to know everything

Even if you graduated top of your class and did well in your clinics, you’re not going to know everything once you start working: you’re not expected to. There is no way that any amount of education can prepare you 100 percent for real-world situations. Why? Every patient is different. Not everyone reacts the same way to the same treatment. Nurses with years of experience are still learning something new every day, and so are you.

Prioritize your assignments to manage your time well

Nurses are overworked. They are expected to take on many tasks and add a few more to the list. The best way to manage your many responsibilities is to take a moment and assess what you need to do. Then, prioritize the most important tasks and finish them first. Once you get into the groove of your work, you’ll find out how long it takes to do certain things and develop a system that can help you manage your time effectively.

You will rarely have a “textbook” case

Your training may have shown you most of the scenarios you will encounter. You probably learned about textbook cases of various diseases and how to treat them. And COVID-19? Nothing could have prepared anyone for that, and everyone is still learning how to care for patients.

Having a bad day or shift does not make you a bad nurse

You may have made a mistake. You may not have been able to save a patient. You feel like you’ve failed and should never have gone into nursing. Stop. Everyone has bad days and makes mistakes. But, there will also be good days when you know you have improved a patient’s life. Just remember to take the bad with the good.

Connect with your team

Get to know your co-workers, both nurses and other healthcare workers. You make the workplace happier when you learn more about them as individuals. You can also benefit from their experiences by discovering what works best in certain situations. If you can, participate in activities or functions outside of work with your team members.

Take care of yourself

Your shifts will be exhausting. Remember that it is not suitable for your patients if you are not at your best. Eat well, exercise, rest, relax and do something for yourself. That could mean scheduling a night out with your partner or a friend, a night at the spa, enjoying a movie night, or engaging in a hobby you enjoy. Taking care of yourself also means staying home if you are sick.

Final Thoughts

A nursing career can be rewarding, but the first year can be the most challenging. It takes time to learn how to manage and become comfortable with your responsibilities as with any job. Remember that you are still learning, and you will always be.

Have you thought about continuing your studies and doing a Bachelor?  

Nexus University offers online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in nursing. Experienced instructors will help you learn from your mistakes and give you the confidence to apply your training in the real world. 

Nursing classes start soon. Contact the Nexus University admissions team today to set up a meeting.

How to avoid burnout in nursing

How to avoid burnout in nursing

The rise in stress and the various causes of exhaustion have been much discussed in recent years. As a result, tips for preventing burnout in nursing are becoming more valuable. Undoubtedly, the current situation has shown that as stress increases, burnout increases,...

read more
Accredited Online MSN Program in Florida

Accredited Online MSN Program in Florida

Getting a Master's degree adds a new chapter to your career. And the medical field is not different. The Master's degree in nursing allows access to opportunities that wouldn't be available without this additional educational degree.  However, as a nurse, you probably...

read more
A Brief Talk with Nurse Amanda

A Brief Talk with Nurse Amanda

If you are a nurse and you still do not know Amanda, then you must read this interview:  Amanda Guarniere is the founder of The Résumé Rx, The NP Society, and the Nurse Becoming Podcast!  Whether you are a first-year nursing student or seasoned nurse practitioner, the...

read more