by Cathy Parkes May 22, 2019 Updated: July 29, 2021
Cathy shares her tips and lessons learned as a new nurse. Don’t assume things like all elderly patients are hard of hearing. Don’t speak loudly unless they ask you to speak up. Always ask questions if you are not sure how to do something, even if you may get flak for it. Put patient safety over your personal pride. Be friendly and kind to all the people around you.
Cathy explains how being friendly and kind opened up new opportunities for her at the hospital. If you are assigned a new preceptor, she recommends starting things off on the right foot by bringing some food and thanks for the help.
Hey, it's Cathy. So with my new website name and brand LevelUpRN, I wanted to share some tips and suggestions that may help you be a better nursing student or RN. So I've got a handful of ideas or suggestions for you today and I will try to make more videos like this in the near future.
So here's my first little tip, don't assume that all of your patients who are older are hard of hearing. So I learned this the hard way. A lot of patients who are older are hard of hearing. So you end up coming in there and really talking very loud and closer to them. So I guess I was on a roll with several of my older patients and I went into a patient's room who was in their 90s and I started talking really loud like that in front of them and they were like, "Can you tone it down? Can you keep it down? Why are you talking so loud to me?" So that was kind of a wake-up call, it was a little embarrassing. And shame on me for assuming that they're hard of hearing. So there's my tip number one, don't assume all your older patients are hard of hearing. Before you start yelling or talking super loud, try talking to them in a normal voice first.
My second tip, really super important here, don't be afraid to ask for help if you don't know how to do something, you have questions about something, you're unsure about something. So I was super fortunate when I was a new grad nurse and I went to night shift. I had an amazing nurse mentor, her name is Sarah Miles. She's so patient and great. I ask so many questions. She liked it. She's like, "I didn't worry about you. There's other nurses I worry about." When they don't ask anything, they're just off doing their thing, she kind of worries and hopes they're doing okay. She never worried about me because I always ask questions. And I would really encourage you to do the same.
If you're not 100% sure about a certain procedure or you have a question, ask. And your mentor nurse or your charge RN will hopefully be very accommodating and answer those questions. Sometimes you may get flack for it.
When I was a new grad nurse, my patient was getting tube feeding, I needed to change out the whole setup and set up a new bag, new solution, everything and I hadn't done it before. And I asked the RN, who was I was taking over from, I'm like, "Hey, do you mind being there while I do it to make sure I do it right?" And she totally gave me some shade. She was like, "Are you serious? You haven't done that before?" And so I just said, "No. I haven't. I get that it may not be that hard but the first time I do it, I'd really like someone there to watch." So she rolled her eyes. There's not a lot of nurses out there like that but sometimes there are. So whatever. I had to just push down the pride like, "Yeah, I want someone there."
Because ultimately, patient safety is number one. So I wanna make sure I'm doing this right. So I did it. It really wasn't a big deal, but I hadn't done it before and I don't want to just be off just kind of winging it. So she watched me, she was there while I did it and ensured that I did it right.
And then I think it was a week later, two weeks later, she goes, "Yeah. Did I hurt your feelings the other day?" I'm like, "Yeah. You did. You really did. You made me feel kind of bad." I was just honest with it. And she said, "Aw, I'm sorry." But I don't know how sorry. But she was kind of sorry.
We actually get along great now. I come up as a wound nurse, she sees me, we have a great, mutual respect. But I'm a more experienced nurse now, but when I was a new grad, I definitely got some shade. And you just need to be ready for that and prepared for that. It's okay. The number one thing is that you're safe and that you're learning and you're asking questions. And don't worry about those nurses who roll their eyes or whatever. They'll come around eventually, hopefully.
Alright. My next tip is to be friendly and kind to all the people around you because-- I'm a big believer in karma, right? If you're just nice to everyone and do good things, that stuff comes around. I feel like you get good things that happen to you.
So my little story here is I worked as a transporter when I was in nursing school. A transporter is someone who moves patients from one part of the hospital to the other, so maybe from the emergency room to the floor to get admitted, or maybe from the floor to radiology to get x-rays and then back up to the floor, just basically, you're pushing gurneys and wheelchairs all around.
So we used to park our gurneys down this long hallway which we called the bowling alley. So I always parked my gurneys there. Transporting is hard work. It's eight-hour shifts, but man, you are exhausted afterwards. No need to work out on days that you work as a transporter because you're going to get your workout. But the hallway where I parked my gurneys is-- there was a manager who worked there, who had an office and her name was Helaine. And I'd always just say hi. I'd just say, "Hi, how's your night going?" Or we'd see her in the hall, I'd just wave. She found out I was a nursing student and then, later on, I became a new grad nurse. Well, then that wound nurse position came open, that I'm in now. And guess who was the manager over that position? It was Helaine. So she knew me. She knew me from parking gurneys in the hall and just being friendly and she liked me. And so she really gave me a chance. I didn't have any experience as a wound care nurse, but she had faith in me. She liked my attitude. And she brought me in and they taught me everything I needed to know. So being kind, being friendly to everyone, it can open doors and it'll just come back to you. Okay?
And my next little tip, if you are a new grad nurse, or maybe a new nurse, maybe you're about to start an internship and you're assigned a preceptor, my advice is to bring some baked goods into work and maybe a nice little card saying, "Thank you so much for agreeing to be my preceptor. I'm excited to learn and to grow and I just really appreciate you." And then bring some food in. So I did that for my preceptor, I think it meant a lot to her.
And, in general, you can't go wrong with bringing food in. So nurses love food so much, Halloween candy, baked goods, ah, they're so appreciative and thankful for that stuff. So if you want to make friends with your coworkers, bake some bread and bring that in. They'll love you. But if you have a new preceptor, that's my little advice, is just start things off on the right foot. Bring something in for her or him and have a nice little note. And when you're working with her or him, make sure to ask lots of questions and just, "What would you do here? What's your advice?" Really, just take advantage of that time you have with that preceptor.
So those are my tips of the day. I'm sure I'll think of more and, as I do, I'll write them down. And when I have a handful, I'll make another video, okay? So good luck with studying! Thanks so much.
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