Tips for First Day Nurse Nerves

Story---Nurse-with-med-iconsSo you made it through nursing school? Passed your boards? That alone is an AMAZING accomplishment!! Congratulations!!!! You deserve a long vacation and I hope you took it before your first day. In fact, this would be my first piece of advice. Take a vacation!!!

Welcome to the one of the most respected and trusted professions. I still feel immense pride when I tell people what I do. That is not to say that it is easy. There might be days when you will question why you became a nurse, if you are good enough, or if you should quit. Take them in stride. Acknowledge the challenging days and move on. Here are some tips to ward off nerves in anticipation of your first day on the job. 


Whatever field of nursing you have decided to specialize in, prepare as much as you can before your first day. If you are hired on a telemetry unit, review your EKG rhythms and cardiac meds. If your new job is in a university hospital, read the research. Learn as much as you can about your new unit, new hospital before stepping foot in the door. Buy a calculator and keep it in your pocket. Bring a notepad, pen, and stethoscope.


It is perfectly normal to feel a little nervous in anticipation of the first day. Find a way to relax the few days before. Spend a day by the pool, at the beach, at the lake. Meet your friends. Have a glass of wine. Walk, run. Go for a bike ride. Whatever it takes. Burn off that nervous energy.


Make every effort to sleep solid the day or night before your first shift. Sleep is so important. Try going to bed as early as possible. Turn off your phone. Disconnect from any and all distractions.


I can not stress the importance of a good pair of shoes. Shoes will make or break your shift. A typical shift in most hospitals is twelve hours. You need shoes that will support your feet, hips, and back as you will be standing and walking most of your shift. My favorite to this day are Crocs. Find your shoe. If you can, try wearing support hose as well.

Eat & Drink

Make it a routine from day one to wake up early enough to eat a healthy breakfast. By healthy, I mean a protein smoothie, a bowl of oatmeal with banana, or an egg and avocado scramble. You need whole, healthy grains and protein to keep you alert. Your brain needs healthy fuel to process the unbelievable amount of information thrown at you on your first day. Bring a healthy lunch with you. Don’t get in the habit of eating take out or drive through. While ordering in is a fun treat with coworkers, make it a treat rather than a habit. Our bodies and brains needs brain food. Bring water, fruit, and nuts to snack on. Make healthy choices, create healthy habits from your very first day.


Mentally prepare yourself to be an active listener. The first many days your preceptor will be talking you through an endless amount of information. Listen as attentively as possible. If you find yourself suddenly drifting for a prolonged period, excuse yourself long enough to drink something or eat a snack. It is important to stay alert as possible. You don’t want to miss any valuable information.


Ask, ask, ask. No matter how trivial you think the question, ask. If you do not understand something, ask. You are not expected to know everything your first day. Use the weeks or months of your preceptorship to process.


My last piece of advice to you is believe. Believe, believe, believe. If you have made it this far, you have everything it takes to be an amazing nurse. You will be challenged, you will doubt, you will be confronted.   If you take it all in stride and believe, you will find longevity in an amazing profession.

Lori is a travel nurse that has made her way to Sweden. Follow her adventures working and traveling through Europe in her blog, Neonurse or on Instagram.

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