New Nurses: Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes

new nursesBy Kathy Marshall, Contributor

Congratulations! You have made it through nursing school, nailed the interview, and are about to embark on your new career. 

As a new nurse, you will be putting a lot of classroom knowledge into actual use and learning new skills and techniques.

While you will be under supervision in the beginning, use the nursing advice below to avoid some common mistakes made by new nurses.

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7 Common Mistakes Made by New Nurses

1. Lack of Time Management

During nursing school and even clinical work, you were tasked with certain duties. There were obligations you needed to meet and information you needed to acquire. 

But as a new nurse who is providing actual patient care, you may find yourself quickly being overwhelmed with a multitude of real, live patients with different and changing needs.

Ask more experienced nurses how they manage their time and prioritize; don’t get sucked into the little details and forget the bigger picture.

2. Medication Errors

There is a reason that you took an entire class on pharmacology that included the topic of medication errors. Making an error while administering medication is one of the easiest, yet potentially deadly, mistakes a new nurse can make.

Take the time to learn your surroundings and procedures. Understand what your job is and practice the safety measures in place.

3. Not Asking Questions

One of the biggest mistakes a new nurse can make is failing to ask questions. You might think you need to hit the floor running and “know it all.” But you are not expected to!

Every new job has a learning curve, and nursing is no different. What is different is that failing to ask a question could potentially cost someone their life.

4. Playing Office Politics

You might think a fast way to make friends in your new workplace is to engage in work banter and gossip. Avoid this at all costs! Gossip in the workplace leads to friction, which can lead to poor patient care.

The only thing you will gain by participating in this type of behavior is the reputation as someone who cannot be trusted. 

Many facilities also are implementing very stringent policies to curb bullying, so be cautious your behavior doesn’t end up costing you your new job or more.

5. Poor Documentation

Most skills will improve with time and practice. Nurse charting is no exception. But as a new nurse, you are still expected to appropriately and adequately document patients and their treatments.

Make sure you are familiar with the software and requirements of your facility. Plan to spend extra time charting at the end of your shift for a time as you learn and improve.

6. Bad Patient Reports

Whether you are calling a doctor for orders or turning over patient care at shift change, you will be required to give a complete patient report. 

If you are calling a doctor for orders or instructions, make sure to have all the patient’s pertinent information at hand.

Handing over your patients at shift change may bring a sigh of relief. Don’t let your drive to clock out and go home cause you to overlook any pertinent info the oncoming staff should know.

7. Leaving the Bed Rails Down

In your role as a new nurse, you may find you feel you are constantly running behind and forgetting tasks. 

One of the easiest yet potentially most damaging mistakes you can make is forgetting to raise the safety rails on the patient’s bed.

With these pieces of nursing advice, you’ll be sure to perform great at your first nursing job.

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