9 Brilliant Tips for Starting a New Nursing Job

Starting a new nursing job can be very difficult.

Even if you are eagerly looking forward to the new adventure it doesn’t change the demand of having to meet new people and learn new processes.

There are right and wrong ways to transition to a new area or a new facility.

Below are just a handful of important things to keep in mind prior to starting your new nurse job.

1. Learn Facility and Departmental Protocols of the New Nurse Job

When you start your new nurse job it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with what the facility and departmental protocols are.

Do not assume that just because your previous facility or department did it a particular way that your new facility is going to want it done the same way.

Always check with your preceptor or your facility protocol to be sure.

Other Resources:

Do you want to know how to resign from your nursing job the right way?

Check out 5 Important Tips For Quitting Your Nursing Job.

If you need help writing a resignation letter check out Example of a Nurse Resignation Letter.

2. Learn Who the Nurse Leaders are

Knowing your facility and departmental hierarchy is very important for several reasons.

For starters, if you have a concern with either a co-worker or a supervisor you want to make sure you go through the proper chain of command.

Generally, it doesn’t go over very well if you try to bypass the chain of command.

For example, staff nurse => team manager =>nurse manager => director of nursing/program director.

If a staff nurse has a problem with another staff nurse generally it is preferred to address the problem with the team manager first before jumping to the nurse manager.

Also, be aware of who the informal leaders are in your new nurse job.

Formal leaders are the ones with the titles (ex. supervisor, manager etc.).

Informal leaders are the ones who might not have the formal title but are very influential.

They could be the staff that has been there the longest, the most liked or the most knowledgeable.

Informal leaders may not have the given title, but they can be at times more influential than the actual leaders.

This is important because as the new nurse on the job you need to be aware of those power dynamics.

I’m not saying you need to “suck up” but be aware who the power brokers are so you don’t unintentionally get on the bad side of someone who can make your life difficult.

3. Learn who your New Co-workers are

You are going to spend a lot of time with them.

It would behoove you to learn who your coworkers are.

As time progresses learning each person’s quarks would also be important.

Who could be a mentor?

Who can I count on in tough situations?

Who has a bad attitude and just doesn’t want to be bothered?

These are just a couple of the questions you should start formulating as you get acclimated to the new nurse job.

The goal is not to make best friends; if you do it’s icing on the cake.

The goal is to create a good working relationship with them.

I have worked well with plenty of people throughout my career that I did not really care to see outside of work.

4. Know the providers of your New Nurse Job

Who are the providers?

Who are the normal attendings?

Are there nurse practitioners or physician assistant?

Are you working with residents or fellows?

These questions are important because knowing the providers you are going to be working with on a regular basis or from time to time creates different dynamics.

Are there physicians that the other nurses don’t really like or have a problem with?

If so, why is that?

We would like to think that nurses and providers have the best relationship, but we know that is not always the case.

5. Be Teachable for your New Employers

When you are getting oriented for your new nurse job remember nobody likes a know it all.

Especially if the know-it-all is wrong.

I have seen trainee nurses correct their preceptor with a “that’s not how my last place did it” only for it to be wrong.

It is possible that there is more than one way to do something correctly, and if your new facility policy dictates something else you should go with that.

6. Strive to make a good first impression in your new nurse job

For your new nursing job, the very first impressions you make will probably carry with you.

You are setting the cornerstone for your future there. You want to show up on time/early.

Make sure you are well groomed, dressed in appropriate attire with a smile on your face.

You want to avoid giving the impression that you just rolled out of bed or that you don’t want to be there.

You want to make sure that you have a positive and pleasant attitude.

7. Do NOT Bad-mouth your Old Employer

Do NOT bad-mouth your old employer…Let me say this again do NOT bad-mouth your old employer.

Even if it’s common knowledge that your previous employer is lower tier this does nothing more than make you look petty.

It makes you look like you are the type that will bash your previous employer or boss.

Others may question what you will say about them when you are not at work.

If someone at work asks you about your previous job and why you left, you can say something to the effect of

“there is no perfect job”,

“they had their pros and cons”


“we were going in different paths and I see an opportunity to further my knowledge at this current position”.

Be prepared for this question and have a response in mind!

8. Adjust your Expectations for Orientation for your New Job

Orientations are never perfect and the one you are going to get at your new nursing job will probably not be the exception.

The nursing shortage gives a less than ideal situation for orienting.

This situation is compounded when call-ins occur.

Do not be surprised when your eight weeks or twelve weeks orientation is cut short.

Also, don’t be surprised if you go in and out of orientation.

I have seen orientees become proficient in an area, and when staffing is very short they are used for the skill they have mastered… effectively putting their orientation on hold.

Obviously, this is not ideal, but it happens.

When this happens you sometimes just have to go with the flow of things.

Be honest with what you are competent in and what you are not.

Ultimately don’t whine if it’s something you can do and don’t be a trooper if it’s something you are not competent in.

9. Show Up Every Day with a Smile and Positive Attitude

No body is perfect.

But try to make an effort everyday to show up with a smile and a positive attitude even after your orientation ends and the job is not new anymore.

It will help you build your personal brand.

 Have you had coworkers start their first day on the job the wrong way? 

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