student-nurse-to-new-nurse

How To Go From Nursing Student To New Nurse

Nursing school is hard. Transitioning from nursing student to new nurse can be even harder. These are some easy ways to help nursing students transition to becoming new nurses!


The transition from nursing student to new nurse is hard, but also exciting, stressful and nerve-racking. It isn’t uncommon to feel nervous or incompetent when stepping into a new nursing position right after nursing student.

Let’s be honest, nursing school can only prepare you for so much and tests can only go so far. The books, manikins we train on, and clinical’s can only go so far in depth into the topics you will cover and see on the floors daily.

One of the biggest gaps in nursing school knowledge is the great depth of knowledge you will learn in specific specialties. You may spend half a clinical day in the Operating Room or Emergency Department (or really any specialty), but that doesn’t give you a very good idea of what actually is expected on these units.

Student Nurse To Real Nurse

The transition from student nurse to Full Time Nurse (get it?) can be difficult, but with some help from your peers and work-friends it can be less frightening. What does a day in the life of a nurse look like?

1. Make Friends

The biggest tip I can give anyone transitioning from student nurse to new nurse is to make friends. Making friends is vital in our profession. Teamwork is vital and therefore having friends or at the very least colleagues that you know and trust is invaluable.

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Similarly to making it through nursing school with those study buddies, well working on a nursing floor can be much easier if you have friends to back you up. Having friends on the floor means that when you have a super busy patient assignment and your friend doesn’t, maybe he or she can help you out throughout the shift with the little things (trip to the bathroom, changing a saline bag).

It can also help if you will be working night shift to have friends to help you make it through! Having a few good friends on your floor to go get a snack or late-night coffee with can drastically help to improve your attitude towards night shift.

Finally, but most importantly, creating strong working bonds can help to strengthen your patient care, patient interactions and overall attitude at work.

2. Know Your Resources

Knowing your resources when transitioning from a nursing student to a new grad nurse is very beneficial to being successful as a new nurse.

Along with the previously mentioned “making friends”, these friends can be extremely useful resources for a new grad nurse. Having knowledgable experienced nurses to teach you is one resource that is irreplaceable.

Besides having a more experience nurse as a resource you can also have possibly a mentor from nursing school as a resource. You can also have your nursing manager, perhaps a physician you work closely with or a close friend.

Having someone there that you can always trust to not only answer your questions with honesty, but also to answer your questions accurately and with experience behind the answer.

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3. Communication Is Key

Communication is the key for any student nurse transitioning to being a new nurse. Being a strong communicator is unbelievable vital to not only being a good nurse, but being a good teammate. Knowing your resources also involves being able to communicate with doctors, nurses and any other staff you might run into.

Knowing how to communicate with doctors is important for taking care of your patient and going from a student nurse to a new, but confident nurse.

Speak to doctors when they’re on rounds, ask them questions, figure out what they are thinking when they put in orders, and become friendly with them! Doctors are helpful people in the healthcare team due to their wealth of knowledge, use them!

4. Know Your Stuff

One obvious, but huge aspect of transitioning from a student nurse to new nurse is knowing your stuff! Knowing what you’re talking about with doctors, nurses or other members of the healthcare team can help you build rapport with them and help them get to know you.

When you get home from a shift, go over what happened that shift. Go over who your patients were, what their diagnoses were and what orders you had. Understanding what you were doing and why you were doing it will definitely help you transition to a new nurse and make you a a better nurse.

5. Be Smart

The final tip to transitioning from a student nurse to new nurse is to be smart. This sounds simple, but is something a lot of new nurses overlook. When you are a new nurse, it can be easy to forget that you graduated nursing school.

We all know (if you’ve been through it) that nursing school is not easy. It is actually very difficult. Remembering that you graduated nursing school, passed your NCLEX, and have a license is important. This help give you confidence and remind you that you are capable of taking care of this patient.

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Remember, you are capable, ask for help when you need help and know your stuff.

Another great resource to read about transitioning from student nurse to new nurse!

Be a Better Nurse!

How do you be a better nurse? Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Don’t let other’s mistakes be your mistakes.

It easy to say “how could they have even done that?”, but put yourself in their shoes. Walk yourself through the situation they were in. Ask yourself, “what would I have done?”. If you don’t know, ask your supervisor or a peer and find out what the appropriate action would be.

Use mistakes as learning opportunities. You will make mistakes (we don’t want them to happen, but they do). However, recognizing and mitigating them is just as important as not making them in the first place. Remember, before you act, think about what your decision will cause to happen.

In an emergency or code situation there isn’t much time to think. This is an excellent opportunity to not only learn from your experienced peers, but from physicians. They can teach you what to do, not to do and what to expect.

Full Time Nurse

Full Time Nurse - Michael is a full time student and nurse constantly striving for learning. He enjoys teaching others and providing them with information he has learned through experience. He also has a background in web development, graphic design, video production and video editing.

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