What to Expect in Your First Year of Nursing

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top ABSN programs to help you get there

Your first year of nursing is never what you expect. While you are most likely prepared for caring for patients, meeting new healthcare workers, and learning new skills, there’s a lot more that you’ll experience in those first twelve months. 

Whether you’re considering becoming a nurse or you’ve recently qualified, here is what to expect in your first year of nursing. 

The Excitement of Becoming Qualified 

All nurses understand how great the feeling of being newly qualified is. At first, this feeling will dominate, and you’ll walk into your first role with pride. The step from nursing student to nurse is large, so let your excitement fuel your determination. 

If you’re still at the applying stage of nursing, make sure you choose an excellent course so you can feel the excitement of being a qualified nurse in the future. Don’t worry if you already have a degree, as there are top ABSN programs to help you get there in just twelve months. Think about it – you could qualify and complete your first year of nursing in as little as two years! 

Long Shifts

You probably know by now that nursing requires long shifts, but some of them will go on even longer than you anticipated. In your first year of nursing, you will face some long, grueling shifts that seem to go on forever, but that isn’t the time to call it quits. Usually, the newbies take a lot of the grunt work, as those who have worked there for years have earned their time off. 

While overtime will be necessary throughout your nursing career, you’ll most likely find yourself doing more of it in your early years. 

Great Friendships 

You never forget the nurses you met on your first nursing job – you might even make some friends for life! Nursing friendships are crucial, and they’ll prove to be your backbone on the days where you struggle, so make sure you hold them close. 

Challenging Days (and Weeks) 

All jobs have challenging days, but nursing, in particular, can really test you, especially in the first year when you’re still getting to grips with the workplace. There’ll be days when the workload seems overwhelming, and all you want to do is go home. 

Instead of succumbing to this feeling, open up to your fellow nurses and your manager – remember, they’ve all been where you are, so let them help you out. 

Little Time to Rest 

Nursing is anything but boring. You’ll discover that you’ll have little time to rest, especially during your shifts. While this is pleasing to some, to others, this can be a little daunting. To avoid burnout, make sure you make the most of the time you have off. 

The nurses who are more likely to succeed during their first year are those who know how to look after themselves. That means eating a healthy diet, exercising enough, and taking rest when you can. You’ll be busy more often than not, so it’s crucial to keep your body full of energy. 

To Make Many Mistakes 

Making mistakes is an essential part of growth, and you will grow a lot during your first year of nursing. While most other workers will have been there for years, you’ll only just be learning the ropes, so, no matter how much you excelled in nursing school, you’ll still get things wrong from time to time. 

Don’t over-stress about making mistakes, as every single healthcare worker has been there. Instead, take a note of where you went wrong, and learn from it. By doing this, you’ll become a knowledgeable and talented nurse! 

A Lot of Bodily Fluids 

Nursing is not a career for those with a weak stomach. No matter how much you think you know, nothing will prepare you for the number of bodily fluids you’ll have to clean up. In your first year, it might feel like a lot to deal with, but over time, you’ll barely bat an eyelid. Nurses really are a strong breed!

Understanding the Importance of Communication 

Your nursing school tutors probably stressed the importance of communication as a nurse, but it’ll take completing your first year as a nurse for you to truly understand. While nursing is all about caring for the sick, it’s also about communicating effectively with other human beings. 

You’ll need to speak differently with your co-workers than you will with patients, and the way you communicate may even differ from patient to patient, depending on what they respond best to. The ability to speak with confidence, clarity, and compassion will make you stand out as an exceptional nurse, and you’ll understand why after your first year. 

A Difficult Patient 

Many aspiring nurses picture themselves gently tending to sick patients who are all too grateful for their help. In reality, there’ll be times when patients seem anything but thankful, and you’ll need to deal with difficult behavior

Every nurse has experienced their fair share of difficult patients, but it can be disheartening to witness at first. Over time, however, you’ll come to understand that everybody is different, and it’s not always a person’s fault if they cannot behave the way others do, especially if they’re in significant pain. 

A Wonderful Patient 

Don’t worry – you’ll also get the heart-warming experience of meeting wonderful patients who brighten your day. They might crack a joke, tell you an interesting life story, or push through even the sickest of days. These patients are the ones who stick in your brain, and when you think about why you love nursing, you’ll think of them. 

A Lot of Lessons 

You probably learn just as much in your first year as a nurse as you do in your studies. Being on the job really makes you see nursing for what it’s truly about – the patients. 

Your first year is a learning curve, and what you learn during it will see you through the rest of your career. So, introduce yourself to everyone, get stuck in the work, and make the most of every moment.