What Are Your Top Tips For A Newbie Nurse?

Let's hear your best advice and top tips for newbie nurses. What would you tell your younger self? What do you wish you had known when you started out? What are some insights from your experience in nursing that would benefit up and coming nurses? Check out a few of our favorites below and don't forget to add your top tips in the comments section below.


Start a journal of some of your memorable patients and families. I have cards and gifts from many after 41 years of nursing, but can only remember a few...

- Colleen R.

Always go the extra mile! You will feel better when you know you did!

- Tracey M.

The work doesn't get easier, but you ability to manage it does. It's only 12 hours and you can do anything for 12 hours. Work hard, ask questions, reach out for help, be a team player, and above all else treat your pts the way you would want someone to treat the people you love.

-  Jennifer W.

Try to learn something new everyday from a patient.

Lori W.

Plan your day as much as possible. Of course emergencies will happen, but you need to have a plan for peeing and having lunch.

- Lucia B.

Get a job in M & S.

- Wendy B.

Ask. Ask. Ask. Always ask question about everything. Nobody thinks why are they asking questions when you are new -so go for it!

- Andrea B.

The rewards from a nursing career are great. The work and sacrifices are much greater. It is important to love what you do.

- Gretchen D.

Don't forget about Self Care! You're worth it!

- Teressa S.

Learn to trust your intuition as your experience grows. Your guts can tell you a lot. Be brave and ask questions even if they sound silly in your head. Nobody knows everything.

- Louise P

Respect the CNAs and Techs. They do a lot for you.

- Lillian B.
Now it is your turn! Add you tip in the comments section below and check back to see what your fellow nurses have shared.



  1. Make the most of start of shift report. Use orientation period to learn how your unit is run and never ever pretend to know something if you don’t know. Ask questions over and over till you get it. Use technology to research illnesses you don’t know. After a few weeks you will begin to fit in and feel comfortable on your unit.

  2. # 1 Don’t worry too much it will all work out as you become more and more experienced.
    # 2 Try not to let the phenomenon, “nurses eat their young” get to you. Just do what you are trained to do and if a colleague you approach disappoints you go to another. We don’t All think alike.
    Enjoy your profession! You earned it.

  3. Never lend anyone a pen with the cap. Always keep the cap and you’ll get the pen back!

  4. Set an example, your team members are watching you, esp. techs & aides. Be professional, get your hair up & off your uniform. Don’t let your hair dangle on your patients. Artificial nails & rings with stones are sources of bacteria and just plain gross.
    Listen to your patients & advocate for them. Keep your standards high.

  5. Learn how to do a competent head to toe assessment and detailed documentation do not rely on others for YOUR information that includes getting and giving accurate nurse report coming and going off shift.
    Organization and time management is essential for compentent care and YOUR sanity!!!!
    Learn how to really listen to your patients and your own gut feelings.
    Take your breaks including drinking water and going to the bathroom!!!!!!
    Work only one job!!!!

    • I was told I charted too much. I did a head to toe assessment on each one of my patients and the only ones who appreciated it was the doctors.Not anyone else. My supervisor was out to get me at all times. I loved my job on the physical rehabilitation unit but because I was looked at as big and strong I got all the big stroke patients which is not easy when there is no help and you have 6-7 patients. I left because I was injured at work and was forced to to sign a voluntary termination letter. I was young and dumb. I did it because I was bullied into believing that I was injured because I was at fault. I loved my job as an RN but if I had it to do over again I would do as my instructor told me to do She told me to “Go into ICU”.

  6. Don’t forget your humanity. As a new nurse it’s easy to get caught up in technology, machines, and numbers. Remember the patient is a person, a living human who is someone’s sister, brother, daughter, son, mother, father, grandmother or grandfather, someone’s best friend, coworker, someone loved by someone, with feelings, hopes, dreams, and wishes. Never forget the amazing person you have the privilege to care for.

  7. Know your worth PRIOR seeking a job. Research salaries for nurses in your region, know your skills that you have plus want the employer wants, negotiate. Don’t accept the first salary that is offered “low balling” is common without knowledge of salaries.
    Be aware that regretfully racism does exist in health care from both patients and management. If their is frequent turn over from a employer, this may be a hint this job is not good.

  8. Don’t take things personally from treatment from physicians. As long as you do your job well, you know you are taking care of the patient. Their behavior is their behavior and not on you.
    I have been a OB nurse for 31 years.

  9. A. Run like hell. 🙂 Hey, I’m only half kidding. B. In the event you can’t run, bc of the commitment to education and career which you have just fulfilled, get a job in a teaching facility, preferably associated with a university which will provide nurses effectively to precept and mentor you for at least 6 months and preferably a year. This “profession” is nothing more than an apprenticeship in the beginning, yet you hold life and death potentially in your hands. At the very least, your patients and families will immediately rely on you, respect you, and expect you to know what you’re doing. Your nursing program only taught you the most basic of basic things, however. Now, you begin the actual learning. C. As you move along early in your career, contrary to what they tell you, ask as few questions as humanly possible. Observe. Listen. Read. Google. Go home and study about what you did that day. THEN, if you’ve used your critical thinking skills yet still have questions, ask someone who is all but guaranteed to know the answers. This is likely not a previous instructor. This is a senior nurse who has no axe to grind and no reason to throw you under the bus, which could mean your manager, but not always. That’s the number one thing in the workplace- at once to fly low, be quiet, listen, learn, and study both the details of work and the people around you. Soon you’ll know who to trust and, most of all, you’ll trust yourself. Good luck, newbies.

    • Dear Anne, I wish I had someone like you as my preceptor when I started working as an RN in 1973. I’ve had many wonderful experiences and memories, but I was ‘thrown under the bus’ too many times. And always by another nurse.
      Newbie, take Anne’s advice seriously. LEARN who you could can trust.
      Document clearly and unemotionally.
      Keep a notebook at HOME with days, dates & times. If you need to use your notes, bring a COPY of them, not the book.
      Nursing is a great & wonderful career. But learn how to protect yourself.

  10. As an OR nurse for 30+ years, I tell new grads to work in an ICU early in their career. If you can last a few years there, you’ll be able to do just about anything later on.

  11. Always have very good shoes many retired nurses suffer from foot and leg problems due to many hours on feet on cement based flooring.

  12. You don’t have to have a 4 year degree to be the best nurse. Just love what you do and do it. Get a 2 year degree, take your Boards, and get your license. Because unless you specialize, the license is all that matters. A NURSE IS A NURSE. And you can always go back to school later, but the sooner you are actually working with patients the more you will love it. i have been one for 36 years and the only issue i have had, was paying off my student debt. I have worked almost every type of nursing job. but spent the last 25 years doing Occupational Nursing and LOVE IT. Think outside the box on what kind of nursing you want to do, and go for it.

  13. Watch out for envy/raft of other nurses if you are continuing your education, advancing your career and appear to have it “going on” in your life. Those who may not have their lives as they desire may try to discredit you/your work which includes fellow nurses who may be your equal, or nursing assistants..

  14. always remember that your patients are all members of someones family, treat them as you want your family to be treated!

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