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Your Guide to a Perfect First Shift!

10th Jan, 2017

Your Guide to a Perfect First Shift!

I’ve recently had requests for the top do’s and don’ts for an agency nurse on their first ever shift. After interviewing a handful of tenured nurses, plus some who have recently completed the initial shift process, I’ve discovered 3 key areas that nurses worry about when it comes to their first day…

What if I’m nervous?

Nerves can be…well, nerve-wracking! But it’s perfectly normal to have them when doing anything new, particularly when it’s your job and even more so when you’re a nurse.

Believe it or not, nerves are good for you. Experiencing them means that you care and you want to do your best. Try to think of the last time you were nervous; what were you doing and how did you feel? Now think about how you felt after the experience. You’ll most likely remember thinking that you had no reason to feel nervous at all, it was just your apprehensions getting the better of you. One nurse of mine quite rightly said: ‘Hindsight can be very frustrating at times’.

So how do you calm your nerves? Make sure you take deep breaths when you feel your anxiety rising and remind yourself that it’s perfectly okay to feel nervous – you’re starting an exciting new chapter after all! In some cases, you may not be able to quell them completely, but my advice is to realise that you have lots of support from both your colleagues and your consultant.

Chances are you’ll love your first shift and see that all your worrying was for nothing!

Where do I go when I arrive?

Seasoned agency nurses will remember worrying about this on the first day of a new job, particularly in hospitals they have never been placed into. It’s highly probable that your first shift will be in a hospital you’ve never worked in before (but over the course of your career, you’ll most likely be able to count the number of hospitals you’ve worked in on one hand!).

If you have any doubts about where to go or where to park etc., it’s best to speak with your consultant. They will have answered the same questions for other nurses many times in the past – you are not the first to ask so don’t be afraid to approach your consultant with questions like this!

Most hospital websites have a map of the wards, carparks and public transport links so don’t forget to check online too!

I won’t know where anything is!

Lots of my new nurses worry about this and the answer is very simple but important to remember. If you don’t know where something is – ask!

You should be given an induction when starting any new placement, highlighting emergency exits and important areas of the hospital. If you’re still unclear on where to find things, ask a colleague to assist you. Your job as a nurse relies on you knowing your way around so make sure you are totally confident with your surroundings.

Given the nature of any nurse job, you will need to learn fast so maintain your concentration during your induction and carefully note any places that apply to your role.

If you’re given regular shifts within the same hospital, this problem will soon become a thing of the past. However, if you’re flexible to work in multiple locations you’ll need to work on this more often. Like anything, it will soon become habit!