New Nurse Strategies: Who Will Help And Who Is Your Frenemy

Being a new grad nurse there is so much to figure out. During orientation, the preceptor helps guide new nurses through situations and teaches policies and procedures, but there is still much to learn once you are on your own.

Not every nurse has the same work ethic, adherence to policies, or patience to provide the correct answers to new nurse’s questions.

They may not intentionally lead you astray, but if something goes wrong, it is your license at stake not theirs. 

How do you know who will give you the right advice?

1. Start with your preceptor

They trained you and know you better than other nurses on the unit. Hopefully they’ve established themselves as a safe place to go for help.

2. Ask them which co-workers are their go-to nurses for help

Your preceptor has worked with these nurses longer than you have and knows more about their strengths and weaknesses. That’ll give a list of potential go-tos for when your preceptor isn’t around.

3. Charge/Supervisor

Supervisors have been put in a position to ensure the unit runs smoothly and be a resource for staff. If a patient is declining or behaving inappropriately, they should be told about it anyway and kept in the loop.

4. Get to know co-workers

Observe how they act with their patients, co-worker, and leadership. Ask them questions. Compare their answers to other nurses AND what the policies say. This is what your preceptor did to be able to tell you their list of nurses they trust more and why.

5. Help out when you can

Start by offering to help with the little things and help more as you grow. Your co-workers will learn more about you and trust your ability more

Trust Your Gut & Check the Policy

No matter who you ask for help, if something seems wrong, it probably is.

From your first day of orientation, you start developing your “nursing gut” by picking up patterns in patient scenarios. A published study has shown the Nurse Worry Factor about a patient deteriorating is correct 68% of the time in nurses less than 1 year of experience and almost 80% after a year.

That same gut feeling applies to orders from doctors and advice from other nurses that might not seem right. Don’t be afraid to clarify orders. Sometimes the doctor puts it on the wrong chart or forgot they had a comorbidity that would contraindicate the treatment.

Double check the policies before following another nurse’s advice. Policies may have changed since the last they referenced it.

It is always “better to be safe than sorry” especially in a profession that deals with life and death.