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New Nursing Job? 5 Strategies for Your First Month

By Keith Carlson via Multibriefs

When you land a new nursing position, your first month is an important time to make a good impression and initiate good habits that set you up for success. The following list is not comprehensive, but these five items will certainly elevate your performance and help you integrate painlessly.

1. Clarify (and exceed) expectations

One of the first things to do when you're starting a new position is to clarify expectations. If you were hired as a nursing manager, job descriptions can be vague. Sit down with your supervisor, ask for clarification and plan to exceed those expectations by a mile.

2. Be observant

Observing and assessing is your main job. Be sponge-like — take it all in objectively. Observe people, processes, workflow, communication and other aspects with an open mind.

3. Begin networking immediately

Networking doesn't stop when you find a job; your new colleagues are part of your network, and introducing yourself is key. Reach out and learn names, and make sure to include those who are not you direct peers — housekeeping, cafeteria workers and others are important to know, and some may become your allies.

4. Assess the company culture

Culture includes how people get along, styles of communication, the nature of the hierarchy, how people do or don't have fun, the general vibe of the workplace, and other factors. Immediately begin assessing the culture.

Do people share about their personal lives or keep it strictly professional? Are there birthday parties and drinks after work? Do staff from various organizational levels hang out together, or is there obvious separation?

If there are things you don't like about the culture, you can exert influence over time. At first, simply observe.

5. Make a positive impact

Once you've surmised what's expected of you, assess what actions you can take to make a positive impact quickly.

As a new manager or leader, you don't necessarily want to turn the place upside down, but there may be simple fixes that, when implemented, make people's lives easier and demonstrate you're a source of positive change. As a staff nurse, you can be helpful and friendly, pitch in when others are in need, and otherwise make yourself useful.

While looking for ways to make a positive impact, be sure not to verbalize criticism of how things are done; use curiosity and good communication to insert suggestions of how certain processes might be improved.

There's so much more

There are many factors that contribute to being successful, making a good impression and delivering value during your first month in a new nursing position.

Whether you're in academia, research, acute care, home health, hospice, flight nursing or case management, these five strategies will help you to integrate quickly and conscientiously.

Since assessment is the first step in the nursing process, focus on assessing the situation and culture in which you find yourself. Make a positive impact in even the smallest ways, authentically connect with colleagues, and integrate in a manner that makes you an indispensible, trusted and valuable member of the team.

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, has been a nurse since 1996. He is the blogger behind the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway and a widely read freelance nurse writer. Keith is also the co-host of RNFM Radio, a popular Internet radio station devoted to the nursing profession. Under the auspices of Nurse Keith Coaching, Keith's passion is helping nurses and healthcare professionals create ultimate satisfaction in both their personal and professional lives.

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