The top 10 things you’ve learned on the job

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The day has finally come: You’ve graduated from nursing school, passed the NCLEX and finally landed your dream job. Now comes the tough/awesome/rewarding part—actually working as a nurse!

When you’re just starting out, it can be tough to know who to listen to and what advice is actually relevant to you. So we asked our Facebook fans for the number-one thing they’ve learned on the job as nurses. Check out their smart, funny and inspiring responses—then let us know what you’d add to the list.

The top 10 things you’ve learned on the job

1. Never pass up an opportunity to eat or pee.
—Sylvia Moose Garza

2. You can have a nurse title if you pass state boards, but you can only be a real nurse by having empathy, compassion and treating your patients as individuals—not room numbers or bed numbers. They are humans with their own souls.
—Vicky Kelly

3. If it’s open, it could squirt.
—Melissa Thomas Goodson

4. Never underestimate the value of listening to a patient and their troubles for a few minutes. Sometimes your ear can make all the difference in somebody’s day, year, situation or sleepless night.
—Diane Byrne

5. Nursing is 10 percent skill and 90 percent communication.
—Becky Peters Lay

6. Stay calm and don’t panic—98 percent of what you do can’t kill or hurt anyone (I got this piece of advice from a 35-year vet nurse who was my proctor on my first day!).
—Anne Marie Dzmura

7. Never, never, ever assume ANYTHING!
—Demita Crofford

8. A little teamwork goes a long way!
—Kacy Elisha Holland

9. Always be an advocate. Never be afraid to speak up for your patients’ best interest!
—Monica Springhart

10. Don’t take life for granted. Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the simple things, like the ability to take a shower or the human touch.
—Kendra Ringuette Jenkins

What’s the number-one lesson you’ve learned as a nurse?



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6 Responses to The top 10 things you’ve learned on the job

  1. saturn567

    As I a new nurse I learned a very important lesson literally two months ago( I have been a nurse two years now, so probably not that new anymore) I learned in order to care for your patients to the fullest , you have to be healthy too. There is only so far you can go without less fuel, eventually you will come to a halt.

  2. Sree3087

    I learned that Bed bath is not giving bath to the bed. If someone says give bath to that bed number. Please wash that cot. Respect your clients.

  3. akduke10

    I am a nurse. Working in critical care for 5 years. Number one thing I learned on the job is that I can’t cure my patients, I can’t order medicine, perform surgeries, or even provide medical advice to patients and or family members. And either can you.

    If you try, and every good nurse does, you will fail every shift. And you won’t last to long.

    But guess what! You can make their 12 hours better. Almost every shift, I feel like I made my patient’s last 12 hours better than the previous 12 and not because I am awesome…but because that is what I know I can do…so I do it.

    Number 2: NEVER talk bad about another nurse. I don’t care where they went to school or what kind of unit they work on, it is so tacky to talk bad about another nurse. Don’t do it. You will never look cool.

    Number 3: Take your time. A rushed nurse is a sued nurse. Relax. When you feel yourself at a breaking point, “take 5.” It is ALWAYS there! Ask your charge nurse or buddy to listen for your patients for 5 minutes and do a lap or walk and get a soda.

    Number 4: There are SO many opportunities in nursing…you don’t have to stay in one your whole career!

    Number 5: Your salary WILL really be whatever you and your hospital states it is…so do NOT complain ONCE about your salary. Again, I find it really tacky, don’t sign and agree to work if you don’t like the salary.

    Enjoy the process. It really is pretty fun.

  4. kkee6294

    Always always always keep spare underwear, including socks and a bra in your locker. You will need them one day

  5. Packy White-Hargett

    when an elderly patient says “come here, I want to tell you something” don’t do it!! That’s how I got my nose broken!

  6. Jan Brown

    I know documentation is the last thing on your mind when you are busy taking care of the sick but… is the MOST important aspect in your career to protect your license! Do diligence for YOURSELF! No one else remembers what happens on what day and who you spoke to. Only you know the details of what transpires on a day to day basis and remember, IF IT ISN’T WRITTEN DOWN, IT WASN’T DONE! Documentation is just as important as wearing your gloves! Good luck and have a very long and happy career!