Six tricks of the trade from a seasoned nurse

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Here are six invaluable lessons I’ve learned from my years of nursing. They’re simple, and no doubt you’ll thank yourself for memorizing them. Trust me.




Six tricks of the trade from a seasoned nurse

1. Always look up medications or diseases that you don’t know. This will probably happen to you at least once a week. None of us knows everything. Be wary of people who do — they’re probably full of you-know-what.

2. Trust your gut. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to say, “Hold on, let me think about this.” Don’t let yourself be bullied.

3. When in doubt, smile and take a deep breath. I have saved myself from “Dansko in mouth” syndrome many times by waiting to reply to an unusual situation.

4. If you can’t find a vein to start an IV, try putting warm packs on the entire extremities for a few minutes. It works wonders.

5. Always carry a marker, a pen, a watch and a stethoscope. Anything else you can borrow. And don’t let anyone borrow yours.

6. In your locker (or trunk of your car if you don’t have a locker), carry a spare set of scrubs, an energy bar, a bottle of water and an emergency $20. You never know when you’re going to need these things and when you do, you need them super fast!

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Rebekah Child

Rebekah Child attended the University of Southern California for her bachelor's in nursing and decided to brave the academic waters and return for her master's in nursing education, graduating in 2003 from Mount St. Mary's. Rebekah has also taught nursing clinical and theory at numerous Southern California nursing schools and has been an emergency nurse since 2002. She is currently one of the clinical educators for an emergency department in Southern California and a student (again!) in the doctoral program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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4 Responses to Six tricks of the trade from a seasoned nurse

  1. Aline

    I always have a small tube of hand lotion/sanitizer on my…..with all the hand washing that needs to be done helps to keep the hands nice.

  2. Wonderful list. I’m learning how to trust my gut. It’s so hard to do when you are brand new and you feel like your “gut” doesn’t know as much as the experienced nurse you are working with.

    Also love the idea of the warm packs for the IV starts.
    Wonderful. Thanks!

  3. terrimtz1

    Never let them see you sweat!!! One of the worst things I’ve seen new grads and novice nurses do is wear their emotions on their face and even come out with a “Oh my gosh”. When patients and their families see the look on a nurses face or hear a comment that implies we are freaking out on something, it does nothing but add to the stress level and makes everything worse. Go right ahead and freak out ON THE INSIDE with the GSW to the chest that is squirting blood from the aorta every time you do a chest compression, let your own heartrate go in to the high 100’s because of it, but never, ever, EVER let it show on the outside! Learning how to wear a “poker face” is the best thing you can do.


    I myself am a seasoned nurse and do the very things you suggest. It is the brand new I know it all nurses that scare me. The particular one I worked with would not admit she made a mistake even when I pointed out a med error to her she argued she gave the correct doseage even though it was signed on a narcotic sheet. I feel like every error esp if it’s minor can be a learning experience. We practice nursing we are not perfect. The can’t tell them nothing nurses are dangerous. Loved that you pointed out we are always learning in this profession.