How can I manage my transition into the nursing profession?
As you enter the nursing profession as a GN or newly RN, you will quickly lose the sense of security of being a nursing student and working under supervision. This is normal and is part of the transition shock. As a GN or newly RN, your professional role requires you to make your own judgments about clinical care and to carry responsibility and accountability for those decisions and actions. As a GN or newly RN, you need to put your theoretical knowledge into practice, to adapt to a new professional role, to learn to cope with emotional demands of the work and to find your place in a team. All of this requires that you not only evaluate your practice competencies, but that you also develop self-awareness, critical thinking skills and emotional resilience.
 Walton, J.A., Lindsay, L., Hales, C., & Rook, R. (2018). Glimpses into the Transition World: New Graduate Nurses’ Written Reflections. Nurse Education Today, 60, 62-86.
Here are some tips that could help you in your transition:
- Be aware of transition shock and how it can impact your successful integration into the workplace.
- Use reflective writing to help you understand what you did well, what you might do differently, why a situation developed and how to handle challenging events in the process.
- Identify rewards, that is, positive results you experienced such as achieving nursing outcomes.
- Get lots of sleep, eat well and exercise.
- Get together with your nursing friends or other GNs – you will be surprised that you are not as alone as you might feel.
Here are documents that could be helpful in your transition. Refer to the following links:
- Entry-Level Competencies (ELCs) for the Practice of Registered Nurses in New Brunswick
- Practice Guideline: A Collaborative Approach to Assigning, Delegating and Teaching in Health Care
- Nursing Intraprofessional Collaboration Guidelines: LPNs and RNs Working Together
- Working with Limited Resources
Get informed, stay informed
- Visit NANB’s website regularly and learn what resources are available and get informed about educational supports/resources your employer can offer.
- Keep in touch with colleagues and your nurse manager, discuss professional issues, share the load and the learning
Know the limits and stay within them
- Know the limits of your practice capability during this period of transition. For more information, refer to The Role of the Nurse and Scope of Practice Toolkit for more information
Adopt a risk management approach
- Find a work area that will support you to progress slowly into your roles and responsibilities as a newly graduated nurse
- Determine what level of client acuity is appropriate for you to care for during your initial transition
- Request a predictable schedule so you can learn the practices of a consistent group of co-workers and the client population you serve
- If you must work overtime, limit the overtime shifts
- If you must float, refer to your employer policy to know expectations.
- Gradually and slowly advance your skills and ask your nurse manager to limit the level of complexity of clients you are assigned for the first four months
- Gain a sense of the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities expected of a GN. As an independent practitioner, be responsible and proactive – for yourself, your clients, and as a member of the health care team.
Maintain Boundaries and Professionalism
- Know your boundaries – approach your mentor, nurse educator or nurse manager at the next appropriate time to discuss your concerns. Understand the concept of a therapeutic relationship and the power imbalance that exists between you and your clients; manage that relationship appropriately and with utmost respect; adhere to the standards and Code of Ethics.
When in Doubt Ask
- Although you are accountable for the care you provide, you don’t have to do it all alone; stay in touch with colleagues and link with NANB. You may wish to debrief with a trusted experienced colleague, nurse educator or mentor about clinical situations to gain a depth of understanding of clinical patterns and the relationships between those patterns and the judgments that arise out of them.
- Learn how to manage your time within a gradually increased workload. You should create a workload organizational system that works for you. Your primary task as a new practitioner is to develop the capacity to set priorities and delegate.