What Does a High-Performing New Grad Look Like?

by | Jun 30, 2020 | Podcasts, New Nurse | 0 comments

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What Does a High-Performing New Grad Look Like? Your idea of a “high performing” new grad might not be the same as what your leadership team actually expects of a brand new nurse. In this episode we hear from Amber and Chelsea, who lead a nurse residency program, about what qualities make a really great new grad nurse. #FreshRNpodccasts #nurse #nurses #newnurse #podcast

Who You’ll Hear

Kati Kleber, MSN RN– Nurse educator, former cardiac med-surg/stepdown and neurocritical care nurse, author, and speaker.

Chelsea Klekamp, BSN RN – Experienced bedside nurse, Nurse Residency Program Coordinator.

Amber Nibling, MSN, RN, NE-BC, NPD-BC, AMB-BC – Experienced bedside nurse, former Clinical Director of Education, current Senior Director of Clinical Learning at Orlando Health

What You’ll Learn

  • What is ‘high performing’
  • Behavior
  • Feedback
  • Confidence
  • Vocal

What Does a High Performing New Grad Look Like?

What new graduates think of as “high performing” is very different from what a leadership team expects of a new grad.

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What you might be thinking: 

  • Someone who only needs to be shown things once and then they’ve got it
  • Able to take a full patient load as fast as possible
  • No errors
  • Great attitude, confidence
  • Speaking with physicians effortlessly

The reality: 

  • We need to be shown things many many times. It’s OK if you don’t know something! That’s why you have a preceptor. You aren’t supposed to know everything!
  • We all have our own insecurities, and those become amplified in our minds when we are in new, uncomfortable situations. 

What Leadership is looking for in a new grad nurse… 

You can teach a skill, but you can’t teach behavior.

  • Approachable and professional
  • Realistic, not over-confident
  • Being a good teammate
  • Making good use of downtime
  • Curious, seeking out opportunities to learn more
  • Communicating effectively about needs, time management, concerns, etc.

Receiving feedback

  • Feedback is not an attack on you personally, it is an opportunity for you to implement a change and improve your practice.
  • Recognize if you are having an emotional reaction to the feedback and name that emotion. It helps to downregulate the emotional activity in your brain, allowing you to have an objective response in the moment. 
  • Feedback is difficult to give as well. Recognize that the person giving you the feedback is investing in your development and is taking the difficult step of sharing this with you, so that you can be better
  • Open yourself up to feedback. Start the conversation with your preceptor of what you are doing well and what you need to work on. When you open the doors, it automatically creates a lower stress environment for an honest and open conversation to occur.


  • There needs to be a balance in a new grad’s confidence.
  • Too much confidence can be unsafe, but too little confidence can be crippling. 
  • Start from a place of humility, but throughout your orientation work to build your confidence by recognizing tiny and big wins. 

Feel free to ask YOUR leader what they are looking for. 

Vocalize your needs to your preceptor.

  • Even if that means saying you are shy and need more time to feel comfortable socially, or that you learn best a different way from how they are teaching you.
  • An awkward conversation early is going to save you from continued discomfort for weeks and weeks.

More Resources

Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.


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