How to Prepare for Your First Shift

by | Jul 14, 2020 | Podcasts | 0 comments

This podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, PlayerFM, iHeartRadio, Libsyn, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

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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

  • Not ignoring basics
  • Things to bring
  • Transition
  • Can’t Prepare for everything
How to Prepare for your First Shift. The first day of your new job is surely a mix of excitement and anxiety. It’s not uncommon to want to prepare for your first shift. This week Kati, Amber, and Chelsea discuss what you can and cannot prepare for, as well as how to handle the transition from nursing school to working full-time as a nurse. #FreshRN #FreshRNpodcast #nurse #nurses #newnurse #firstshift

How to Prepare for Your First Shift

Do not ignore the basics. 

  • A 12-hour shift is like a marathon and you need to train your body for it.
  • Eat breakfast, bring snacks, and drink plenty of water. 
  • Wear supportive shoes and comfortable scrubs. 
  • Get a good night’s sleeping– it’s hard to be alert and focused for 12+ hours.

Things to bring

  • If writing things down helps you remember, bring a pocket notebook to jot down important things as you learn them. You may not be able to memorize things right away, this way you can look back and learn it when your brain capacity is not overloaded.
  • Don’t feel like you need to bring a report sheet.
    • Individual floors will have a standard report sheet for you to start with. Then after the first week or two, you can start trying other report sheets if you want. 
    • Give each report sheet you try at least 3 shifts for you to get accustomed to it and really decide if it’s working for you or not. 
  • A positive attitude. Sure that might sound cheesy, but you will be pushed outside of your comfort zone from day one and a good attitude will set you up to handle all that is thrown at you. 

It is a big life transition to change from nursing school to working as a nurse.

  • It is scary to have the title, but not know how to do the job.
  • Nursing school consumed your whole life for a few years, now you are a nurse that gets to go home at the end of the day and needs to not let nursing be the only aspect of your identity.
  • There will be ups and downs, and it is hard. Give yourself grace throughout this entire transition. 
  • Be cognizant of planning for other major life events to occur during your first few months working. Even good things (wedding, having a baby, buying a home,etc.) will add stress to your life during a time when you are already being pushed physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

There are things you just can’t prepare for ahead of time. 

  • Meeting your coworkers, learning everyone’s name, making tons of first impressions– this will be a huge part of your first few weeks, and you can’t start early. 
  • There will be many firsts that you can’t do until you do them (paging a physician, admitting/discharging, returning/wasting medications, etc).
  • You will be stepping out of your comfort zone a lot– and that can be draining.
    • You don’t need to “earn” self-care, go ahead and start that from day one. 
    • Exhaustion is not a badge of honor, it means you’ve waited too long.
    • Be sure to communicate with your loved ones what you need (alone time on your days off, not having important discussions when you get home and your brain is jelly, etc). 

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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