Sage Advice for Newcomers
1. Tell yourself everyday: "I'm not expected to know everything." Your instructors and professors said you would not be expected to know everything when you graduated, but you still believe your employers expect this. This is a myth. If it were true, there would be no need for orientation programs. Employers expect you to deliver safe, competent care to patients. They recognize there is a learning curve for new hires-and it differs for each person. However, it is your responsibility to ask questions when you don't understand information.
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2. A healthy dose of reality is good. Health care is a field where safety and precision rule supreme. Nothing can be taken for granted. No matter how experienced you become as a health care professional, always accept the reality that policies and procedures are safeguards to protect patients. Errors occur when the guidelines are not followed.
3.Be pleasant to all, but beware of the "special interest groups." It is human nature to want to be liked by your new co-workers. Getting to know them on a professional and personal level is part of the organizational culture-and being polite and pleasant to all is a smart move. However, it is fair to say, like any work group, cliques or "special interest groups" may reside on your staff. Be careful of being drawn into groups that are negative or nonproductive.
4.Meet one new person a day and learn at least one new thing each day. Don't be shy. In the cafeteria or at meetings, introduce yourself to one new person a day and find out what they do in the organization. Certainly, for your first 6 to 12 months in your new professional role, you will learn more than one new thing daily-keep that learning going long into the future.
5.Know your resources. We've already established that you can't know everything. However, it is well worth your effort to cultivate resources and to prioritize them accordingly.
The Internet provides quick references for almost everything you may need. However, there are still times when a seminal textbook may be the best resource.
Make use of technology that can assist you such as Palm Pilots.
Choose a mentor early in your career. As a health care professional, you need an objective person who is an expert in your field, and who will make time for you and give you feedback.
Then, there are days when your best resource may be your spouse, friend or pet.
6.Keep a balanced focus. By now, you already know that while health care demands precision, there are many gray areas and differences of opinions, even among the experts. As you become more confident in your abilities and have more experience, you too may have opinions related to your work. As a health care professional and scientist, you have been trained to solve problems using critical thinking.
7.Establish your boundaries and protect them. Even though you are expected to be a contributing team member, you are still allowed to maintain your individualism. Establishing your boundaries is an important component of a healthy self-concept.
8.Ask for help when you need it. New health care professionals feel if they ask their co-workers for help, they will be viewed as incompetent and a burden, because the staff have their own assignments. Before you begin to drown, seek help. Perfection is not a competency any health care professional is expected to meet.
9.Plan and manage your career. Prior to your annual performance appraisal, spend time doing your own self-evaluation, even if it isn't required by your organization.
Take your performance seriously and as a means to set new goals with your manager.
Each year, probably prior to your annual review, update your résumé and consider your 1-year and 5-year career plan-and how you are going to get there.
Periodically, ask yourself: "When I leave for work each day, do I go to my chosen profession or career-or my job?" If it's a job you go to every day, you may need to do some serious soul searching.
10.Take care of yourself. Daily exercise, bubble baths, eating right and quality time with your family. Whatever it takes to disconnect from your work, you need to "just do it."
Make a list of your top-25 stress busters and consult it frequently. Health care is a rewarding profession, but it does extract your energy. You need to recharge your batteries every day.
Kay Bensing is senior staff nurse consultant at ADVANCE.
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