Five Ways to Support New Nurses
In my last post, I wrote about four reasons why we should support new nurses as they enter the field. In this post, let’s look at five concrete ways in which you can actually offer support.
When a new nurse steps onto the unit or into the office, he or she has a lot at stake. They’ve spent a great deal of time and money to earn their degree, and they’re nervous about doing well and not making any grave mistakes. The new nurse is worried about the perceptions of his or her colleagues, and they certainly want to do a great job. It’s a nerve-wracking business, and we’ve all been there.
So, when a new nurse enters your unit or place of work, do you roll your eyes, turn your back, avoid eye contact, or go out of your way to be unfriendly or unhelpful? Do your colleagues engage in these passive-aggressive behaviors, perhaps? Have you seen colleagues actually bully or intimidate new nurses? Do you notice that some nurses feel that it’s actually a spectator sport, or perhaps some weird hazing ritual that must be fulfilled? Let’s break that cycle and change the paradigm that perpetuates such behavior.
Here are some ideas:
1. Walk in their shoes: Do you remember how it felt? Can you empathize with the new nurse’s position? Take a moment to see your workplace through the new nurse’s eyes. How friendly and welcoming is it? Do the systems make sense, or is it confusing? How easy or intuitive is it to find things and get oriented? Have empathy for the new person and show them around.
2. Be helpful and encouraging: There’s nothing worse than new colleagues who barely seem to register your existence, offering little or no support or encouragement. If your unit or office doesn’t have an official mentoring system, create one, or just mentor your new colleague unofficially. That colleague will be so grateful, and you both will have a new ally in your respective corners.
3. Stand up to bullying and intimidation: If you notice a coworker bullying or intimidating a new nurse, stand up to that person and call their attention to what they’re doing. Use strong and effective communication to make it clear that you will not tolerate such behavior in your workplace. If you need to, bring it to a supervisor or bring it out in the open at a staff meeting. Silence is complicity, so speak up.
4. Offer constructive advice and feedback, not criticism: A new nurses is nervous enough. Even if you feel annoyed by their mistakes, show compassion and offer your feedback in a constructive form. Harsh criticism bruises fragile egos and does little in terms of offering new ideas or ways of doing things. Ask how they’re doing, and offer feedback where appropriate.
5. Offer praise: Constructive criticism is one thing, and praise is another. When your new colleague does well, praise him or her. A little praise and positive feedback can go a long way, and everyone needs to hear that they’re doing well once in a while.
Can you add to this list?
Did you enjoy this article?