Nursing school is over but I have so many questions – Who can help me?


Congratulations – You finished nursing school, passed your boards, obtained your license and started your new job as a registered nurse. Now the reality sets in, the patient in front of you is your responsibility. Your nursing instructor is no longer watching your every move and questioning every decision you make. You being to panic and feel very overwhelmed. Who are you suppose to turn to? Did nursing school prepare you for this?


Hospital Orientation

When you initially start at a new job, there is generally a hospital or office orientation. During this training you will review many policies, procedures, state mandates and institutional guidelines. The material may seem a bit boring and repetitive, but try hard to focus and take in as much as you can. Knowing the basics is essential and you will be expected to be able to speak to these basics throughout your career during hospital inspections and surveys. These guidelines are in place to protect everyone and guide you to practice safely. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be sure you know where to locate this information for future review. The presenters are employees who you can always go back to and ask additional questions of.


Each hospital or office has an orientation process. Typically, a new hire is paired with a preceptor who will be responsible for training the new nurse to be able to practice independently and safely on the unit. The total length of the orientation varies a great deal and can be impacted by numerous factors, such as, the orientee’s prior experiences, the essential need for staff, cost allocated to training new staff, and the orientee’s progress.

Developing a trusting and strong relationship with your preceptor is very important, as this is the nurse who you should be comfortable approaching with all your questions. He or she is there to help develop you into an independent, successful nurse. Orientees and preceptors often develop a strong bond, as for the preceptor wants you to succeed, your success demonstrates their abilities as an effective teacher. Often times we recommend that when a nurse initially comes off orientation, his or her schedule should mirror the preceptor’s schedule as much as possible so that they have comfort in knowing that they have a resource nurse readily available. Overtime, you will get to know the other nurses and will quickly learn who is easy to approach and willing to lend a hand. Ideally, every nurse will help each other, but the reality is that personalities and patience do come into play at times. In an emergency, you approach the first nurse you see, but for smaller issues and questions, you may feel more comfortable approaching one nurse over another and that is fine. Just remember, if you have a questions, ask it or look it up, never act without being confident that you are doing the right thing.

Nurse Educators/ Clinical Nurse Specialists

Many hospitals have nurse educators and/or clinical nurse specialists assigned to specific areas. These nurses are there to provide the staff with education and training and should be willing to assist you. Many of these professionals work primarily during the day, but they may rotate their schedules to meet the needs of the off shift employees. If they are not there when you are working, find out how to contact them and if it is possible to arrange time to meet with them if you need additional assistance. They often create ongoing training programs and are looking for your input as to what you feel you need additional help with, so feel free to speak up.

Remember, you are never alone, nor should you ever hesitate to ask for assistance. There is always something new to learn and we are all there to provide the best care possible. Teamwork is essential.