A Leader’s Guide to Setting Priorities as a New Nurse

Working as a new nurse can be both exciting and overwhelming. There are so many things to do and so much to learn that you may wonder what the most important priorities are as an individual. That’s why it is important to take the time to set your own priorities. The nursing profession is changing and the role of a nurse is changing as well. Nurses have more input into healthcare decisions and are expected to take a leadership role in ensuring that patients receive the best care possible.

This increased responsibility can add to the stress level of new nurses if they don’t establish their own priorities.

Different Priorities in the Workplace and How They Affect Nurses

It’s important to recognize that the priorities of a new nurse in a hospital setting will be different than those of a new nurse working in home care or an outpatient clinic, or the priorities set by an experienced nurse manager.

Different settings and areas of nursing require different skills and abilities, so nurses need to identify what is most important to their role as a nurse.

As healthcare providers, nurses must take everything into consideration–including patients’ needs, co-workers’ requests, physicians’ orders (orders for medications as well as for care), other responsibilities and tasks on their lists, time constraints, and even the financial bottom line.

The Importance of Prioritizing Your Job as a Nurse

Prioritizing is an important skill for all nurses, particularly as you are learning new skills and are still a new nurse.

Setting priorities helps you to focus on what really needs to be done and stay on track. It also helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by all that’s expected of you.

The ability to prioritize becomes increasingly important as your nursing career progresses and your responsibilities increase, and even more so if you decide to further your education by taking an online nurse practitioner program or similar. This will require a strong level of time management and prioritization by you in order to work and study at the same time.

The Importance of Setting Goals for Yourself as You Develop as A New Nurse

In order to achieve personal goals, it is important to identify and prioritize those goals.

It is also important to recognize the importance of setting realistic goals — goals that you have a good chance of achieving — and write them down. This makes your goals more real and will help you to focus your time and energy in order to realize those goals.

Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-oriented).

Here are a few ways that new nurses can ensure that they are meeting all of the goals they set themselves, as well as keeping on top of work and life to ensure a balanced approach.

Remember, nursing is hard work and there is no sense in trying to be a martyr to your cause. Take the time, prioritize what you need to, and keep talking.

Create a Schedule, or Don’t Feel Overwhelmed by Chaos

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed as a new nurse, but if you take the time to create a schedule or a daily routine, then you are less likely to feel this way.

Think about what you need to do each day, and block out time on your calendar for each of those tasks.

When you are working on setting priorities as a new nurse, make sure that you block out time for yourself as well, and keep it separate from other tasks.

Remember, when things get hectic in the nursing unit — as they are sure to do — don’t work non-stop to catch up. Step back for just a moment and look at your schedule or routine; see where you can be flexible with your time.

Start with Setting Priorities

Most new nurses will start out with a new nurse’s aide and also a supervisor — both of whom are responsible for making sure that the patient is being cared for properly.

While it is important to take what you have heard from your supervisor and your nurse aide, your real priority should be the needs of any patient to which you are assigned.

In addition, if you are working in an outpatient setting, make sure that you set priorities for yourself as well.

Declutter and Keep Things Consistent

To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the amount you have to do as a new nurse, it is important to declutter and keep things consistent.

Start by making sure that you clear off your desk, make sure that your drawers aren’t overflowing with paperwork, and make sure that your voicemail box isn’t full — or at least try to keep it under control.

Keep folders updated with all of the information that you need on hand.

Set the Right Expectations for Yourself

It’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself as a new nurse.

First and foremost in this list should be what the rest of your team expects from you, including your supervisor and other nursing staff.

Going beyond this, it’s important that you have realistic expectations for yourself when it comes to time management and prioritizing tasks.

Get Enough Rest & Recovery Time

It’s important to take time away from work that you can use for other things, be it play with the kids, going on an overnight trip with your family, or simply taking a much-needed nap.

To avoid exhaustion, it’s important to make sure that you have enough rest and recovery time.

In order to set realistic goals for yourself so that you can be successful in your long-term goal of perfecting your skills as a nurse, it is also important that you prioritize taking care of yourself.

Don’t Procrastinate

Procrastination is one of the most common reasons that nurses burn out.

To make sure that you don’t procrastinate, it’s important to set a realistic and concrete daily goal, so that you can keep track of all of your tasks on a calendar (or on an app).

This will help you track how many things are left to do each day, and also make sure that you don’t leave anything off.

Exercise Regularly and Consistently

You might be surprised at how much your mood improves when you exercise regularly.

Exercise can help you to feel much better about yourself, about the work you do as a new nurse, and about life in general.

Before long, you’ll find that exercise is something that you look forward to and helps you get through your days as a new nurse.

Regular exercise will also help to relieve stress and anxiety, which are common with many nurses.

While one of the biggest joys of being a nurse is knowing that what you are doing each day makes an impact on someone else’s life for the better, it can also be stressful or even overwhelming at times.

Drink Plenty of Water

It is important to make sure that you drink plenty of water each day.

The body needs water in order to function properly, and it is also essential for proper digestion.

It’s important to ensure that you have enough water intake, as well as make sure that your diet has good hydration levels.

Manage Stress as Well as You Can

It is important to manage stress as well as you can, both in and outside of the workplace.

Start by identifying where you are feeling the stress and in what circumstances, and then do something about it.

Some tips that new nurses can use include:

These are good ways to release tension.

Being Willing to Be a Workout Partner for Your Teammates

At times, it is hard to ask someone else if they’d like to go out for a run or try a new workout together, but doing this can be a great way for you stay on track — and it can also be a way to make new friends in the process.

If you’re in a situation where you’re not sure how to make friends as a new nurse, then get involved with a local running or yoga club.

If this isn’t something that appeals to you, there are lots of other ways that you can meet like-minded people.

Try to join any hospital or local nursing associations; these groups usually hold networking sessions and lectures for their members on topics such as health and wellness, relaxation methods, stress management, mindfulness techniques, and even time management.

Positivity Is Key

While there are many challenges that nurses face — from difficult patients to time constraints — it is important to remember that if you can keep a positive attitude, and find ways to manage stress effectively, you’ll be fine.

To Conclude

By following the tips above, you’ll be successful in helping yourself to become a happier and more effective nurse.

Overall, in order to enjoy your life as a new nurse and make sure that it isn’t overwhelming, try your best to focus on how you can bring positivity into your life every day.

It is important to find ways to laugh and have fun in addition to setting goals for yourself that will help you take care of yourself and thrive as a new nurse.

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