It’s that time of year again — graduations, pinning ceremonies, and new graduate nurses appearing in patient care areas. Although many new grads are paired with preceptors or mentors, these people aren’t solely responsible for a new graduate’s growth and development. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team of peers to support and nurture a new graduate nurse. So, here are nine ways to welcome new graduates into the fold:
1. Go out of your way to introduce yourself to newly licensed nurses. Welcome them to the unit and offer to answer any questions or help in any way. Introduce them to others on the unit as appropriate. A warm and sincere initial greeting goes a long way toward making someone feel welcome and part of the group.
2. Invite a new nurse to have lunch with you. That way, you can learn more about your new coworker and share a little about yourself. Despite an old adage to the contrary, familiarity breeds respect and understanding.
3. Share a few of your recollections of being a newly minted nurse. Talk about some mishaps you had and how scared you were when you started. This will bring home the point that every RN starts out in the same place, even a savvy and experienced one like you.
4. If you belong to your state chapter of ANA or a related specialty association, invite a new grad to come to a meeting with you as a guest. Introduce them to officers and other members and convey what you get out of membership. Encourage the new graduate to join, and facilitate the process by supplying an application form. Support a new graduate’s professional development.
5. When the opportunity presents itself, fill a newly licensed nurse in on all the unwritten rules of the unit and the facility — all those little things that only come with experience that you wish someone had told you when you first got started. Sometimes this information is as valuable as honing clinical skills and learning where all the supplies are.
6. Occasionally offer help without being asked. You might stick your head in the door of a patient room and say something like, “How’s it going? Anything I can do to help?” Just making the offer can help make a new graduate feel more relaxed and confident. It also makes new graduates feel that someone is looking out for them.
7. Give new graduates some positive feedback, no matter how small. Say something like, “You did a good job today,” or “You’re going to make a great nurse,” or “You handled that situation very well.” Good news goes a long way toward keeping someone encouraged and on track.
8. Flash a smile their way whenever possible: during a report, during a procedure, while passing in the hall. A warm smile is reassuring and friendly and can make all the difference in someone’s day. A simple smile can help allay fears and apprehension.
9. Whenever appropriate, mention some tips and advice you’ve learned along the way that makes your job easier. Share your wisdom and insight. Helping those less experienced than you also reminds you of how far you’ve come in your career. There is great satisfaction and joy in passing on your knowledge to those who will follow in your footsteps.
When you see a newly licensed nurse, remember that you’re looking at yourself — just an earlier version. You have an opportunity to mold the next generation and contribute to the future of your profession in a positive and proactive way. Nurture, support, and teach — all of the things nurses do so well. New grads are our future. Welcome them to the profession with open arms and open hearts.
Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, FAAN is author of Your First Year As a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional, 2nd ed.
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