6 Tips for Avoiding Nursing Pitfalls When You’re New in Your Nursing Career

NursingSeptember 01, 2022

When you’re new on the job, there’s a lot to learn even if you feel well prepared as a graduate from the St. Paul’s School of Nursing. That’s why it’s important to understand common pitfalls for new nurses so you can pay extra attention when you’re handling nursing tasks. Here are 6 common issues new nurses should pay special attention to in recognition of International Patient Safety Day. 

  1. Always use proper hygiene. According to the CDC, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) cause problems for patients every year, with one in 31 patients diagnosed with an infection from hospital care. The best way to counteract the risk of infection is to always use proper hand-washing techniques and ensure equipment is properly sterilized. 
  2. Focus when you’re charting. Charting takes focus and presence of mind to ensure you record accurate information in a patient’s chart. The amount of paperwork required of medical professionals might surprise you, but charting is an important part of nursing.  
  3. Understand the danger of patient falls. This issue might not be top of mind for new nurses, but patients can fall for a variety of reasons while in the hospital for treatment. They can cause themselves serious injury. They might fall because they’re physically weak, wobbly from medication, or elderly and unable to move about easily on their own. Check up on your patients, especially those you think might try to get out of bed on their own. Remind them you’re there to help them. Patients might not want to ask for help to get to the bathroom or trouble you for something that’s just out of reach.  
  4. Ask questions. You may feel you should handle your shifts as best you can without bothering your colleagues. But if you’re new to nursing, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your experienced coworkers expect to mentor you, and they would rather have you ask questions than plow ahead and make errors. You’re in this field with a team, and working as a team is the best way to ensure patient safety. 
  5. Practice self-care. It’s easy to get overextended and fatigued during a shift, and that’s when missteps happen. As a general guideline, make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthily, and exercise. During shift breaks, take a walk outside or try breathing exercises to reduce stress. If you can develop habits to ward off feeling overwhelmed, those will go a long way to reducing the pitfalls of nursing. 
  6. Watch the medication prescriptions. Unfortunately, one of the most common pitfalls in nursing is giving a patient the wrong medication or the wrong dosage. It happens to new nurses, and it happens to veterans—when they’re feeling under pressure, tired, or just mentally not present. To avoid medication mix-ups, focus on the patient in front of you. Be in the moment and don’t let a different work issue or personal issue distract you from dispensing this patient’s particular medication.

If you’re interested in a career in nursing, visit St. Paul’s School of Nursing program page or call (855) 822-3018 to speak to one of our admissions representatives or to schedule a campus tour. St. Paul’s has campuses in Queens and Staten Island.