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Healthcare Career Resources

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  • Michael Jones
  • January 09, 2019 02:18:33 PM

A Little About Us

Healthcare Career Resources is a blog for those who work in the healthcare industry. We cover topics ranging from current events to medical humor as well as more career focused topics such as job search and interview tips. We also publish articles written for healthcare human resources and physician recruiters.

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    How Resident Physicians Can Incorporate Wellness Into Their Everyday Work Routine

    Read this article for some practical (anecdotally trialed) tips for incorporating wellness into everyday work for a new resident.

    Working in Wellness at Work: 5 Practical Tips for Resident Physicians
    Aaron Amat/123RF.com

    Some of the best ways to keep sane during your residency training involve incorporating aspects of your personal home life while in the hospital. Below are some practical (anecdotally trialed) tips for incorporating wellness into everyday work for a new resident.

    Take the Stairs

    If you’re an exercise fiend, jog up the stairs every chance you get. That way, at the end of the day if you can’t make it on your run, you at least perhaps got some blood flow to your legs intermittently during your shift. Waiting in line for food in the cafeteria? Do some calf raises. Need to talk with a nurse? Make it a walk and talk. I never had anyone call me out or get onto me for doing something a little odd in order to get more movement in my day. We’ve all been there. Obviously, if your hospital is one in which you’re encouraged to wear a suit instead of a white coat in the wards, you’ll have to make some modifications, but most work clothes can allow for a brisk pace while ascending stairs.

    Although unlikely, if someone does choose to call you out, I challenge you to confront the culture. Be frank: “I am struggling to maintain activity this year with my busy schedule, and exercise is really important for my well-being. As long as I don’t distract anyone or impair patient care, I think this will help me be a better physician for my patients because I will feel more well myself.”

    Maintain Your Personal Life

    Do you crave socialization? Do you need to chat with your friends in order to feel fulfilled and happy? There are multiple times throughout the day you can grab an extra 5-minute conversation. Take the stairs down to noon conference and talk with your mom on your walk. Sneak away for a bathroom break and stay an extra few moments to fire off a text to your best friend. Make a phone call on your commute to and from work.

    Don’t be afraid to take the call in the workroom from your significant other. Personally, this tip is one of my favorites. It emphasizes our humanity and life outside of work and allows our peers and team-members to do the same. Obviously I do not condone chatting for hours during a busy workday, but as our days are poorly defined and hours can be variable, taking a quick call with family or friends to keep them informed on your day or schedule (i.e. “I won’t be home for dinner because I just got a new admission”) can be re-humanizing. We are of course first and foremost physicians, but remembering that your colleagues also have a life outside of the hospital is also incredibly helpful. I remember a co-intern telling me that her senior (who she originally believed to be cold and harsh) answered a phone call from his fiance. His voice completely changed and he became loving and affectionate. This intern said this encounter she witnessed completely changed her view of the resident. She had forgotten that he was human too, and it made her reevaluate how he behaved at work. No, he wasn’t mad at her for asking questions or rudely critical in his quick quips on treatment plans; he was just dealing with his own struggle while being at work. As physicians, we are humans like the rest. Remember that.

    Learn on the Job

    It’s hard to motivate yourself to read journal articles once you’re at home on the couch. Pick one new thing about each new admission to learn from (and if you’re really good, write it down!). This might be an odd comorbidity that isn’t commonly seen in patients with heart failure. Read a brief summary on UpToDate. Maybe it’s a drug you rarely see on a medicine reconciliation – double check its common side effects! As cliche as it is, every moment can be a learning experience if you let it. Remain curious—this will be your greatest weapon against burnout.

    Find Your In-hospital Sanctuary

    Find your place in the hospital where you can go when you need to be alone. Call room, off the beaten path bathroom, back elevators, or even by using headphones. Finding a reliable place early will help you integrate it seamlessly when you need to step out for a breather. Obviously, there is a time and a place for everything, and as providers, I will trust that you use your good judgment of when is or is not appropriate to sneak away for some isolated rejuvenation.

    I am quite introverted and being around people all day drains my energy despite my love of people. An easy trick for loud, busy work rooms is to invest in some large obvious headphones if you can so people can know that you’re not ignoring them when you’re working on notes, you just are wearing headphones. Communicate why you’re doing this with the team and you should have no problems.

    Try Meditation

    Don’t forget to breathe. Meditation can truly be done anywhere, anytime, without anyone’s permission or even knowledge. Harness that.

    Further Reading

    Can Physicians Really Have It All? Work-life Balance in the Modern Era of Medicine, by Ore Ogunyemi, MD

    Pursuit of Happiness and a Healthy Lifestyle as a Resident Physician | by Faith Coleman, MD

    How I Balance Residency and Personal Life | by Nora Ekeanya, DO

    Balancing Your Lifestyle in Healthcare: Surviving The Hospital Lifestyle | by Victor Peña-Araujo

    How Nurses Can Avoid Common Missteps in the Hiring Process

    By focusing on some key areas during the application and interview process, you can avoid some common pitfalls and significantly increase your chances of getting hired.

    Why Nurses Don't Get Hired

    Getting a job in nursing can sometimes seem difficult, but it shouldn’t be impossible. Each step of the hiring process presents unique challenges that can make getting hired difficult. Understanding the common missteps that nurses make during the hiring process can help you to identify areas that you can improve to optimize your chances of getting the job you want.

    Application Missteps

    The application is the first step of the hiring process for most facilities. There are several areas that people make mistakes in at this stage that you can pay special attention to.


    Your resume is a great tool for presenting your strengths and the reasons that a potential employer should hire you, but it can also hurt your employment chances if it is not created correctly. If you have spelling or grammatical errors, unexplained holes in your work history, or have a resume that is difficult to read, then your chances of getting noticed will be lower. The average recruiter spends less than 10 seconds reading your resume. Be sure that your resume is written to highlight key areas that you want noticed, without a lot of heavy text that will not be read. Be sure that the resume is professional and presents your qualifications and backgrounds accurately and concisely. It can be a good idea to have the resume proofread by someone who is comfortable giving candid feedback.

    Proofing Online Applications

    Online application software will often pull information from your resume but will often not format everything correctly. If the software pulls information from your resume, be sure that it is all formatted correctly and placed in the correct fields.

    Cover Letter

    An individualized cover letter is a must for a professional application. It can seem like a nuisance to have to prepare a cover letter for each job application but having a cover letter is necessary. You can cut down on the time that a cover letter takes to write by writing a cover letter that can be quickly individualized for each application.

    Follow Up

    Most of the time, your online application enters a database and must be pulled up and screened by human resources before it will reach the hiring manager. It can help your chances of getting hired if you call the human resources department where you have applied one to two weeks after applying and ask if the hiring manager has reviewed your application. Sometimes applications never make it to the hiring manager and following up can ensure that the manager actually reviews your application.

    Interview Missteps

    The interview stage is the second main area of the hiring process that can create difficulties in trying to obtain a nursing job. There are several areas of the interview process that you can focus on that can help you to be successful in your job search.


    Being prepared for an interview is vital. Come prepared for common questions, such as how you resolve conflicts with others, what your weakness are, and why you should be selected for the position. Also come prepared with questions of your own. Not asking questions indicates that you are not interested in the position. Have at least three well thought-out questions going into each interview.


    Interviews can be scary or intimidating. Unfortunately, if you let this show, it can hide some of the positive aspects of your personality that could appeal to the interviewer. If you struggle with pre-interview nerves, consider practicing beforehand with someone who is willing to ask difficult questions and be candid with their feedback. It is also important to have a friendly attitude. Sometimes a conversation during the interview will go off on a tangent about a shared interest, or even about the manager’s family. Discussions that seem off topic but are related to your interviewer personally can help you to come across as friendly, as long as the interviewer seems okay with continuing the topic. Do not stray off track if the interviewer is trying to keep the interview to topic.

    Emphasize Strengths

    It’s easy to get off topic during an interview or to focus too much on answering the question. Be sure to always steer the topic around to your strengths and to emphasize your strongest areas as much as possible, using facts to back up your strength. It is important to emphasize your strengths without appearing braggadocios; be sure not to come across as arrogant and use only facts when discussing your strong areas.


    By focusing on some key areas during the application and interview process, you can avoid some common pitfalls and significantly increase your chances of getting hired.

    Apply to Nursing Jobs

    HospitalRecruiting.com is a healthcare job board which advertises nursing jobs throughout the United States. To browse our current positions please click here.

    The Road to Residency

    The road to residency is long, and for many medical students, it begins within months of starting medical school, allowing little time for rest and relaxation. Once you’ve spent the time to know what specialty you intend to pursue, find a mentor to help shepherd you along the path. Next, do your research and learn what the objective measures for success are to match into your chosen specialty, and then set out to meet or exceed those...

    How to Transition From Medical School to Residency
    Michal Bednarek/123RF.com

    After getting into a medical school, it’s time to relax, celebrate, and momentarily enjoy your accomplishments. Once medical school begins, most medical students’ minds wander to the next challenge – residency. While some may come to medical school with their dream job in mind, the majority of medical students arrive only with a small idea of what type of medicine they eventually want to practice and an even smaller idea of what the steps are along the way to their dream residency.

    What medical residency should I choose?

    This is one of the toughest, but most important questions to ask at the beginning of your journey towards residency. Medical students are extremely good at breaking down goals and working towards them. The natural tendency with a goal this significant, this massive, is simply to attach to the first clear thought that comes to mind and just work towards that. Resist this urge to simply ‘get to work’ and instead focus on truly understanding, the best way that you can, what kind of doctor you want to be and what residency suits you the best. There are many factors that go into this decision, so many in fact, that we have dedicated a separate article to the process of selecting a residency.

    Further Reading on Selecting a Medical Residency: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Choose My Medical Specialty

    Identify a mentor early

    Just like the journey to medical school, a crucial first step on the road to residency is identifying someone who has done it before and has a vested interest in your success. Mentors will not only help to motivate you during this long process, but they can provide guidance as to how certain aspects of your application will be viewed by a ‘typical’ physician of that specialty. This insight is helpful for every step of the process from selecting research opportunities to crafting your personal statement (Yes, you need to write yet another personal statement!).

    Research your desired specialty

    Now that you have a firm handle on the residency you’re pursuing and you have the support of a mentor, the next step is understanding the typical profile of an applicant to that specialty. Every specialty is different, and the ideal attributes vary significantly from fields like radiation oncology and neurosurgery, which place a huge emphasis on research during medical school, to fields like family medicine and psychiatry, that focus more on a holistic review of the candidates applying rather than their specific academic accolades. Some specific points to consider include: USMLE scores, research emphasis, and sub-internships.

    USMLE scores and residency

    Every medical student knows that the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 exams are crucial parts of the residency match process. Scoring well on both exams is an important way to demonstrate academic competence and your potential for future success to residency program directors across the country. How good is good enough? Instead of listening to friends or advisors, go directly to the source. The National Residency Match Program (NRMP) releases a new report after every year’s match detailing the overall match statistics as well as breaking down the statistics by specialty. With this goal in mind, plan your USMLE preparations around ensuring that you meet or exceed the average Step score associated with medical students who match into your desired specialty.

    Further Reading on USMLE Step 1: Top Tips to Pick the Best Answers for USMLE Step 1

    Research Experiences

    A quick review of the NRMP report will highlight just how variable research experience is depending upon your chosen specialty. While almost every specialty looks favorably on research, some view it as necessary to your success and others view it simply as a bonus.

    Surgical subspecialties and radiation oncology tend to emphasize a significant research experience. If you are planning to apply to any of these residencies, you should seek out and establish research experiences early in your medical school career. Additionally, ensure that these will be productive experiences, resulting in poster presentations, podium presentations, and publications. Also, be cognizant of the different requirements for different types of research. If you are applying to a specialty with an average of 18 research presentations, keep in mind that likely this signifies that most applicants are participating in shorter clinical projects, rather than time-consuming basic science research. While most programs will look more favorably on basic science, it may be in your favor to have one main basic science project as well as a few smaller clinical projects. By doing this, you are mitigating the risk of having ‘too few’ research experiences on paper, while ensuring you have robust exposure to basic science and clinical research throughout medical school.

    No matter what, choose projects that are intellectually interesting to you. You will always end up contributing more and getting more out of projects you are invested in. Additionally, being personally invested in a project comes across during residency interviews, and program directors and faculty will identify with applicants who are obviously interested and engaged with their academic endeavors.


    Away rotations and sub-internships can be amazing experiences that allow you to see how medicine is practiced across multiple types of hospitals and geographic locations. While not necessary for most residencies, they are considered important in surgical subspecialties, where there are not many programs and the program directors or chairman may all know each other. If you are considering applying to one of these smaller surgical specialties, doing well on your sub-internships is of extreme importance.

    The sub-internship experience itself allows you to see how medicine is practiced and all of the inherent variability in the art and science of medicine. This experience, in and of itself, is amazing and reassuring that there is ‘more than one way to skin a cat’ and that wherever you end up for residency will likely teach you excellent patient care skills. Speaking personally, by rotating at some of the ‘biggest name’ institutions in the country, and then comparing those to where I matched, I learned that truly neurosurgery was practiced in a very similar fashion regardless of the name or location of the hospital.

    In addition to learning more about the practice of medicine, sub-internships allow you a unique opportunity to demonstrate your intellect and skills to faculty and residents who are ‘neutral’ in the residency process and not necessarily invested in your success. By performing well in this situation and getting excellent letters of recommendation, you solidify yourself as a hard-working applicant to the programs you will be applying to in the NRMP. These letters can weigh heavily in the decision-making process and are a key step along the road to residency.


    The road to residency is long, and for many medical students, it begins within months of starting medical school, allowing little time for rest and relaxation. Once you’ve spent the time to know what specialty you intend to pursue, find a mentor to help shepherd you along the path. Next, do your research and learn what the objective measures for success are to match into your chosen specialty, and then set out to meet or exceed those standards!

    Why Good Candidates Turn Down Job Offers – and What You Can Do About It

    Too often the best recruitment efforts fall flat. The process seemed to be going well, with an eager, talented candidate and an equally eager and impressed department head. The match seemed inevitable, but when the offer came, it was refused.  While there may be some specific reasons job seekers turn down an offer, some of the basics – and what you can do about them – are all too...

    Top 6 Reasons Candidates Turn Down Job Offers and What You Can Do About It
    Aleksandr Davydov/123RF.com

    The time and effort you spend recruiting talent, from the most entry-level to the most senior or specialized hire, is a costly investment. Maintaining staffing levels is critical to administrative needs and patient outcomes. Recruiting successfully keeps the 24/7 world of healthcare running smoothly.

    Too often the best recruitment efforts fall flat. The process seemed to be going well, with an eager, talented candidate and an equally eager and impressed department head. The match seemed inevitable, but when the offer came, it was refused.  While there may be some specific reasons job seekers turn down an offer, some of the basics – and what you can do about them – are all too common.


    They weren’t really looking

    In a tight talent market, some job seekers aren’t actually candidates for hire. They may be testing the waters to see what’s out there and available. These candidates would only truly be interested in making a move if there was an offer they simply couldn’t refuse. Top dollar; outstanding benefits; flexible schedules; room to grow, etc. While it can be frustrating to extend an offer and have it turned down, there are ways to see this coming and maybe even flip it in your favor.

    What to do about it

    When interviewing working candidates, almost every recruiter will ask why they’re looking to make a move. This stock question deserves more attention than you think. Job seekers who are truly interested in making a move will be decisive in their reasons. Candidates who are dipping their toes into the market may be wishy-washy with a response. Answers like “I think it’s time for a change,” aren’t very definitive. Follow up to see if they’re really ready for a change or if they’re just putting out feelers.

    Resist completely eliminating candidates who tells you they’re going to stay put after all. Let them know there’s a job waiting for them if and when they change their mind – you never know when a bad day at their current facility will tip the balance in your favor.


    The offer was too low

    When the response to your offer is “I’ll have to think about it,” that’s typically code for you’ve come in too low. Posting your salary range up front or mentioning it early in the interview process generally takes salary worries out of the equation. But often candidates are interviewing at multiple locations; you could be in competition with another facility and not even know it.

    What to do about it

    If the response to your offer is lukewarm, you might ask what, if anything, is keeping the candidate from saying yes. Many applicants are hesitant to discuss salary – they believe wages are set in stone. Consider telling the candidate you’re amenable to a counter offer, if that’s what’s holding him/her back. If he/she comes back with a number immediately, and it’s within reason, you may be able to salvage the hire.


    Bad candidate experience

    Nothing puts off an applicant worse than a bad candidate experience, and there are many touch points along the way where things can go south. Taking too long to respond to an application, canceling and rescheduling interviews, or meeting with people too busy to give their undivided attention are only a few ways to turn off top talent. If you don’t put on your best face when you’re trying to get them to work for you, they can only assume how indifferent you’ll be once they’re on staff.

    What to do about it

    Too few institutions know they provide poor candidate experiences. Keeping lines of communication open and asking for candid feedback throughout the process helps. While it may not salvage the current candidate, it can up your chances of landing the next hire.

    If you’ve established a connection with a job seeker, you may be able to get him/her to tell you if/how the experience went sour. It may be something you can rectify: if so, do it promptly to demonstrate you’re receptive to correcting the matter. That could mean the candidate will sign on the dotted line.


    Took too long to extend an offer

    Interviewed a candidate three months ago and just considering extending an offer? Consider they’ve likely moved on. Time-to-hire is important in any market. In today’s tight applicant market, it’s critical.  The competition is fierce; if you’re not getting them off the market, you can be sure your rivals are.

    What to do about it

    Move more quickly! If there are delays in the process, make sure to keep the candidate in the loop on what is holding things up. You may be able to salvage the hire if the reasons for the delay are reasonable.


    Bad online presence

    The best recruiters in the world can’t overcome a bad online reputation. The process is going smoothly, you think you have a hire, and then he/she sees the bad reviews past (and sometimes current) employees posted about working at your facility. Good candidates are not going to risk taking your offer if your reputation is poor. A bad online presence is worse than none!

    What to do about it

    Keep an eye on your online reputation. Make sure it’s accurate and resolve any problems listed. Consider asking (not requiring) employees to post positive comments to offset any negative ones. The worst thing you can do is to ignore a bad comment. Deal with and apologize for any legitimate problems individuals post and ask them to take down their comments. You may not save the current hire, but you’ll be in a better position to salvage the next.


    Not as advertised

    You may post your job description in its entirety when you hire, but if interview information doesn’t coincide with what you’ve posted, the candidate will not accept your offer. The posting may be for a nursing supervisor, but if the duties are no different than the people under their charge (except for extra paperwork they’ll need to do on their own time), they won’t be joining you. It’s important to be as transparent throughout the process as possible to make sure there’s a good fit for everyone.

    What to do about it

    Job descriptions and postings must be current and accurate. It takes a bit of time upfront to get them up to date, but it’s worth it in the long run. You won’t be wasting your time or the job seekers’.


    Working to make sure all your recruitment efforts make a return on their investment may mean a bit more prep, a little extra communication, and a willingness to be flexible. In today’s challenging talent market, these few things can mean the difference between making hires and losing them.

    Flexibility and Your First Physician Job

    As most residency programs don’t include an elective entitled “Negotiating your dream job,” many first time physician job seekers understandably feel a bit overwhelmed as their training comes to a close. To assuage these concerns, many may feel the need to draft up a list of the “non-negotiables” essential to their first physician job. So which aspects of your physician job search can you relax? Follow the link to learn...

    The Benefits of Flexibility with Your First Physician Job Search

    As most residency programs don’t include an elective entitled “Negotiating your dream job,” many first time physician job seekers understandably feel a bit overwhelmed as their training comes to a close. To assuage these concerns, many may feel the need to draft up a list of the “non-negotiables” essential to their first physician job.

    At the same time, a first job search begets a certain degree of flexibility, as seemingly paramount characteristics lose their significance on a second or third look.  Flexibility during the process allows a new physician a well-rounded view, minimizing the risk of missing out on an (almost) perfect job, save a few check marks.

    So what aspects of your physician job search can you relax? Read on to learn more.

    Show me the compensation

    With mounting student loan debt, child care costs, and even thoughts of a well-deserved indulgence on many new physicians’ minds, it’s important to have a long term strategy when heading to the negotiating table. While some incoming junior physician’s salary may not be the stuff of your wildest dreams, consider the non-salary benefits. Comprehensive benefits— including employer matching retirement programs, education stipends, and family leave— may recoup a lower initial salary, if you know to negotiate for them.

    First time physicians should always keep in mind that negotiations do not stop after signing on to a new position. Many physicians leave a lot of money on the table by not re-negotiating their compensation a few years down the line. Always read the fine print of your contract, and ensure that the subject can be broached a year or two down the line. At this point, you’ve likely shown your worth to your employer and should feel confident justifying your pay increase.

    As physicians, it’s up to us to remain aware of the average compensation in our specialties and geographical areas. That way we won’t price ourselves out of a job market, or accept compensation that doesn’t align with the value of the care we provide.

    Location, location, location

    There are a number of reasons that you may be eyeing a particular city or region for your first physician job. Many new physicians cite family obligations, their love of a particular area of the country, or a desire to have access to a particular patient population. However, few of us are alone in our preferences; many other new graduates will have their eyes on the same prize, especially if the job is located in a popular city or suburb.

    Unless there is absolutely no wiggle room, many new physicians will need to cast a broad net, or come to terms with sacrificing a number of priorities for an ideal location. Sought after locations often come with lower salaries, higher cost of living, and intense competition from other physician groups and university medical centers.

    Many of us may be pleasantly surprised by the amenities smaller towns and more rural locations have to offer, especially if you can convince family members of their charm. Consider negotiating a position for a spouse if he/she works in the health care field and visit with your family to get their buy-in. At the very least, remember that a host of amenities are (at most) a couple hours’ drive away. Ultimately, you may find yourself a better competitor for the large city jobs a few years down the line after you’ve gained some experience.

    Finding “just right”

    Some graduating residents may be drawn to large practice groups, and others to small. However, there can be much more to a group size than meets the eye. While a large multi-specialty group may seem impersonal and stifling to some, as a new physician, you may be primarily working in ancillary locations where you practice in a small office or in a community hospital. On the other hand, taking a position in in a small practice can feel more expansive if the group collaborates regularly with other practices in town or contracts with a large medical center.

    When I started my first physician job in a rural setting, I sought out physicians with deep roots in the community to get a better feel of the practice area. These physicians ultimately became mentors, who were able to guide me through the steep learning curve that is the first few years of practice. In other words, don’t write off an opportunity on size alone; instead think outside the box to determine if the practice is flexible enough to fit your unique needs.

    When flexibility is over-rated:

    While flexibility is important in choosing your first physician job, by no means you should you let go of the essentials characteristics that define your job search.  One area to remain firm is the culture of your group. You will be spending countless hours in your new physician job and it’s crucial that the time does not quickly contribute to burn out.

    Monitor how your physician colleagues are treated. Is there adequate support staff to help manage and streamline patient care? Is there room for physician growth within the practice and opportunities for mentorship? Does the group put time and money— not just platitudes—into continuing education and quality improvement initiatives?

    Ask to speak with current physicians in the group, and if possible, physicians who have left the group to get a better sense of the work culture so you can make an informed decision.

    Learn to bend, but don’t break

    As the saying goes, the enemy of good is better. There are numerous physician jobs out there that could be an excellent fit. Don’t let rigid ideas of perfection limit your ability to see the gems that could be right in front of you. Be flexible to find your first physician job!

    Survival Tips for the New Nurse: You Can Do This!

    Well you made it through nursing school. Congrats! That is a huge accomplishment. Whether your NCLEX exam is behind you or still in progress, you are on your way! Here are some tips to help you be successful for the long haul.

    Top 5 Survival Tips for New Nurses
    Tyler Olson/123RF.com

    Well you made it through nursing school. Congrats! That is a huge accomplishment. Whether your NCLEX exam is behind you or still in progress, you are on your way! Here are some tips to help you be successful for the long haul.

    Have Ways to Positively Cope With Stress

    You likely realize that you have entered a high-stress work environment. What you may not realize is how that stress can accumulate without your awareness. Right now you are so busy trying to keep up with all the new things you’re practicing, as well as trying to stay balanced with the rest of your life. Make conscious time-outs for yourself for the purpose of de-stressing. Journaling everyday helps me tremendously to process the stressful events of the day, to ask questions like why something happened a certain way, and how to proceed in the future. Taking time to think about the events of the day or week will allow you to learn from these situations, rather than just keep plowing through day by day and end up stressed out. Even small amounts of time to recharge can be refreshing. Exercise, time with friends and family, enjoying a nice (healthy) meal, music, or whatever you personally find joy in can be a huge help to stave off burnout and stay balanced as a busy nurse.

    Form Good Habits From the Start

    You may already be aware of the endless array of donuts, cookies, cakes, and pizza found in break rooms. Shift work, long hours, high stress, and yummy junk food everywhere can easily lead to weight gain. Try not to get too hungry and overdo it on these tempting treats. Maybe you are able to go many hours without eating, but it might be good to keep healthy snacks like protein bars or yogurt with you to have even if you’re really busy. Smoothies are a great option. You can have one in a covered container near your computer while documenting to keep you fueled during your busy shifts. Adequate sleep may become a real problem with shift work. If working nights, making your bedroom as dark as possible with black-out curtains or an eye mask can help you get the quality sleep you need. Earplugs may help. Have a regular sleep-wake cycle if possible, even if it’s shift-work related. Regular exercise can also be a huge boost to your overall quality of health.

    Work Safely, Even if it Means Going a Little Slower

    Accept the fact that you have a lot to learn and it’s just not worth rushing and possibly making a big mistake. Your pace will increase as you get more familiar with your routine. Some things will become second nature, like coming in, getting report or researching your patients, getting your supplies for your shift, reviewing your labs and MARs, etc. At that point, when out of the ordinary things happen, (as they constantly will in various ways) you can deal with them as they arise. Then you can continue with your normal routine without getting too rattled by much of anything. Getting to that point takes time to develop. For now, you are trying different ways to do things, imprinting in your mind the best ways for you to accomplish your tasks and gain confidence. So try to take your time.

    You can’t be too careful with look-alike sound-alike drugs or units of measurements. It may seem tedious to do all the checks that are required, and it is. But every once in a while, think about what could happen if you gave the wrong patient meds or the wrong concentration. A new nurse at a hospital I worked at gave 100 units of insulin to her patient, mixing up the dose with the concentration. The patient died. As nurses, we give meds all day, everyday. It can become very routine, so it’s good to keep in mind that a medication mistake can cause great harm or even death.

    Be Organized

    Is your expensive stethoscope labeled? Do you have bandage scissors nearby? Having your essentials with you, like tape, alcohol pads, flushes, and a flashlight will help you work efficiently. When getting report and researching your patients, get into the routine of jotting down info you will usually need to be aware of, like last time pain meds were given, IV fluid name and rate, date of IV site changing, last BM and whatever other pertinent information you need to reduce the frequency of looking things up later. Documenting regular progress notes is very helpful, as even during very busy shifts you will have a sense of control to some degree. Every couple of hours, or per your hospital’s policy, note specific patient details. This will also serve as a protection for you if you are ever called on to remember a particular patient, such as in a courtroom.

    Be Patient With Yourself

    There is a tremendous amount of information and tasks that you as the nurse are expected to be responsible for. Focus on the basics, and realize that you are qualified to do the job you’ve been hired for. Try not to compare yourself with others. Your pace is your own, and you have a lot to get used to, so set realistic goals for yourself. Talk with more experienced nurses that you feel comfortable with that will give you honest advice and will support you on your learning curve.


    You have truly chosen a job with many options and possibilities to look forward to! As you get comfortable with basic nursing care, you will be able to go on and explore the many opportunities to fit your personal needs and preferences. Don’t rush, work safely, and form good habits from the start. Then you will be on your way to becoming an excellent nurse!

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