Every nurse remembers being a new graduate: brand new uniform, squeaky shoes, shiny stethoscope, scared to death…. The staff development trainer can recognize a new graduate too by the following characteristics:
• Walking slowly to the training room
• Low volume when speaking
• Slouching down in the classroom chair
• Head bent forward studying the design on the desk
• Doing anything so as to not call attention to their “new grad” status
Even though the numbers of new graduates being hired into staff nurse positions may be dwindling, some organizations are still hiring these new nurses. And somehow the staff development trainer has to make sure their orientation is robust and meaningful as the other new staff that comes to the organization with experience.
The first thing that the trainer needs to do is recognize that these new nurses are carrying many fears about the “first job” as a registered nurse. These colleagues have heard all of the stories and the nightmares of being a “new nurse” and are afraid that these things are going to happen to them.
The next thing that the trainer needs to do is not call attention to these new staff members since that is one the biggest fears – being exposed as a new nurse. Other fears that are common to the new graduate include:
• Making a medication error
• Miscalculating an intravenous infusion
• Calling a client by the wrong name
• Calling another staff member by the wrong name
• Forgetting their own name
• Documenting information on the wrong client’s medical record
• Being “slow” to complete an assignment
• Appearing as incompetent to a (Fill in the blank) physician, other staff, a client, a family member, etc.
What can the staff development trainer do to prevent these new colleagues from being “left in the dust” by others in the orientation session? I faced this situation many times during my staff development training days. I knew in advance the names of the new graduates but didn’t know them until they arrived on their first day of class. After introducing myself as their trainer, I would take a few minutes to explain that there were no tests or quizzes and that they just needed to pay attention and listen. I told them that I would not call attention to their status but if others in the class did they could respond according to their comfort level.
The new graduates breathed a sign of relief after this type of introduction. At times their status was identified by others in the class and the responses varied from “I’m new so I don’t know anything” to “I am here to learn and do my best to provide client care.”
The approach that I used helped the new graduate become embraced by other more experienced nurses. The experienced nurses were willing to help the new graduates and strong bonds were formed by those in the orientation class.
Although this situation had a happy ending, not all orientation sessions do. Next week’s blog will focus on when things go wrong during an orientation session. Bet you can’t wait! See you then!