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7 Common New Nurse Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Did you know that a staggering 57.4% of nurses experience medication errors during their careers?

Imagine offering someone Tylenol to ease their headache but accidentally giving them blood pressure pills. Or worse yet, what if you gave the patient aspirin when they actually needed insulin?

These kinds of mistakes can cause serious harm to patients and have legal ramifications for nurses.

As a fresh face on your ward, you’re bound to make a mistake or two. But some common new nurse mistakes are easy to avoid. Being aware of these errors can save you valuable time and enhance the quality of patient care.

Stick around as we reveal the secrets to overcoming these missteps so you can have a more fulfilling nursing career.

1. Not Learning the Patient’s History

Picture this: You’re going over your patient care routine and your patient is in a lot of pain. You know this person has a history of seizures and heart attacks, but no one told you they’re also allergic to penicillin and have asthma. How can you help them if you don’t know all the facts?

The answer is simple: learn it! A patient’s history is one of the most important things for any nurse to know. It helps you understand:

  • How they got sick

  • Why they’re currently feeling unwell

  • What they’ve tried in the past to treat their illness

  • Allergies

  • Sensitivity to medications

  • How often they get sick

It also gives insight into what treatments have worked before. You can provide them with better care based on a previous treatment plan.

2. Being Overly Friendly

When you set your sights on becoming a nurse, you likely envisioned a career with lots of tender human interaction. You might even have pictured yourself as a nurturing, maternal figure to your patients. While this is certainly part of what nursing entails, you must also maintain professionalism.

Don’t get too close to your patients, especially if they’re young children or teenagers. As a nurse, your job is to care for your patients and their families. This doesn’t mean you should become friends with them.

Whenever you’re faced with a personal question, say something like “I’m sorry but I’m not allowed to talk about myself at work.” Although it seems silly, this will help you maintain the professional space you need to do your job.

The last thing you want is to get fired for inappropriately connecting with a patient or their family.

3. Underestimating the Importance of Nursing Time Management

Misjudging the amount of time it takes to complete a task is one of the most common mistakes made by new nurses.

For example, if you’re assigned a medication at 8:00 AM, you might think it’s going to be an easy 5-minute task. Because of your assumption, you’ll plan to take a blood sample at 8:15 AM. The big mistake here is forgetting that the protocol for nurse medication administration comes with at least 10 minutes worth of paperwork before a dose can be given.

To avoid underestimating how long it takes for tasks, ask more experienced nurses for advice on how best to do things. They can help guide your learning process so you don’t make the same mistakes they did.

3. Forgetting to Ask For Help

Even if the task seems simple, there may be something you don’t understand and could use some assistance with. Asking questions will make you less confused, and it also allows you to be a better caregiver.

4. Not Following Nursing Protocols

Ignoring standard nursing protocols for the sake of saving time harms your career and puts your patient’s life at risk.

Always adhere to the rules. Trust the protocol above quick fixes and questionable shortcuts. These guidelines exist to ensure quality, safety, and consistency!

5. Confusing the Roles of a Nurse and a Caregiver

The role of a caregiver is to lend a hand with everyday tasks like personal hygiene, getting dressed, and feeding. They may also assist patients with mobility issues.

A nurse is a professional who provides direct patient care. While nurses can offer physical support, their job descriptions involve running diagnostic tests, administering treatment, and tracking health improvements.

As a nurse, you aren’t required to provide services that aren’t listed in your job description. If you’re unsure of what tasks fall under the nurse’s role, speak with your medical team.

6. Not Getting the Patient’s Opinion

While you might think your years of nursing school made you an expert on all things health, you should still ensure your patient is happy with the service you provide. This means listening to their concerns and making sure they feel comfortable asking questions about any aspect of their treatment.

7. Overburdening Yourself

It’s natural to want to take care of everyone and everything, but it’s essential to remember you’re only human. Don’t fall into the trap of being a ‘Super Nurse’ who does it all. It compromises not just your health, but also your patients’ experience!

Remember you’re part of a fantastic healthcare team. Don’t hesitate to ask for help or delegate tasks to your fellow nurses.

Just as you care for your patients, be sure to take breaks, relax, and unwind. Maintaining personal well-being is key to providing the best care possible.

How to Steer Clear of Common New Nurse Mistakes

To prevent these common new nurse mistakes from happening, you need to make sure you’ve got everything ready before your shift starts. That way, there won’t be any unnecessary delays when it’s time for medications and treatments.

You should also write down all orders given by doctors and other healthcare professionals on your patient’s chart. Everyone will know what’s going on with each case at all times.

By continuing your education and practicing good time management, you’ll be an exceptional nurse. For expert advice on how to do that, check out our blog.

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