The Nursing Career Starter Guide

Planning for Career Success

Avoid Burnout in the Medical Field

Americans are known for the long hours we keep. We work a lot. A lot. That holds especially true for those who work in the health-care industry. Not only do you work long hours, but they’re long hours on your feet putting in hard work.

Even for the most dedicated caregiver, it will weigh on you, bringing you down until you succumb to the pressure. To keep yourself from bottoming out, though, be mindful of the signs of burnout.

Top Takeaways:

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep

  • Find ways to calm yourself when feeling stressed

  • Do your best to balance work with rest, fun activities, and time with loved ones



Find Your Niche

When many people think of nursing, they think of “Grey’s Anatomy.” They see nurses as people wearing scrubs who work in emergency rooms. There are certainly many nurses who fit that description, but there are even more who do not.

Nursing can be a very specialized field. With around 80 nursing specialties, you have no shortage of options from which to choose.

Top Takeaways:

  • Research internally to find the areas for which you are passionate

  • Do your research externally for employment trends, future outlooks, detailed information etc.

  • Make a plan and work toward your achieving your ultimate goals



Improve Your Bedside Manner

Your patients are entrusting their lives to you. If you seem cold and distant, you’re not earning the trust needed for such an important relationship.

Top Takeaways:

  • Empathize with your patient and work on showing that you truly care about their well-being

  • Spend time with patients and avoid rushing communication

  • Learn to listen to your patients; It helps to put them at ease



Getting Through the Day

Eating Healthy While Busy

Sometimes, you get to stop for lunch. And if you didn’t pack a lunch, that means you’re hitting the vending machines or cafeteria. Both options are hard on your waistline and your wallet. Many people take those less healthy options because they don’t think they have the time to pack a good, healthy lunch. But, with a little planning, you’ll be well on your way to a slimmer waistline and a fatter wallet!

Top Takeaways:

  • Plan ahead by keeping the pantry stocked with healthy lunch options

  • Pack ahead the evening before to save yourself the hassle of having to remember the morning of

  • Leave yourself reminders to grab your already-packed lunch out of the fridge



Staying Healthy in a Hospital Environment

A nurse’s No. 1 priority should be her own health and safety, especially if she’s working in a hospital. There’s a laundry list of dangers awaiting nurses in hospital. Some are easily spotted while others are hidden dangers. Either way, many are avoidable if you take care of yourself on the job. Putting your own needs at the bottom of the list will eventually catch up with you and, if the caretaker is sick, no one is better off.

Top Takeaways:

  • Wash your hands regularly and don’t be afraid to ask others around you to do the same

  • Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to keep your body running at its optimal level

  • Avoid the vending machine; eating right leads to an overall healthier lifestyle

  • Get the proper vaccinations to protect yourself against disease



Surviving a Long Nursing Shift

Being a nurse isn’t something you do halfway. As the medical profession’s first line of defense, the expectations are high. The hours are long. The work is physically exhausting. The patients are demanding. The charting is never-ending. It’s always fast-paced and short-staffed. It’s a job that requires you to be on top of your game. Here are some tips to help you survive those long nursing shifts:

Top Takeaways:

  • During breaks, take time to practice a relaxation technique like progressive muscle relaxation

  • Get some fresh air by taking breaks outside; there is a natural high from sunlight and vitamin D exposure that serves as a natural antidepressant

  • Carefully select the type of music you listen to as it can affect your mood



Additional Tips & Resources

Selecting the Best Nursing Scrubs

There is a lot to complain about if you’re a nurse. Long hours lead to sore feet. Impatient doctors and patients pull you in every which direction.

But there’s one often-overlooked, pretty great perk of the profession. Scrubs. Easy-to-wear, comfy scrubs. No binding, stuffy business suits for you. Many nurses play mix and match with their scrubs, wearing a top by brand and a bottom by another. It may take some trial and error, but you should find the perfect balance of comfort and style.

Best of the Best:



Dealing With Trauma

No amount of nursing or medical school can prepare you for the death and trauma you’ll experience throughout your career. And for many, it doesn’t get any easier with time in the field. But, for your personal well-being, you need to find a way to deal with its effects on your life. And while there’s no magic button to make it all just go away, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

Top Takeaways:

  • Acknowledge your pain and admit when you are having trouble accepting the death of a patient

  • Don’t hesitate to talk with family and friends if you are feeling overwhelmed– You may need help at times overcoming the trauma you’ve experiences, so don’t be afraid to seek help from loved ones

  • Research and learn relaxation techniques

  • Set boundaries to protect yourself and be sure to take vacations before burnout begins



How to Be a Great Coworker

Nurses and doctors have high-pressure jobs and spend much of their day in stressful situations that are bound to cause some problems between co-workers. Whether it’s a nurse/doctor relationship, which is known to be strained anyway, or two nurses working together, there are bound to be flair-ups when the pressure is on. If you don’t keep it in check, your working relationships will deteriorate rapidly, making even the easiest of shifts feel stressful. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Top Takeaways:

  • You are all in this together, so work on fostering a team environment

  • Laughter is sometimes the best medicine; be sure to keep the mood light when possible

  • You alone control how you react in stressful situations so learning to control how to speak to others when stressed can help you foster healthy work relationships


Be Active with Networking

Keeping your resume fresh and up to date, joining Linked In and learning how to use it, connecting with other nurses on social media, and keeping up to date on nursing blogs. Also, joining nursing associations and local, regional or national groups, attending conferences and continuing to learn.

-Special thanks to Nurse Keith Carlson of for the above tip!