Five Mistakes That New Nurses Should Avoid

When it comes to beginning a career in nursing, there's definitely a learning curve. Although an excellent education combined with the proper training can prepare you for success, there's nothing quite like being on the job. Ask any veteran nurse: You will make mistakes. But it's OK! Mistakes happen. Even RNs who have been working for years occasionally call patients by the wrong name. However, if you want to get ahead of the curve, remember these tips from experienced nurses:

1. Gather all necessary information
To avoid alienating the doctors that you're working with, not to mention looking incompetent, never call a physician to come and see a patient unless you have compiled all of the necessary information. This means not only having the patient's chart on hand, but also having the knowledge to quickly answer any questions the doctor may have about the patient and his or her condition. 

2. Check your patient's name and medication
Although it may seem like a silly slip-up to you, accidentally calling a patient by the wrong name can cause you to lose their trust. In that same vein of thinking, it is critical that you triple check your patient's name and medication before going to see them. Unlike forgetting their name, administering the wrong medication to a patient can have serious consequences for their health.

3. Take steps to prevent patient infections
Proper hygiene is extremely important in the medical field. Make sure that your hands are constantly disinfected and that you wear personal protective equipment when working with patients to help decrease their risk of infection.

4. Don't be afraid to ask questions
If you are unsure of how to do something or cannot decipher a note on a patient's chart, don't be afraid to ask one of your fellow RNs. When posing your question, be specific: Name the patient and explain the problem that you're having. This way, you can get it right the first time and avoid making a costly mistake.

5. Don't let your job control your life
If you are passionate about your career in nursing, it can be easy to accidentally let your job control your life, especially with the many long hours and late-night shifts that it requires. If you take time for yourself, you will be a better nurse and avoid many unnecessary mistakes.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online RN to BSN and BSN to MSN degree programs to working nurses who already have a current RN license. To find out more, please visit our website at

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)