Tips for First Year Nurses

Congrats on making it through school and all the required certification to become a nurse. Now the fun part, nursing!

So you've finally earned all of the certifications necessary to become a nurse. You've sent a bunch of resumes to potential employers, been on a few interviews and even landed a job. Go you! Now the fun part, you get to have a career in nursing! Try these handy tips for your first year of nursing to be as efficient and knowledgeable as possible:

When assessing a patient's abdomen
Be sure to stop and thoroughly inspect a patient's abdomen before auscultating, percussing and palpatating. You want to be sure you are not hurting the patient and that you are aware of any visible signs of illness before touching the patient. [This doesn't make sense]

Use a lot of tape
When someone has an IV it is very important to properly tape the anchor site. If it is not secured, a patient can easily pull it out on accident, potentially injuring him or herself and making more work for you. Use a generous amount of tape and be sure to label and date the IV so that you can easily change the line at a later time.

Pay close attention to bedridden patients
Bed sores are a serious problem in individuals who are bedridden. Not only do they occur on the torso and bottom, any part of the body that touches the bed is at risk. Note the elbows and heels when examining the patients body. If an area is beginning to form bed sores place it on a pillow to allow proper air and blood flow. Adjusting the patient's position in bed every few hours can help to prevent the sores from forming. 

Remember PERRLA when assessing eyes
If you are assessing a person's pupils during a nervous system exam or after a head injury, remember the acronym PERRLA: Pupils, Equal, Round, Reactive to Light and Accommodation. Make sure the pupils are the same size and that they're round. Check to see if they get smaller when you shine a light on them and that they change focus when you ask the patient to look at something close and then at a point further away. 

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

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