Becoming an agency nurse comes alongside a wealth of benefits from flexibility to experience working in different environments. However, regardless of how many years you may have been in your career, transitioning to the locum route can be daunting. Starting any new role can be overwhelming, but with our ten first day at work tips, you can begin your journey on a positive note.

Stay Prepared With Our First Day At Work Tips

Regardless of the industry that you specialise in, it is inevitable that you will feel nervous about starting a new position. As a nurse, there can be a lot of pressure to get things right instantly, but the key is to remain as open and receptive as possible, treating every situation as a learning curve. Together this will help you to strive in your career, ensuring that you can give every patient the very best care. So, if you are in the lead up to your first day in your new agency nurse position, let’s take a closer look at our ten tips:

Nurse With Patient

1. Invest In Comfortable Footwear

As a locum nurse working in a busy hospital, most days are likely to be spent rushed off your feet, which means that comfort will be essential. So, before starting your first day in your new placement, if you are yet to invest in reliable, comfortable shoes, then this should most definitely be on your to-do list!

There are many qualities to look out for when searching for the best shoes to see you through even the busiest of shifts, and the first should always be support. Any job that requires you to be on your feet for hours at a time can lead to lower back pain, painful feet, swelling legs and much more; however, with correctly fitting footwear, you can lower the risk of these issues occurring. More qualities that you should keep in mind include the following:

  • Breathable – Always look out for shoes designed with breathable, lightweight materials which will prevent your feet from overheating and causing painful infections.
  • Easy To Clean – Working in healthcare means that all manner of spillages can find their way onto your shoes, so you must be able to remove any contaminants and disinfect the material easily.
  • Protects Your Feet – Especially in the summer, it can be tempting to wear open-toed shoes to keep your feet cool, but these are not able to protect them against falling objects.
  • Slip-Resistant – In an emergency or on a busy ward, you are likely to be rushing around, so your shoes must be slip-resistant to prevent injury.

For inspiration, Best Reviews Guide has put together a helpful guide to the ten best-rated shoes for nurses. Alternatively, you can head over to PLS Shop, which specialises in nursing footwear.

2. Prepare The Night Before

Regardless of the position that you are taking on, whether it may be in a hospital, care home or any other healthcare facility, it always pays to be prepared. The first few hours before your first shift are likely to be slightly nerve-racking, even if you are an experienced locum nurse, which means that you want to make the lead up as straightforward and stress-free as possible. Rushing around will only make you feel flustered before you have even had the chance to leave the house!

Our best advice is to prepare for your shift the night before as much as possible. This includes ensuring that your uniform is washed, ironed and hung up ready, your ID badge is packed, you’ve checked your shift location, and you have all of the relevant paperwork. You may also want to consider rustling up a tasty lunch to look forward to on your first day, so all you will have to do in the morning is grab it from the fridge and pop in your bag. If you are stuck for inspiration, The Nerdy Nurse has a great guide, including 20 quick and easy packable lunch ideas!

When preparing for your shift, if you are unsure of what you may need to bring along, then your recruitment consultant will be more than happy to help. Here at MLG Healthcare, our healthcare recruiters are always there for support at every stage of the process, so can guide you through how to prepare for your first day.

Woman Prepping Food

3. Plan Ahead For Travel

There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in traffic when you must arrive at your destination at a specific time. So to prevent any mishaps on your way to your placement, be sure to plan well for travel, factoring in any travel issues that you can encounter. For example, if you must travel in rush hour, then always factor in extra time or perhaps, leave early and grab a coffee while you wait for your shift to start. For those who commute, on the other hand, consider catching the train or bus before the one that you would typically get. Again, being slightly earlier is far better than being late and allows you extra time to relax before starting your first day.

4. Arrive 15 Minutes Early

Arriving early to your first day applies to any role in any industry, but even more so for those in the healthcare sector. Not only will allowing at least 15 minutes before your shift starts make a good impression, but it will also give you the chance to read any handovers. Regardless of whether you are a new starter or have been in your role for many months, every nurse is entitled to a complete handover at the start of their shift. This will include everything from patient medication to any scheduled procedures; essentially, ensuring that you are fully briefed for the day ahead and know what will be expected of you. Through arriving around 15 minutes early, you will give yourself plenty of time to read through your handover and make any necessary notes.

Nurse Reading Handover

5. Always Ask For An Induction

All new staff should always be given an induction, which will involve being shown the layout of the unit you will be working on. Your colleague will also run through any policies or procedures specific to the unit, as well as where to locate equipment. If for any reason, you arrive at your first shift and are not given an induction, it is imperative to ask for one to be arranged as soon as possible. There will be some instances where your colleagues will be rushed off their feet and may have to stop your induction to see to an emergency, but it is important to ensure that this is continued the moment that they are available again.

6. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

If you have chosen a nursing role, then this is because you are a friendly and compassionate person, who is great at communicating with others. So, when it comes to your first day, remember the importance of communication skills and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everyone has been in your position once, even your most senior colleagues, so they will always be happy to run through any topics that you may feel a little less confident on. There is no such thing as a stupid question, especially when it comes to saving lives. If you’re not too sure what questions you should ask, keep in mind the following:

  • Do you have all of the login information you need to access charting software? If not, ask for your personal details and whether a colleague can run through how to document client data.
  • Do you know where all of the medication is stored? Have you been shown what key opens which storage drawer or cabinet?
  • Have you asked where all supplies are stored? Are there any supplies that you are expected to keep with you throughout your shift to use in the event of an emergency?
  • Are you confident that you know what to do in the event of an emergency? Do you know who to call? Do you know where emergency exits are?
  • Do you have a rough idea on how to navigate the unit? Are any of your patients in different wards?

Nurses Talking

7. Introduce Yourself To Colleagues

As an agency nurse, you will be expected to adapt to the job quickly, and this includes feeling comfortable with your new colleagues, allowing you to communicate efficiently. It is unlikely that there will be a settling in period, so the best approach is to jump straight into the role and take it upon yourself to introduce yourself to your team members. Be open, friendly and receptive; the sooner you can build rapport with others, the easier it will become to work together. You will then be able to maintain constant communication with ease, working in harmony with one another to ensure that your patients receive the very best care.

Taking a transparent, proactive approach to gelling with your new team will also work towards your advantage if you have any questions. You would have overcome the first hurdle of getting to know your colleagues, so there will be no awkwardness if you need a little extra help with something.

8. Take Lots Of Notes

As a nurse, there is no such thing as too many notes. You will be responsible for caring for several patients, each of which has their own concerns, so it is impossible to keep every piece of information in mind. Before your first shift, treat yourself to a new notebook and a multi-pack of pens (you will go through them far quicker than you would ever imagine, so always keep back-ups!).

Start taking notes in your induction – we can almost guarantee that you will be referring back to these for at least the first few weeks. Write down any essential information, such as where to find controlled medication or supplies, as this will help you to adjust to your new unit. You could even jot down the names of the colleagues that you will need to refer to for particular queries, again, helping you to build rapport. Ultimately, anything that you feel is important, write down in your notebook, then after your first shift, you can spend time recapping your day.

If you have experience in any healthcare role, then you will know that taking notes is not limited to your first few days in a position. Jotting down any essential non-confidential patient information will not only help you to keep on top of your care, but also prove ever so helpful when it comes to filling out paperwork. For more information on the importance of good record-keeping as a nurse, take a look at Nursing Times.

Nurse Taking Notes

9. Always Remember The Basics

Regardless of whether it is the first day or last day of your placement, always remember the basics of your nursing role. On a busy shift when you are rushed off your feet, it can often feel as if the priority is to tick tasks off your list and work your way through the mountains of paperwork, meaning that the small gestures can be put to one side. However, it is the simple qualities of nursing that are appreciated the most by your patients and their families. Whether it may be taking the time to adjust a patient’s position to make sure they are comfortable or asking them about themselves, remembering to show your compassion is the key to success. These small acts of kindness take a matter of minutes yet are guaranteed to help your patient’s feel respected and confident in your care.

10. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

There can be a lot of pressure to ace your first day when, in reality, everyone takes a few days to settle in and begin finding their feet. With this in mind, our last tip is not to be too hard on yourself and feel disheartened if your day hasn’t gone perfectly. Your colleagues will not expect you to learn everything in a day and will be happy to give you time to adjust, providing that you show that you are doing your best.

After your first day, take the time to recap everything you have learnt, and if you feel as if you would benefit from sharing your experience, your loved ones are always just a phone call away. Your first day can be very daunting and tiring, so don’t forget to treat yourself to something nice afterwards. Whether it may be a relaxing bath with a book or your favourite takeaway, you deserve it!

Nurse With Thumbs Up

Make The Most Out Of Your First Day!

Adjusting to life as an agency nurse can take time, and some settle in quicker than others. Unlike when working in a permanent position, you will become accustomed to moving between different healthcare facilities, picking up new skills along the way, so use every experience as a learning curve. On the other hand, if you are interested in becoming a locum nurse, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with MLG Healthcare. With many years of experience in nursing recruitment, we have an array of different positions available across the country and will work with you to find the perfect role to meet your requirements.

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