The New Nurses Survival Guide: 50 Tips to Survive and Thrive as a New Nurse

Nursing Book Club

The New Nurses Survival Guide: 50 Tips to Survive and Thrive as a New Nurse

By Jon Haws, RN, BSN, CCRN, and Sandra Haws, RD, LD, M.S., CNSC (NRSNG.com, 2015)
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Reviewed By Christine Contillo, RN, BSN, PHN

Having graduated nearly 40 years ago, I can hardly call myself a new nurse, but since my job responsibilities in the past year included mentoring nurses new to our facility, I wondered if anyone had any words of wisdom for new RNs. Scrolling through the nursing books on Amazon, I found The New Nurse Survival Guide.

Reading this book, I found myself thinking back to my first job in a large inner-city hospital. Back then, my more experienced RN colleagues were more interested in dumping their work on the new grads than in teaching us. The main lessons we learned were how to shift problem patients to another team — not exactly what a good internship should be teaching you!

Author Jon Haws has clearly spent some time thinking about what new nurses need to know and how he can teach it. Haws is a charge nurse on a neuromuscular intensive care unit in Dallas, where he’s also a preceptor for new graduates. (His coauthor and wife, Sandi Haws, is a registered dietician.)

My big question was whether Haws and I agreed on what is important for new nurses to know. I was pleased to find that we do. In fact, I wish I’d had this book when I first started nursing.

Many of his suggestions fall squarely in the “be prepared” category. Nursing is not a “shoot from the hip” profession. You either know what you’re doing and are well-prepared or you should be asking for help and ready to accept both suggestions and criticism.

Haws offers useful tips like lists of what tools you should always have with you and which phone numbers to keep close at hand. He talks about how best to stay on top of your patients’ labs, vital signs, medications and chronic problems during each shift and how to give a report.

He also describes specific skills he believes all nurses should know, including everything from how to flush lines to how to manage your student debt to how to connect with patients, families, managers and physicians. He discusses the value of obtaining certifications and how to seek out new experience and practice opportunities.

With each tip, Haws provides a clear rationale. You never feel like he’s admonishing you, just gently pointing you in the right direction. Many of the tips also include links to additional resources such as media articles and TED talks. (A few of these links require subscriptions to services such as Medscape.)

Shortly before I read this book, I changed jobs for the first time in 10 years, accepting a new part-time position closer to home. It’s been a positive change, giving me a chance to learn new skills without feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

It would be great if new nurses could approach their first jobs with the same kind of confidence and positivity. A book like this could really help.

This isn’t a long book — you could probably read the whole thing in an hour or two — but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any new graduate. It would also make a great gift for any nursing students or new nurses in your family or who are enrolled in your hospital’s residency program.

Christine Contillo, RN, BSN, PHN, is a public health nurse who suggests joining a book club as a reason to put down trashy magazines and look smart on the subway.

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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