Non-Nursing Things to Be Prepared for When Starting Your First Nursing Job

by: Kati Kleber, BSN RN CCRN

Starting your first job as a nurse can be a pretty overwhelming experience. You’ve finally passed your NCLEX, have your license in hand and ready to start working! But wait; there are quite a few things to learn before you’re ready to be out on your own that have nothing to do with nursing.

During orientation they will go over things like scheduling, benefits, disciplinary procedures, parking, different departments, etc. These things are really important to understand. You will be getting so much information thrown at you that it will be impossible to remember everything. Keep all of your notes and handouts to refer to later when you are not so overwhelmed. While it is not nursing related information, it is really important to understand. The sooner you understand these things, the less stress you’ll experience, and you’ll be able to focus more on learning how to be a nurse!


It is really important to fully understand your benefits. Make sure you are paying close attention, asking good questions, and know what will work best for you. Even if the benefits section is at the end of the day, make sure you are focused. This is really important information.

Nurse tip: if you are a bedside nurse, I highly recommend getting disability insurance. [icon name=”twitter” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] It is well worth the investment. If you get injured and cannot perform your job and need to be out for a certain amount of time, this will make that experience less financially stressful.

This can be pretty confusing for someone who is just coming off of their parent’s health care policy and switching to their own. Some facilities will offer informational sessions on their benefits to answer specific questions. If you are having trouble understanding what they are talking about, I highly recommend going to one as it is well worth your time.

This also includes retirement investments. Even if you are 22 years old, this is important to you. If your company offers this, I highly recommend investing into this as well. Don’t mentally check out for this part of orientation! You will regret it later down the line!

Typically, you will be required to work a certain amount of days or nights, but many facilities also require you to work a certain amount of weekends and holidays as well. Make sure you are fully aware of the expectations.

Many organizations schedule differently and utilize various scheduling systems. Whenever they go over this, pay close attention. Getting used to putting your schedule in on a new system can be challenging. You need to learn how to troubleshoot it, correct mistakes, enter your schedule, and paid time off. They probably will explain the order in which people can enter their schedules, who would get moved first if they are overstaffed, etc. Scheduling can be quite confusing.




I personally did not pay attention during my orientation and it bit me in the butt later. When I needed to quickly sit down and enter my schedule because I did not realize it was the last day to do so, I couldn’t get it done because I could not remember how to use the system (which was not very user-friendly!). I had to rely on bothering one of my brand new coworkers to show it to me when they were already having a hectic day. Take the extra time and concentration to understand how to do this and make sure you keep all of the handouts they may give you on the process.


It is really important that you know the best place to park, how to get a parking pass, and the number of public safety or parking enforcement. The last thing you want is to get off of a 12-hour shift at your new job and discover your car was towed or you have a ticket. It is also a good idea to put parking assistance or public safety’s number in your cell phone. Many times they will assist if you need a jump or locked your keys in your car.

I also recommend finding out if there is an employee assistant program (EAP). Not all facilities are equipped with these, but they are amazing. If you’ve had something tragic happen in your personal life, work is getting really challenging, or you need help coping with something, they are available to help with those situations. I know people that work in EAP and that have utilized their services and heard nothing but wonderful things. If you need help, make an appointment. There is no need to suffer in silence, especially when the support is there waiting.

Your safety is essential; make sure you know your resources   [icon name=”twitter” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]


Finally, public safety is a department that will be your BFF! Find out their number and put it in your cell phone. If you’re walking to your car or anywhere in the facility and see something suspicious, you want to be able to quickly call them and report it. Get to know them, their faces, their processes and how they can support you. Your safety is essential; make sure you know your resources!

While you may just want to mentally check out when orientation starts, don’t! Don’t wait to start paying attention until they start talking about real nurse stuff. This information is very important and if you really understand it from the start, it will make your transition into your first job much smoother.



Kati Kleber

Kati Kleber

StaffGarden Contributor

Kati Kleber wants you to be the best nurse you can be in the shortest amount of time possible. It takes a little while to develop your nursey confidence, & she wants to remove as many roadblocks as possible. Check out her blog at


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