Helping New Nurses Succeed | The Nurse Keith Show, EPS 150

This episode of The Nurse Keith Show is based on a very popular blog post from several years back that was edited and re-published on March 5th, 2018. It is focused on the notion of how new nurses need a “soft landing” in which they are guided, supported, and nurtured in the interest of their success. This isn’t a new idea, but plenty of organizations need to seriously consider their practices in this regard.

A soft landing for new nurses

Photo by Alex Lehner on

Some of the salient issues covered in this episode include:

  • The need for successful onboarding practices and programs
  • The importance of solid nurse residency programs
  • True nurse mentoring programs and how much they can help in this process
  • Ongoing monitoring of new nurses in the interest of success
  • Informal nurse mentorship and how it can benefit new nurses
  • Reasonable expectations and new nurses
  • Exit interviews and feedback for organizations about their onboarding process
  • Breaking the culture of “that’s how it’s always been”

From the original blog post:

If you’re a nurse, take yourself back to when you were new to the profession. What was it like when you began your first job? Did you feel properly prepared? Were you scared to death? Did you feel like an imposter? Did you feel as if you had ten thumbs and couldn’t remember anything you’d learned? Did you feel like your education had been a waste of time and you should simply return to waiting tables? How were you treated as you gained confidence and skill?

Many new nurses feel like impostors, and while they’re scared to death to make an error and harm a patient, they’re also often lonely, disconnected, and needing support as they find their “nurse legs”.

Seasoned nurses have been known to roll their eyes when a new grad gets hired, thinking only of themselves and how that novice nurse will just create more work for them in terms of teaching, guiding, and assisting the new arrival, whether through formal preceptorship and mentoring or simple on-the-job guidance.

However, that cynical seasoned nurse needs to remember how it was when they began their career, and how one helpful and supportive colleague can absolutely change the entire trajectory and tenor of the first months in any new nurse’s career. And since more than 30% of new nurses leave the profession entirely in the first three years, we need to take individual and collective responsibility for helping them to feel welcome and supported. After all, these new nurses are our future.

In the new nursing and healthcare paradigm that some of us are attempting to create, new nurses are welcomed into the fold with open arms, guided into positions where their strengths can be celebrated, their weaknesses gently addressed, and their fears allayed. In this new world, graduate nurses are seen as the nurses of the future, the nurses who may one day care for our parents, our loved ones, and maybe even us as we grow older or become infirm.

New grad residency programs, precepting systems, mentoring programs, and using a true team approach can change the calculus of a new nursing grad’s experience immensely, and these processes can also be very helpful and satisfying for the seasoned nurses who take on the task of guiding novice nurses to their full potential.

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Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCKeith Carlson is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses.

Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at

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