New nurses: education after graduation!

Last Updated: 16 June 2022

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It’s already June (how?!), and that means there is currently a whole cohort of new nurses that are about 6 months into the first year of their careers all around Australia. We hope you’re enjoying it!

Here at Ausmed, we have two pieces of advice for all of these new nurses: first, always know where the coffee machine is. This is for your own sanity as well as that of your colleagues. Second, despite the exciting – and probably overwhelming – nature of working in the healthcare industry, make sure you keep learning!

This might seem trivial: why would we suggest you go out of your way to do more learning than you have to when you’re already going to be learning something new every day?

It all comes down to momentum and habit.

How do momentum and learning habits help your career?

We all know that when you put money into a savings account, it’s a good start. But if you want to see real progress in your financial growth and wellbeing, you’ll get more out of also putting money into stocks. The same goes for learning: completing CPD is like putting money into savings, while doing further education is like putting money into stocks. If your CPD and further education work together to grow your knowledge base, narrow knowledge gaps and extend your skill set, you’ll go further and have more choices regarding your professional growth in the future.

It’s especially important for nurses who are planning to specialise – such as in ICU nursing – or use their nursing background in other areas – such as policy, business or healthcare management. By extending yourself in terms of mindset, commitment, knowledge and skill, future colleagues and employers will see you as a dedicated member of any team – and will try very hard to get you on theirs.

Are there realistic strategies and techniques to keep learning while settling into a new career?

The general goal of your education here is for you to have a long and fulfilling career that uses learning to grow outward and upward. Obviously, it’s best for you to refine it to make it a bit more specific to your goals: eg. I want to have a long career in nursing that results in me having an MBA and working within the C-suite of a major hospital.

To get there, however, you need to make meaningful decisions about how you’re going to achieve those goals. Nursing is too intense and challenging a career to just see where you end up: take hold of your learning – and therefore your future – using these realstic techniques.

Planning (5 min)

You don’t need to do anything special: just keeping a note on your phone or saving Ausmed resources to look at later is enough. That’s it! Just keeping a list of topics or resources reduces anxiety in the lead-up to an educational session because the decisions have already been made. All you need to do is complete the learning.

Find a deeper explanation of effective planning here: Five Elements of an Effective Learning Plan | Ausmed.

Setting short-term goals (10 min)

This goes hand-in-hand with planning but takes a little bit more time. What is currently of interest to you? Did you see a presentation that you want to learn more about? Have you already found a specialty that you’re interested in pursuing? Set up some goals that will lead you in that direction.

As an early-career nurse, you may feel as though you don’t have much control over anything right now. It’s a great idea to take control of your learning so you still have a feeling of autonomy over your work, even on the hardest days of this new job.

Find some examples of goal-setting techniques here: The Importance of Setting Goals | Ausmed.

Reaching out to colleagues/mentors (5 min)

It only takes about 5 minutes to whip up an email or LinkedIn message, and about 2 seconds to send it to someone who you admire. When you ask someone senior for advice or maybe even continuing mentorship, you’re setting the wheels in motion for the growth of your network and career.

No matter the response, you’re showing them – and yourself! – that you’re an enthusiastic, mindful and dedicated member of the nursing community.

Where else can you find information regarding learning?

Ausmed is dedicating a whole section of The Handover to learning theories. If you’re intending to improve – or even optimise – the way you learn as a healthcare professional, keep an eye on the Learning Theories section of The Handover.

Alternatively, you can also sign up to The Handover email that comes out every Saturday morning and gives you a rundown of everything you need to know for each week.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your organisation’s education department or equivalent and ask them what educational services are on offer for the upcoming few months. More often than not, they’ll be delighted to see someone excited about furthering themselves and will help you on your way.

And remember – don’t ignore soft skills!

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