Be Your Own NurseMy Nurse Influencers
first year RNs

Be your own nurse: Advice from first year RNs


Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with RNs finishing a year-long nurse residency in oncology. I asked them what advice they had for a group of clinical research coordinators struggling with the complexity of patients with cancer. Here’s what they said:

  • Take care of yourself.
    • Realize that this work can be sad and you need to process your grief.
    • Be aware of resources and then take action.
  • Build empathy skills.
    • Find a confidante who will listen to your story.
    • Listen to a peer with the intention of respecting their story.
  • Gain confidence by showing up each day

Wow! This was a group that I had the privilege to meet with over the course of their residency. In the first few months, I was worried—anxiety was high, lack of sleep was high, morale was low. Then the successes started happening—the first I.V. catheter placement, the first Code Blue, the first night shift, the first patient who thanked them for their care. All of those experiences were repeating. Each time we met, they stated their anxiety was high, the lack of sleep was high, but morale was starting to slowly improve.

At the end of the nurse residency, anxiety and sleep were “a little better” and morale was “holding steady.” They now had advice to give about how they took care of themselves during their first year in the profession. They had finished their nursing education during the pandemic with limited in-person clinical experiences. They started their professional nursing career during the pandemic with limited resources. They finished strong, vibrant, and determined. Each one had become their own nurse.


Carlson K. Nurse Keith’s Corner: Overcoming 21st century angst. 2021. American Nurse Journal.

Melnyk BM. Battling burnout and languishing. Am Nurse J. 2022;17(8):48.

O’Brien K. How to transcend stress and soar as an early career nurse. American Nurse Journal.


Dr. Amy E. Rettig provides nursing care for both professional and non-professional caregivers. She presents, publishes and studies well-being (developing the caregiver within) from the perspectives of holism, caring relationships, and systems.

The views and opinions expressed by My Nurse Influencer contributors are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the American Nurses Association, the Editorial Advisory Board members, or the Publisher, Editors and staff of American Nurse Journal. These are opinion pieces and are not peer reviewed.

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