Being a graduate

Congratulations on getting a graduate position! This is a year of continuous learning and a time for you to consolidate your knowledge and learn to practice independently as a nurse or midwife.

Getting onto the ward can feel confronting and stressful, and you may feel inadequately prepared.

If you have concerns about being a graduate and would like to chat to someone you can call our confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877.
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Tips for managing your graduate year:

  • talk with other graduates about your experiences – most people find it tough
  • exercise regularly – it’s good for your brain.
  • get enough sleep – track sleep with a fitness monitor
  • journal your experiences to look at what is going right or wrong, and why
  • keep learning – knowledge is power and helps build confidence
  • choose healthy food
  • practice mindfulness or mediation and building in relaxation time
  • start practising a routine and keep a schedule
  • limit alcohol and caffeine and drink plenty of water.
Get organised

Being organised can alleviate stress and overwhelming emotions, and simplify your life. Set up a routine and make your best effort to stick to it.

To get organised before you get to work:

  • plan and prepare meals on your days off
  • make a weekly schedule and put it on the fridge – plot bedtime, getting laundry done and time for yourself.

To get organised at work:

  • keep a shift planner of tasks that need to be completed
  • prioritise tasks – what must get done, what can I hand over
  • schedule in breaks
  • keep backup food at work – don’t skip meals
  • set alarms on your phone to track time and complete tasks
  • focus on one task at a time.
Advice from current graduates:
  • ask for help if you are unsure
  • get support – you’re not alone
  • tell someone if you’re not ok
  • admit you don’t understand (it is ok)
  • work at your place - it is ok to be slower than your colleagues and peers
  • ask questions and figure out how to find the answers – policies, procedure, guidelines, manuals, your educator and journals
  • be respectful of your peers – effective communication will help you find your feet
  • speak up and stand up for yourself – don’t let yourself be exploited.

Self-care is important to help combat poor retention, negative culture and keep the nurses and midwives of Australia happy and healthy so we can keep up our great work.

Everyone will identify differently with self-care and the strategies that work for them. Find what works for you:

  • acknowledge and express your feelings and emotions
  • do things mindfully – eat, walk, observe
  • exercise, gym, yoga, team sports
  • engage in positive self-talk
  • engage in supervision if work is following you home
  • educate yourself – knowledge is power
  • get a massage or go to the spa
  • go to your special space and practice your spirituality
  • listen to your body – don’t ignore the alert for rest
  • meditate – use an app if you’re not too sure about this
  • have a break from technology
  • sit and be still outdoors
  • connect and socialise with people you like.

If nothing here makes you feel like giving yourself some care call us at Nurse & Midwife Support on our 24/7 support line 1800 667 877.

Making an error at work – what to do

Every nurse and midwife has made errors at some point in their career. Speaking up as soon as you think you have made an error is important in reducing the impact of these incidents.

The way you manage your errors can make a big difference to the people we care for and the outcome. It is important to know your limits as a new graduate and ask for help whenever you need it. Find the right person on shift to ask for help and remember you are a graduate, consolidating your uni knowledge and applying it to your new job.

Talk to your educator after the situation has been resolved and get some feedback. If that doesn’t help give Nurse & Midwife Support a call on our confidential 24/7 support line on 1800 667 877 and we can talk you through it.

Managing challenging behaviours in the work place

The stressful nature of a health care work environment can sometimes result in difficult behaviours and may lead to workplace conflict.

By approaching challenging behaviours in the workplace with a positive attitude and assertiveness you can reduce the risk of conflict occurring.

Tips on dealing with challenging behaviours:

  • be respectful when approaching people with challenging behaviours
  • be assertive and honest – ask the person if they are ok (they probably are not)
  • talk to your manager or team leader
  • contact Nurse & Midwife Support or the employee assistance program if this behaviour is affecting you
  • do not use personal attacks, instead describe how the behaviour makes you feel
  • don’t raise your voice or use closed body language – this may escalate conflict
  • get advice from a neutral person or your educator
  • journal and reflect on how this behaviour affects you
  • practice self-awareness – what are your challenging behaviours?
  • seek support if things seem to be getting out of hand or need to be escalated.

If you’re struggling with conflict and need some support you can call our confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877.

What happens after the graduate year?

Your graduate year will pass quickly. You should start to think about your future and what you might do next

 Here are some ideas:

  • apply for positions advertised, create an online job profile so jobs are matched to you or contact a recruiter
  • consider a specialty – apply for a post graduate program. Look for post graduate programs or scholarships to help fund this
  • enrol in further education – check out the Australian College of Nurses and College of Midwives
  • contact a job recruiter and see what options they have
  • join a casual bank or an agency
  • look at overseas, interstate or regional and remote opportunities (some have very attractive incentives)
  • take time off and travel (maybe you have some annual leave owing)
  • try to get a permanent or part-time position on one of the wards you have had a rotation on (contact the Nurse Unit Manager early and tell them you’re interested)

Feel like brainstorming your options – give us a call on Nurse & Midwife Support on 1800 667 877 we are here for you 24/7.

What can I do next?

Why not read some of our articles that look at staying healthy promoting your wellbeing:



Your health and wellbeing

Nurse & Midwife Support provides free and confidential support 24/7, to nurses, midwives and students Australia wide. If you would like to speak to someone call 1800 667 877, or you can request support via email.

If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through accessing support

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